Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two

Surprise your special someone and prepare a three course dinner for them this Valentine’s Day!
by By, Giada de Laurentiis

First Course: Clams Oreganata
 Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 shucked Manilla clams, shells reserved
Coarse salt, for lining baking sheet

Directions
Preheat oven to broil.

In a large bowl gently toss bread crumbs, herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper. Be careful not to overwork the mixture. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with salt and arrange 12 clam shells. Put 1 clam in each shell and top with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Broil 2 to 3 minutes.

Second Course: Spinach and Mushroom Ravioli
 Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons for boiling water
6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup mascarpone
1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
6 egg roll wrappers (6 1/2 by 6 1/2-inch squares)
2 large eggs, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup mushroom (cremini, shiitake, button), finely chopped
2 cups tomato sauce, recipe follows
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
In a large saute pan heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. When almost smoking, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms, about 6 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you get a coarse texture. Place in bowl and stir in mascarpone and Parmesan cheese. Check for seasoning and set aside.

Line up 3 wrappers on a cutting board. Brush with the egg andwater mixture. Using a tablespoon, arrange 4 dollops of the filling on each wrapper – 2 on the first row and 2 on the second – 1-inch apart.
Place another wrapper directly on top, pressing around the filling and sealing the edges. Using a fluted ravioli cutter, cut out squares of ravioli. Each filled wrapper will yield 4 raviolis, giving you a total of 12 ravioli. Place ravioli onto a floured baking sheet and keep covered with a linen towel.

In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of salted and oiled water. Carefully add small batches of ravioli, about 3 to 4 at a time. This will prevent them from crowding in the pot and sticking together. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spiderstrainer, carefully remove the ravioli and place on the plate. Tent with foil to keep warm and continue cooking remaining ravioli.

In a saute pan, heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. When almost smoking, add chopped mushrooms and saute until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Carefully pour in tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.

Divide ravioli between 2 serving plates. Top with mushroom tomato sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Simple Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add 1/2 the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Yield: 6 cups

Third Course: Individual Strawberry Trifles
 Yield: 2 servings

Marinated strawberries:
1 quart fresh strawberries, halved
1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar

Whipped cream:
3 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 (1 pound) fresh pound cake
1/3 cup amaretto liqueur
2 amaretto cookies, for garnish
Demerara sugar, for garnish

Directions
In a small shallow casserole dish, toss the strawberries with vinegar and let stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. After the strawberries have marinated, check for sweetness, adding sugar if desired.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, whisk the cream to soft peaks. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Whip until stiff peaks. Set aside.

Using a serrated knife, slice pound cake lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. You will only need 4 slices. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles from each cake slice. Line up 2 high ball glasses and place 1 cake circle in the bottom of each. Brush cakes with amaretto liqueur. Add 2 tablespoons of marinated strawberries and spread evenly. Using a different tablespoon, add a large dollop of whipped cream and spread evenly. Add a second layer of cake, pressing down lightly. Brush with amaretto liqueur. Add 2 tablespoons of marinated strawberries and spread evenly. Top with a large dollop of whipped cream, spreading evenly. Use remaining cake, cream and strawberries to create a more humble trifle dish.

Cover trifles with plastic wrap and refrigerate for impromptu indulgence. Keeping in mind that it will store for up to 2 days.

To serve, remove and discard plastic wrap. Grate amaretto cookie on top and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/clams-oreganata-recipe2/index.html

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