If you choose to stay home this Valentine’s Day, you can create a charming atmosphere with your favorite love songs, the perfect wine, and a wonderful meal.
The Macy’s Culinary Council is here to help you with that last part.
The Macy’s Culinary Council is a group of 16 of the nation’s top chefs who host culinary events at Macy’s stores nationwide. The council is: Cat Cora, Emeril Lagasse; Gale Gand; Andrew Robinson, Govind Armstrong, Marcus Samuelsson, Michelle Bernstein, Ming Tsai, Nancy Silverton, Rick Bayless, Takashi Yagihashi, Tim Scott, Todd English, Tom Douglas, Tyler Florence and Wolfgang Puck.
The council has put together some delicious dishes for your romantic Valentine’s dinner at home.
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Beet and Goat Cheese Risotto
By Chef Todd English
Yields 12 Servings
1 pound box risotto
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 quarts vegetable stock
5 pounds beets (beet juice)
1 pound roasted baby red beets, diced
½ pound roasted baby yellow beets, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup crumbled Humboldt Fog goat cheese
Pepper to taste
1½ cups shelled and toasted walnuts
½ cup walnut oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup spinach leaves
½ cup Italian parsley leaves picked
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves smashed garlic
Method -- Roasted Baby Beets:
Wash beets well and cut off tops. Place in a shallow roasting pan, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and cover with tin foil. Cook until tender (about 30 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
Method -- Risotto:
Peel and dice 5 pounds of beets, and using a juicer, juice the beets. Take beet juice and place in pot and simmer over low flame. Melt in 1 tablespoon of butter and add diced white onion, slowly cook for 10 minutes, add salt and pepper. Once onions are translucent, slowly add risotto and stir until mixed together -- about 1 minute.
Slowly add vegetable stock, one 4-ounce ladle at a time and continue stirring and adding liquid slowly so that the liquid gets absorbed before adding more. Once risotto is three-quarters cooked, start to add beet juice and continue to stir. Add juice until risotto is bright red color and risotto is 95 percent cooked (about 20 minutes).
Fold in diced roasted red and yellow beets and remove from heat. Fold in remaining butter and parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside for plating. Note -- risotto should be served promptly.
Method -- Pesto:
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend and chop until it has a pesto consistency -- a bit chunky.
Plate risotto and top with ½ tablespoon of pesto and top with crumbled Humboldt Fog goat cheese and drizzle with remaining reduced beet juice.
Red Velvet Coconut Cake
By Cat Cora
Serves 12 to 16
2 ½ cups cake flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons natural red food coloring
½ cup buttermilk (shake before measuring)
½ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
11/4 cups light corn syrup
2 egg whites, from 2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
21/4 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, or lightly coat them with baking spray. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper or into a medium bowl and set aside. Pulse the coconut in a food processor until it is the size of confetti.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter, sugar, and coconut on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Then add the vanilla and mix until smooth.
In a small bowl, stir together the red food coloring, buttermilk, and coconut milk. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk mixture, in 3 additions beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stop and scrape down the bowl twice.
In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and baking soda. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the vinegar mixture, beating until well blended. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
For the frosting:
Bring the corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Turn off the heat and set the corn syrup aside.
Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. With the mixer set at the highest speed, drizzle in the hot corn syrup very slowly, just in drips initially, gradually increasing to a thin steady stream. Beat for 3 to 4 minutes until stiff peaks form. Whip in the salt and vanilla.
To assemble the cake:
Transfer 2 cups of the frosting to a medium bowl and fold in 1 cup coconut. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread evenly with the coconut filling. Top with the second cake later. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the icing that remains in the mixing bowl. Coat the sides and top of the frosted cake with the rest of the shredded coconut, pressing lightly to help it adhere. Because the frosting is delicate, the cake is best served the same day it’s made.
Flourless Chocolate Cake Lollipops
By Tim Scott
Makes 24 mini cakes
Nonstick cooking spray or unsalted butter for pan
½ pound Frango chocolates (mint, dark mint, double chocolate, or dark chocolate) or 11/3 cups (½ pound) semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
11/3 cups (½ pound) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios for decorating (optional)
2 tablespoons coarse granulated sugar for decorating (optional)
2 ounces white chocolate (about1/3 cup if using chips) for drizzling (optional)
To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or generously grease with butter.
Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Combine the chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly in the rim of the pan, and place over, but not touching, the simmering water. Heat, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Break the eggs into a separate heatproof bowl and whisk just until blended. Place over, but not touching, the barely simmering water. Heat, stirring constantly, just until warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs on high speed until foamy. Using a rubber spatula, fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture just until completely combined. Divide the chocolate mixture evenly among the prepared muffin-pan cups, and set the pan on a baking sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until the center of the batter does not jiggle when the pan is shaken. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before unmolding.
To make the glaze, put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at half power for about 2 minutes, let stand briefly, and then stir. Microwave for additional 15-second increments as needed, stirring after each increment, just until the chocolate is melted. (All microwave ovens are different, so start with a shorter heating period the first time you try this method, to make sure you don’t overheat the chips.)
To glaze the cakes, skewer each cooled cake on a lollipop stick or a thick wooden pick (the kind used for caramel apples). Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper.
Holding each cake by its stick, gently dip it into the chocolate, immersing the entire cake. Then carefully spoon the chocolate over the cake and about 1/4 inch of the stick to coat completely. Lift the cake out of the glaze, allowing the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining cakes. If desired, decorate some of the cakes with pistachios or sugar. Allow the dipped cakes to set for about 4 hours at room temperature, or until the chocolate has hardened.
If desired, decorate the remaining cakes with white chocolate: Once the chocolate has set, melt the white chocolate using either the microwave method or the double-boiler method, and, holding the bowl of melted chocolate near the cakes, use a spoon or the tines of a fork to drizzle the chocolate over some or all of the cakes, creating thin stripes. Allow the white chocolate to cool for 1 hour, or until set.
The cakes can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. To serve, arrange them on a tray, or stand them, bouquet style, in a snifter or small vase.