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Valentine's Day Hearts Menu

Courtesy Cindy Evetts, Tools and Techniques, West Vancouver - www.thestoreforcooks.com

Cindy told me the fun part of this menu is accomplished by having a good set of heart-shaped cookie cutters, which vary in size from one inch in diameter up to about 5 inches. To really complete the heart theme, you could get one of those waffle irons that make waffles in the shape of hearts, and even a heart-shaped spring-form pan for the frittata.

Heart-shaped pancakes or waffles with heart-shaped compound butter slices
Heart-shaped frittata with heart-shaped hash browns

Heart-Shaped roasted beets and goat cheese salad with baguette and heart-shaped savory compound butters

Heart-shaped rice cake
Roast Chicken
Chocolate Fondue or Chocolate Body Paints

Compound butter
Can be made 1-2 days in advance. To make compound butters let butter soften at room-temperature. When soft, stir in flavorings, sweet or savory. For a breakfast butter, stir in some of your favorite jam. For lunch or dinner, stir in finely-chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives or even some pesto. Form the mixed butter into a log that has a wider diameter than your smallest heart-shaped cookie cutter and put into freezer. When firm, cut into disks, and then cut into heart shapes using your small cookie cutter.

Beat together 6 eggs. Stir in one-quarter cup of each of the following:
- chopped, sautéed onions
- crumbled, cooked bacon
- chopped, sautéed red or green bell pepper
- crumbled feta cheese

Then stir in a handful of chopped parsley and chives, salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into heart-shaped spring-pan, or any other ovenproof dish and bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes. To brown the top of the frittata you might want to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes.

Beet Salad
Wrap 2-3 medium to large beets, scrubbed but not peeled, in tinfoil, and roast in a 400-degree oven for about one hour or until fork-tender. Peel when cooled, slice into medallions and then cut heart shapes out of the medallions. For the dressing, whisk together a quarter cup raspberry vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard one quarter cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over mixed salad greens, then crumble some goat cheese and sprinkle over the greens along with some toasted pecans and your heart-shaped beets. Serve with sliced baguette and compound butters.

Roast Chicken
For an easy roast chicken, cut a lemon into wedges. Use one wedge to squeeze juice over the outside of the chicken, and stuff the rest inside, with a few cloves of unpeeled garlic. In a mortar and pestle, or mini-chopper, blend together a few more cloves of garlic, fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, parsley and thyme, salt and pepper and olive oil. Spread this mixture all over the outside of the chicken and roast at 375 degrees for about an hour, or until the juices from the thigh run clear when pricked.

Heart-shaped rice cakes
Take some previously cooked rice, season it with salt and pepper and pack it into a well-oiled larger-heart shaped mold with sides about 1 and a half inches high. You might want to put some thawed, frozen peas as a middle layer, or some blanched and chopped asparagus spears. Heat some olive oil on medium heat in a frypan and slide in the mold, turning once to brown on both sides. Serve with the chicken and some of the roasting pan juices.

Chocolate Fondue
Take about half a pound of good quality Belgian baking chocolate pieces and put in a heavy saucepan with about one-quarter cup of whipping cream. Stir over medium heat until melted together, adding more cream if necessary. Do not let it burn! Pour into chocolate fondue pot, and serve with pieces of fruit such as strawberry and banana. You can also buy a pound cake, slice it, and use the heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut small hearts that can be dipped as well. If you don't want to do the fondue, you can buy the very chic glass bottles filled with Belgian body chocolate. Just warm the chocolate in the bottle in the microwave oven, then use the brushes included to paint the chocolate on your sweetie over the body parts of your choice! (the fun part is the edible clean-up procedure)

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