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February 2014

Food for Thought

Sweet Valentine Treats
By Lorinda

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Treat yourself to a special Valentine's Day dessert.


Valentine's Day is sort of a non-event around my house, but I still get carried away when I see all the pink and red goodies in the stores and the recipes being posted on the Internet. Memories of Elmer's Glue and doilies, glitter and lace, conversation hearts and suckers . . . the anticipation comes rushing back and I absolutely must make something heart-shaped!

I looked back at my last two February columns to make sure I didn't repeat myself, and found that I totally ignored Valentine's Day in 2012 and wrote about gardening instead. In 2013 I gave you the news that chocolate is good for you, and offered up some healthy recipes. Healthy recipes!

Pretty lame when candy, sprinkles, and marshmallow fluff are everywhere you look. I'm making it up to you this year by bringing you two dinners and two desserts, with hearts galore.

Next to chocolate, red fruits are most prominent in Valentine treats. Raspberries, cherries, and strawberries are all popular ingredients this month. Unfortunately, they aren't in season here in Washington State, so we have to depend on canned and frozen fruits, or those shipped from other states. I bought two cans of sweet dark cherries, and can almost guarantee that those luscious fruits came from the Northwest. Washington and Oregon produce most of the cherries used in canned and jarred cherries of all types.

I've been doing my part to support the cherry and strawberry manufacturers recently, but am still happily working my way through the gallons of raspberries in my freezer!

Are you going to be wined and dined this Valentine's Day? Or, like me, do you create your own romantic meal? Here are a couple of fun options for those of you who will be donning that apron with "Kiss the Cook" on it!

To me, anything Italian screams "romance!" I made homemade pizza crust that was shaped like a heart, as were the pieces of pepperoni, the mushroom slices, and the plum tomatoes. Throw in a green salad and a glass of red wine, and you have the makings for a casual and fun Valentine's Day dinner.


Pizza Love


Don't forget dessert! This Strawberry Dream is light and airy, the perfect complement to a spicy pizza dinner. Who could resist dipping a spoon into this confection?


Strawberry Dream


For a more traditional meal, I made heart-shaped pork medallions with a mushroom and cherry sauce. I cut slices from a lovely pork loin, but using thin boneless pork chops would save you a little time. There was no waste involved, because after cutting hearts out of the slices of meat, I cooked up the scraps and used them in fried rice the next day. You could also cook the scraps and freeze them for a future meal.


Pork Medallions with Cherry Sauce


My second dessert is a beauty. It's also time-consuming and a little expensive. I will admit that it took me nearly a whole day to put this Black Forest Cake together, but I was also experimenting as I went. And . . . I'll admit this . . . I was having an off day when it came to baking. It happens to the best of us, right? For some reason I wasn't having much luck at thinking things through, and had to bake a second cake. Don't ask!

Black Forest Cake should be boozy. For myself, I went easy on the liqueur, and you can adjust it as you wish or leave it out altogether. I used a buttercream frosting, which is actually pretty sweet for this kind of cake, but so nice and easy to decorate with. The chocolate cake itself is very rich and moist, but not too dense, and I had to slap a lot of hands to protect the cooling layers.


Black Forest Cake


If you want the cake but don't have a day to spend putting it together, I understand. I really do! Here are some shortcuts you could try:

  • Use two boxed cake mixes.
  • Skip the buttercream and frost the cake with stabilized whipping cream.
  • For the filling, discard the cherry juice and just add the cherries, twice the amount of cherry jam, and the liqueur to the buttercream or stabilized whipping cream.
  • Put the chocolate sprinkles on the top of the cake and leave the sides bare.

Whether you cut a few corners or go for the gusto, the cake will be stunning—a labor of love! And love is what it's all about.

Which is my cue to get back to the kitchen, humming: "Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy." The Ohio Express YouTube video is worth a view, if only to give you a good laugh when you see the haircuts and groovy outfits!

Have a sweet Valentine's Day!


Contact Lorinda at lorindamckinnon@gmail.com

Lorinda resides in Eastern Washington, where she joyously combines her love of cooking and gardening. Baking is her passion, and licking the batter off the spoon after making a cake is her reward. When she's not in the kitchen, she's out in the garden pulling weeds and snacking on young peas. Also enjoy Lorinda's blog, The Rowdy Baker.


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