One of the joys of being a chef is creating food that stimulates people’s senses. The first reaction is visual as the food is presented. A veritable feast for the eyes! Second are the smells that drift up as the aromas are experienced. Then on to the first taste as the brain reacts to the flavors that are dancing across one’s taste buds. Was the food cool and refreshing or rich and warming? Finally, our bodies and mood become influenced by those sensations and hopefully, we as chefs, are able to influence people in positive ways.
Valentine’s Day is an occasion like no other when it comes to a stimulating dining experience. Since Roman times certain foods and ingredients have been believed to increase sexual desire. Many studies have tried to prove otherwise, but can anyone really argue that a plate of oysters and chocolate covered strawberries aren’t stimulating? Nothing will convince me that these dishes, along with a glass of champagne, candles, soft music, and a warm fire, won’t ignite romance and stimulate the senses.
The Bernards Inn is renowned for romance and we’ve created an experience that will stimulate all those senses for Valentine’s Day. A warm fire, candle light, piano music, impeccable service, champagne, and some very exciting food choices. If you decide to celebrate at home, try preparing these recipes for your sweetheart.
~~ Chef Corey Heyer
12 blue point oysters, shucked – save the bottom half of the shell
½ cup béchamel
4 strips apple wood smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
1 cup spinach, chopped
½ cup hollandaise sauce
Scrub the oyster shells with a firm bristle brush and set aside. In a small sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy, not crunchy. Add the spinach, a pinch of salt, and cook quickly to wilt. Add the béchamel and warm. Set your oven to broil. Lay the twelve reserved oyster shells on a sturdy sheet tray. Place a tsp of the bacon, spinach, and béchamel mix in the bottom of each oyster shell. Put one oyster on top of the béchamel mix. Put a tsp of hollandaise on top of each oyster. Broil the oysters until the hollandaise is lightly browned on top.
Carefully divide the oysters between two plates and enjoy with a glass of your favorite champagne.
1 ½ TBSP Butter, unsalted
1 TBSP All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Milk
½ tsp Salt
Pinch of Grated Nutmeg
In a small sauce pot melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Continue to cook the flour and butter mixture for approximately 5 minutes over low heat. Slowly add the milk to the sauce pot whisking continuously. Bring the milk to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes whisking the entire time. Season with salt and nutmeg.
4 Egg Yolks
1 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Stick of Melted Sweet Unsalted Butter, Warm
Dash of Tabasco Sauce
Pinch of Salt
Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice over a double boiler until the eggs have doubled in volume and have become quite thick. Remove the egg mixture from the double boiler and slowly drizzle the melted butter into the eggs whisking continuously. Season the hollandaise with salt and Tabasco. Keep warm until ready to use.
1 Banana, peeled and cut into finger thick slices
3 TBSP Sugar in the Raw
4 TBSP Macadamia Nuts, chopped and lightly toasted
1 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream
2 oz Valrhona 66% Caraibe Chocolate
Set your oven to broil. On a heavy duty baking sheet lay the banana slices to create two circles.
Sprinkle the bananas with the sugar in the raw.
Put the chocolate in a clean, dry coffee cup and, microwave for 30 seconds.
Broil the bananas until the sugar caramelizes and turns a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven immediately. Allow to cool for 1 minute and carefully place each ring of banana on to a plate.
Microwave the chocolate for 30 more seconds.
Place a ½ cup of ice cream in the center of each banana ring.
Drizzle the melted chocolate over the ice cream and bananas and top with the toasted macadamia nuts.