Chat Leftovers: Gearing Up for Valentine's Day

It's still a week away, but some What's Cooking lovebirds are already putting together their Valentine's Day menus. Below, a few unanswered questions from yesterday's chat, with next week's lovefest in mind. In the coming days, I promise more ideas for romance from the stove.

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I'm thinking of doing a comforting mac and cheese at home for Valentine's Day next week. Any ideas what to pair with that? I'm assuming a salad, but what about a protein? I know people often put meat in mac and cheese but I also feel like it ends up being too much. Also, any ideas for dessert? With such a heavy entree it's hard coming up with suitable accompanying courses.

Just a few weeks ago, I whipped up a batch of mac and cheese for a buffet-style dinner party, and paired it with stewed tomatoes (recipe guidelines below the mac and cheese details in above link) and a pot of slow-cooked greens (with or without meat, up to you) prepared by my girl Karla. It was a terrific trio, playing nicely together, the fatty cheese sauce getting an acidic spritz from the tomatoes, their juices running into one another and elevating the flavor of the greens. A triangle of flavor love, if you ask me. By the way, you're getting plenty of protein from the cheese (and the greens), but if this combo feels inadequate, what about a pot of Hoppin' John? You can do a quickie batch with a bag of frozen black-eye peas.

With such a comforting lineup, it seems appropriate to keep the theme going with dessert. For a fruity ending, I'd try a cobbler or a crisp, using apples or pears, and if chocolate is more up your alley, say "I love you, snookums" with a tray of brownies.

If your sweetie doesn't swoon after this luscious meal, you might need to re-evaluate the relationship. But we'll leave those tender matters to Miz Hax.

Vday truffles: Recipes? Tips? Suggestions?

I've got a recipe and video how-to, so knock yourself out. One of the tricks I've learned along the way is having an ample amount of cornstarch handy and keeping your hands dusted with the stuff while rolling; the cornstarch is like a culinary talc, keeping things cool between your hands and those choc-balls.

The recipe yields a few dozen, which translates into A LOT of truffles, so unless you've got plenty of eager recipients, you might want to consider a batch of chocolate bark, which yields a smaller number of goods. Either way, you'll be in chocolate-y bliss. I love both equally.

By Kim ODonnel |  February 6, 2008; 9:40 AM ET Chat Leftovers , Valentine's Day
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Kim, your truffle recipe looks delicious! Can this recipe be halved to produce fewer truffles? Also, how much butter is an ounce? Can good quality white chocolate be substituted for bittersweet chocolate?

Posted by: Chocoholic | February 6, 2008 1:49 PM

*I probably should have worded the butter question differently, do you know how many tablespoons or cups/portion of a cup one ounce of butter is?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2008 1:51 PM

Chocoholic: One ounce of butter equals 2 tablespoons. Enjoy!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | February 6, 2008 2:49 PM

Chocoholic: you cannot substitute white chocolate 1:1 for dark chocolate. Because it is only cocoa butter and sugar, it does not have the structure that dark chocolate has. You could try reducing the amount of cream in the recipe, but I am not sure how the white chocolate would hold up as truffles.

Posted by: Sweetie | February 6, 2008 4:51 PM

I missed yesterday's chat, but I wanted to make a suggestion to both the person looking to use up blue cheese and the person looking to use up broccoli: Broccoli blue cheese soup. I made some for New Year's this year and it was fab. The recipe was from a British cooking mag and I don't have it in front of me, but it was pretty straightforward. Broccoli, onion, potato cooked in stock until soft. You add some cheese to hot soup before the puree, and then crumble a little more on top when you serve it.

Posted by: Chicago | February 6, 2008 5:01 PM

I like to add beans to our Mac & Cheese sometimes. Canned soy beans are quite tasty, and I like the black ones (Eden brand) since they give a bit of a color difference.

Posted by: JJ | February 6, 2008 6:50 PM

Mac and cheese might be alright for some on Valentine's Day, by my choice would be Caesar salad (with anchovies!), tomato basil soup, some sort of seared protein (steak, salmon, grilled chicken); for dessert, sweet melon.

Posted by: Dave | February 6, 2008 8:03 PM

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