A Sophisticated and Savory Way to Serve Up Love This Valentine’s Day
February 2023 Issue
By Leslie Rohland
Photography by Lucy Rosen
The manner in which food is served often is just as important as taste when it comes to the overall enjoyment of a dish, particularly when it comes to special dishes served for special occasions. And perhaps no occasion lends itself to the potential for unique food presentation than Valentine’s Day.
Whether you are planning a romantic dinner for two, hosting a couples dinner party, or throwing a festive “Galentine’s” Day party to celebrate the amazing women in your life, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to go all out when it comes to festive food and decorations. Serving food in a unique way can add to the fun and festivity of the evening, piquing the interests of guests while creating exciting enticement. For example, any food looks more festive and sophisticated when served in a martini or shot glass.
There are many things you can do this Valentine’s Day—or any day—when it comes to festive food presentation. One fun and simple idea is to take some tried and true favorite food pairings and place them in a various sized glasses together, like mini grilled cheese sandwiches sticking out of a small glass of tomato soup, milk and cookie shots, or shrimp and aioli shot glasses. All of these personal portions make the perfect, easy-to-eat finger foods for any type of gathering.
Here are a few of my favorite special occasion “cups of love” that not only taste as good as they look but can take your Valentine’s Day celebration to a new level. With perfectly sized, delicious Shrimp Pomegranate Martinis, refreshing Caprese Salad, along with my classic and always-loved Pasta Salad, you’ll be serving up the love. And, of course, no Valentine’s Day celebration would be complete without a delicious decadent dessert! My recipe for Red Velvet Trifle (made even more enticing when served in wine glasses) is sure to be a fabulous finish to your menu. Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love, so remember the quickest way to the heart is through the stomach. Serving up something easy and extra-special will provide a dining experience they’ll be sure to love.
Classic Pasta Salad
Serves 4 | Pictured above
1 small Zucchini, halved and sliced
1 lb Serpentini pasta or other “s” shaped pasta
Grape tomatoes, halved
1 can Black olives, drained
1 chub Pepperoni, diced
1 small Red onion, diced
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions. Drain and rinse. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, grape tomatoes, olives, pepperoni, and red onion. Add pasta and toss to combine. Drizzle the EVOO and vinegar according to your taste. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Chill for at least 4 hours, then toss again prior to serving.
Shrimp Pomegranate Martini
1/2 English cucumber, diced
8 large Shrimp, cooked, tails removed, diced
1/4 cup Red onion, diced
Dash Lemon and lime juices, to taste
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Cilantro
1/2 tsp Hot sauce, like Tabasco
1/4 cup Ketchup
1/2 Tbsp Horseradish
In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, cucumber, onion, salt, cilantro, ketchup, horseradish, lemon and lime juice, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Toss to mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Divide the mixture into four chilled martini glasses. Top with pomegranate arils. Serve with tortilla chips as garnish.
Caprese Salad Shots
4 Champagne flutes
1 pkg Mozzarella pearls
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
4 sprigs fresh Basil, finely chopped
Balsamic Glaze 8 cherry tomatoes, finely diced
The layering process for the caprese:
- Splash of EVOO in bottom of the champagne flutes
- Dash of balsamic glaze
- Mozzarella pearls (just a few in each layer)
- Chopped basil
- Diced tomato
Repeat until flute is full, then top with pine nuts.
Red Velvet Trifle
6 large wine glasses, about 12-16 oz
For the Cake:
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
For the Cream Layer:
16 oz Cream cheese, softened
2 boxes Instant white chocolate pudding mix
2 cups Half and half
1 cup Cool Whip
For the Topping:
Mini chocolate chips
Chocolate sauce (like Hershey’s)
Make the cake: Bake cake according to package. Once baked, set aside to cool.
Make the cream layer: Whip the cream cheese, pudding mix, half and half and whipped topping in large bowl. Set aside.
Assemble the trifle: Cut the cake into cubes and place a layer in the bottom of each wine glass, just to cover the bottom. Cover the cake cubes with half of the cream layer mix. Drizzle chocolate sauce. Then sprinkle some chocolate chips and pistachios. Repeat this process until cake cubes are used up and each wine glass is nicely layered. Top off with more whipped cream, chocolate chips and crushed pistachios.
Leslie Rohland, owner of the Cottage Cafe, Bakery and Tea Room in Old Town Bluffton, is an award-winning recipe creator who is known for her delicious and ever-changing menu at her extraordinary restaurant. She is also the owner of the popular healthy eatery The Juice Hive and the micro-roastery May River Coffee Roasters. For more information about The Cottage Cafe, visit www.thecottagebluffton.com or call 843-757-0508.