Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Cooking up chocolate passion

Photo by Chuck Stevens.
Ugh. The dreaded Valentine's Day is coming soon. If you're lucky enough to find someone in the Personals who you'd actually even consider licking chocolate off of, here are Brain Dancer's own heart-melting recipes to set the perfect stage for a romantic evening that is guaranteed to entice your special date into the kitchen—-and the bedroom.

If you’ve seen the movie Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, you experienced a "taste" of a culinary aphrodisiac at work. It was a slow, lush movie showing plenty of sexy shots -- close-ups and action shots -- of one of the world's most well-known and glamorous aphrodisiacs: chocolate. The second main character Viane (Binoche) opens a chocolate shop in a provincial, abstemious French village. From the minute she sets to work making the chocolate, we witness languid ribbons of chocolate cascading from well-crafted pots into delicate china, and countless other sensual scenarios: wet lips smacking, tongues licking, people guiltily touching their fingertips in chocolate and licking them clean.

With chocolate as its sexy centerfold, the film (besides being one big chocolate commercial) accented the connection between food and sensuality. A decadent dinner could be the secret romance weapon that will bring a potential lover closer to your heart.

Date by date, nibble by nibble, there are many elements in cooking up a passionate meal:

Sensuality. In Chocolat, the food was prepared deliberately, deliciously, with care and attention, and not a little sensuality (ooh, smack, lick, aaah-h-h).

Sharing. Sometimes the characters shared conversation; sometimes they shared the little "guilty" pleasures with looks askance as if they were being quite naughty together. Food brings people together.

Caring. Most people read a partner's act of cooking for them as "caring." If your partner has a favorite meal, a favorite flavor; make the effort to produce it at home yourself. Guys cook for your ladies, ladies cook for your guys; or you can both share a bottle of wine, get a little tipsy, cook for each other and lick the cream sauce or the chocolate mousse off each other’s fingers. You might get impatient and never get around to eating!

Memories. The scent and texture of food is a powerful memory maker. You probably know this if you've passed by a bakery or restaurant and found your mind suddenly snapping back to another time in your life. If you create a meal or a dessert for an evening on which sparks fly, those food scents will be indelibly planted in your lover's mind for all time. In the future, you'll need only have that meal simmering on the stove and your partner will be getting aroused as they walk in the door.

Smooth, creamy textures. In the food world, they talk about “mouth feel.” A romantic meal has textures that are rich, smooth, creamy and buttery. Coconut milk, creamy cheeses, raw seafood, custards, sauces, whipped cream and of course, chocolate are like velvet on the tongue.

Light on the stomach (and nose!). A romantic dinner should be light and energizing – not heavy and rich. Stay away from foods that are hard to digest, pungent or just plain smelly. Avoid brie, sauerkraut, garlic, blue cheese, raw onions, curry and (for the obvious reasons) hard to digest foods like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and beans!

Aphrodisiacial. Some foods can increase energy, get the blood flowing, heat up the body. Legendary aphrodisiac foods include asparagus, wild mushrooms, raw oysters, ginger, vanilla beans, tropical fruits, red wine and of course, chocolate.

Serving your lover with sensual style:

Whatever it is you create, the next thing to consider is how to serve it. After all, this is lust we're talking about.

Lights, candles, action! Dim the lights low, or drape lampshades with scarves to soften the light, scatter the room with inexpensive tea candles and spin some exotic trance-like Buddah Bar beats, Billie Holliday or passionate piano music on the stereo.

A change of scene:<.span> Eat on cushions around the coffee table in the living room…on a flotaki rug, in a bean bag chair, in the tub, in the garden…in front of the fire.

A little dessert before dinner? Ask your partner to cover their eyes with their hands and serve it to him or her yourself. Hold it just under their nose and ask them to inhale the scent first. Make them eat slowly, make them lick and suck your fingers. Ad lib from here.

For couples only: Serve it on your naked body or on his naked body. Desert is optional and perhaps unnecessary!

A passionate spring menu:

Chilled Champagne
Raw oysters on the half shell with fresh lemon
Spring Salad with Baked Goat Cheese
Shrimp in Pastis with Fresh Fennel
Sensual Saffron Rice
Coconut Gelato With Fresh Mangos and Whole Strawberries
Gingered Chocolate Sauce

Spring Salad With Warm Goat Cheese

2 large handfuls of mixed baby greens, rinsed, dried and chilled.
One log of creamy goat cheese or two small goat cheese rounds (crottins)
Herbes de Provence (a dried mixture of marjoram, sage, savory and rosemary)
Olive Oil for drizzling cheese
3 tbsp. Hazelnut or virgin olive Oil
1 tsp. Shallot, finely minced
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt
A handful of toasted pinenuts

1. Slice the goat cheese into 1 inch thick circles. Toss each round in olive oil, sprinkle with the herb mixture and a grating of fresh pepper. The cheese should be quite thoroughly coated with herbs.
2. Heat the broiler until very hot. Place cheeses on a pan and grill under the broiler until lightly browned on top.
3. Place nut or oilive oil, shallot, vinegar, pepper and salt into a salad bowl and whisk until creamy. Toss ligntly with the greens.
4. Arrange half of the greens on a plate, top with warm cheese and nuts, and a grating of pepper. Serve while still warm.

Flaming Shrimp in Pastis with Fresh Fennel

1-1/4 lbs. Tiger prawns or jumbo shrimp, peeled & deveined – leave the shells on the tails.
3 Tablespoons Pastis liqeur (Pernod or Ricard)
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespooons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 fennel bulb, sliced as thinly as possible
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon minced fennel greens
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until just barely pink. Remove from pan.
2. Add the fennel and shallot, sauté gently until soft. Return the shrimp to the pan. Pour in the pastis; remove from the heat and flambé. (That means throw a lit match into the pan and shake the pan until the flames die down and the alcohol burns off.)
3. When the flames die, add the lemon juice, parsley, fennel greens and chives and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with good French bread or saffron rice to soak up the fantastic sauce.

Sensual Saffron Rice

Jasmine rice and saffron perfume your kitchen with a light and delightful incense and the color of saffron rice is a vivid contrast with the pink shrimp and green herbs.

2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups of water, soak a pinch of saffron in the water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp. minced parsley

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, one-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add garlic, stir briefly until translucent. Do not burn! If you burn the garlic, wash the pan and start over again – burnt food is the opposite of aphrodisiacal!
2. Add rice and stir in the oil until rice is translucent and grains are coated with oil.
3. Add water, increase heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until water is absorbed.
4. Fluff rice with a fork. Toss with minced parsley before serving.

Creamy Coconut Sorbet

The rich creamy cool texture of this very simple tropical fruit sorbet will soothe your lover’s tongue. The bananas should be completely covered with black spots so they are very sweet before freezing.

1 8 oz can coconut milk, chilled
2 tbsp. maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
3 very ripe bananas, frozen.
1 tsp. Real vanilla

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a blender rapidly until smooth.
2. Eat immediately or chill before serving.
3. Serve a scoop of sorbet on a plate, with a few fresh mango slices, a berry, and drizzle the plate with warm gingered chocolate sauce. Dip whole strawberries into the sauce and feed them to your lover.

Spicy Gingered Chocolate Sauce

The best part about making this sauce is licking it off each other’s fingers!

1 six-ounce semisweet chocolate bar
1 tbsp. olive oil
honey to taste
2 tsp. Finely grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp. Real vanilla extract
3 tbsp. water
pinch of sea salt

1. In a double boiler, break up the chocolate bar into small pieces, add water, olive oil and honey to taste.
2. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until smooth. Do not overheat.
3. Squeeze the ginger juice through a fine cloth (a clean handkerchief or cheesecloth) into the sauce. Add vanilla. Taste for sweetness and adjust the flavorings as needed. Add a very small pinch of sea salt to taste. (The salt makes the sauce seem buttery.)

All recipes are originals by BrainDancer. Please refer back to this blog url and give me credit if you republish them.

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