Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Food: Quinoa Puttanesca, Salad & Raspberry Blackout Cake

I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for Valentine's Day. I like the idea of cards, chocolate, kisses, snuggles, and telling someone you love them. I enjoy preparing a special meal for my hubby and me, topped off with a delicious and decadent dessert, which MUST include chocolate. This is a requirement!

This year, I decided to cut myself a little slack and not devote hours and hours to preparing a romantic meal. Instead, I baked a cake the night before and then made a simple but elegant dinner. Rather than dining by candlelight alone, we ate off trays in the living room with our son, watching The Sound of Music. It might not have been romantic, but it was fun :)

Our first course was a salad of baby arugula, sliced dried figs, and pistachios with an agave-apple cider vinaigrette. It was inspired by Gena's Fig & Pistachio Salad from Choosing Raw:
We enjoyed our salad with a glass of Cupcake Winery Riesling. I served it in a champagne glass to make it more romantical :)
Our main course was the uber-flavorful Quinoa Puttanesca from Appetite for Reduction. This super-saucy dish is studded with kalamata olives and capers, two of my favorite ingredients. Quinoa is a great alternative to the traditional pasta because it soaks up the sauce and makes every bite really scrumptious.

And, of course, the most important part of any Valentine's Day meal is the dessert. I decided to make something I've been lusting after for ages and ages...the Raspberry Blackout Cake with Ganache-y Frosting from Vegan with a Vengeance. Rather than make the full recipe, I decided to halve it and make half of a two-layer cake. It could not have been easier to do: I halved all the ingredients, baked one 8-inch round cake pan (rather than two), and just cut the finished cake in half. I frosted it as directed and ended up with a beautiful half-moon-shaped cake. The crumb is chocolate and raspberry-flavored, with a raspberry-preserve-and-chocolate-ganache middle layer and frosting. It was.....amaaaaaazing. My picture is totally crappy, but I didn't want to waste any more time taking pictures when this cake wanted to jump into my mouth.

You can't even really see the middle layer, but it's there, trust me. This may have been one of the best cakes I've ever eaten in my life, and there will be much more of this cake in my future. It was the perfect ending to a great Valentine's Day meal!

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