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A Romantic Dinner for Two

It’s no secret that a truly romantic meal can be very expensive. Here’s a way to recreate your own romantic dinner at home. All of these ingredients are readily available right here in Florida. A good, American Sturgeon or Paddlefish will be just fine. Probably the best beverage to serve with this meal is a quality champagne or crisp, white, biodynamic wine from Frey Wines (available at most local grocers and independent health food stores). A plummy Syrah or Zinfandel or even a Cabernet would be lovely with the chocolate dessert. 

Appetizer – Red Potatoes with Caviar and Creme Fraiche
Small new potatoes
1 ounce of American Sturgeon or imported caviar
Creme fraiche
Boil new potatoes for about ten minutes or until easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Allow to cool in the refrigerator. Slice a tiny piece off the bottom of each potato so they will stand upright. Slice a piece off the top and scoop out some of the flesh with a melon baller. Fill with creme fraiche and top with a dollop of caviar. Serve with champagne.
Main course – Butter Poached Lobster with Creamy Risotto
2 Four ounce lobster  tails, shells removed
1 to 2 sticks of cold butter
about 1/2 cup of water
1 cup of Arborio rice
1 small onion
1 TB olive oil
1 cup of good quality white wine or champagne
4 to 5 cups of vegetable or seafood stock
sea salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
In a saucepan large enough to accommodate the lobster tails, place about 1 TB of water over medium heat. As the pot heats up slightly (do not allow to boil), slowly start whisking in tablespoons of cold butter, one at a time until you have enough Buerre Monte to cover the lobster tails when you put them in the pot. Poach the tails in the Buerre Monte for 5 -7 minutes until no longer translucent. If you allow them to boil, the sauce will break and the lobster will be tough, so do it low and slow. Take out the tails and keep warm. Reserve the sauce.
Chop the onion into small dice. In a medium pot, add a TB of butter and a TB of oil. Heat on medium high. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the risotto and stir for a couple of minutes. This will give it a more nutty flavor. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon until it is almost absorbed. Begin adding the stock, a ladle at a time, until the rice is al dente. The consistency should be a little loose and creamy from the starch of the rice. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan. Add a TB of cold butter and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Place a portion on a beautiful plate and place a lobster tail over it, garnishing with a spoonful of the Buerre Monte. Serve immediately.
Dessert – Chocolate Caramel Tart
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1 cup of AP flour
3/4 cup plus 2 TB sugar
1 stick plus 5 TB of very cold butter, cut into tablespoons
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla plus another 1/2 tsp
1 pint of heavy cream
1/3 cup of water
6 oz of good quality chocolate, cut into small pieces
In a food processor, combine flour and 2 TB of sugar. Buzz for a few seconds, then add 1 stick of the diced butter, egg yolk and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Process until clumps form. Remove mixture, form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a few minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When dough is firm, roll out to fit a 9 inch tart pan. Place and press dough into the pan and put the pan in the refrigerator to let the dough firm up again. Prick the dough with a fork all over and bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and while the crust is cooling make the caramel and ganache. See below.
In a medium saucepan, add 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Heat over medium heat until the mixture turns an amber color. Watch carefully! Occasionally swirl pan to combine sugar and water. Remove from heat and add 5 TB of butter, 1/3 cup heavy cream and 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Be careful as mixture will bubble when you do this. Stir to combine and place in the refrigerator to cool.
Take the crust and caramel out of the refrigerator and pour the caramel into the crust. Return to fridge to set up for about 20 minutes.
In a small saucepan, heat 3/4 cup heavy cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a heat safe bowl and pour the cream over it. Stir until combined. Set aside to cool slightly.
Pour the chocolate on top of the caramel in the tart pan. Place back in fridge to set up for a few minutes. When set, cover with plastic wrap and remove from fridge about 10 minutes before serving.

About Elizabeth Dougherty

Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations. Food Nation Radio has won two news awards for content. Broadcasting LIVE each week, nationwide, on and on stations around the country.

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