Friday, 17 February 2012

Be Mine, Valentine

When I was a kid, I used to throw out all the Valentine's that said "Be Mine, Valentine" because I thought there was a mistake. It didn't make sense! If I didn't throw them out, I'd give them to the kids (boys) I didn't really like. True story. Not understanding the significance of that comma, every year I would get increasingly frustrated, wondering why on earth the publishers wouldn't catch the error and write "Be MY Valentine," instead? I had an 'ah-ha' moment somewhere around the 7th grade - having not seen one of the dreaded Valentines in a few years, and having since learned a little more about the many uses of the common comma - and mourned the many trees I had surely killed in the process of throwing away so many Valentines.

Youths! Scoff, scoff.

So, truth be told, I've been coming home from work every day and face-planting into bed. The new(ish) job has been taking over my life! I'm certainly enjoying all the hard, hands-on work, but work/life balance has been difficult to achieve and plenty of things have been taking a back seat, including this space.

When it came to Valentine's Day, then, I knew I wanted to make a delicious and thoughtful meal for F., but there was no time in the day nor space in my brain for extravagant recipe creation, so I got some ideas from things I'd learned or read in the past few weeks.

I've been working with one chef, Lyle Kennedy, quite a bit lately. Chef Lyle is exactly the kind of chef I was hoping to come across when I first started this job. I wanted a go-to chef, someone who I could really count on and who would go the extra mile, and I've certainly found that with him. A perk of the job is getting to learn a ton from talented professionals, like Lyle, so two of my three dishes actually came from or were inspired by dishes he's made in our classes. 

The first was this Peach Mascarpone Tart we had for dessert. Lyle made it with blueberries in our cooking class, but when I made this at home, I used the Preserved Peaches in White Wine Syrup I made last fall.

1/2 a sheet of puff pastry, covered in about 3/4 cup of mascarpone that has been whipped with sugar.

Take the second 1/2 of of the sheet, cover with an egg wash, and then cover the first half,
pinching and sealing the edges. Cut ventilation holes in the top and sprinkle with more sugar.
Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes.

Here you can see that the hearts are slightly mangled and rough around the edges. This was my artistic interpretation and attempt to portray the state that our hearts find themselves in adulthood, after a series of misguided relationships, when we finally meet that person who is able to soften and smooth out those rough edges again...

(... or I'm a just terrible artist and always have been. You choose! A good save, though?)

The next dish was this side of Asparagus Amandine: a recipe I got from Bryan at The Bite House here in Nova Scotia. Bryan, a chef and blogger, wrote a bit of an ode to the side dish last week and presented us with 3 great recipes inspired by The Flavor Bible. I was immediately drawn to this recipe, imagining the buttery, salty, crunchy concoction it would be, and vowed, once more, to get my hands on that book. I'm not sure if my pairing with pork was Biblically sound, but it definitely tasted amazing and looked great together on the plate!

I used Fleur de Sel and slivered almonds, rather than sliced,
simply because it's what I had in my cupboard!

Our main dish was pork tenderloin. When it comes to meat, I'll eat anything, but I tend to shy away from the actual preparation of it. I usually leave meat up to F. and his BBQ skills. I had no idea how easy it was to prepare something like this tenderloin, however, until I saw Chef Lyle whip some up a few weeks ago. I followed his recipe for Maple Glazed Whole Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples precisely and was rewarded with sweet, juicy, flavourful, meaty perfection.

Taking pictures in a dark kitchen is rough when you *still* haven't
learned enough about aperture, etc.!

I used some of the white wine syrup (that the peaches were preserved in) and mixed it with whipping cream, then splashed it over our tarts. Our hearts were just brimming over! Oh, yes!

Toward the end of the meal, I spiced up my Prosecco with a few cinnamon hearts. F. did not approve of that flavour combination, but that's just how I roll, friends.

What did you eat on Valentine's Day? 

Much, much love to you all.


  1. Hey Aimee, I think both your dishes look superb! I love the Peach Mascarpone Tart - what a delicious combination, so simple, yet a stunning result! I haven't used peaches in syrup in years but I remember being a huge fan before, must try them again. Glad you're getting a lot out of the new job - at the end of everyday, it's a GOOD tired, isn't it?! Lin xx

  2. Chef Lyle Kennedy18 February 2012 at 08:51

    Oh, thanks for the blog mention. Just happened to come across your blog and have been reading over the past year. You are quite the food enthousist. My Valentines Day was postponed to the following day, but I did stuff some turkey tenders with mushroom and tarragon, and roasted it whole with lemon slices, yellow peppers and honey coated cranberries. Also prepared some crispy (coat with whipped egg white) yam fries in the oven, which our daughters love! It was nice to get excited about food and my family on the day after, Valentines Day. See you in the kitchen. Chef Lyle

  3. Woah that looks awesome! It got me in the mood for pork tenderloins... didn't have those in a while.
    I cooked a 5 course Italian menu on Valentines, it was good but took me a while to prepare.
    garlic roasted peppers crostini, brown rice tomato risotto, haddock, creamy polenta, lemon butter sauce, fried eggplant parmigiano, cheeses and truffles. It might have been too much, we were full by the third course!

  4. tell me about work/life balance! and the lack of time to blog! my goal for this weekend was/is to finally blog about the pecan pie I made last month..miss you friend! love the hearts in the pastry:)))

  5. So, I'll trade you a lesson on aperture for some more of your amazing yummy food... DEAL?!

  6. What a lovely, romantic meal! I'm sure F was pleased as punch ;) For our Valentine's Day we made a very special cake. I think you know the one!

  7. Hi Aimee!

    I can imagine how difficult it is to balance daily life. I admire u for that, that u still find little time to post us such delicious foods.

    I used to feel the same way, I had very sharped edged hearts. most probably my hearts were no hearts at all. But then I met my sun, the one who formed them back to hearts and smoothed it out perfectly. =)

    Proseco and cinnamon? lol
    at least u tried, right? ;)

  8. Love your artistic interpretation of the peach tart (looks fabulous). Being as busy and as tired as you are, I think your Valentine's meal was lovely and made all the more special as it was cooked straight from the heart.

  9. love this one

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  10. A lucky, lucky man! A home cooked Valentine's dinner is always the best;)