Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and because of that, we here at The Manual have ensured that you’ve got everything you need in order to properly celebrate the day. We’ve got you covered if you’re single, if you need a few cocktails to shake up for your lady, or if you’re looking for a gift to woo her. Heck, we’ve even got recipes for you if you’re being proactive and you’re going to cook her breakfast in bed. (Pro tip: do it.)
What we haven’t covered yet is what to do when you’re staying in and making a meal. It’s Valentine’s Day, so you don’t want to cook any old thing. On this night, you’re going to want something to stimulate not just the senses but … other things. You want aphrodisiacs. Luckily, there are a number of foods out there that will do the trick.
We’ve selected four aphrodisiacs — caviar, chile, scallops, and chocolate (because who could say no to more chocolate?)— and provided a corresponding recipe for each. All you’ll have to do is light a few candles, put on some Barry White, and prepare to have the best Valentine’s Day ever.
With so many types of caviar out there (Do you get Beluga? Kaluga?) and so many options for what to serve with it (Are blinis the best bet? What about cheese?), we thought we would go to an expert to see which caviar to choose and what to pair with it. Here are recommendations from chef Rich Torrisi of The Pool Lounge in New York City:
“After tasting dozens of caviars, we found Baeri to be a great French [sturgeon] caviar. We loved the mild flavor and firm texture. The trout roe and uni are equally popular as well,” Torrisi says. “That said, we wanted it to be about the accouterments, which is why you can have it with uni, trout roe, caviar, or anything else great in season. It includes soft-boiled jidori eggs, potatoes, blinis, crème fraîche, and chives, which is our favorite way to enjoy caviar. The potatoes are confit in duck fat first and then roasted in the oven. They are a specific type of potato that we work with a farmer to grow that taste the best when cooked this way. The blinis are made à la minute for each order.”
Chile-Rubbed Hanger Steak
(Created by Floyd Cardoz, Flavorwalla)
- 4 guajillo chiles, seeds removed
- 4 dried chipotle chiles
- 2 ancho chiles, seeds removed
- 3 lb trimmed hanger steak, cut into 5-6 ounce pieces
- 1 c boiling water
- .25 c canola oil
- 6 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- .5 tsp cumin seeds
- 8 garlic cloves
- 4 whole cloves
- Kosher salt
- Finishing salt, such as Maldon
- Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Place the ancho, guajillo, and chipotle chiles in the pan and toast, turning once, until slightly colored on both sides (about 5-7 minutes).
- Remove and submerge in boiling water. Let soak for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a spice/coffee grinder, finely grind the oregano, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and cloves. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Place the chiles and their soaking liquid in a blender. Add the garlic, vinegar, oil, and sugar, and blend until smooth.
- Transfer to the bowl with the spices and stir until well combined.
- Rub the marinade over the steak and seal in a Ziplock bag. Place in refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours.
- Prepare a medium grill. Remove the steak from the marinade and season generously with salt. Let stand at room temperature while the grill heats.
- Grill the steak for 5-7 minutes per side for medium-rare, or to desired doneness. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for about six minutes.
- Slice steak against the grain, sprinkle with finishing salt, and serve.
Manchester Sea Scallops
(Created by Andrea Correale, Elegant Affairs)
- 1 lb large sea scallops
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp Vermont maple syrup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- .25 tsp cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt to season
- Fresh thyme to garnish
- Chives to garnish
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Thoroughly pat scallops dry and season with kosher salt.
- Sear scallops in the pan until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Turn scallops and cook for 1 more minute. Remove to a plate.
- Add bacon to the pan and stir to cook. Allow bacon to crisp slightly (about 4-5 minutes). Remove bacon to a plate and drain the fat.
- Turn heat to medium-low and add the butter to the pan. Stir butter over heat until slightly browned (about 2 minutes). Add maple syrup, cayenne, and bacon. Stir to combine. Season sauce with a pinch of kosher salt.
- Add the scallops back to the pan and spoon sauce over scallops until heated through (about 2 minutes).
- Garnish with thyme leaves and chopped chives. Serve alone or over a complimentary risotto dish!
(Created by Eric and Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Restaurants)
- 18 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 5 oz white chocolate, chopped
- 2 oz graham crackers (1/2 sleeve, or 4 full crackers), crushed (1 cup)
- 1 cup + 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp brewed espresso
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 8 large egg yolks
- 8 large egg whites
- Line six 8-ounce ramekins with parchment or wax paper.
- In a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, melt the white chocolate. Stir in the graham crackers.
- Divide equally among the prepared molds, using a spoon to spread evenly on each base. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
- In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and butter with the espresso. Let cool for 2 minutes. Stir in (do not whisk) the yolks until just incorporated.
- In a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the whites until foamy. Slowly add the sugar and increase the speed. Beat until the whites form soft, floppy peaks.
- Fold a little bit of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining of the egg whites.
- Spoon the mousse into the molds and level the tops with an offset spatula or spoon. Chill until set (about 3 hours or overnight)
- To serve, gently dip the bottoms of the ramekins in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Run a spatula along the edges of the ramekin (outside the wax paper) and pop out mousse. Remove the paper. Transfer the desserts to plates and serve.
Note: Pregnant women, the elderly, and people who have compromised immune systems should exercise caution when consuming the raw egg whites in this recipe.
Death by Chocolate Avocado Brownies
(Created by Andrea Correale, Elegant Affairs)
- 1 bag of Baker’s Chocolate
- 1 c dark chocolate chips
- .75 c cocoa powder
- .75 c flour
- .75 c pure maple syrup
- .5 c vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- .5 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1 ripe avocado mashed smooth
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray an 8×8-inch pan with non-stick spray.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, avocado, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Mix well until smooth.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the avocado mixture and blend well. Gently fold in chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
- Melt Bakers chocolate on the stove top. Pour over the top of brownies. Allow to and top to harden, and serve.
If Barry White is your jam, take a gander at our playlist of romantic music that isn’t too cheesy:
Article originally published by Amanda Gabriele on February 13, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on February 6, 2018.