Valentine’s Dinner


It has been years since husband and I ventured out for a meal on Valentine’s day. “A meal” sounds so unromantic, right? We’re old, so protest not.

Our decision to stay at home for dinner on this occasion stems from our abhorrence of traffic and crowded restos. Time was when we’d just order Shakey’s heart-shaped pizzas. OR Dunkin’ Donuts heart-shaped donuts. The others stuff we had for Valentine’s I cannot now remember, I guess because they weren’t heart shaped?

At any rate, I was deciding between ordering Serye’s or ARistocrat’s pork barbecue – seriously – because it’s husband’s comfort food. Given a choice, he’d answer that each time I’d ask what he wants to eat. Then i saw this recipe, or rather, received it from allrecipes.com:

Dee’s Sexy, Spicy, Shrimp, Sausage, and Peppers

Original recipe makes 8 servingsChange Servings
  • 1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 shallot, sliced

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 pound thin spaghetti

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 5 (3.5 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

  • 1 pinch salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • Directions

    1. Place the shrimp, shallot, 1 clove of garlic, creole seasoning, and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a bowl, and stir to coat the shrimp with the marinade. Set the shrimp aside.
    2. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, stir in the spaghetti, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
    3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and brown the sausages on all sides until they are evenly brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausages from the skillet, and cook and stir the red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion in the hot skillet until the vegetables are slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cloves of garlic, and cook and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 5 more minutes.
    4. Slice the sausages, and return them to the skillet. Stir red wine and pasta sauce with the sausages and vegetables, bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, the sausage is no longer pink in the middle, and the sauce has reduced to about half its volume, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes and salt.
    5. Heat butter in a skillet; cook and stir the shrimp and marinade mixture until the shrimp are pink and opaque and the shallot becomes translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. To serve, place about 1/2 cup of cooked pasta on a warmed plate, and spoon shrimp over one side of the pasta, and sausage and peppers on the other side.

    The site is very kind. IT allows one to have the measurements of the ingredients in metric or cups. But take note, cup measurements are expressed in oz. And the procedure doesn’t seem to change amounts even when the ingredients do, like if you want the recipe adjusted to one rather than 8 persons, for example.

    The reviews are a bit scary, but I proceeded with having this prepared for dinner, which was a good decision. The aroma alone will tell you what a great dish you’re in for. The pasta sauce we used came from a Ragout bottle. Frozen since the first use in December, I think. The pepper used was merely green – I had no yellow or red ones.

    I had no Creole seasoning so I googled what goes into it and found this, again from allrecipes.com:

    Original recipe makes 1 1/4 cups (20 tablespoons)Change Servings
    • 2 tablespoons onion powder

    • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

    • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

    • 2 tablespoons dried basil

    • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

    • 1 tablespoon black pepper

    • 1 tablespoon white pepper

    • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

    • 5 tablespoons paprika

    • I didn’t prepare this as directed but just put 1/8 tsp each of thyme, paprika and cayenne. I reasoned that the sauce of dish already had onions and garlic anyway. So there.

    Do try it.

    *********

    The dessert:

    I was contemplating on making flourless brownies because I had raspberry jam and remembered how good Cibo’s is. When I asked HHB for my stash of chocolates, I was thinking of using some Toblerone, Hershey’s nuggets, and a Hershey bar with almonds to total the 125 g of chocolate the recipe I found required.

    But in the process of giving me the chocolates, HHB also gave me my stash of baking chocolate squares and chips. I realized I still had expired Cadbury white chocolate chips (melts) and Nestle white chocolate melts. I happened to read the recipe for cheesecake behind the pack of Nestle melts and thought I should prepare that instead. I also said to myself I could still use the raspberry jam to top the cheesecake.

    But finally, what was it like?

    First the recipe:

    125 plain sweet biscuits, crushed

    60 g butter, melted

    2 tsp gelatine

    1/4 c hot water

    250 g cream cheese

    1/2 c Nestle/Highlander sweetened condensed milk

    1 1/2 c Nestle white melts, melted and cooled

    300ml cream

    Procedure:

    1. Mix the sweet biscuits with the melted butter. Instead of graham crackers, I used Hi-ro biscuits – 12 pcs, including the white filling. Lay this on the bottom of a pie plate.

    2. Dissolve 2 tsp of gelatine in the hot water. I used Ferna. A box has 5 sachets. I used up 1 sachet.

    3. Beat the cream cheese (I used Philadelphia) and condensed milk. Beat in cooled melts. Beat in cream. A box of Nestle cream has 250 g. I added 1/4 cup to that as using 250 g only makes the thing too sweet.

    Refrigerate.

     

    PS – do take care when you melt the white chocolate melts (I combined the Cadbury and Nestle ones, only because the Cadbury pack was open already, I just added a few pieces of the Nestle melts to make 1.5 cups). Use a double boiler if possible. Otherwise, the melts might burn.

    An additional tip: I shaved a bar of Hershey with almonds on top of the cheesecake after a few hours, to ensure it would not sink into the cake. The decision to do this was both for aesthetic and gustatory reasons. When HHA covered the cheesecake with foil, she didn’t put space between the foil and the cake, so some of the latter stuck on the foil and left an ugly surface. As for taste, white chocolate can be boring without nuts or some such.

    Try it.

    If you cannot find white chocolate melts, I think white Toblerone will do as well. Or you can use milk or dark chocolate Toblerone as well.

    Try it. Son liked it when he tried it today, the day after. he was out last night.

     

     

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