Country Inn Comfort Menu for Valentine’s Day


Once in a while, no matter how much you both love to cook, there comes a time when one partner needs to treat the other.  This was one of those times.  This Valentine’s Day would be about comfort and warmth.  If you are on a diet, cover your eyes.  This menu throws waistline watching out the window in favour of a calorific combinations of red meat, cheese, cream, butter..

All of the recipes are slightly modified from an unlikely favourite cookbook, “Dinners for Two by Sharon O’Connor”. This book was given to me as a gift, presumably because of my love of travel and music (I didn’t cook much in those days).  It came with a CD and is a collection of menus from romantic country inns across Canada and the U.S. Although the book has no pictures (usually a complete turnoff), creates very large portions (remembering each portion is supposed to be for just 2 people) and throws unexpected twists into recipes that can significantly increase expected preparation time, I have never made anything from this book that was anything short of decadent.  I save it for special occasions because the recipes are fussy, sometimes very fussy.

King Scallops with Goat Cheese Mousseline and Eggplant Confit

This recipe did not call for scallops but I was looking for something from the sea to add to this menu and as soon as the tangy aroma of the confit began to fill the air, I knew that 2 big beautiful bivalves would be just the ticket.

So what the heck is a quenelle?  The word “quenelle” originally referred to a football shaped meat dumpling but evolved to refer to that olive-shape that semi-soft foods can be molded into to create a pleasing presentation.  And why did I think I wouldn’t be able to make one aesthetically perfect enough for the hyper-critical editor’s approval?  This time I blame the internet for my self-doubt.  (Low self-esteem is somehow easier to deal with when you can splash some blame around, lol.) There is a lot of advice out there on proper “flick of the wrist” and the importance of practice, blah, blah, blah.  Never mind all that, at least for cream cheese… Admittedly, it might be trickier for ice cream.  This video helped me create 4 near-perfect ones, first time round.

Remember what I said about portions in this cookbook?  Add another scallop and this is a filling dinner on its own.  Oh, and remember what I said about unexpected twists in recipes?  Start this one 2 days before you want to eat it.  The planning is worth it though!

The appetiser was paired with a sentimental wine from Joie Farm in British Columbia.  A Noble Blend 2008 is 43% Gewurtztraminer, 38% Riesling, 14% Pinot Auxerrois and 5% Pinot Gris.  This aromatic white exhibits a clean nose of pink grapefruit, white flowers and clove and carries through to a long mouthwatering finish. Thanks to Catherine for sending all the way from Vancouver Island for Christmas!

Veal Fillets on a Cranberry and Rhubarb Compote with Rosemary Sauce

This dish is a medley of seriously concentrated flavours. The base of sour fruits complement the veal beautifully but it’s the rich, buttery, heavily herbed rosemary sauce that elevated it from “Sunday dinner” to “Valentine’s Day Delight”.  Take the time to reduce a whole litre of good quality stock down to 2 cups to get the intensity.

It was served with Rodney Strong, Russian Valley Pinot Noir 2009 from Sonoma County.  This red is described as soft and silky, with intriguing floral and crushed pomegranate aromas. This medium bodied red was aged for 11 months in small French oak barrels, which added a hint of toasty vanilla and spice complexity.

Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce and Toasted Hazelnuts

This was a risky choice since my sweetheart despises that grainy texture that pears can have.  I love their subdued flavour, especially topped with a sweet caramel sauce so became determined that we could share this pleasure.  I’m not sure if it was the choice of Bosc pairs (not Bartlett or Anjou) or whether it was keeping the poach below a simmer that did the trick but it was a mission accomplished and I have a convert! Since toasted hazelnuts are sprinkled on top, it was only natural to add a few tablespoons of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur into the sauce. Delicious!

Although this menu was fairly labour intensive, it was a labour of love.  Hopefully it brought some temporary solace on a cold winter’s night during a very difficult month.  Ok, off to the gym!


King Scallops with Goat Cheese Mousseline and Eggplant Confit

4 King Scallops

1 tbsp butter

Eggplant Confit (recipe below)

4 oz goat cheese

1 tbsp. heavy cream

1 tbsp each fresh parsley, chives, thyme

Thyme sprigs for garnish

Eggplant Confit

½ onion sliced

½ tomato seeded and sliced

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp pepper

½ tsp salt

1 tsp honey

¼ cup olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 small eggplant

Make the eggplant confit at least a day before your meal.  To make the eggplant confit, combine all ingredients except the eggplant in a large saucepan and simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes.

Slice eggplant into rounds 1/8  inch thick and add to pan.  Shake pan until slices are submerged. Simmer for 10 more minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and cool for at least 1 day.

On the day of your meal, blend goat cheese in a small bowl with the cream, minced herbs and a twist of ground pepper. Mold the goat cheese mixture into quenelles using 2 tablespoons dipped in hot water.  You should have enough cheese mixture for 4 quenelles. Warm up the eggplant confit.

Score scallops on each side and fry in butter for 2 minutes on each side.

To serve, divide eggplant confit on each plate, Top with 2 goat cheese quenelles and 2 scallops. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

Veal Fillets on a Cranberry and Rhubarb Compote with Rosemary Sauce

Cranberry and Rhubarb Compote

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

2 tbsp rhubarb jam

¼ cup water

2 tbsps honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine cranberries, jam and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  When cranberries have softened, add honey, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Rosemary Sauce

2 tbsp Fresh chopped rosemary

4 tbsp butter

¼ cup minced shallots

1 litre chicken stock reduced down to 2 cups

Salt and pepper to taste

Crush fresh rosemary using a mortar and pestle.  Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté the rosemary and shallots until shallots are translucent.  Add chicken stock and reduce to half original volume.  Add remaining butter, salt and pepper.  Transfer to food processor and puree.

Veal Fillets

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp olive oil

½ lb veal fillet slices (about ¼ inch thick)

1 small tomato, peeled seeded and diced

Heat oil and butter over high heat in sauté pan.  When butter foams, add the fillet slices.  Saute for 1 – 3 minutes on each side depending on preference.

To serve, place ring of compote on each plate, lay veal fillets on top.  Surround with roasted mini potatoes.  Spoon rosemary sauce on top and garnish with diced tomato.

Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce and Toasted Hazelnuts

¾ cup of sugar

2 cups water

2 Bosc pears, peeled, halved and cored

¾  cup Caramel sauce

4 tbsp Frangelico liqueur

4 tsp toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Mint sprigs

Vanilla bean ice cream

In medium saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer over medium hat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Place pear halves in saucepan right after peeling them to prevent browning.  Poach for approximately 10 minutes over low heat and keep below a simmer.  Remove pear halves with slotted spoon.

Warm caramel sauce in small saucepan and blend in Frangelico.

To serve, place a pear on each plate.  Put small scoop of ice cream  in the hollow of each pear. Spoon over caramel sauce.  Top with hazelnuts and mint sprigs.

Average Member Rating

(-1 / 5)

-1 5 1
Rate this recipe

1 people rated this recipe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *