A leisurely meal with someone you love seems to me to be the perfect way to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day.
And, since fish and seafood are among my favourite foods, I have a tendency to turn that way when conjuring up a menu to enjoy with my special someone.
Restaurants, of course, do a booming business on that special day, but we can’t always make a trip out to dinner work for us on that date. And there are benefits to serving a special dinner in your own private dining room.
If you enjoy cooking, there’s also a certain satisfaction in being able to prepare a special dinner for those who are special to you, as a sort of thanks for being there.
If the love of your life enjoys cooking, a gift you would both enjoy could be a special cooking class that includes the meal and a glass of wine as well.
For Indian food, I highly recommend Jas Dosanj’s classes at Poppadoms. She is launching a series of master classes in March, where you will work in the restaurant kitchen, learning three new dishes at each. For details, go to: www.poppadoms.ca
Mission Hill Family Estate also offers a comprehensive selection of excellent classes, with the demonstrated food served to you paired with one of the winery’s wines.
It’s a very fun and entertaining evening, whether you go with a friend or singly. For details, go to: www.missionhillwinery.com and click on culinary workshops.
A friend enjoyed an exciting fishing trip at the historic Good Hope Cannery in Rivers Inlet this summer, and I’m the beneficiary of some of his luck on the water, so I’ve devised some very special ways to cook his delicious denizens of the deep, including this salmon ‘roast’ with a hint of maple.
For a few other suggestions for Valentine’s Day dinner, pick up my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is organized by seasonal special days throughout the year, so you can be inspired by what’s fresh and local in season.
It’s available at local bookstores such as Mosaic Books and Chapters, as well as at many local wine shops. Many of the recipes are accompanied by margin notes by acclaimed wine writer John Schreiner, on what B.C. wines would go well with the dish.
Maple Baked Salmon Roast
This has a delicate flavour of maple, accented with a touch of lemon against a background hint of herbs. Serve with the Parmesan Risotto over a bed of fresh, baby spinach leaves. This would pair well with a robust pinot noir or a lively fruit-forward gewurztraminer. There are some great choices among the Okanagan’s VQA wines.
1.5 lb. (680 g) salmon fillet
2 tbsp. (30 ml) maple syrup
2 tbsp. (30 ml) soy sauce
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dried tarragon
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) fresh-ground black pepper
1 sprig rosemary
coarse sea salt
minced fresh parsley
Combine all marinade ingredients in an oven-proof glass dish that will hold the salmon snugly. We used a very thick chunk of salmon fillet and it was moist and wonderful.
Turn the salmon about in the marinade until every bit is covered and refrigerate for a half hour or so, basting once.
Pre-heat oven to 375 F and roast the salmon for 20 minutes per inch of thickness, at the thickest part of the fillet, basting occasionally with the marinade.
Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and minced parsley before serving hot.
Parmesan Risotto with Lemon & Parsley
This is fresh-tasting with the lemon zest, but creamy with the parmesan cheese and a wonderful accompaniment to the Maple Baked Salmon. Serve over a bed of fresh, baby spinach leaves.
2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 small onion
1 c. (250 ml) arborio rice
1/2 c. (125 ml) dry white wine
4 c. (1 l) low sodium chicken stock
1/2 c. (125 ml) grated fresh parmesan
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 tsp. (5 ml) minced lemon zest
3 tbsp. (45 ml) fresh minced parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Melt the butter in the olive oil in a deep frypan over medium heat. Chop the onion finely and add, sauteing until soft and translucent.
Add the rice and move it gently around the pan with a wooden spoon until every grain is coated in the olive oil and butter.
Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally until the rice has absorbed it before adding a half cup of the hot stock.
Stir in and let simmer over medium heat until that has nearly been absorbed and add another half cup of hot stock.
Continue stirring in hot stock, a half-cup ladle-full at a time, until the rice is softening and getting creamy, but it is still firm to the bite, about 20-30 minutes. You should have a ladle-full or so left.
Stir in the grated fresh parmesan cheese, a dab of butter, minced lemon zest and minced fresh parsley.
Stir in the last ladle of hot stock and let simmer until it’s thick and creamy. Taste and season and serve immediately.