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Tom's Market Newsletter February 8, 2012

02/08/12

Good afternoon everyone,

            Well, I guess you can’t win them all…..  I hope that the only joy on Sunday came from the great recipes you cooked from last week’s email.  I apologize for the 16oz jar of (blank) in the newsletter.  It was supposed to be salsa.  Quite a few emailed for the clarification.  I would love to have our readers email in their Super Bowl menus. Mine consisted of a cheese platter, crudité, chips and salsa, frittata, 5 bean salad, pizza, spinach salad, calzone, and lots of beer and wine.  If you look closely, you’ll find a few healthy items in there!!

            Just in case you forgot, there’s a holiday coming up………

Ahh....... Valentine's Day......A day for lovers. Soft music, candlelight, an evening full of anticipation as you quietly gaze into each other’s eyes. The culmination of many weeks of planning, you've prepared a glorious feast that will enable you and your significant other to ponder the meaning of life together. Looking at the well though out meal before you, discussion turns to the aphroditic qualities of each course. Exciting the senses and enlivening the imagination are exactly what you had in mind for the evening. From the first sip of champagne to the last passionate kiss, the evening will be everything you've longed for................

Wait a minute........WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!!!

Are you kidding me?? You've been so busy at work trying to meet that last minute deadline that you haven't even thought of dinner. Your partner, on the other hand, has been carting the kids around, helping with homework, doing laundry, cleaning the house, and is just dying to get into the sexiest pair of sweats and frumpy T-shirt they can find. You are lucky if you even notice each other as you whiz though the nighttime ritual of dinner, baths, stories, the countless "drinks of water." Exhausted, you collapse on the couch and turn on the TV while doing the monthly bills, asking yourself why the sweet cherubs came home with cards with red hearts on them.

Then you remember..................

It's Valentine's Day!!!

OK, OK, maybe you don't have any "sweet cherubs," (or, you were able to find a "home" for them for the evening) and you really have been planning a romantic dinner for weeks. But before you take the first sip of bubbly beverage, your thirst for the origins of Valentine's Day must be quenched.

(Here comes the educational part!!!)

The first picture of Saint Valentine appeared in the "Nuremberg Chronicle," printed in 1493. The text states that, during the reign of emperor Claudius II in 269 AD, Valentine (his real name was Valentinus) was a Roman Priest and martyr who demonstrated courage and valor by helping Christians being persecuted under the emperor. During this tumultuous time, giving any kind of aid to Christians was a crime, and Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned.

During his imprisonment, Valentinus appeared before the emperor and tried to convert him to Christianity. The emperor, not one for change, decided to try to save Valentinus by asking "..Why wilt Thu not abide in amenity and worship idols, and renounce the vain opinion of thy creance?" To which Valentinus replied: "...I say of thy Gods none other thing but that they were men mortal and merchant, and full of odure and evil"

Needless to say, Valentinus was condemned to death.

While waiting his execution, he befriended his jailers blind daughter. Guess what happens next? Valentinus restores sight to the blinded daughter and converts the whole family to Christianity!! (The jailer was Asterios, one of the emperors lieutenants, who upon reveling himself a Christian to the emperor, was also condemned to death)

On the eve of his death, Valentinus wrote a farewell letter to the jailers daughter and signed it, "From your Valentine" On February 14th, the day before Roman pagan holiday Lupercalia, Valentinus was then beaten with clubs, stoned, and finally beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate.

By the year 496 AD, Saint Valentine was the patron saint of the now famous pagan love festival Lupercalia. In the same year, Pope Gelasius tried to stop the festival by changing it into a church holiday, realizing that there was nothing wrong with celebrating love, and that only the pagan elements of the festival insulted God.

One interesting tradition of the pagan festival, although modified, remains the same. Part of Lupercalia was the putting of girls names into a box and letting the boys draw them out. Once drawn, the sweethearts were to be together for a year. The correspondence between these two randomly chosen people were the forerunners of the Valentine's Day card. By the late 1700s printed Valentine's Day cards were becoming common.

Hey, what about some food???

Can food really be an aphrodisiac? Absolutely!! Encyclopedia Britannica says it best:

... the psycho-physiological reaction that a well-prepared meal can have upon the human organism. The combination of various sensuous reactions - the visual satisfaction of the sight of appetizing food, the olfactory stimulation of their pleasing smells and the tactile gratification afforded the oral mechanism by rich, savory dishes - tend to bring on a state of general euphoria conducive to sexual expression.

Well, we have to start with Champagne!! Why is Champagne so special? Is it the bubbles that tickle our tongue, the treat of it only during special times, or the ability for it to lower our inhibitions? Who knows, but it’s a great starter, especially in the soft, relaxing glow of candlelight.

How about a champagne primer!!

Sweetness categories:

  • Brut Natural or Brut Integral: extremely dry - no sugar in the dosage
  • Brut: very dry
  • Extra Dry: dry
  • Sec: slightly sweet
  • Demi Sec: sweet
  • Doux: very sweet

Champagne bottle sizes:

  • Split (Half Bottle) 375 ml
  • Normal Bottle 750 ml
  • Magnum 1.5 liters
  • Jeroboam 3 liters
  • Rehoboam 6 liters
  • Methuselah 12 liters

Your primary goal in opening a bottle of Champagne is to control the cork and, of course, not to let much of the drink spill. To that end, during all of the process make sure the cork is pointed in a safe direction and that a towel or napkin is wrapped around the neck of the bottle. Keep it at a 45 degree angle. First, remove the outer foil layer from the cork. Next, gently loosen the wire around the cork. Put the napkin/towel over the cork and hold it firmly. Start gently moving the bottle to loosen the cork -- do not pull on the cork itself. Eventually it will gently "ease" off into the towel. Again, try to prevent a strong "popping" -- this wastes Champagne and destroys the bubbles! Some say to put down the napkin or towel at this point -- it depends on how well you can pour. Informally the towel is fine, but in a more formal situation the drinker usually wants to examine the label. To serve "without protection," use the same technique as you would with a bottle of wine -- hold the bottle firmly, pour gently into the glass (only 3/4 full). Near the end of the pour rotate and raise the bottle to prevent dripping. What kind of glass should you use? Forget those wide-topped party glasses that seem so popular. The perfect shape for a Champagne glass is a narrow flute, (to preserve the bubbles.) Finally, throw some fruit in. My favorites are raspberries, strawberries, or sliced red grapes. Guess what?!?! They're all red!! Come on, you're not that tired are you? Well, maybe. After all. you've been planning for weeks!!

(Those of you with that hectic, never ending, problem solving, laundry doing, kid carting, deadline meeting lifestyle, skip the rest and go right for the chocolates!!!)

Here's my choice for a Valentine dinner menu:

Oysters Rockefeller

1 dozen oysters, scrubbed, cleaned and opened
2 10oz pkg. fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, finely minced
5 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
hot sauce to taste
1 tbs sweet vermouth
salt and pepper to taste
less than 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Wash spinach and saute in a saucepan with 1 tbs butter until spinach is wilted. Remove, drain and chop fine. Heat the remaining 4 tbs of butter in a skillet and saute the garlic. Add the flour and blend with a wire whisk. Add vermouth and heavy cream. Blend until thickened. Add the spinach to the mixture and mix well. Season to taste with a dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper. Spoon an equal portion of the mixture on top of the oysters. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until piping hot. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

Tossed Field Green Salad

(Hey, I don't have to give a recipe for this one, do I?)

Valentines Tenderloin with Madeira Sauce

Serves 4
(Hey, invite your friends, but make sure they leave before dessert!!)

This is a great recipe to enjoy your favorite red wine!!

1 2 1/2-3lb Tenderloin Roast
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp fresh cracked Black Pepper
1 tbsp Butter
2 large Portabella mushrooms, halved and sliced
8 green onions, cut into 1" pieces
1 red pepper, halved then sliced
2/3 cup beef broth
1/4 cup Madera or port wine

Rub tenderloin roast with oil and pepper. Roast uncovered in a preheated 325 degree oven (for medium rare), or a 350 degree oven (for medium), for 15 minutes a pound. While the roast is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet and sauté mushrooms, onions, and peppers until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth and Madera wine, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Allow tenderloin to sit for 15 minutes after coming out of the oven. Slice tenderloin to thickness desired. (I like about 1/2 inch) On a large serving platter, or individual plates, (make sure the plates and platters are warmed!!) put some of the liquid portion of the sauce on the bottom. Arrange the slices of tenderloin and garnish with the remaining sauce.

Chocolate Crepes with Vanilla Ice Cream

For the Crepes:
2 cups flour
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
4 tbs sugar
2 tbs chocolate sauce (Hershey's will do)

For the sauce:
2 tbs butter
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange zest
3 tbs Grand Mariner
1 cup Cognac, brandy, sweet vermouth, or sherry
Vanilla Ice Cream

Combine all the ingredients for the crepe batter and blend well. The batter should be slightly thicker than heavy cream, if not, add more milk. In a nonstick 12" sauté pan, heat until pan feels slightly hot with palm of hand placed about 2 inches above surface. (It's a good idea to make the crepes a day ahead of time.) Add 1 tsp of oil and swirl pan until oil coats the bottom. Add 1/2 cup of crepe mixture and swirl pan so that the thin batter covers the entire bottom. After about 1 minute, or until the bottom is nicely browned, flip crepe and cook for another minute. Fold crepe in 1/2 then in 1/2 again to form a triangle. Set aside and repeat until crepes are done. (You should yield about 8)

For the sauce, heat butter in the same sauté pan over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the sugar and cinnamon. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the orange zest. Take pan off the heat. Add Grand Mariner and Cognac. Return to heat. (CAUTION: This mixture may "flambé," which, of course, would add to the excitement of the evening.) Continue to cook until mixture is slightly thickened. Have you partner prepare two plates with a scoop of ice cream. Add folded crepes to sauce mixture. Spoon sauce over crepes to warm them. Arrange crepes on plates with ice cream and spoon remaining sauce over ice cream and crepes.

Serve with your favorite espresso or cappuccino. (After a dinner like this, you'll need some caffeine to keep going!!)

Of course, dessert can be simple chocolates or some sweet juicy fruit served by hand to your loved one. Just think what you could do with those sweet juices running down you partners chin!!

WAIT A MINUTE!!!

The buzzer for the dryer just went off, and that annoying telemarketer just called, your (single) boss wants the completed project on his desk by the morning, and the baby sitter wants to know when you are picking up the "sweet cherubs."

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Have a great week. See you in the store!!


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