Seduction Meals is about food + romance and the premise that everyone should learn to master one dish that is their signature dish—a Seduction Meal, to enchant and captivate that special someone in your life...
Potato pancakes or Latkes, are simply made of grated potatoes and onion with eggs and flour. It can be served on its own (a wonderful vegetarian dish) or with any meat such as grilled lamb or your favorite sausage; and can be served for brunch, lunch or dinner.
Photograph: Terry Dagrosa / SeductionMeals
6 large apples, peeled and cored
1/2 - 1 cup of sugar (or more if necessary)
1-2 fresh squeezed small lemons
1/2 - 1 cup water
Place apples in a large pot, add water, cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
Uncover pot when the water boils and stir mixture from time to time until the apples breakdown, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place apple sauce in a bowl, taste and add sugar and lemon* to taste.
Freeze or refrigerate
*Use lemons for a bit of tartness but not too much. If you are using apples that are tart, like granny smiths you might not need the lemons at all, although they do also prevent the apples from turning brown.
Photo: Terry Dagrosa / Seduction Meals
POTATO PANCAKES Serves 4
6-8 medium potatoes, Idaho or Russet are best
2 medium onions
1/8 cup of flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Option: Garnish with snipped chives
Peel potatoes, cut into quarters
Peel onions, cut into quarters
Place potatoes and onions, in batches, into a food processor using the shredder blade. Alternately, you can also grate both by hand.
Place a cotton cloth (or dish rag) in a strainer, place the strainer in a large bowl, and pour the apple mixture into the cotton cloth. Bring the ends together and twist firmly squeezing all juice out of the potato/onion mixture; working quickly so potatoes do not brown.
Place mixture in a large bowl, add eggs, salt and pepper to taste and mix together
Add flour and mix together
Heat 1/8 layer of oil in a large, flat skillet, over medium heat. When the oil is hot
begin adding potato pancakes which are made by dropping two large heaping spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan - pressing down to flatten a bit.
Cook until golden brown on both sides, 7-10 minutes
Place pancakes on paper towels and place on a serving plate. You can keep them warm in the oven as you work, using an oven proof platter.
I recently came back from a glorious gourmet-filled trip to Spain and
one of the many outstanding restaurants I had the pleasure of experiencing was in Barcelona called Cinc Sentits (Five Senses). They served a wonderful ChilledPeaSoup
with Five Herb Ice-Cream that was not only memorable for its refreshing
taste but also for the chef's creative use of ice-cream in a non-dessert dish. I have to admit I've never been a fan of hot peasoup but after my introduction to the soup chilled the thought of indulging in this dish again on a hot summer night was quite enticing.
So, when Häagen-Dazs® asked if I would create a
recipe that was Made Like No Other®, I immediately thought I would try to recreate this at home...something unexpected, unique and oh-so-delicious! Of course I wanted to do something a bit different so I added a twist of my own. Using English peas and
going with the idea of the Brit's use of "peas paired with mint", I
created a chilledpeasoup
with a dollop of mint-infused vanilla ice-cream. The mint-infused ice
cream was further inspired by the technique of muddling mint and sugar
similar to the method used to create a Mojito. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!
So you've got the meal, you've got the date, but don't forget another key ingredient- the music. Music has the amazing power to influence a person's mood--it can make you feel good, sexy, blue, happy. Set up a music play list to complement your romantic meal for two. Try a few from this suggested playlist. You can also listen to the songs with the music player below:
David Gray / Sail Away
Stateless / Bloodstream
Amel Larriuex / For Real
Beirut / Nantes
The Temper Trap / Fools
Frou Frou / Let Go
John Mayer / I Don't Trust Myself (with Loving You)
Spaghetti squash is a wonderful summer alternative to the heaviness of a pasta dish. This recipe calls for a tasty medley of sautéed shallots, garlic, peas and a mix of grated Parmesan and Gruyere cheese. Add sliced sausage--you can use whatever type of sausage you prefer; I used 2 links of Italian hot sausage and 2 links of Mediterranean sausage (red pepper and kalamata olives). Serve this over a bed of spaghetti squash and serve with a glass of white wine or a chilled mug of beer.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Sausage, Peas and Cheese Serves 4
Ingredients • 1 Spaghetti Squash • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil • 4 links of Sausage (any kind you prefer) • 2 large Shallots, finely chopped • 4 cloves Garlic, crushed or finely minced • 1 cup of frozen peas • 1/8 cup of chopped pine nuts • 1 cup of Parmigiana Reggiano, coarsely grated • 1/4 cup of gruyere cheese, coarsely grated • 1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves • 8-10 large leaves of fresh basil cut into julienne strips • Sea Salt and fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
Preheat Oven to 350°F. Oil a sheet pan with olive oil spray
Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and any thick strands
Place cut side down on the prepared sheet pan and cook for 45 - 60 minutes until a fork easily inserts into the shell. NOTE: Be sure not to overcook otherwise the squash strands will become "mushy". You want the spaghetti squash to easily separate when scraped with a fork and for the squash to be a bit firm (al dente).
When cool enough to handle, take a fork and "rake" the squash with the fork to create spaghetti strands. Place on a serving plate and set aside; cover to keep warm.
Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Place the four sausage links into the hot skillet and pierce each one twice with a fork. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the sausage.
Add shallots and garlic to the sausage and push to the bottom of the pan. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the sausage are fully cooked. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside
Add the peas to the onion/garlic mixture and cook for a few minutes. Add chopped walnuts or pine nuts and thyme leaves and mix together cooking for another two minutes. Turn off the heat and add the grated cheese on top, set aside.
Slice the sausage into 1/2" slices.
Plating the Dish
Place the spaghetti squash strands on your serving dish.
Top with julienne strips of fresh basil
Add sausage slices on top of the squash
Top with the garlic, shallot, pea, cheese mixture
Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Do not add too much salt as sausage can sometimes be salty. Serve immediately.
Seared Sea Scallops dressed up with a dollop of olive tapenade or roasted red pepper roses to create a simply enticing appetizer to whet the palette for your main Seduction Meal. This dish can be served with our without the garlic wine sauce, and we have presented a third variation where the scallops are served over a bed of grilled corn. Either way consider this for your next romantic meal for two, and be sure to pop open a bottle of champagne for a festive start.
I have added a couple of variations to this recipe. You can simply sear and serve with the pepper and/or olive tapenade garnish. Or you can add a garlic wine sauce to the dish. And another variation is to add a bed of grilled corn strips to the bottom of the scallops (see the photo below), and then add the garlic wine sauce.
Seared Scallops with Pepper Roses and Olive Tapenade Recipe and Photos / Seduction Meals
1/2 head of garlic, cut 1/4 inch of top so all cloves are open at the top
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion / about 1/4 cup - finely diced
1 cup of dry white wine
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2
1 Tablespoon of corn starch
4 Tablespoons of water
2 Tablespoons of cooking sherry
Directions If you are serving the variation that serves the scallops over a strip of corn, prepare the corn by boiling or grilling. When cooked, set aside to cool. Take a sharp knife and run it from top to bottom to get a long strip of corn that can then be cut to a square or rectangle shape. Place on your serving dish and top with scallops. Follow the rest of the recipe below.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Place the garlic on a sheet of tin foil, cut side up, and drizzle with olive oil
Seal the top of the tin foil, so the garlic will steam as it cooks
Roast for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven, open the foil and set aside to cool
Add 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil to a small saucepan, heat up over medium flame. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes
Add the wine and stir together
Take the garlic and squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the wine/onion mixture being careful not to drop any casings into the mixture.
Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, the liquid will slightly evaporate
In a cup, add 4 tablespoons of water and 1 Tablespoon of corn starch, mix together well. Set aside
Add the 1/2 and 1/2 to the garlic, wine, onion mixture and stir in the water /corn starch
turn the heat up medium high and bring to a boil, lightly stirring until sauce thickens - about 5 minutes
When the sauce is thicken, take off the heat
Pour the sauce through a sieve (or strainer) and press the garlic onion mixture through the strainer. Discard garlic onion mixture
Set sauce aside
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to skillet.
Be sure to thoroughly pat dry the scallops - they should not be wet!
When the skillet is nice and hot (just before smoking point) add the scallops and cook on one side until nicely seared and gold brown. Do not touch the scallop while it is cooking.
Using Tongs, flip the scallop and cook the other side (3-5 minutes), until golden brown
Remove scallops and set aside
Plating the Dish
Place four scallops on a plate
Take long strips of the Red Pepper and roll in a circle, place on top of two scallops (it will look like a flower)
Place a small dollop of Black Olive Tapenade on the other two scallops
Add salt and pepper to taste
Variation 2: Seared Scallops with Garlic Sauce, Pepper Roses and Tapenade
If using Creamy Garlic Wine Sauce - add 2 Tablespoons of sauce in the middle of the 4 scallops (middle of dish) Serve Immediately
Variation 3: Scallops on a flat bed of corn With Garlic Sauce, Pepper Roses
Take the Ear of corn and with a very sharp knife, cut from top to bottom to get a flat bed or ear kernels. They will be cut in strips.
Place 2-4 scallops over the strips of Corn
Add Pepper Strips on top of the scallops for garnish
If you've never had Pinxtos before, when you are in San Sebastian the place you want to go is Parte Vieja, the Old City. Here you can enjoy a stellar selection of
small-bites available at any of the local Pinxtos bars. Enter an establishment and you will find assorted foods laid out on the bar: Pinxtos, bocadillos (mini-sandwiches), and skewered meats, squid, prawns, frog, and chicken.
You can also order specialty foods such as braised beef cheeks, sauteed mushrooms with sea salt and olive oil served with an egg yolk, foie gras, and of course Iberian Ham -- a must if you are traveling and dining in this region.
Start your adventure around 5:30 or 6pm. Go to the Plaza de la Constitucion, which serves as your center, and start exploring the narrow streets that are packed with bars and restaurants. Sample a dish or two at different pintxos bars and expect to eat standing up at the bar, although a few places do have tables. Be sure to enjoy the wine (which is wonderful); we mostly ordered the Riojas and were very happy. There is also txakoli a local wine that is slightly effervescent and poured into a glass from almost 12 or more inches above, and zuritos, 3-oz beer drafts. If you are in San Sebastian for a few days, you will want to try 2-3 places a night. Trust me, in this town its all about the food.
We were given a "Tapas/Pintxos" map by the owner of the Pension Belle Arts. Here is a list of their favorites. We were surprised that one of our favorites was not listed here - it is called Astelena and it is right on the corner of the Plaza de la Constitucion so it is an easy find. It was one of the most crowded places so this caught our attention right away.
With the map in hand, photographed as many places as I could find or that were open. Some places were more difficult to find than other and some were closed on the days we were there; or perhaps it was too early as can be expected in Spain. We loved every moment spent in Parte Vieja, and of course look forwarding to going back soon.
La Cepa - know for their ham dishes
La Vina - if you love Cheesecake you have to order the Tarte de Queso
San Sebastian is world renowned as the home of Spain's very best food. Situated in a harbor near the border of France, San Sebastian boasts many top-notch Michelin star restaurants. But thankfully, you don't need oodles of money to enjoy what this city has to offer.
San Sebastian took tapas from Andalucia and perfected and renamed them "pintxos". The old town streets are lined with bar restaurants whose bar tops are covered in platters of pintxos - designed like a buffet. The system is based on honesty which is a tradition in the city. At the end of your meal, you tell the bartender what you have eaten and they give you the bill. You will also notice that it is customary to dispose of papers and napkins on the floor near your feet, which must pile up before the night ends.
If you have a spare afternoon, you mustn't miss this cooking class - a favourite amongst tourists. Taken by renowned chef Alex Barcenilla, in this class you can learn how to make your own pintos. A San Sebastian local, Barcenilla has cooked for over 20 years, including two years at 3 Michelin star restaurant Akelarre. The classes take place in a gorgeous location, right in the village plaza beside the water.
During the 4 hour class, you will make 8 to 12 pinxtos both hot and cold, learning how to combine ingredients such as eggs, peppers, tomatoes and anchovies, so that you can prepare your own pinxtos at home. After the class, everyone sits down with a bottle of local "Txakoli" wine to enjoy their creations!