By Barbara Beltrami
Theirs are stories for the ages. Tales of lovers from myths and movies, life and lore endure. Whether seduced by blind passions or fatal attractions, devotion or desolation, famous lovers whose relationships were long or short-lived affairs of their hearts still evoke notions of romance in our own lives.
Think Heloise and Abelard, Romeo and Juliet, Mimi and Rodolfo, Tristan and Isolde, Victoria and Albert, Antony and Cleopatra, Lancelot and Guinevere, Napoleon and Josephine, Katherine and Spencer, Rhett and Scarlett, Rocky and Adrian, Jack and Rose, Noah and Allie, Oliver and Jenny, and on and on and on.
Who knows what these couples would have had for a Valentine’s Day dinner, but here are a few ideas for yours.
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
One 1½ pound cooked lobster
¼ pound unsweetened butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg yolk
3½ cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Fresh parsley sprigs for garnish
Remove lobster meat from shell and chop into half-inch pieces. In a deep saucepan over low heat melt butter; add flour and salt and blend till very smooth. In a deep bowl, beat egg yolk until foamy; add lobster and combine thoroughly; transfer to large saucepan. Stirring constantly, gradually add milk, until smooth, then gradually stir in wine; heat thoroughly but do not allow to boil.
Transfer to a warmed soup tureen or individual bowls. Garnish with parsley and serve with buttered toast triangles.
Filet Steaks with Artichoke Hearts
YIELD: Makes 2 servings
2 slices white sandwich bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cooked fresh artichoke hearts
2 filet steaks, seasoned with coarse salt and pepper
¼ cup dry white vermouth
¼ cup beef broth
With an inverted glass, cut two discs from the bread. With bottom of glass, press each disc to ¼-inch thickness. In heavy medium skillet, heat half the oil and half the butter. Over medium heat lightly brown bread discs, turning once about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside to keep warm. In the same pan, turning once, sauté artichoke hearts until tender, about 10 minutes; remove from pan and set aside to keep warm. Add remaining oil and butter, heat, then raise heat to medium high; add steaks and cook, turning once, to desired doneness. Remove steaks and set aside to keep warm.
Pour sauté fat out of skillet, add vermouth and broth and over high heat, while scraping bottom of pan with spatula to pick up coagulated juices, boil down liquid to 3 tablespoons. Quickly place steaks on plate, top with discs, then artichoke hearts and spoon juices over them. Serve immediately with asparagus and new potatoes.
Coeur a la Crème
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
*This recipe calls for a heart-shaped mold with a perforated bottom, usually available in fine houseware stores.
1 pound cottage cheese
1 pound cream cheese, softened
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 pint strawberries, crushed and sweetened to taste
In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the cottage cheese, cream cheese and salt. Beating constantly until mixture is smooth, gradually add the heavy cream. Scrape mixture into mold and place on a deep plate to drain overnight in refrigerator. When ready to serve, unmold onto chilled plate and serve with strawberries and pieces of filled chocolate (preferably from a heart-shaped box!).