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Valentine’s Day with the Girls

16 February 2006

What to do when the boys are away on the day of love [to Nicaragua, Reykjavik, and Leiden, respectively] but have some of your best girlfriends over for a special dinner? Somehow I spent a whole hour before noon in Whole Foods wandering the aisles, searching for the perfect this and that, organic chocolates, and Pt. Reyes blue cheese — but when I got home, laden with bags, and unpacked the delicacies, I was glad I had taken my time.

So I spent the day baking a lovely and decadent chocolate heart cake — devil’s food cake with fudge frosting — from a recipe on williams-sonoma.com, making a few valentines (of course!), and drinking tea. These are things, really, that I would love to do every day, but perhaps it is best that I do not, for they become more special for their rareness.

I started us off with a glass of sparkling wine, some brie (de France, bien sur) with wild mushrooms, and good, dark, whole wheat bread. For my soup course, I made a very simple leek and mushroom soup – light, and fresh. For them, I pan-fried a bit of salmon, served with a tomato-white wine sauce, and sauteed a few portabello mushrooms for me. I roasted asparagus with parmesan and basil; piled some baby spinach on top of roasted beets (cut-out into stars!); and cooked up a pot of wild rice to round out the meal. Mostly I wanted organic, healthful, and delicious dishes that were a little out-of-the-ordinary. These are my girls! They deserve to be spoiled a bit every so often!

With the cake we had strawberries and more chocolates and Framboise, a raspberry beer/wine concoction that, usually too sweet for me, hit the spot and paired with the chocolate indulgences perfectly. All in all – a very sweet, very nice Valentine’s Day spent with wonderful company and good conversation.

Leek-Mushroom Soup

2 leeks, washed and sliced thinly (save stems for making veg stock)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
As many mushrooms as you like, sliced thinly 5-6 cups vegetable stock herbs

Saute the garlic and leeks in a bit of olive oil until soft. Add mushrooms, a little water, and some white wine. Cover and cook mushrooms until soft but not mushy. Throw in herbs (basil, rosemary, etc.). Add water or vegetable stock and cook until flavors are blended. S+p to taste.

[and the cake tastes great the next day, too.]