Valentine's Day recipes

(Photo kept small to hide lamo blurriness.)

Our special Valentine's dinner happened tonight. It was spectacular. I am not usually one to make a main dish with so many steps, but the sauce for the pork roast was unbelievably delicious. If, however, you don't like wine...well....I suggest you find another recipe. There is a bottle of Pinot Noir in this and it reduces into a fragrant, complex, thick sauce that was worth every pot used and every minute spent. Yumola barely does it justice.

The menu:

Pork Shoulder Roast with figs, garlic and Pinot Noir
Green beans
Artisan rolls
Chocolate Panna Cotta

Pork Roast Recipe

1 1/2 cups (10 oz.) dried Mission figs, stems removed, halved lengthwise.
1 T sugar
1/2 t anise seed
2 T plus 1/2 t chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus thyme sprigs
1 bottle Pinot Noir, divided
1 boned pork shoulder (butt) roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into large slivers
About 1 1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
3 T olive oil
About 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. Put figs, sugar, anise seed, 1 T thyme, and 1 cup wine in medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until figs are just tender when pierced, 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

2. With a small, sharp knife, make 16 evenly spaced lengthwise cuts into roast, each cut about one inch long and one inch deep. Insert a garlic sliver, then a fig half into each cut, closing meat over figs; make cuts bigger if necessary. Set aside remaining figs and their liquid.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using kitchen twine, tie up roast. In a small bowl, combine 1 T thyme, 1 1/2 t salt,1/2 t pepper, and the oil. Rub all over roast. (If you don't have twine, but you do have fruit skewers, you can use them to create a sort of modern art look to your roast. Ask me how I know.)

4. Heat a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown pork all over, turning as needed, 8-10 minutes total; adjust heat if needed to keep meat from scorching. Transfer pork, fat side up, to a 9x13 baking pan.

5. Reduce heat to medium. Add reserved garlic to frying pan; cook, stirring often, until light golden, about one minute. Pour in remaining wine from bottle and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture over pork and cover tightly with foil.

6. Bake pork until almost tender when pierced, 2 1/2 hours. Stir reserved fig mixture into pan juices; bake, covered, until meat is tender, fifteen to twenty more minutes.

7. Spoon pan juices over pork to moisten, then transfer meat to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Skim fat from pan juices. Pour juices with figs into a large frying pan and boil over high heat until reduced to two cups, about five minutes. Stir in 1/2 t thyme. Season with lemon juice and more salt and pepper if you like; pour into gravy boat. Remove twine from pork, then cut meat crosswise in thick slices. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve with sauce.


Small, red potatoes. Peeled. Cut most of the way through to create a ruffly-looking potato. Sprinkle with olive oil, freshly ground pepper, kosher salt and herbes de Provence. I cooked in the convection oven at 425 degrees for thirty minutes. Adjust for your oven. Basically cook until browned and crispy.

Green beans

Skinny french green beans, stir fried until bright green and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Artisan rolls

The basic artisan bread recipe, three balls of dough for each roll. Let rise in cupcake pan. Cook approx. 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Cook ahead; reheat in warm oven just before dinner.

Chocolate panna cottas

2 t. unflavored gelatin
2 cups low-fat milk, divided
3/4 cup sugar
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 2/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 t. vanilla extract
Chocolate shavings

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup milk. Let stand 1 minute, then stir and let stand about ten more minutes for gelatin to soften.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, the sugar, semisweet chocolate, and cocoa over medium-high heat until steaming, about three minutes. Add gelatin mixture and whisk gently until it dissolves, two to three minutes. Let cool for fifteen minutes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk yogurt with vanilla until smooth. Poor and stir chocolate mixture through a fine strainer into yogurt, then whisk mixtures together.
4. Oil eight ramekins (2/3 cup size). Divide yogurt mixture among ramekins. Chill, covered, until set, 4 1/2 hours and up to two days.
5. Run a small metal spatula between panna cottas and sides of ramekins to loosen. Immerse ramekins one at a time to just below rim in hot water until edges of dessert soften, twenty to thirty seconds; lift small plate over each. Hold plate and ramekin together and give a firm shake to release panna cotta, easing it out gently with the spatula if needed.
6. Scatter chocolate shavings over desserts if you like.

Both pork and panna cotta recipes are from Sunset Magazine's Best Recipes 2010. My mother worked for Sunset Magazine a lifetime ago, so I have always been partial to their publications, but this one is particularly good. Lots of ethnic recipes, plenty of fresh flavors and creative ideas, but not overdone. I will be making lots more recipes in the weeks and months to come. Next up: Tarragon bubble fling and spicy mango shrimp -- yum!


Smidge said…
Loving your adjectives. Lamo and Yumola? :) Please bring all of these ingredients and proceed to my home as quickly as possible.
Di said…
I would LOVE to serve this meal to you, Lis. Praying for Erik tonight. Love his blogging; love his pictures.

Lynn in WI said…
You are taking this cooking thing to a whole new level! This menu simply takes my breath away. In contrast, we made heart-shaped pizzas for the boys and broccoli beef for us--with Orange Crush to wash it all down. At least the Crush was in glass bottles, much more classy than a plastic two-litre, right?

Yum-ola should be your vanity plate. :) I say it all the time and every time I do I think of you.

Sunset Magazine is seriously underrated, don't you think? I have one of their stir-fry collections from the '90's that I can't part with.
Anonymous said…
That looks *amazing*, Mama. Congratulations. :)

love you,

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