Remember the good old days of elementary school, the excitement come February, when your whole class was your Valentine? We were all in it together. There was something equally delightful and nerve wracking about pairing just the right card and flavor of lollipop to delight every one of your 18-24 best friends. Out of my pack of Power Ranger cards I reserved the few precious pink ones for my inner circle.
Some of us still get Valentine’s presents as adults (thanks Mom!) but for most it is just another work day, with the added onslaught of commercialism pressuring us to buy our sweethearts something special, if not sparkly. We’re under some sort of unwritten obligation to pick up a box of chocolates or bottle of wine on the way home because it’s expected. As the bags of candy get larger and the pink and red teddy bears lean out of the grocery store shelves staring us down, can’t we just get back to simple gestures? Let’s recall the days when we weren’t expecting a grand (and might I say cliché?) overture of diamonds or red roses, but instead looked forward to and were content with a paper lunch sack stuffed with handwritten cards.
What if I told you that you could treat your valentine to a sublime, restaurant quality appetizer, no matter what the rest of the evening might hold? Even if you’re at home with the kids, catching up on writing reports, and an entrée that came out of a box is in the oven, you can treat yourself and your special someone. I’m talking handpicked Urbani Italian truffles, French sea salt, and organic heirloom potatoes. Park your checkbook, because you won’t need a small loan or a flight to Italy to make this happen.
First begin by making your own Valentine’s card for your special someone without spending an extra dime. Up cycle anything around the house that looks like it wants to grow up and become a greeting card. Old file folders, manila envelopes, cardboard package inserts can all lend themselves to becoming funky card stock. Multi-colored Sharpies, crayons, colored pencils, stickers, magazine photos, old family photo duplicates, etc. – you get the idea. Channel your inner child, color, say something nice, and be authentic. Who doesn’t love a thoughtful, homemade card?
Now consider epic turning points in your life: learning to ride a bike, graduating from high school, starting a family… and…getting your first bag of Luke’s Organic White truffle and French sea salt potato chips. When you pair these thin, crisp chips with an amazingly delicate mushroom pate, deliciousness ensues. Trust me, the way to anyone’s heart begins with a homemade card and this pate’. (Prepare to get maximum credit for minimal effort.)
Truffle-tastic Crimini Mushroom Pate
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 C cannellini beans
2 T balsamic vinegar
3 T fresh parsley
2 T high quality truffle oil
1 Cup cashews (omit for nut allergies)
Salt and pepper
Over low heat, sauté’ onions, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil. While they are caramelizing, measure your beans, parsley, balsamic vinegar, cashews, thyme, and salt and pepper into a food processor. If you’re feeling extra fancy you can use truffle salt instead of regular. When the mushrooms and onions are tender, add them to the food processor and pulse until well blended. You want the mixture to remain thick so it can chill into a firm pate, but if your food processor is struggling to blend you can add an additional tablespoon of olive oil or water to help smooth it out.
Once blended, spread the pate into a ramekin or small dish lined with plastic wrap. This will save you the trouble of scraping the chilled final product out of the dish, and provides for a very aesthetically pleasing result. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, until pate is semi firm. When ready to serve, flip the ramekin upside down onto a serving dish, peel the plastic away and voila! Garnish with fresh thyme, a drizzle of truffle oil, and Luke’s Organic White truffle potato chips.
Pair with some Prosecco, or nice bubbly mineral water, and if you close your eyes, you could very well be with your sweetheart on the roof top of an Italian castle, watching the sun set over the ocean, and sighing at all your good fortune.