Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Romantic Dinner Suggestion from Professional Personal Chef and Cookbook Author, Peggy Stuart.

A friend of mine, Peggy Stuart, was kind enough to talk with me today and give me her suggestion for a romantic and healthy Valentine’s Day dinner.

Peggy is a professional chef and gardener.  She gardens in the summer and work as a private chef in the winter.  Perfect for Minnesota!

“I normally cook fish on Valentine’s Day,” says Peggy.   The healthiest way to cook fish is to poach it, then serve it with a fresh berry vinaigrette.  Blackberries and raspberries are in the market right now.”
Anne asks, “So how do you make vinaigrette?”

“I make it just like you’d make citric or balsamic vinaigrette, only crushing in some of the berries.  I drizzle the vinaigrette over the fish then sprinkle whole berries on top,” said Peggy.

Here is the ratio of berries to acid found in the excellent cookbook: The Café Brenda Cookbook.
  • 2 cups of juice and 1 cup of fresh or frozen berries to ½ cup of oil (walnut, canola).
  • Add salt and pepper, and a little lemon depending on how tart the berries are.  (Anne: I was surprised to learn not every vinaigrette uses vinegar!)

 For the full recipe for cooking the fish, check out The Café Brenda Cookbook recipe for poached rainbow trout or salmon with fresh berry vinaigrette.   Brenda Langton, the author is the former owner of Café Brenda, and now owner of SpoonRiver.  She and Peggy are sisters and have collaborated on a new cookbook, called SpoonRiver, coming out in April everywhere.  Watch for it! 

Anne asks, “What do you like to serve with the fish?” 
“I like to serve a green vegetable or a salad.  In the winter it’s a little hard, so I like greens like kale and Swiss chard or spinach.  A spinach salad is great.  If you want a grain, I would do brown rice. ”

Anne asks, “Would wild rice be too heavy?”  
“Oh no, that would be good, too,” says Peggy.

"What do you like to do for dessert for Valentine’s Day?” asks Anne. 
“One of my favorites in the winter is sorbet.  Three little scoops of three different flavors looks beautiful in a bowl, and is very low calorie. Also a little bit of angel food cake with strawberries with a little whipped cream or just a fruit sauce on top, is lovely.  Certainly you could a little chocolate cookie with the sorbet, or serve chocolate sauce on top of the sorbet.  And of course a little dish of chocolate hearts on the table is nice.  You can also buy little chocolate shells to put the sorbet in as well. “

“Peggy, any tips to dress up the table?” 
“Sometimes I do flowers, and sometimes I do a bowl of fresh fruits like pomegranate and grapefruits.  It saves money on flowers and you can eat it later!  I always like to do candles.” says Peggy.

Sounds romantic!   Thanks, Peggy!

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