Ahhh Valentine’s Day… A day full of love, sappy hallmark moments, horrid dollar store chocolate, crowded overpriced restaurants, red roses, glossy balloons and teddy bears gifted to your love as if she or he is an infant. The worst part of all of this, is that I LOVE VALENTINE’S DAY!
Whether it is spending time with your sweetheart, friends, family or alone, V-day is a day to let your sappitude out and embrace love in every way. I love making a lavish dinner, breaking out the silver wear and antique china dishes, setting the table, lighting candles and decorating the house with beautiful fresh cut flowers for a restaurant quality evening that costs a fraction of the price and is never disappointing. This year, I wanted to share my Italian-inspired V-day feast with you and you can re-create it for your loved ones too!
The recipe for Stromboli makes two large loaves, so feel free to halve the recipe or make the loaves, bake them and freeze them for another time!
Combine water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand until yeast is frothy, about 5 minutes.
Add flour and salt to yeast and knead with dough hook until a smooth ball of dough forms. Remove from mixing bowl.
Lightly oil the bowl, lightly oil the ball of dough and put back into the bowl, cover with saran wrap and let rise for one hour.
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan, dump in the kale, spinach, shallots and garlic. Sautée the greens until completely wilted and almost no liquid remains. Let cool.
Combine mozzarella, ricotta, egg breadcrumbs, wilted greens, salt and pepper and mix well.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a clean work surface. Cut the dough in two equal parts.
Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle.
Spread the pesto over the surface of the dough leaving a small uncovered band of dough on one of the longest sides.
Follow with the greens, splitting the mixture between both rectangles, as with the pesto, leaving a band of uncovered dough.
Roll the dough like a jelly roll, ending with the band of naked dough.
Pinch the seam shut and pinch the sides of the roll shut, making sure there are no holes.
Place on a baking sheet, seam side down. Spray with some cooking spray, let rise for one hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a roasting pan with 4 cups of water into the lower part of the oven.
Slash the tops of the loaves on the diagonal, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake the loaves on the center rack, for 15 minutes, turn the oven to 400 degrees F and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and crispy.
Let cool before cutting and serving.
Wild Mushroom Spaghetti Aglio Olio
Heat olive oil in a large pan, fry shallots, garlic and mushrooms until slightly browned and fragrant.
Deglaze pan with white wine, reduce liquid until almost dry, add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Season to taste.
Add cooked spaghetti, toss with mushrooms, sprinkle with Parmesan and basil.
Serve immediately topped with a poached egg, pine nuts, freshly ground black pepper and more Parmesan cheese.
Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries
In a very small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand about 1 minute to soften. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin is dissolved and remove pan from heat.
In a saucepan bring cream, milk, and sugar just to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture, vanilla an almond. Divide cream mixture among 4 1/2-cup ramekins and cool to room temperature. Chill ramekins, covered, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, combine berries, lemon and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2-5 minutes. Let cool.
Dip ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water 3 seconds. Run a thin knife around edge of each ramekin and invert ramekin onto center of a small plate.
Spoon berries over the panna cotta and sprinkle with crushed amaretto cookies.