Inner Chef

Enjoy your kitchen, your food and your inner chef

Valentine’s Day Menu #1

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Strawberry Bruschetta                                 Servings: 6

12 slices French baguette

1-1/2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons white sugar, or as needed

1. Preheat your oven’s broiler. Spread a thin layer of butter on each slice of bread. Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.

2. Place bread under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, just until lightly toasted. Spoon some chopped strawberries onto each piece of toast, then sprinkle sugar over the strawberries.

3. Place under the broiler again until sugar is caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


Champagne Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon shallot, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 cup champagne wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  1. In a food processor add shallot, mustard, sugar, garlic, and vinegar. Pulse until well blended.
  2. In a very slow, constant stream; add oil and mix on high until completely blended. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss salad greens with vinaigrette just before serving.

***The best greens for this dressing are a mixture of Arugula, Baby Spinach, Butter, and Romaine. Top salad servings with toasted almond slivers and craisins.


Rice Pilaf                                             Servings: 6

Total Time: 55 min.

Prep: 15 min.

Cook: 40 min.


2 tablespoons butter

1/2 onion, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

2 pinches kosher salt

2 cups long grain rice

2-3/4 cups chicken broth

2 strips orange zest

1 bay leaf

1-1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a heavy, wide, lidded pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, red pepper, and kosher salt. Sweat the onions and peppers until aromatic, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the rice and stir to coat. Continue stirring until rice smells nutty. Add chicken broth, orange zest, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir once, then cover pan with moistened dish towel (or tea towel). Place lid on pan and fold towel corners over lid. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4.  Rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes without removing the cover. Meanwhile, simmer peas in salted water until heated through or heat in a microwave. Remove lid from rice and turn out onto a platter. Add peas and fluff with a large fork.


Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon Salt

Total Time: 1 hour 35 min.                                                     Prep: 15 min.

Inactive: 10 min.                                                                     Cook: 1 hour 10 min.


1 chickens, about 2 to 3 pounds each

1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 or 2 fresh rosemary sprigs

1  lemons cut into chunks

For Seasoned Salt:

1 tablespoons very finely minced lemon zest

1 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoons sea salt, best if it is gray salt

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450˚ (if you have a convection fan; make it 425˚.
  2. Rinse the chickens inside and out and dry well.
  3. Make the salt: In a bowl, combine the lemon zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper, mixing well. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, and then rub with 3 tablespoons of the seasoned salt. Tuck the rosemary sprigs and lemon chunks into the chicken cavity. You do not need to truss the chicken.
  4. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature by 75˚ and continue roasting until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a skewer, about 50 to 55 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

DESSERT                                                         Servings: 8

Prep: 25 min. + chilling

Raspberry Mousse in Chocolate Cups      

(I have reduced this recipe down as much as I could without possibly hurting the turnout.)


2 cups fresh raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Raspberries for garnish (optional)

Mint sprigs for garnish (optional)


  1. Place the raspberries in a food processor; cover and puree. Strain and discard seeds by placing cheesecloth over fine mesh strainer and pouring raspberry puree into the strainer (you may have to use the back of a wide spoon and press berries against the sides of the strainer). Transfer puree to a large bowl. Stir in sugar and lemon juice; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand for 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir into raspberry mixture. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, about 1 hour.
  3. Transfer gelatin mixture to a large bowl. Beat on high speed until foamy. Gradually add cream; beat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Spoon into dessert dishes. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until set. Yield: 8 servings.


8 paper cupcake liners

Cupcake pan

I bag dark chocolate candy melts (find this at craft stores in the cake decorating isle)

Wide and this paint brush (I URGE YOU to purchase one new and keep it for just this purpose)

  1. Melt candy melts according to package directions. You are going to want to do just a few at a time; this candy hardens quickly.
  2. When chocolate is melted; carefully paint the insides and bottom of each cupcake paper liner, starting with the sides.
  3. Chill in refrigerator until set. Carefully remove papers and return chocolate cups to refrigerator until time of service.
  4. Pipe mousse into cup and top with a few fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint. Refrigerate until time of service.

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