I hope everybody is excited about Valentine’s Day! Or at least looking forward to some really good (red themed) food recipes. Because this whole week is dedicated to my Valentine’s Dinner Menu project, which just happens to consist of delicious dishes with a decided red hue.
Yesterday, I posted the recipe for the main course for my special Valentine’s dinner with G: baked chicken breasts with mango-pomegranate salsa. This salsa also works really well on fish, or even just with chips, so don’t feel like you have to stick with the chicken template.
Today, I’m going to share my cocktail and appetizer recipes!
Let’s start with the appetizer, since you should always eat before you drink. Or so I’m told.
Ingredients (Serves 6 – 8)
20 medium-sized cherry tomatoes, relatively firm
8 ounces goat cheese
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 T olive oil
a dash each of salt & cayenne pepper
fresh basil leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
Using a paring knife, cut off the tops of the cherry tomatoes. Cut down far enough to get a wide plane. The narrower your opening, the harder it is to get the cheese inside.
Next, de-seed them. To do this, carefully cut around the inside edge of the tomato and scoop out the gooey insides.
I wish I could show a better picture of how to do this, but I took a dozen and they’re just a knife sticking out of a tomato. So not helpful.
Rinse with water to remove any stubborn seeds or tomato membranes.
You’ll be left with this:
Once you’ve done all the tomatoes, turn upside down on a paper towel-lined plate or platter to let the water/excess juices run out.
Next we make the cheese filling!
In a small skillet, combine the olive oil, shallot, garlic, salt & pepper. Over low heat, sauté until shallot is cooked through (nearly translucent).
In a small bowl, pour the hot olive oil mixture on top of the goat cheese. Stir to combine thoroughly. It should have a consistency similar to cream cheese.
Fill the cavity of each cherry tomato with your cheese mixture* and top with a large piece of basil. Place on a baking sheet.
To prevent them from rolling around, cut a very small piece off the bottom of your tomato.
*I used a small spoon to scoop the cheese on top of the tomato and then just patted the cheese down into the cavity. If you have a pastry bag, I recommend using it.
Heat under the broiler for 5 – 7 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown. Serve!
All right, now that we have some food in our tummies, let’s move on to the cocktail. I’m calling it a Heart on Ice, mostly because it’s red and I’m not very creative.
3 ounces vodka (a shot is 1.5 ounces, typically)
1/2 ounce raspberry liqueur
juice of 1/2 lime
2 dashes bitters
ginger ale to fill glass
Chill a glass – I don’t use martini glasses because I knock them over more often than not, so I use a highball. But you are welcome to use a fancy glass! In a shaker, combine ice, vodka, liqueur, and lime juice. Stir.
Strain vodka mix into your chilled glass and add ice & 2 dashes of bitters. My boyfriend made juniper bitters* for me a few months ago, and they’re absolutely delicious, so that’s what I used. But I’m sure regular bitters would be just as tasty in this cocktail.
Fill remaining room in glass with ginger ale. Enjoy!
*If you’re interested in making your own juniper bitters, G used this recipe from One Tomato, Two Tomato. He says he “erred on the side of excess” for all ingredients. Roughly, this means he used a little over 4″ each of the thyme and rosemary branches and a full Tablespoon of peppercorns. He also decided to use lemon thyme instead of regular thyme, but that was out of personal preference.
Tomorrow: Salad & Sides!