Feb 6, 2016

Valentine's Day In Hawaii

Sunday, February 14, 2016 is Valentine's Day, so why not make it special for you and that significant other. Prepare him or her a romantic dinner for four, that way you can invite your best friends over to enjoy the meal...
as long as they bring the wine.

Chef's Shooters
Start this meal out with my Chef's Shooter, sort of like a short bloody mary with a surprise at the bottom. Be careful, oysters are thought to be an aphrodisiac... bottoms up!

4 small freshly shucked raw oysters with juice (liquor)*
4 ounces of V8 Vegetable Juice
4 ounces ice cold high-quality vodka, I like "Tito's" from Texas**
Hawaiian chili pepper water, or Tabasco sauce
fresh-squeezed lime juice

* If you can't find small oysters, cut oysters into smaller pieces that are easy to swallow.
** By chilling the vodka in your freezer, it acquires a thick, silky texture.

Place oyster and its liquor (juice) in bottom of a chilled martini or shot glass (any small glass may be used). Pour in V8 Vegetable Juice, then Vodka; add a splash of hot Sauce and lime juice. Drink as a shot, allowing oyster to slide down your throat, try not to chew. Makes 4 oyster shooters.

Chinese Cold Asparagus Salad
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimed, cut into thirds at a slight angle, and left to soak in water for 15 minutes
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil (or less, to taste)
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed but whole

Roasted sesame seeds for garnish

Drain the asparagus. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and put the asparagus in for just one minute. Drain and run under cold water. Drain again. Leave in a colander.

Mix the rest of the ingredients for the dressing. Just before serving, put the asparagus into a bowl. Remove the garlic from the dressing and toss the dressing with the asparagus. Serve garnished with sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Serve with a chilled white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or a nice Riesling.

Steak with Oyster Sauce
4 (12 ounce) New York strip steaks
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Press the black pepper into the top of each steak. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet. Cook the steaks over high heat on each side until lightly caramelized. Remove the steaks and keep warm.

Add the oyster sauce to the pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter, cut into small pieces. The sauce will get creamy. Slice the steaks thickly on the bias, or leave whole. Pour the sauce over the top. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Serve with a bold and high tannin red wine such as Petite Sirah or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mushrooms with Garlic & Rosemary
Serve alongside sliced New York strip steaks.

16 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add garlic to the butter and sauté until the butter is infused with the garlic. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Once the mushrooms start to soften, add the fresh rosemary to the skillet and continue to sauté. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are tender. If they release a lot of liquid, turn the heat up to high until the liquid evaporates. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and serve with sliced New York strip steaks. Makes 4 servings.

Baked Portuguese Potatoes
3 cups water
1 or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pound of chorizo (spanish pork sausage)

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Pour water into a roasting pan. Add vinegar to taste. The water should have just a hint of vinegary taste. Sprinkle paprika over the water and mix, removing the lumps. Add salt, pepper, onion, tomato, parsley and potatoes. Remove the casing from the chorizo and break apart the meat, add to other ingredients. Bake for 2 hours. Do not cover potatoes because they will steam and not roast. The potatoes will have a nice red color when they are done. Makes 6 servings.

Fresh Maui Strawberries with 
Homemade Chocolate Sauce
Sweet Maui strawberries grown & packed by
Noel Escobedo Farm.

Click on photo to view larger. 
Homemade chocolate sauce couldn't be easier to make and is much better than store-bought. Great over vanilla ice-cream, or make a large batch and dip fresh Maui strawberries into the sauce.

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or pure chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup heavy cream (no substitutions)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 large fresh Maui strawberries

Pour the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Set aside. Combine the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and pour immediately over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Makes about 1 cup, enough for dipping 16 large fresh strawberries.

Note: Serve with a dessert wine like Vintage Port or Madeira from Portugal, or sweeter versions of sherry from Spain. These wines bring a natural sweetness, balanced by fresh acidity, to help keep up with the sweetness of the chocolate sauce.

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