Strawberries, Prawns and Love

Valentine's TreasureAn intimate candle-lit dinner for two, creating a culinary masterpiece in your own kitchen to share with your love in the glow of a warm fire is a romantic and delicious way to spend Valentine’s Evening.  I have collected two recipes for today’s post to start the creative juices flowing.  Add a glass of Champagne or two, and it’s a night made for love.

Please keep in mind this is not a “menu” so to speak. Each item is separate from the other and each one is designed to “plant a seed” or to start the creative processes bubbling and brewing while preparing the menu.

Prawns or Shrimp in Cocktail Sauce

I always remove the shell and intestinal vein before cooking.  Removing the shell is extremely easy, simply twist the head to remove and pull the legs off.  Hold tight to the tail and peel away from both sides.  The tail is generally left for decorative purposes.

Shrimp and PrawnsWhile the intestinal vein is edible, with larger shrimp and prawns the taste is not pleasant and it can be gritty.  As with the shell, it is simple to remove.  Follow the line of the vein with the edge of a sharp thin knife and rinse under running water. The vein should wash away but if it does not, use the end of the knife or cocktail stick to draw the vein out.

In the summer, grilling is the preference, however up here in the Northwest, I put the grill away in the storage shed until mid March or April.  Boiling is the most common used method, and for the recipe ( photo ) to the right, it is the best.  Whenever I use shrimp or prawns for any other dish, I pan fry when the grill is not available, so I am including that here as well.

Shrimp and Prawns IIBoiling For a pound of shrimp

  1. Fill a saucepan with  cups of water and add 2 tablespoons of sea salt.
  2. Bring the water to the boil and add the prawns or shrimp. These can be cooked either shelled or not and de-veined or not.
  3. Reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer the prawns or shrimp for 3 – 6 minutes, depending on the size. Start counting once the water has begun to boil again.
  4. The prawns or shrimp will be cooked when they float to the top and the flesh has turned white or opaque throughout. Cut one in half to check.
  5. To stop the cooking process, remove the prawns or shrimp from the heat immediately and run them under cold water for a few seconds.
  6. Once cooled they are ready to eat.

Quick Guide; small – medium sized shrimp will take 3 – 4 minutes, large shrimp will take 5 – 8 minutes and jumbo shrimp or prawn will need 7 – 8 minutes cooking time.

Pan Frying

  1. Melt a bit of butter together with some olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat.
  2. Add the prawns or shrimp together with a few cloves of chopped garlic.
  3. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Fry the prawns or shrimp, stirring frequently, for 3 – 5 minutes or longer for larger prawns, or until the shells have turned pink.
  4. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Cocktail Sauce

  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • few drops hot sauce
  • salt to taste

Combine and blend the above ingredients.

StrawberriesStrawberry Temptation

A wonderful addition to any romantic dinner is a sweetheart of a dessert.  I have a weakness for strawberries, cake and cream.   Generally a strawberry shortcake is reserved for warmer weather in my kitchen, Valentine’s Day always brings this sweet treat to mind.

This is a slight variation from the small individual cakes.

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly coat 2 (9-inch) cake pans with nonstick vegetable spray. Line the bottoms with a circle of baking parchment.

Strawberry TemptationInto a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  In a small saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and lemon extracts. In separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale yellow, and fluffy, and doubled in volume. While still beating, drizzle in the hot milk mixture. Fold in the flour mixture. Spread the batter in the prepared pans and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden, the center springs back when lightly pressed, and a cake tester comes out clean. Set the pans on a rack to cool. Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen them, and turn them out of the pans.

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 1 teaspoon gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix together the gelatin and 1/4 cup of the cream. Let rest for 5 minutes to soften, then place the bowl over barely simmering water until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to tepid. In the meantime, in a mixing bowl, whip the cream until slightly thickened. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and whip to the consistency of shaving cream. Fold 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture, then fold in the rest.

You can slice the berries and them over 1 cake, then spread a 1/2-inch layer of whipped cream on top or arrange them as it pleases you.  Place the second cake over the first. Frost the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream, or use a pastry bag, and top with remaining berries.




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