If the way to your loved one's heart is truly through his (or her) stomach, a romantic dinner comprised of these scrumptious dishes will guarantee a delicious evening long after the meal is finished.
1. Main Dish: Vuelve a la Vida
4 cups pre-cooked salad shrimp, or chopped large shrimp
½ lb. bay scallops, sautéed in butter
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 firm, ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cubed
5 limes, juiced
¾ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup water or white wine, optional
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 dozen raw oysters
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
In a glass or plastic bowl combine the shrimp, scallops, onion, avocado, lime juice, ketchup and Worcestershire. Gently toss together and add the water or wine if necessary to dilute the sauce slightly. Season with your favorite hot sauce, salt and pepper and stir. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.
Before serving, stir in the chopped fresh cilantro. To serve, place a raw oyster on a cracker and top with a dollop of the seafood mixture.
2. Main Dish: Choco Rico (Chicken in Brown Sauce)
1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. turmeric
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. garlic paste
1 c. dry sherry
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. cocoa
½ tsp. salt
Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise. Place the sliced chicken in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, bay leaves, garlic paste and sherry thoroughly and pour over the chicken, tossing the chicken lightly to coat well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and not more than 4 hours to marinate.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Remove chicken strips from marinade, reserving leftover marinade. Cook chicken in skillet until browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet. Add onions to the skillet and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add leftover marinade, salt and cocoa and cook until thickened. Add chicken back to skillet and cook 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.
3. SIDE DISH: Arugula Salad with White Chocolate Dressing
¾ cup grated carrot
2 oranges segmented and squeezed
4 cups arugula
4 radishes, cut in half and sliced
¼ cup orange juice
1 tbsp. melted white chocolate
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp. lemon juice
Melt white chocolate in microwave on defrost setting, 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each heating until melted.
In a salad bowl, toss the carrot, segmented orange, arugula and radishes. Prepare the dressing on the side by mixing the orange juice, melted white chocolate, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well with a wire whisk and add to the salad.
4. Side Dish: Papaya and Feta Salad
6 cups peeled, seeded and diced papaya
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virginolive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper
Place the papaya and mint leaves in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lime juice, honey, fresh ground pepper, and some salt to taste (TIP: Add a little salt at first. Feta is very salty, so you can always add more salt later). Drizzle the dressing over the papaya and toss to coat. Divide the salad into serving plates, sprinkle with the feta, red onions and pepper, and serve.
4. DESSERT: Strawberries with Dulce de Leche OR Chocolate Mousse
For Chocolate Mousse
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
4 tbsp. strong coffee
6 tbsp. butter, cut in small pieces
4 tbsp. confectioner's sugar
4 fresh eggs, separated
1. Cut chocolate into small pieces. In a saucepan over low heat, combine coffee and chocolate, stirring frequently until chocolate is completely melted.
2. Add butter, a piece or two at a time, waiting until each addition melts. Add the sugar and the egg yolks, stirring constantly until smooth and uniform. Do not allow mixture to boil at any time. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Whip egg yolks to stiff peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture until well combined.
4. Pour mixture into espresso cups and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
Ingrid Hoffmann hosts her own cooking and lifestyle show, Delicioso (www.delicioso.com), on Galavision/Univision and appears regularly on Univision's Despierta America. She contributes a monthly, multi-page decorating and cooking spread to BuenHogar, the Spanish version of Good HouseKeeping, and publishes a bi-monthly syndicated column in the Rumbo chain of Spanish daily newspapers.
Ingrid started cooking with her mother, a Cordon Bleu chef, at such a young age that she needed a stool to reach the stove. With her mother she discovered not only a love of cooking, but found a flair for entertaining, and in no time developed her own distinctive style.
Raised in Colombia opened the Miami eatery Rocca, the first restaurant to feature tabletop cooking on heated lava rocks. Within weeks, Rocca was touted as the hot destination for Miami's movers and shakers. It was featured on Robin Leach's Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.
Ingrid is currently working on her first cookbook for Clarkson Potter/Random House (February 2008).