Sizzle Simmer Sauté – Cooking with Chef Liz: Valentine’s Day dinner for two

–by Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple

Love is in the air! How will you and your sweetheart celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? Chef Liz Donaldson, of Walt Churchill’s Market in Perrysburg, designed the perfect menu for two. For the main course, Donaldson prepared Lobster Thermidor, a French dish that is stuffed with a mixture of mushrooms, cream, sweet sherry and Gruyere cheese. Donaldson paired the lobster with zesty Lemon Garlic Broccoli Rabe, a refreshing and easy-to-make side dish. For the finale, Donaldson treated us to the recipe for rich and silky Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Hearts. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lobster Thermidor and Broccoli Rabe

Lobster Thermidor
“Lobster Thermidor is an elegant dish that you don’t see on many menus anymore,” said Donaldson. “It’s perfect for special occasion dinners,” she added. The classic dish was created around 1880 by French Chef Auguste Escoffier while working in a Paris restaurant, Maison Maire. As the story goes, the restaurant’s owner named the dish after the popular play, “Thermidor,” which was playing in the nearby Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin.

Serves 2
2 large lobster tails
1/3 cup butter
2 shallots, minced
2 leeks, sliced, white part only
1 package white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup cream sherry (sweet sherry)
1 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
Fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese

To prepare the lobster, turn the tails upside down and run a knife down their middles. Place lobster tails in a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 9 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Once cooled, using scissors or a knife, remove the meat and the sides of cartilage from the lobster shell. Rinse the shell and place in a baking pan or casserole dish. Chop the lobster meat and set aside.
Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms, shallots and dry mustard. Sauté, stirring and then add the sherry. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream until scalded.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Pour the scalded milk into the yolks, whisking continuously. Return mixture to the saucepan and cook on low heat until it thickens.
Pour the cream mixture into the mushroom and leek mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lobster. Stuff both tails with the mixture, saving any leftover sauce. Divide the bread crumbs over the two tails and top with the Gruyere cheese.
Place the pan about 5 – 6 inches under a broiler and broil for 4 – 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

Lemon Garlic Broccoli Rabe
“This side dish goes really well with the mushrooms and the lobster,” said Donaldson. “It’s also really pretty with its green color, the thin slices of fresh garlic and the shaved Parmesan.”

Serves 2
2 bunches broccoli rabe
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest from one lemon

Chop the broccoli rabe into 2-inch pieces. In a pot, heat water until it boils. Add the broccoli and cook till al dente. Remove and drain.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic slices, until browned but not burnt. Add the broccoli and the lemon zest. Heat through. Add the red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Hearts

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Hearts
Donaldson’s cheesecake contains a mixture of mascarpone cheese and cream cheese and utilizes chocolate cookies instead of graham crackers. “The Italian cheese tends to be creamier and has a slight sweetness,” she explained. “The chocolate cookies give the cakes a rich look and add a nice layer of color.”
Makes 4 mini cakes
1 box chocolate cookies, finely chopped in a food processor
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest from 1 lemon
1 jar seedless raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries for garnish
Fresh mint for garnish

Heat oven to 350 F. Combine the cookies and the butter and press into a springform pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
With a mixer, combine mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs while blending, one at a time. Add lemon zest. Whip until light and fluffy. Pour over the crust. Dot the top with raspberry jam. Using a bamboo skewer, swirl the raspberry jam throughout the cheesecake.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow to cool.
Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut four cakes. Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint.

Chef Liz Donaldson, of Walt Churchill’s Market in Perrysburg.

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