Love and spice are great bedfellows, but often these days I find that too much spice can snuff out the flavor. There is nothing like spice for a romantic dinner that lingers on the palate without smothering the flavors. Smoked peppers, Saffron and chocolate finished with a splash of Patron Tequila will certainly inspire a love-filled night. Smoked peppers are great during the winter or a chilly Valentine’s night. Try some of the recipes for your Valentine as seen in the January/February issue of national food and wine magazine The Tasting Panel, click here to view full size article or zoom on article below or log on to The Tasting Panel.
Cheese tray with Catapano Goat cheese www.catapanodairyfarm.com sprinkled with a dash of hot Paprika (you can shape the goat cheese in a heart shape) and serve with roasted red peppers, cured olives and some spicy Marcona Almonds. Serve with a glass of bubbly from North Fork vineyard, Sparkling Pointe www.sparklingpointe.com. They have a crisp Brut that will rival any French champagne at a fraction of the cost and their “Champagne” colored bubbly is called Topaz and will stand up to a $200 bottle of Krug Rosé.
Spicy Sauteed shrimp with with Ancho pepper mole and Tequila shrimp, served with saffron rice pilaf. Pair this with a glass of Corey Creek Vineyard’s Gewürztraminer www.bedellcellars.com . This wine is the perfect accompaniment for the spice of the Mole sauce with it’s tropical nose and clean finish.
Budín de Chocolate, a dense chocolate bread pudding with Mexican chocolate ganache paired with an espresso Martini. www.patronspirits.com See recipes following article.
Tequila Shrimp with Ancho Pepper Sauce and Saffron Rice Pilaf
Prepare the Day Before
1. Soak one Ancho pepper in one cup of water over night and
de-vein the next day.
2. Marinate the shrimp in the tequila over night in refrigerator
Ancho Pepper Sauce
1 Ancho Pepper, hydrate over night in two cups of water
1 8 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of sugar
Salt to taste
5-6 large shrimp per serving
Add one tablespoon of Tequila per 5 to 6 shrimp
Add pinch of salt
Squeeze quarter lime/sufficient for 1 dozen shrimp
Combine ingredients and set over night in refrigerator
Saffron Rice Pilaf
1 Cup of Arborio Rice
2 Cups vegetable stock
Salt to taste
3-4 threads of Saffron
Ancho Pepper Sauce
1. In a blender add one can of crushed tomatoes, one clove of garlic and the Ancho pepper along with the water and blend until smooth.
2. Continue blending with one tablespoon of olive oil and one half teaspoon of sugar.
3. Add salt to taste.
4. Set aside.
Saffron rice pilaf
If you don’t own a rice cooker, ask for one as a gift. You’ll make perfect rice every time and I recommend it for this recipe.
1. Add 1 cup of Arborio rice to 2 cups of vegetable stock.
2. Add pinch of salt to stock and 3-4 threads of Saffron.
3. Add a tablespoon of EVOO to the stock and stir briefly before placing cover and turning on. You won’t need to check until the light indicates that it’s finished.
Cooking the shrimp
Just prior to serving
1. Sauté 5 to 6 large de-veined shrimp in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes or until pink.
2. While still in pan, add 1/2 cup of the pepper sauce. If too thick, add a bit of stock.
Spoon rice onto individual plates. Place the shrimp in decorative manner and ladle pepper sauce around the shrimp and add Cilantro for color.
Chocolate bread pudding
1 oz. bitter chocolate and 1 oz. of Mexican chocolate.
3/4 c. day-old French bread cut into cubes
2 c. scalded milk
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1. Soak bread in 1 3/4 cup milk for 1/2 hour
2. Melt chocolate over hot water (double boiler)
3. Add sugar and remaining 1/4 cup milk to make smooth paste
4. Add to bread with salt, vanilla, and egg slightly beaten.
5. Place in well buttered pudding dish and bake 1/2 hour at 375 until set.
6. Serve with Chocolate ganache and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Pairs perfectly with Patrón Espresso Martini
¾ oz Patrón Silver
¾ oz Patrón XO Café
¾ oz espresso shot
Powdered chocolate for garnish
Rim the serving glass with sugar. Combine liquors with espresso in a mixing glass; add ice, shake and strain. Garnish with powdered chocolate