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Celebrity chefs share their secrets for turning out a romantic meal at home. Fox New's Lilian Huang Woo gets tips from Daniel Boulud, Alex Guarnaschelli and Nico Abello on how to turn up the heat in the kitchen for Valentine's Day.

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Chef Alex Guarnaschelli
Photo Credit: Squire Fox

Quickie Strawberry Tartlets

from Old-School Comfort Food by 

 Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

I love a simple fruit tart. During my many years living in France, I enjoyed countless tarts with crisp buttery shells laced with traces of almond flour or extract or lemon zest. When I'm at home, I often find that the prospect of tackling a good tart dough, a filling, and a fruit topping feels like a lot. So I cheat a little and use a very thin cookie, or tuile, batter to make the tartlet shells. The tuile shells are thinner, crisper, and more rustic looking than a classic pie or tart shell shape. Each one has its own unique shape. As far as the fruit goes, strawberries are my first choice because the slightly seedy exterior combined with the meaty inside is impossible to improve upon. The tartlet shells and strawberry mix can be made in advance but do not fill the shells with the sour cream and strawberries until just before serving; the juice from the strawberries makes them soggy quickly. Makes 30 to 35 tartlets

1 lemon

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 pound small to medium strawberries, hulled and sliced ¼ inch thick

1 cup confectioners' sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup orange juice, not fresh squeezed

Cooking spray

½ to ¾ cup sour cream

  1. Prepare the fruit: Using a vegetable peeler and a light touch, remove the zest from half of the lemon. Try to remove the zest in small pieces and leave the pith (the white part) behind. Juice the lemon into a medium bowl and mix in the zest, granulated sugar, and strawberries. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tarts.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  1. Make the batter: Using a fine-mesh strainer or sifter, sift together the confectioners' sugar and flour into a medium bowl. Use your hands to push the sugar and flour through the strainer to make sifting easier. Whisk in the butter and orange juice.
  1. Use a cookie sheet or invert a rimmed, baking sheet onto the counter, making sure the bottom is clean. Coat with a thin layer of cooking spray. Spoon a generous teaspoon of the batter near the corner of the sheet and use a small offset spatula to spread it thinly into a small, imperfect oval, about 3½ by 2½ inches. Take care to leave about an inch between the ovals because they will spread a bit when they are baked. You should be able to fit about 10 on the sheet at one time.
  1. Bake the tart shells: Have ready a mini muffin tin or clean egg carton. Put the tuiles in the oven and bake until light brown, 8 to 11 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and while the tuiles are still warm, use an offset spatula to transfer a tuile from the baking sheet to the muffin tin. Using your fingers, press down in the center to create a shell that mimics the shape of each muffin cup. The sides will overlap or be higher than the muffin cup. That's fine. Your goal is to make a mini tart shell to fill with the strawberries. Repeat with the remaining tuiles, working with only one at a time. If the tuiles cool too much on the baking sheet before molding and aren't flexible, return the sheet to the warm oven for a minute to loosen them up before continuing. Let the tart shells cool completely.
  1. Glaze the berries: Strain the liquid from the strawberries and pour it into a small pan. Simmer over medium heat to reduce until it becomes syrupy and reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then pour it back over the strawberries, and toss to blend.
  1. Serve the tarts: Remove the shells from the muffin tin. Put a small dollop of sour cream in the bottom of each shell and top with some of the strawberries. Assemble and then eat immediately. They become soggy quickly.

    A Dozen Roses by Hemant Pathak  (Junoon NYC)

    1 1/2 oz Rose and Cardamom-Infused Vodka

    1 oz Freshly-squeezed Pineapple Juice

    1/2 oz Freshly-squeezed Lemon Juice

    1/4 oz Rose Syrup

    Shaken, served in a coupe glass with rose petals and sprinkled with rosewater.

    Inspiration: Valentine's Day is the festival of love and affection, and who doesn't like roses? The idea was to bring the floral notes of cardamon and rose petals together with citrus and pineapple for a refreshing cocktail.

    Oyster/Saffron/Black Garlic

    L'Appart. Photo by Zandy Mangold.

Chef Nicolas Abello

 L'Appart

For 2 people:

6 Beau Soleil or Pemaquid Oyster

0.03 oz of Saffron Pistil

1 cup of Heavy cream

½ black garlic head

½ lemongrass stick

1 oz of fresh ginger

Fleur de sel

Pepper

Open the 6 Oyster, remove the muscle, clean the oyster, strain and keep the first water, clean and dry the bottom shell for the final presentation.

With the Oyster water, some fresh ginger and lemongrass sticks , put the oyster to cook 1 minute simmer.

Cool down right away and keep in the broth.

Reduce the heavy cream with the saffron pistils. When this one start to be reduce by half, stop it, cool down and season it.

Slice the Black Garlic very fine, 1 slice per oyster.

For the presentation you can use a Rock salt for the base of your oyster.

Let's finish the dish now.

Put back the oyster inside the shell, saffron cream cold on top and the black garlic slice. You can decorate with an edible flower or a fresh herb like chervil if you like to. Presented the oyster on the rock salt. Enjoy this dish with a white wine dry and chilled.

Chocolate with Blood Orange and Ginger
L'Appart NYC

Seared Hanger Steak With Marinated Broccoli And Balsamic-Raspberry Vinaigrette

recipe: Chef Alex Guarnaschelli
Photo Credit: Squire Fox

from Old-School Comfort Food by 

 Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

Serves 4

2 medium heads broccoli, with stems (about 1 1/4 pounds total)

Kosher salt

1/2 cup Balsamic-Raspberry Vinaigrette (recipe below)

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 pounds hanger steak, trimmed of any sinew

Black pepper 

  1. Marinate the broccoli: Cut the broccoli lengthwise into smaller pieces. The goal is to create "stalks" of broccoli with the florets on top, kind of like oversize asparagus spears. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in a handful of salt. You want the water to taste like seawater. When it comes back to a boil, plunge the broccoli into the water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Drain the broccoli on a kitchen towel. Arrange the spears on a platter and drizzle them liberally with the balsamic vinaigrette. Refrigerate the platter. 
  1. Cook the steak: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add the oil. Season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper. When the pan begins to smoke lightly, use a pair of metal tongs to gingerly place the steak in the hot oil. Cook to medium-rare, 5 to 6 minutes on each side. The total cooking time will be 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare (or an internal temperature of 130°F. Remove the steak and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes. 
  1. Serve the steak: Slice the steak against the natural grain (or lines) in the meat. This will make the meat more tender for chewing. Taste for seasoning. Arrange it on its own platter. Serve the broccoli straight from the refrigerator, tossing it to recoat with the dressing.

balsamic-raspberry vinaigrette

Makes 3 cups

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1⁄3 cup raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon superfine sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup canola oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well blended and then slowly drizzle in the olive and canola oils, whisking constantly, to make an emulsified vinaigrette. This will keep, covered in the fridge, for up to 3 weeks. Just shake vigorously before using. If it separates, blend it for a minute with a splash of cold water.

Coconut-Ginger Colada by Hemant Pathak (Junoon, NYC)

Coconut-Ginger Colada by Hemant Pathak (Junoon, NYC)

2 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur

1½ oz Lime-infused coconut milk

½ oz Lime Juice

¼ oz Simple Syrup

Two small pieces fresh lemongrass

One Green Cardamom bean

Method: Shake all the ingredients with ice vigorously, serve in a wine glass with cube ice. Garnish with lemongrass stick and edible flower. Aphrodisiac Ingredient: Ginger, Coconut, Lime Inspiration: The idea was to make a health-conscious aperitif cocktail without adding any additional sugar and spirits. Simple & beautiful with the harmony between the aphrodisiac ingredient ginger, coconut, and lime!

Yankee Magazine Citrusy Seared Scallops on Wilted Greens
Nina Gallant

Citrusy Seared Sea Scallops on Wilted Greens

From Yankee's "Sunken Treasure"

 Total time: 30 minutes

Hands-on time: 30 minutes 

This is a great winter salad when you're craving something light and bright, but still substantial. Look for fresh local baby greens at winter farmers' markets. Soaking the onions in water before tossing with the vinaigrette softens their flavor.

1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into very thin half-moons

3 oranges

¼ cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

5 ounces baby spinach or a mixture of kale, spinach, and other winter greens

4 large sea scallops (10 per pound), or 12 medium ones (20-30 per pound)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as canola

½ tablespoon butter

Put the onion slices in a bowl of cold water and set aside.

Next, prepare the oranges: Take one orange and cut in half crosswise. Juice one half, straining out any seeds, and discard the empty rind. Reserve the juice and set the other half aside.

Using a sharp paring knife, trim the top and bottom of another orange, slicing off a bit of flesh with the peel. Stand the orange on a cutting board and cut down the sides, following the curve of the fruit, so that you remove the peel along with a bit of the flesh. There should be no white pith or peel on the surface. Cut the orange crosswise into round slices about ¼-inch thick. Repeat with remaining 1½ oranges. Set the slices aside.

Make the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, and rice wine vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the onion slices. Put greens, onions, and orange rounds in a large bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat thoroughly (taste a leaf to check).

Pat scallops dry and sprinkle both sides lightly with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, until nearly smoking. Add vegetable oil and butter, then add scallops and sear until nicely browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn and sear the other side, basting with oil as you go, until browned, another 2 minutes.

Arrange salad mixture on plates and place 1 large (or 3 medium) scallops atop each. Serve immediately. 

Yields 4 servings.

Baked Scallops in Mushroom Cream Sauce

Total time: 40 minutes

Hands-on time: 35 minutes 

If we were going to be fancy about it, we could call this coquilles Saint Jacques (or a variation thereof), the classic French dish of poached scallops in wine with mushrooms and cream. Traditionally, the scallops are served in their shells. Here, we've gone family-style, baking them in an ovenproof skillet. For a more elegant presentation, you could transfer the scallops with the sauce and cheese to individual gratin dishes before broiling.

4 large shallots

3 ounces sliced white (button) mushrooms

4 tablespoons salted butter, divided

..." cup white vermouth or dry white wine

1 pound medium sea scallops (20-30 per pound)

1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

1¼ teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ cup grated Gruyère cheese

Minced Italian parsley, for garnish

1 loaf crusty bread, for serving

Preheat your broiler and set a rack so that the scallops will be about 3 to 4 inches from the heating element.

Put shallots in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times until roughly chopped. Add mushrooms and pulse several more times until mixture is finely chopped.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and sauté until mushrooms give off their water and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.

Reduce heat to low, add vermouth to the pan, and bring to a gentle simmer. Add scallops and poach gently, basting often, until just barely cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on size. Remove and reserve scallops and poaching liquid.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the pan and add the flour, whisking to combine. Gradually add the reserved poaching liquid and cream, and whisk until sauce is smooth. Stir in parsley and mustard.

Add scallops and mushroom-shallot mixture to cream sauce. (Here you can transfer the mixture to individual gratin dishes, if you prefer). Sprinkle with cheese and broil till bubbling and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve immediately, with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Yields 4 servings. 

photograph: Nina Gallant, food and prop styling by Catrine Kelty

Crispy Oven-"Fried" Scallops

Total time: 40 minutes

Hands-on time: 25 minutes

 Here's a lighter take on classic fried scallops, which involves baking them in a panko bread crumb topping. Don't be alarmed by the full stick of butter in the ingredients list--you won't use the entire thing.

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

20 medium sea scallops (20-30 per pound)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1¼ teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted

1½ cups panko bread crumbs

Tartar sauce and lemon slices, for serving

Preheat oven to 475° and set a rack to the middle position. Take two rimmed baking sheets and set a wire rack in each. Set aside.

Whisk eggs and lemon juice until thoroughly combined. Pat scallops dry. In a shallow bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Pour melted butter and bread crumbs into additional (separate) shallow bowls.

Dip a scallop in the egg mixture, then dredge in the seasoned flour. Now dip it in the melted butter and gently roll in panko bread crumbs. Place on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining scallops. When all scallops are breaded, drizzle with some of the remaining butter and transfer to the oven. Bake until scallops are golden brown and cooked through (cut to check), 10 to 13 minutes. Serve with tartar sauce and lemon slices. Yields 4 servings; 6 as an appetizer.

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Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

 

Chef Nicolas Abello