The Obligatory V-D posting

Hello, Dear Readers:

Happy Mardi Gras. No, I’m not in New Orleans, I just know some folks are and are out on the town wearing green, gold and purple in the only place that look works.

I’ve been busy with a number of things lately, and I have a new recipe and one or two other postings to write about soon. But this being Valentine’s Day week, and Jezebel the step-kitty sitting by my side, I guess I’d better post something chocolatey.

Why am I unattached? My first love is chocolate, that’s why.

If you’re in NYC, here’s a little fun on V-D that you’ll need reservations for: the Valentine’s Day Sewage Tour. Say WHAT? And it fills up fast–no pun intended.  What, do you do that before, or AFTER that fancy restaurant dinner?  Romance, indeed.

The best Valentine’s Day card I ever got was literally 20 years ago from a guy I’ll call “Football” (because he was shaped like one.) Football got me a card that had a cartoon drawing of a classically handsome male on the front that he’d carefully drawn a mustache onto and thoughtfully blacked out one of the front teeth. It said, “What does it mean when a handsome man brings you flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day and then takes you out to a French restaurant for dinner?” When you opened it, the card said, “Your alarm clock hasn’t gone off yet.”

Yes. . .that is, to this day, the best card I’ve ever received from a bloke. Thanks, Football, wherever you are today.

I have ordered some more SomerSweet, finally, so I hope to make some Yeast Free Brownies soon. Maybe for Valentine’s Day if it arrives on time. The difference is that I don’t have to share with anybody. When I did share some with a couple of neighbors last summer, they were VERY well received.

I make them without the toasted pumpkin seeds, and for SomerSweet you’ll have to check the batter to see if it’s sweet enough. I was using 5 tablespoons of the old version, but I don’t remember how much to use of the baking version. Or you could just use Sweet N’ Natural if you wanted. This is a very healthy brownie recipe that’s so good, you’ll forget they’re better for you. Just keep them in the fridge, and let them sit out a bit before you eat them, or you’ll be paying an unscheduled visit to your dentist. (Coconut oil really hardens up in the fridge.) And there’s your first recipe.

Before I continue, here’s a fun and embarrassing story from my past. About ten years ago, I was, ahem, “living in sin” out of some necessity with a male I’ll call, for the sake of anonymity,  “Rodent.” We both came down with some kind of god-awful flu bug, and all I could do was lie on the couch and watch TV with him–for a week. My preferred viewing was the newly discovered Food Network. You see, I did not have cable in many years, and he had every freakin’ channel on the planet. So there I was watching Food Network for days and days while I tried to get over fever and the rest of it.

It just happened to be that Valentine’s Day was on Saturday that year, and The Food Network dubbed it Chocolate Obsession Week. All week long, all kinds of chocolate recipes for the best Valentine’s Day ever. I couldn’t get enough. I couldn’t get any chocolate either, because both of us were so sick.

So after several days, my fever broke, because I went to Rodent’s home office where he was tapping away and said, “I’m hungry–what’s for dinner?” There was no way either of us were in any shape to do any cooking, so he was going to do the takeout thing again. (I think we’d done pizza once or twice, too, but no cooking.)  He asked, “what do you feel like eating?” I said, “chocolate!” He turned around, looked at me and said, “No more Food Network for you!”

With THAT picture in mind–if Valentine’s Day to you brings up visions of fancy restaurants, chocolates, flowers, romance, and all that other stuff. . .this one was cold medicines, aspirin, and blankets. At least Rodent has a “fake-me-out” gas fireplace that was nice and warm while we had fever.

And, today we’re friends miles apart.

Here’s another one on the pumpkin seeds I leave out: a few months ago I discovered that I had some pumpkin seeds in the back of my pantry that had been there for years. I also had the idea that they were still good, too. I used a toasted spiced recipe from an old cookbook and, well, within a half-hour I discovered that no, pumpkin seeds do NOT stay good in your pantry indefinitely. It didn’t take long for the nausea to set in, and let’s leave it at that.

Now, it wouldn’t be right if a food blogger didn’t at least mention some chocolate recipes this week, and I’ve got a few that just might fit your tastes.

First up, one of two recipes by Nigella Lawson, the Chocolate Cloud Cake. I saw her do this one one of her shows and had to try it. I used unsweetened chocolate and melted it with SomerSweet, and it worked perfectly.  I had it for dessert all week after I saw it. I only made it once, but I still remember it well.

Tyler Florence has a similar recipe called Chocolate Cracked Earth, another flourless chocolate cake, which is also quite good. Again, made it one time with SomerSweet, loved it, and that was it.

The second Nigella recipe is from Forever Summer, (now published in the US as Nigella Fresh.) Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova is as pretty as it is delicious, and isn’t a terribly difficult thing to make. I made it a few years ago when I was invited to an “all girls” Valentine’s Day dinner, again, on a Saturday night. (Shortly thereafter, I met another gent, who I’ll call “Blob.” We’ve split up and are not in touch.) I made this to spec, since it was intended for a number of people who would likely not care that it was made without sugar. One slight alteration I did was to use a heart shaped pan to draw the shape on the parchment, and baked it that way. Otherwise, it’s the same. I had a picture of it somewhere, but I can’t put my hands on it. This, too, is memorable, and I would make again if I had the occasion, heart shaped or no.

Is your honey-baby gluten-intolerant? Or do you just want something just a little less involved, but equally tasty so you can show your love to someone?

I’ve already told you about my love for the wonderful Larabars, and a couple of years ago they posted some recipes on Facebook for the holidays. Unfortunately, they’re gone, but I found it on RecipeLion, so you can make them too. For Valentine’s Day, the simple, delicious Gluten Free Black Forest Parfaits are easy with Cherry Pie Larabars (you could also use the Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte version), whipped cream, melted chocolate, and a few other simple ingredients. You could use agave syrup in place of honey, if you like. I made this for myself a few years ago for Christmas, when the recipes first appeared on Facebook. I’m glad I took screenshots and printed it, but I can’t find the file. Note: the whipping cream should be 2/3 cup, but use as much as you like.

I even have two chocolate dessert recipes perfect for Valentine’s Day if your honey is vegan with a sweet tooth!  NO, I am NOT switching sides. I just love my sweets.

The first one, Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding, is actually really good, but takes some time to chill and set. The reason I tried this was because I bought something online and a sample of chia seeds came with it. Had NO idea what to do with them, but a little searching yielded this recipe. It’s actually really good, and I couldn’t help myself, so it didn’t last long. But since I don’t normally buy chia seeds. . .I haven’t made it since. Maybe I should.

The second one, Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse, is also really good, but note that it takes a while because you have to soak the raw cashews for six hours, then you have to chill it a while after blending. Yes, it’s worth it. Admittedly, I used cocoa powder and didn’t mess with cacao nibs, but. . .I was in the mood to try it, OK?

Bonus recipe: Homemade Nutella, which is also Gluten Free. I love this stuff!  Having made this a few times, I can tell you that you can buy “hazelnut flour” in some places, (finely ground hazelnuts) and you can use it as a shortcut instead of toasting hazelnuts here. Just measure it out and go for it with the food processor. Like the stuff in the jar, it’s a spread-on kind of condiment, but I’ve been known to eat this in a small pinch bowl with a spoon. It is VERY thick and sticky, but is REALLY delicious, without a lot of chemicals.

And there you go–something for everyone for Valentine’s Day.

No, I am not doing gift suggestions, unless you want to go and buy an assortment of Larabars or something. But that’s up to you.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

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