Tag Archives: valentine’s day

Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Berry Compote


Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Berry Compote

If breakfast in bed is in order on Valentine’s Day — or any day — this decadent french toast recipe is full of proven aphrodisiacs…

Cinnamon was known for its sensual appeal in the ancient world and at one time was more valuable than gold because of its curative properties. It is among the spices considered useful for producing heat within the body and is known to increase appetite — both physical and sexual. As for berries, blueberries promote blood flow and help keep you young and energetic, raspberries and strawberries are full of antioxidants and are plump, pretty, and seductive. For more info about these and other aphrodisiacs check out Eat Something Sexy.

Click here for a blog I wrote on ancient aphrodisiacs and watch this great video collaboration with Carin Krasner with a step by step demo on how to make this sultry, comforting and delicious meal. Recipe below.

For the French Toast:
6 slices slightly dry day old cinnamon babka, sliced 1″ thick (Dean & Deluca makes the best babka on the planet)
5 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, for frying

For the Berry Compote:
1 pound mixed fresh berries
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water

Make the compote. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries with the sugar and the water and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the berries are softened and the sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes.

Whisk together eggs and milk in a bowl. Add vanilla, sugar, and salt, whisk to combine.

Put the babka slices in a pie plate and pour the egg mixture over them. Let soak for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Heat a large heavy skillet on medium heat.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet, add the babka and cook until golden brown 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with berry compote or with maple syrup.

Serves 2

Mussels with Saffron Cream Sauce

mussels with saffron

Mussels with Saffron Cream Sauce

Throughout the centuries saffron has been a symbol of wealth and elegance. Cleopatra used saffron water to keep her skin soft and because she felt it improved her lovemaking skills. Roman Emperor Nero sprinkled the streets with saffron water to honor his return to Rome. Persians considered it a tonic for the heart as it was thought to alleviate melancholy. A spice consisting of the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it was introduced into Spain by the Arabs and later cultivated in Mediterranean regions and elsewhere in Europe.

1 large yellow onion, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 pounds cultivated mussels, rinsed well and debearded
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Thinly slice the onion.

Add oil to a skillet set over medium heat. When hot add onion and until translucent. Add the  saffron and ½ teaspoon salt and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add wine and bring to a boil, then stir in cream, pepper, remaining salt, and mussels. Cook, covered, checking after 8 minutes and discarding any mussels that remain unopened. Transfer opened mussels to soup bowls with a slotted spoon.

Stir parsley into broth, pour over mussels and serve with warm baguette. (Garnish with lemon wedges if you’d like.)

Serves 6

Scallops with Green Herb Sauce

scallops with green herb sauce

Scallops with Green Herb Sauce

Legend has it that the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, was carried to earth on the shell of a scallop. Thanks to this, scallops have enjoyed an aphrodisiac reputation since antiquity. 

For the scallops:
2 pounds dry sea scallops
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons olive oil or chipotle avocado oil *
salt and pepper

For the herb sauce:
1 cup olive oil or chipotle avocado oil *
1 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup drained capers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano, chopped
1/2 teaspoon tarragon, chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper

Make the herb sauce by mixing all ingredients together and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add butter and oil to a large saute pan set on high heat.

Salt and pepper the scallops and, when the oil is hot, gently add to the pan making sure they are not touching each other. Sear for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side – they should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center.

Serve with the green herb sauce and warm baguette.

* If you’re looking for a little kick, substitute olive oil for Avocare chipotle avocado oil. The smokiness of the chile releases endorphins which can add another level of heat to the game plan. Plus Avocare produces extra-virgin, cold-pressed, GMO-free certified avocado oils. That’s pretty sexy for Valentine’s Day, or any day!

Serves 6

Dining in Hellenistic Greece

hellenistic boxer

Dining in Hellenistic Greece

Thursday 8/20 from 10:30am to 2:30pm; repeats Friday 8/21

The Getty Center

Discover the tastes of the ancient world exploring the culinary and artistic accomplishments of Hellenistic Greece while touring the special exhibition Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World. Learn ancient dining customs and prepare a summery Mediterranean meal inspired by historical recipes and ingredients. Open to 20 participants. ($85)