Six aphrodisiac foods to put you in the mood this Valentine’s Day
Story By Bailey Gilliam
Love is in the air this month, and we’ve gathered some local recipes to put you in the mood for romance. Show your loved one you really care with a homemade treat. Rather than buying a heart-shaped box of chocolates or ordering some oysters on the half shell, make your significant other an incredible dish inspired by the traditional foods of romance. From chocolate to oysters, we’ve got the perfect Valentine’s recipes from local chefs and restaurants.
Oysters have long been associated with romance. This is the perfect Valentine’s appetizer that shows a bit more effort than grabbing some quick oysters on the half shell.
Alexander’s Restaurant – Oysters Alexander
12 fresh oysters, shucked
6 ounces smoked bacon, cooked and chopped
6 ounces jumbo lump crab meat
6 ounces Harlech horseradish cheddar cheese
2 lemons, sliced and grilled
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
1 cup rock salt
 Take the oysters and rinse the dirt off the exterior with cold water. Using a protective glove and a shucking knife, gently shuck the oysters.  The next step is assembly. For each oyster, add a 1/2 ounce of crab meat. The next layer is 1/2 ounce of smoked bacon. The last layer is the horseradish cheddar cheese. For this, shave off a thin layer of the cheese and place on top of the oyster.  Heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the oysters on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook the oysters for 8 minutes or until bubbly and caramelized on top. Carefully remove from the oven. Use the rock salt as a bed to keep the oysters in place and arrange on your desired platter. Garnish with slices of grilled lemon and chives.
It’s just not Valentine’s Day without chocolate. This chocolate soufflé is a step up from your typical heart-shaped box of chocolates.
Charlie’s Coastal Cuisine – Chocolate Grand Marnier Soufflé
Ingredients (soufflé base)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 ounces milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons sugar
 For the base, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat and add all ingredients except cornstarch and water.  In a small cup, make a slurry by combining cornstarch and water. Continue stirring the mixture over the stove until it comes to a boil.  Lower the heat and add the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back up to a simmer and continue cooking until it becomes thick. Set aside the base and allow it to cool slightly.
6 eggs, separate yolks from whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons base
 For the souffle, heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat interior of souffle dishes with butter and coat the butter with sugar. Knock out any excess.  In a stand-up mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar. Add sugar to soft peaks.  In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks and warm base. Fold egg white mixture into base mixture a third time.  Fill prepared dishes in a deep baking pan and carefully fill pan with water until it reaches halfway up the soufflé dishes.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until completely puffed up.
Ingredients (chocolate Grand Marnier crème anglaise)
1 egg yolk
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
 For the chocolate Grand Marnier crème anglaise, whip together egg and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Heat milk and sugar in a pot until it starts to boil. Remove from heat.  Temper the eggs by adding in a small amount of heated milk mixture to the egg and whisk constantly. Continue to stir until the liquid coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Let cool.
Okey dokey artichokey
There’s something about artichokes that makes us feel fancy and romantic. Cook your loved one an unforgettable meal with this veal recipe from Michael Anthony’s.
Michael Anthony’s – Veal with Artichokes
8 (2-ounce) veal cutlets
Flour for dusting
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
8 artichoke hearts (jar is fine)
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup veal stock (can substitute beef stock or broth)
2 ounces butter, cubed
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
 Put veal cutlets between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound well with a meat pounder.  Pound cutlets until 1/8-inch thick.  Season the veal with salt and pepper, and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.  Heat the oil in a skillet and sear the veal on both sides. Remove from the pan.  In same skillet, add the garlic and sauté over medium heat until lightly golden.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, lemon juice, and reduce by half.  Add the veal stock and simmer to reduce slightly.  Add the butter cubes and allow the sauce to thicken while it reduces.  Return the veal and artichokes to the pan and allow to gently braise in the low simmering liquid.  After simmering the veal for about 3 minutes, place the veal onto each plate. Check the sauce consistency, reducing more if needed and add the chopped parsley, pepper and salt to taste. Spoon over veal. Chef tips: Michael Anthony’s is known for its veal. If you haven’t tried it, treat yourself. Chef Trey Place prefers the artichoke stems more than the heart. He feels they have more flavor. Veal stock makes a great demi-glace. Use fresh lemon juice, never the plastic lemon that you get at the grocery store.
Romancing the fig
Figs are sweet and sexy, just like your love. This duck confit crostini is sure to impress your Valentine.
Charbar Co. – Duck Confit Crostini with Parsnip Puree & Fig
12 ounces duck leg confit or cooked duck breast
Fig spread or fig preserves
1 French baguette
Sea salt and pepper
Ingredients (parsnip puree)
1 cup half and half
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces parsnips, peeled and small cubed
2 tablespoons butter
Sea salt and pepper
 Make the parsnip puree. In a small pot, combine the parsnips, half and half, garlic cloves, butter, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the parsnips are completely softened. A knife should pierce through them easily. If there is still a lot of liquid when the parsnips are fully cooked, uncover and reduce some of the liquid. Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth and creamy.  Make the crostini. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the baguette into even 1/4-inch thick slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on baking sheets and cook until golden (15-20 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through.  Assemble the crostini. Heat the duck confit or duck breast. Spread the bottom of the crostini with parsnip puree. Top with a slice of the duck confit. Garnish with a small dollop of fig preserves and fresh rosemary.
Chocolate-covered strawberries, move over. These churro pancakes are sure to make your Valentine’s Day special from start to finish.
Holy Tequila – Holy Churro Pancakes
8 ounces unsalted butter
2 ounces brown sugar
3 cups flour
6 whole eggs
3 cups water
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
6 cups pancake mixture
Pure maple syrup
 Heat water, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Pour the water, sugar and salt slowly with the flour and baking powder. Make sure it is whisked really well and add eggs. Whisk until all combined.  Put dough into the piping bag. Using the piping bag, form 6-inch circles with the churro dough and freeze for 1 hour. Fry the dough at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Toss in cinnamon and sugar.  Put the fried frozen dough (the churro) on a flattop and add pancake mix in the center of the circle, about 1 cup each. Cook for 2 minutes and then flip the “churro pancake” and cook for 2 more minutes.  Set as many pancakes as you like on a plate, top them with strawberries or bananas (or both!) and finish with a light drizzle of maple syrup and powdered sugar.
One in a melon
Watermelon is the color of love, and its juicy, sweet flavor is the perfect accent for your romantic meal. Cook up a delicious snapper with an unexpected twist this Valentine’s Day.
Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana – Snapper with tomato and watermelon salsa
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 (6 ounce) skin-on red snapper fillets
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Basil and pine nuts (for garnish)
 Stir tomatoes, watermelon, red onion, hot pepper, cilantro, mint, lime juice, 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.  Pat fish dry with paper towels. Cut 3 shallow slits into the skin side of each fillet. Sprinkle fillets with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over high heat. Add fillets, skin side down, and cook until skin is browned and crisp (about 5 minutes).  Turn fillets and cook until lightly brown and done (about 1 to 2 minutes).  Serve fish immediately, skin side up, topped with salsa. Garnish with basil and pine nuts.