A meal to set the mood on Valentine’s Day
Heart-shaped boxes wrapped in cellophane. Sigh. Nothing says “I can’t be bothered” like cheap candy. Is this really the message you’d like to send your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? No, I didn’t think so.
Allow me to make two suggestions: oysters and chocolate. This season, thousands upon thousands of Galveston Bay oysters will make their way to area restaurants and across the country and onto the plates of couples hoping to get all hot and bothered. Thought by many to stoke the fire, these amorous bivalves have been known as aphrodisiacs for centuries. Their alleged impact on a man’s virility has caused scores of optimistic suitors to eagerly slurp them down.
But what about the female libido? Long considered a feel-good food by Americans, chocolate was regarded as a powerful aphrodisiac by ancient Aztecs. Today, scientists have basically dismissed its power to stimulate desire. So, it seems the most alluring thing about chocolate is its delicious taste and sensuous melt-in-your-mouth texture. I say, if it ain’t broke … .
Paired with a nice wine and a salad, these two simple recipes come together for a quick, romantic meal. So you’ll be left with plenty of time for, you know, other things.
Roasted Oysters with Compound Butter
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons chopped tarragon or your favorite herb
2 tablespoons hot sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 dozen medium to large oysters, shucked
1 32-ounce box rock salt
Preheat oven to 425 F. In a food processor, pulse the butter with the tarragon, hot sauce, salt and pepper until thoroughly blended. Transfer the butter mixture to a large sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a narrow log. Refrigerate the butter until firm, about 25 minutes.
Place the rock salt on a sheet pan with sides and spread evenly. Set oysters on top of the salt and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and top oysters with a pat of butter. Serve immediately.
Chocolate Pots de Crème
9 ounces high-quality semisweet
1½ cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Place the chocolate in a blender. Whisk the milk, 1 cup cream, egg yolks, granulated sugar and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the whisk and almost boiling.
Immediately pour the milk mixture over the chocolate in the blender. Blend until combined and smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Divide the chocolate mixture among ramekins or small cups and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Whip the remaining ½ cup cream and the confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until soft peaks form. Top the chilled pots de crème with whipped cream. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.