Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day Adventures - A Fancy Three-Course Dinner at Home

After a long and exciting day of Disney Questing (see here) Nathan and I were ready for a nice romantic dinner. Neither of us enjoy doing dinner out at a restaurant for Valentine's Day. It's super crowded. We hate crowds. And the price is jacked up. I'd much rather relax at home and prepare a meal that is just as fancy, more special and much cheaper. I put a lot of throught into this meal and came up with a delectable three-course dinner. The main course and dessert were adapted from other recipes I found on the web. I've posted links to those original recipes below in case you'd rather make that version (and to give credit where credit is due).

Appetizer: Wine & Cheese Pairing Plate

Cheeses:
I opted for more firm cheeses for this plate, as they are naturally lower in lactose (Nathan is lactose intolerant). I also included some spreads - onion jam, blackberry jam and fresh honey. I used Pure Honey from Isaiah's Garden. I've been loving Isaiah's Garden's all-natural products lately. The Pure Honey is glorious! And all if their products are super clean.


Wines:
The wine came from a tasting starter pack I picked up from one of those online tasting sites, and included six miniature bottles. It was perfect for this occasion because we were able to sample many different types and I didn't have to spend a fortune on multiple bottles of wine.



You can find the original recipe here. I made several adaptations:

1. I altered the cream sauce so that it is now dairy-free because, as I mentioned above, Nathan is lactose intolerant.

2. The original recipe uses Italian white truffles. While I would LOVE to use those in the recipe, they are hella expensive. So I set out to make this recipe a little more budget-friendly, and found Porcini mushrooms to be an acceptable alternative.

3. I decided to cook the scallops in coconut oil instead of canola oil, just to be a little cleaner.

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~ Ingredients ~

1 lb. large scallops
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2/3 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. shallots
1 c. champagne
Dried Porcini mushrooms
Butter lettuce
Sea salt
Ground pepper

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~ Directions ~

The Sauce:
To make the dairy-free whipping cream, whisk together 2 parts almond milk with 1 part vegetable oil. To avoid dealing with odd measurements, I just used 2/3 c. almond milk and 1/3 c. vegetable oil. This makes a full cup, but you will only need 2/3 c. for this recipe. Set the whipping cream aside for now.

Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add champagne and cook until reduced by half, then add 2/3 c. of the dairy-free whipping cream. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and add several dried Porcini mushrooms. Set aside somewhere where it can stay warm while you work on the scallops.

The Scallops:
Season the uncooked scallops with salt. Heat the coconut oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the scallops and cook for two minutes, until they are a nice caramel color. Flip and cook for one more minute. Remove scallops from the pan and add the butter lettuce leaves (amount depends on how many you are serving and if you are making a side dish). Stir gently until wilted and coated with scallop juices.

Transfer butter lettuce to plates. Spoon the cream sauce around the lettuce. Place the scallops on top. Garnish with a few more dried Porcini mushrooms. Serve immediately.


And don't forget the champagne! Lots and lots of champagne!


Original recipe here. Once again, I made a few adaptations:

1. Use oat flour. I love how oat flour works in baked goods. And it's much cleaner than using all-purpose flour.

2. Used granulated stevia in place of all sugar.

3. Topped with powdered sugar and fresh raspberries instead of chocolate sauce.

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~ Ingredients ~

Serves 2

6 Tbsp. oat flour
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. cacao powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. stevia
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c. + 1 tsp. coconut oil
4 Tbsp. raspberry jam
Topping of your choice

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~ Directions ~

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two small ramekins. Be sure to grease well. Otherwise the cakes will stick and fall apart when you try to remove them after baking.

In a small bowl, combine the oat flour, cacao powder, salt, baking powder and stevia. Add the coconut oil, vanilla and almond milk, and stir until it forms a batter. Spoon half of the batter between the two ramekins. Spoon 2 Tbsp. of the raspberry jam into each of the ramekins into the middle of the batter. Then top with the remaining chocolate batter.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until fork inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing cakes from the ramekins. Move cakes to plates and top with whatever you like. I topped with a handful Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate morsels, which was fantastic. You could also use powdered sugar, chocolate sauce or fresh raspberries. This is a clean recipe but it tastes soooo decadent.



Enjoy this delicious Valentine's Day dessert with the one you love. ♥ And, of course, more champagne.


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