Martha Hopkins' Flavor Of Love

Spice up your Valentine's Day with romantic recipes from Martha Hopkins:

• Steamed Artichoke Leaves with Green Goddess Dressing
Yields 2 servings

2 artichokes
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons buttermilk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon minced chives
1 teaspoon minced parsley

Trim off the stem so that the artichoke will sit flat on a plate. Snap off the really tough outer leaves around the base, if you like. Trim off the top third of each artichoke with a sharp knife. Wash the artichokes well, spreading the leaves slightly so the water can run through. Turn upside down and shake well.

Place the artichokes in a large, microwave-safe bowl and fill with about 1 inch of water. Cover and microwave about 6 to 8 minutes, and then let sit for another 10 minutes, still covered. Pull out a leaf. Taste it. If it pulls out easily and tastes soft, then it's done. If not, microwave the artichokes for a few more minutes.

While the artichokes are steaming, prepare the green goddess dressing. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Place the steamed artichokes on a plate or in a bowl. Hot, room temperature, or chilled artichokes - all will taste divine. Spread apart the center leaves and fill with the green goddess dressing. Or, if you prefer, simply serve the dressing on the side. Eat, leaf by leaf, with your partner.

• Grand Marnier Strawberries Over Country Biscuits

For the Strawberries
1/2 Cup Strawberry Preserves
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 Quart (or 2 pints) fresh strawberries, stemmed, hulled, and quartered
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Sugar to tast (optional)

For the Biscuits:
1/3 cup Crisco shortening, plus more for greasing
2 Cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1 cup low-fat (1%) buttermilk
Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Heat the preserves in a small saucepan on medium-low to liquify. Remove from the heat and stir in the Gran Marnier. Add the strawberries, stirring gently to coat. (If used right away, the sauce will haev a thicker consistency. If made ahead of time, the sauce will macerate the berries and have a more liquid consistency.) Whip the cream until soft peaks just begin to form. Add sugar, if desire, but the unsweetened cream taste nice next to syupy berries.

For the biscuits, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. LIne a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper with shortening. Combine the flour and baking powder with a fork in a large mixing bowl. Combine the buttermilk and the baking soda in a measuring cup, stirring well to combine. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter (or 2 table knives) until the butter is distributed throughout and is the size of coarse meal. Add the buttermilk to the shortening mixture and stir until just mixed.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead 2 to 3 times just to bring the dough together. Flour your rolling pin well. Roll out the dough to a 3/4 inch-thickness. Cut out the biscuits with a 21/2 inch circular cutter. Don't twist the cutter, as that crimps down the edges and may keep the biscuits from rising. Place the biscuits on the greased parchment and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Split open the hot-from-the-oven biscuits, spoon with teh berries and top with a spoon of the whipped cream.

• The Little Death By Chocolate

For the Whipped Cream
1 Tablespoon Scharffen Berger unsweetned cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream, Chilled, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Hot Chocolate
6 Tablespoons Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole milk
3 ounces Godiva liqeur

To make the whipped cream, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and 2 teaspoons of the cream in a small bowl, and stir to a smooth paste. Pour the rest of the cream into a medium-size bowl, add the cocoa mixture and the vanilla, and whip until stiff peaks form.Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the hot chocolate, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and water in a small bowl, and stir until a smooth paste forms. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it steams; do not boil. Add the cocoa paste to the hot milk and stir thoroughly incorporated.

Pour 1 1/2 ounces of Godiva liqeur into each of two large, warmed coffee mugs. Fill each mug three-quarters full with hot chocolate, and top each with an extremely generous helping of chocolate whipped cream.