Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 14, 2012

Special treats for Valentine’s Day

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Red velvet is the world’s most perfect food.

Until recently, I thought it was only a cake flavor, but The Nestle Company sent me this recipe and I realized red velvet is appropriate in any form and at any time, even for breakfast.

COCOA-KISSED

 RED VELVET PANCAKES

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Baking Cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk or lowfat milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon red food coloring

Heart-shaped pancake cutters or cookie cutters (optional)

Optional garnishes: butter, powdered sugar, maple syrup and fresh berries

Combine flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; stir well.

Whisk egg, buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract and food coloring together in large bowl. Add to flour mixture; stir to combine. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes (this produces more tender pancakes).

Heat nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush with a little oil or butter. Add about ¼ cup batter to skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles start to form on top. Flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter, powdered sugar, syrup and berries.

TIP:  If using pancake or cookie cutters, be sure to coat with a little oil so the pancakes don’t stick. Place cutters in skillet and pour batter into cutters. Remove cutters before flipping.

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Barbara Delligatti, owner of The Upstairs Gallery in Ashland, shared this delicious recipe recently. It sounds like something that could be good with vanilla ice cream.

QUICK AND EASY 

COBBLER

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup water

Line a 9" x 9" pan with sliced fruit.

Combine softened butter, 1/2 cup sugar, milk, flour, baking powder and vanilla to make a batter.

Spread over fruit.

Combine 1 cup sugar with water and pour over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

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Always on the lookout for a way to use my trifle dish, I found this recipe on Culinary.net. This recipe suggests serving individual trifles in wife glasses, but it works fine in one large serving dish.

RASPBERRY TRIFLE WITH RUM SAUCE 

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

3/4 teaspoon imitation rum extract

3 tablespoons water

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1 frozen pound cake (12-ounce), thawed and cut into quarter-size cubes

3 containers (4 ounces each) refrigerated prepared vanilla pudding

Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Heat butter in a large glass bowl in microwave on high until melted, about 30 seconds.

Whisk in confectioners' sugar, rum extract, and water, stirring to form a smooth sauce.

Heat jam in a small glass bowl in microwave on high until just melted, about 30 seconds.

In six small bowls or wineglasses, evenly distribute pound cake cubes. Pack cubes down slightly.

Drizzle rum sauce and jam evenly over each. Spoon 3 tablespoons of pudding evenly over each. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Garnish with raspberries and serve.

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It’s difficult to believe that, with a name like Strawberries Romanov, this recipe is so easy.

Alexandra Romanov is credited with this recipe on allrecipes.com.

STRAWBERRIES ROMANOV

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened

1 cup sweetened whipped cream

1/4 cup orange flavored liqueur, or to taste

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled

2 sprigs mint leaves, for garnish

shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish

In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. Gradually stir in the orange liqueur. Divide the berries between two parfait glasses, and spoon the cream mixture over them. Garnish with mint leaves and shaved chocolate.

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Sweets aren’t the only food appropriate for celebrating Valentine’s Day. Disney’s familyfun.go.com has several ideas for recipes, crafts and activities for children to enjoy on Feb. 14. Here’s one they’ll enjoy helping create. The site suggests shaping the dough into a heart in keeping with the holiday.

PERFECT PIZZA

Perfect Pizza Dough

Olive oil for coating or cornmeal for dusting

1 cup homemade or store-bought tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cups grated Muenster cheese

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Punch down the risen dough, knead it a few times to remove all the air, and divide it in two. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll one portion into a 12-inch round. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the crust — not too much, or else your pizza will become soggy. (A word on sauce: if you don't have time for homemade, spruce up a 14-ounce jar of store-bought by adding 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 1/2 tbsp. of dry red wine and 1/2 tsp. of dried oregano.)

Top your pizza with half of the mozzarella and Muenster cheeses and garnish with the toppings of your choice. Bake 12 to 15 minutes; subtract a few minutes if you're using a pizza stone. When done, the crust will be golden underneath. Makes two 12-inch pizzas.

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While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send e-mail to lward@dailyindependent.com.