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February 8, 2008     Cape Gazette
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February 8, 2008

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88 - CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, February 8 - Monday, February 11, 2008 FOOD & DRINK m B Set their hearts afire with Valentine inspired recipes Valentine's Day is fast approaching. Have you started writing poetry and ordered long-stemmed roses? Our tradition is a romantic meal alone, complete with candle- light, music and a bottle of our favorite wine. We're much happier eating at home instead of joining the crowds on one of the restaurant trade's busiest nights of the year (I suspect Mother's Day is probably worse). brad !f you don't want to limit your focus to dinner, you can add special touches all through the day with heart-shaped or red- colored foods. Let's start with breakfast. You'll need one essential accessory: a heart-shaped sili- cone mold (see photo). This allows you to form pancakes, fried eggs or corned beef hash into the familiar symbol of love. Before the big day, you may want to take a trial run and keep a few cautions in mind. Even though the silicone is advertised as non-stick, I get better results coating the inside with cooking spray. For eggs, leave the mold in place until the edges of the egg start to brown slightly and you're sure it's set. When making pancakes, keep the bat- ter in the mold until the top begins to look dry and it's ready to flip. I was too impa- tient and my first few hearts became mis- shapen puddles; the ones in the picture were after some practice. If you don't make your own pancake batter from scratch (see recipe), rely on a tried-and-true boxed pan- cake-waffle mix. Don't be tempted to use a muffin mix with "alternate" directions for pancakes; their ingredients are designed for a longer time in the oven, not a few quick minutes on the griddle. You can insert a Valentine's Day touch for lunch with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Try it on a peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese sandwich - what a romantic way to John McDonald CAPE FLAVORS Denise Clemons remove the crusts. Another way to use that cookie cutter is tO make shortbread. Always soften the butter before combining the ingredients in any shortbread recipe. This will help you avoid the problem I encountered when the hard butter and flour became mortar, jamming my mixer and burning out the motor (I finished with a pas- try blender). The dough for shortbread can be very dry and crumbly; just keep pinching the pieces back together as you roll it out. If you'd rather not bring out your rolling pin, break off small pieces of dough, form them into balls and flatten with the bosom of a glass. Add some red food coloring to the topping sugar and you've got a lovely Valentine's Day treat. Now for your dinner menu, beginning with .an easy appetizer. Arrange a pretty bowl of fig preserves next to a creamy goat cheese and crackers; the combination of fla- vors and textures will melt in your mouth. For the main course, you'll want elegant simplicity, perhaps a dish that spends some cooking time unattended, allowing you to focus on your dinner companion. I've included a recipe for roasted Rock Cornish Game hens, basted during the last 15 min- utes with a colorful glaze. Serve these with potatoes (cut into pieces, drizzled with olive oil and spices, then roasted for 45 minutes) or rice pilaf. Include some roasted baby beets to add a red splash to the plate. And for dessert, the only choice is chocolate - truffles, cheesecake or perhaps fresh straw- berries dipped in chocolate fondue. Happy Valentine's Day! LITTLE RED HENS 2 Rock Cornish game hens 1 T olive oil salt and pepper, to taste 1/2 lemon 1/3 C orange juice 1/2 C cranberry jelly 1 T Balsamic vinegar 1 T Dijon mustard Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together orange juice, cranberry sauce, Balsamic vinegar and mustard in a saucepan. Heat until jelly liquefies, stirring to combine; set aside. Rinse hens and pat dry. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper; place one-quarter lemon in each bird. Arrange birds in roasting pan, breast side up, and bake for about 45 minutes: Baste hens with glaze and bake an additional 15 minutes. Allow to rest, under a tent of foil, for at least 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 2 to 3 servings. SHORTBREAD COOKIES 1 C (2 Sticks) butter, softened 1/2 C packed brown sugar 2 C flour 2 T sugar Continued on page 89 i Jack Clemons photos Aw, sweet! Strawberry Pancake Hearts will give your sweetie something special to awaken to this Valentine's Day. Use a silicone heart mold, such as this one, to make the pancakes. Who wouldn't like a shortbread cookie on Heart's Day? I N E Find affordable flavor in these wine selections I have been focused on American wines for the cellar as an inflation hedge. I still believe stagflation is either here or coming our way. If you start hearing the word "decoupling" on the financial news you will know the housing interest rate issue is resolved and the greenback has bottomed. It will be used in reference to China and India. Resolution should come fight after or just prior to the Olympics. While I'm on it, just finished reading Alan Greenspan's new book, "The Age of Turbulence." My son, Daniel, bought it as a Christmas gift to me. After listening to Mr. G's convoluted language the past 20 years I was not looking forward to the read but decided to give it a try. I"m happy to report the book is written with a wonderful choice of language. The choice of words is succinct and still colorful. The story is ter- rific. Although I had come to disregard Mr. G for repudiating his staunchly held early Ayn Randian principles, he explained his departure early on in the book. I advise folks who would like a better understand- ing of the United States economy to read this book. And speaking of economy, let's start with an inexpensive 90-point Aussie. Heartland Stickleback Red 2006 for $120/case is a nice buy. The Stickleback is a blend of Cab, Shiraz and Grenache. It was aged one year in used French and American oak. The wine is deep crimson colored, with pleasing aromas of black cherry, berry, currants and some pie spices. This is a ripe, dry wine and it picks up the fruit flavors as it evolves, giving it a sweet feel. The wine will keep for a few years but it is ready now. If you buy by the bottle you will pay $13 or so. Another Aussie that is higher priced is a much better value in my opinion. Oliverhill Winery Shiraz Jimmy Section McLaren Vale 2006, rated 93, is on sale at $30, down from $38. Maybe this is the beginning of the crack in the Aussie market. McLaren Vale is home to Penfold's producers of Grange, Australia's most highly regarded Syrah. Oliverhill is a very dark ruby color that was aged 17 months in new American oak. One quick swirl provides wonderful aromas of oak-driven spices and ripe berries that are enhanced with hints of fresh flowers and minerals. The mid-palate is loaded with blackberry flavors. A per- Continued on page 89 li