For the past few years Ryan and I have ditched the traditional night out on Valentine's Day and cooked at home. Two years ago we celebrated Valentine's Day with Mario Batali and last year we stayed in and cooked steaks with roasted vegetables. It's not that we don't enjoy eating out, but we figure we can make a pretty fancy and flavorful meal ourselves for less money and more fun!
We have A LOT of cookbooks. And we actually use them when we are looking for our regular, weeknight meals. For a special occasion like this, we like to pick a recipe that is a little more complicated and has different ingredients. (Or at least ingredients that aren't on the normal grocery list)
We decided to ask Mario Batali to be our valentine again because we chose two recipes from his cookbook Molto Italiano. Our menu included:
1. Duck Scaloppine with Dried Cherries and Grapa
2. Red Cabbage Braised in Vinegar
3. Goat Cheese Ravioli's fresh from the North Market in Columbus.
Now, I said above that we try and pick a recipe that is a little more complicated and has different ingredients..but for the Duck Scaloppine we actually had all of the ingredients except the duck, cherries, and scallions. We figured it was meant to be. We thought it would be a good opportunity to use the Grapa we purchased on our honeymoon in Italy. I personally do not like to drink it, but it was great to cook with.
The duck recipe was fairly easy to make, we mainly had to concentrate on pounding out the duck breasts as thin as we could (which was kind of difficult because we were out of saran wrap) and timing the dish so it was ready with the rest of the components.
Since there is no recipe link for the braised red cabbage, I'll give you the step by step process. In his cookbook, Mario recommended we serve the duck with braised red cabbage. We couldn't say no to our valentine, so we obliged.
1. Slice 1 medium red onion (we mixed 1/2 red and 1/2 white because that's what we had). Heat olive oil in large pot over med-high heat until smoking. Add onion and caraway seeds. **We did not have caraway seeds so we used fennel seeds instead- it worked perfectly!**
Here is a shot of the final presentation: I'll admit there were a few uncharacteristic kitchen meltdowns on my part. I almost burned the red cabbage and a tore open a few of the ravioli's when they were cooking. When we sat down to eat I thought I had ruined our meal. But, it turned out wonderful!! The duck scaloppine was really tender and perfectly cooked (thanks to Ryan). The grapa and dried cherries provided a tartness that complimented the flavor of the duck and the scallions added a nice crunch. The braised cabbage turned out very flavorful. The fennel seeds worked just fine instead of caraway seeds and provided a nice anise flavor that worked well with the red wine vinegar.
We didn't do much to the ravioli's. Like I mentioned above, we got them from Pastaria Seconda in the North Market. They were stuffed with goat cheese so we wanted to keep it simple. We sprinkled some dried Italian herbs and Parmesan cheese over the ravioli and drizzled some olive oil to finish the dish.
I was really happy with our Valentine's Day meal. If we would have gone out and tried to get a meal similar to this, we would have spent a lot more money. Mario Batali can be our Valentine anytime!
Oh yea, here is our other Valentine. :)