I like to think I'm a girl who's willing to try anything once. So when our boss suggested a little friendly Valentine's Day competition between Ask the Chef's Carol Blonder, Thrifty Cook Cyndi Coon (their recipes will appear tomorrow and Thursday) and yours truly, I accepted the challenge -- and made up my mind to tackle a three-course meal of dinner, dessert and "morning-after" brunch. Va-va-voom!
The original plan was to make fun little bloody heart cupcakes as a teaser and then test the aphrodisiac qualities of two recipes from the InterCourses cookbook and report on their, er, "stimulation" factor.
When co-worker Jonathan McNamara turned out to be my taste tester, The Virgin scrapped that idea in favor of just seeing how delicious this threesome would be. Not content to handle one recipe at a time, I posted all three recipes on the fridge and had at 'em simultaneously.
5. I poured in the egg mixture, sprinkled it with basil and cooked it to almost done. I tossed a handful of parmesan on top. This is where you're supposed to stick the whole pan in the broiler. Not wanting the handle to melt off of my skillet, I cleverly (and miraculously) slid the whole omelet-like dish onto a cookie sheet and broiled it in the oven for a couple of minutes.
6. While the frittata was broiling, I (of course) burned some buttered bread on the stovetop and then made more. The rest is easy: Just spread with mayonnaise or more cheese, place frittata slices on bread and top with a few spinach leaves and the other bread half.
By this time, my four sausage links had been boiling for about ten minutes or so. They were well past pink. "I don't know why they have you boil the sausages for so long," commented Jonathan as he snapped pics. Guess they just want to be sure your meat is good and hard!
7. I chopped more shallots with the MACHETE and tossed them in the bottom of a greased baking dish. In went the plump, curved sausage phalluses (no wonder this dish is supposed to revv up your engine) and the white wine. Lots of white wine. The recipe only called for 3/4 cup, but what the heck? It's Valentine's Day.
8. I baked at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes. In the meantime...
9. Time to frost the cupcakes. I tried to stir the butter in a mixing bowl until smooth, but it was still lumpy. Not having any time to waste, I tossed in the powdered sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla and mixed as good as I could. It was smoother, but grainy.
10. A cup or so went into a bowl with blue food coloring. Another cup went into a bowl with red food coloring. I dyed the remaining frosting medium pink, like a fresh organ.
11. Speaking of organs, time to get the sausage out. I whisked the mustard in with the wine at the bottom of the dish and added chopped grapes. I served up the sausages, pulled a Lorena Bobbitt with the clean, washed MACHETE and had at one of them. Amazingly flavorful, the grapes and wine contrasting nicely with the anise and sage flavor of the sausages.
12. Use a small cake knife to cut a little round plug from the center of each cupcake, fill with blood red jelly (I prefer cherry to strawberry because it looks like blood clots), eat part of the cake plug and put it back in to cover the hole.
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And here I thought pastry chefs had some really complicated process to bake a chocolate lava cake. Turns out they usually just cut a hole and plug it back in like The Virgin did.
13. Frost the cakes with pink icing and use a piping bag (or in The Virgin's case, a 2-cent plastic baggie with the end snipped off) to make frosting "veins." Devour animalistically.
I managed to survive this Valentine's Day massacre intact. The only tingle I felt down below from the aphrodisiac recipes was the warm sensation of food in my gut, but all three dishes were incredible tasty.
Best of all, there were no complaints about the threesome from my dude co-worker or my husband (who enjoyed sloppy seconds of each dish later that night).