Happy Valentine's Day! It's not the biggest holiday I celebrate, but any chance I get to celebrate loved ones, surround myself with pretty flowers, and eat yummy food is fine with me!
I enjoy celebrating a Valentine's night in. It's impossible to remember to make reservations, everything is sold out, babysitters are booked, etc. I just skip the chaos and hang out at home! We've collaborated with a friend of mine, Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra's Kitchen to bring you a delicious meal you can make at home! Follow her on IG (@alexandracooks) to see more delicious recipes and beautiful photos!
Pasta Carbonara with Leek and Lemon
Notes: For a saucier pasta, use ½ pound pasta.
To clean leeks: Place the sliced leeks in a large bowl filled with cold water. Do this as the bacon cooks. After about 10 minutes, lift the leeks out of the bowl with your hands and transfer to a colander—this allows the dirt that has settled to the bottom of the bowl to stay settled. When transferring the leeks to the sauté pan, be sure the bacon fat isn’t super hot—remove the pan from the heat. It’s OK if the leeks are still wet—a little water clinging to the leeks is a good thing.
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 4 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed (see notes above)
- ¾ pound bucatini or short pasta, such as campanelle, orecchiette, or gemelli
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (heaping) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
1. Set a large pot of salted water (I use about a tablespoon of kosher salt) to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving excess fat in pan—you should have about 2 tablespoons. Add leeks (see notes above), season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, parmesan, lemon zest and juice. Whisk ¼ cup pasta water into egg mixture.
3. Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. If necessary, add more of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to taste. Sprinkle pasta with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.
Arugula and Endive Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette
For the shallot vinaigrette:
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 pinches salt
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar, optional
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
In a small bowl, combine the shallots, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in olive oil. Taste. Adjust seasoning with more salt if necessary or more oil for a little less bite. Store in a glass jar. Shake well before using.
For the salad:
- 2 heads endive, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 3 oz. arugula
- shaved Parmigiano Reggiano (do this with a peeler) to taste
- Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste
- To make the salad: Place the arugula, endive, and the shavings of parmesan in a large bowl. Toss lightly with dressing to taste. Taste. Adjust as needed with more pepper, salt, and dressing to taste.
Double Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Source: Gourmet via Epicurious
Notes: If you want to make a larger cake, you can make the original recipe. Find it here. Here, I’ve made a half recipe and baked it in two 6x2-inch round cake pans. You could also use one standard round or square cake pan (measuring about 10x2-inches).
You may have leftover ganache. If so, let it cool so that it hardens a bit. Using a small scoop (melon-ball size), scoop the remaining ganache into balls and drop into a plate of sifted cocoa powder. Roll the balls to coat. Chill until ready to serve — truffles!
For the cake:
- 1½ ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate (chips are fine, too)
- ¾ cups boiling water or hot brewed coffee
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1¼ cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cups (72 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the ganache:
- 8 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate (chips are fine, too)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup, optional
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- sea salt, optional
small square of semi-sweet (or other) chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans or pan (see note above). Line pan or pans with round of parchment paper. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with boiling water or hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
2. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (If you don’t feel like sifting, whisking is fine, too.)
3. In another large bowl whisk egg vigorously until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to egg, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and whisk until just combined. Divide batter between pans (or pan, see notes above) and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes for smaller pans, 55 minutes or longer for larger pans.
4. Meanwhile, make the ganache: Finely chop chocolate. In a small saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to chocolate mixture, whisking until smooth. Season with sea salt to taste, if desired.
5. Cool cake layers completely in pans on racks, at least 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Remove parchment paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
6. If you are making a layer cake, spread a thin layer of ganache over one cake layer. (Note: If you baked a single layer, halve it crosswise with a serrated knife, and spread ganache over top of one layer.) Top layer with other cake layer. Pour ganache on top of top layer, and with an off-set spatula, spread it all over the sides. If desired, run square of chocolate across a microplane grater or shave with a peeler until top of cake is covered in chocolate shavings. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving. (I just keep mine at room temperature always…no space in the fridge.)