Usually, for Valentine’s day, my hubby and I just let the day pass rather uneventfully – maybe going out for dinner or making a point to spend some time together that evening just hanging out without too many distractions but generally we don’t “celebrate” it. But these past couple of years, we have changed our “style!”
Last year, Mei wore a cute outfit for her first Valentine’s day and since I was just so tired from having a one-month old baby and not feeling pretty or awake enough to bother with such a low-key holiday so we agreed to update our GPS with European maps as a gift to each other.
This year? I was going to make a big Dorie seafood dinner with a nice dessert to share! Early on, I noticed that the FFWD assignment was going to be mussels and chorizo and since mussels are something we both enjoy eating, I decided that I would also make homemade ciabatta to go with it, oysters Rockefeller and a rhubarb cherry pie! A perfect dinner for sharing! And with any luck, Mei would sleep while we ate dinner so we could enjoy it by ourselves… we would just have to wait and see…
While we were at the market in a nearby town picking up some tea – well quite a bit of tea actually, we stopped by the fish mongers and got some super fresh, big oysters for a great price! The gentleman explained how to keep them nice and fresh for a couple of days until we were ready to cook them and off we went! The mussels we picked up the day before we were going to make them so that more of them would remain closed until we were ready to eat them. The rhubarb cherry pie was a complete kismet accident at the market. There were big, beautiful, bright red stalks of rhubarb – the best I had seen all year, and they were on sale along with nice, plump, deep purple-y red cherries. I had been craving cherry pie recently, so combining my love for cherry pie with my hubby’s love of rhubarb pie just seemed fitting for this particular day!
Last night, Mei and I baked out some red velvet cupcakes (out of a box, cheating a bit for a quick, cliche treat), to have for breakfast this morning and she enjoyed putting the measuring spoons into the batter and licking them, then sticking her hands into the nearly empty frosting jar and frosting everything in sight, along with her hair, clothes and face while I carefully piped a simple bit of vanilla frosting on top and put some sparkly pink and purple sprinkles on top. They were a great treat for my hubby to wake up to since he wasn’t aware that we were going to make any cupcakes to begin with and we even made up a plate to take over to Louie – Mei’s boyfriend across the road for their first shared Valentine’s day. We even sent over our extra loaf of fresh baked ciabatta! But since I was busy making our special dinner, Mei and my hubby outfitted themselves for the nippy weather to make the delivery. It’s an absolute mistake that they “match!”
Having made the ciabatta the day before, all that was left to do was to bake it off, bake the pie then prepare the filling and sauce for the oysters and mussels. Now, I know it will bother some of you but I will only be posting the recipe for the oysters Rockefeller today, then the pie tomorrow and the mussels and ciabatta on Friday – since it is meant to be posted on Friday for French Fridays with Dorie. So just keep reading!
This was the first time I was going to eat oysters, so I was very excited to make this into oysters Rockefeller since there is just something romantic about oysters in general and then the decade that they were popular has just more recently come back with the show “Mad Men,” re-popularizing food and fashion from the 60s and 70s. Also, raw oysters and pregnancy don’t mix so this was a win-win for us! Although, come to find out, much later this evening that oysters – even cooked have a bizarre effect on pregnant bodies. Even if you have regularly eaten oysters before you were pregnant your body can react as if you are suddenly allergic to them; and boy did I get sick! But we really enjoyed our oysters!
The paste or Rockefeller part that goes on top of the oysters was packed full of delicious, fresh flavor and just a touch of heat (from the cayenne, one dash is plenty enough heat, even for my husband, since you will reduce the roux) and were perfectly presented and quickly gobbled down! I enjoyed shucking them, which I actually struggled with but had my husband help with – which also was fitting with the theme of the day; and nestling them into a salt bed for baking – it was a rather quick recipe and we probably could have just eaten oysters for our dinner with no complaint!
The only thing that would have made the evening more in the Mad Men feel, is a dry, dirty martini! Something to look forward to next year, when I will no longer be pregnant or nursing and can enjoy a drink with dinner if I like! Do any of you out there watch Mad Men? I fell in love with the first disc I ever rented! It was just something that I had heard so many good things about and had some time off work with all my shows on a break while we waited for the new seasons to come out and needed something to entertain me and it turned out to be such a hook-line-sinker type show! I think the whole mystery of “who is Don Draper” pretty much made it a nail-biting, must watch show. Heck, I watched the entire first season in ONE NIGHT!! If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest giving it a shot, I’m certain this one won’t disappoint!
As luck would have it, after Mei and the hubby returned from making their deliveries to Mei’s boyfriend and family, I got all our food cooking and we got Mei down for a much-needed nap, allowing us to eat our dinner together and ALONE!!! This menu was perfect for eating with your fingers and dipping into a large platter and deep bowl of the most delicious, fresh seafood while having some conversation and sharing some kisses without Mei grabbing for more food, balancing carefully on our knees or pulling our arms to get up to the table or get more “bites” of whatever catches her eye! All in all, a perfect Valentine’s evening!
What did you make for your family or sweetie for Valentine’s Day?
Ingredients: (adapted from Saveur)
- 12 medium oysters, well chilled
- 4 TBS butter
- 4 TBS flour
- 6 green onions, trimmed and minced
- 2 ribs of celery, trimmed, peeled and minced
- leaves from one bunch of parsley, minced
- leaves from two sprigs of tarragon, minced
- one dash/pinch of cayenne
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 TBS fresh bread crumbs
First, fill a medium ovenproof baking dish halfway with rock salt. Shuck the oysters with an oyster knife over a small bowl to catch all the oyster liquid (about a half cup yield from one dozen oysters), discarding the flat top shells. Loosen the oysters from the bottom rounded shells with the knife. Nestle the oysters in their shells, into the bed of rock salt, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Next, melt the butter in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about two minutes until incorporated and nutty smelling. Add the reserved oyster liquid and cook until pasty and combined, about two minutes. Stir in the green onions, celery, parsley, tarragon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally for one hour. Transfer to a food processor, add the bread crumbs and process until you have a smooth paste – about one to two minutes.
Last, preheat the broiler. Put the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Uncover the oysters and pipe the paste completely over the oysters. Broil until the paste begins to brown and the oysters are just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Enjoy while warm!