With Love From
Darling's Kitchen

11. Valentine's Day

I'm Yours, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine
Renny Darling's
St. Valentine's Late Night Celebration  

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Dear Fans,

This is a very simple but wonderful menu for Valentine's Night. It does not require a great deal of work...for this is a time when all the attention should be on you. All the recipes can be prepared in advance, and a day earlier. It does not require a lot of preparation time, but it can be expensive. If you own a heart-shaped 10-inch cake mold (with a removable bottom) it would be nice to use. Purchase the best Caviar and Champagne your budget will allow. And serve, of course, with an elegant air, with your best crystal and silver.

Today's Recipes:
Caviar with Toast Points
Russian Mini-Muffins with Smoked Salmon &
Creme Fraiche with Lemon & Dill

Chocolate Walnut Torte with Cocoa Buttercream, or

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Caviar with Toast Points

Caviar should be served in your most glamorous crystal server. Surround it with Toast Points on a silver tray. No fussing this evening. All the attention should be on you. However, if you must fuss a little, Toast Points can be shaped into hearts, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

1 jar (2 ounces) caviar, the best you can afford

To Make Toast Points:
4 slices thinly sliced good quality white bread, crusts
   sweet butter

With a rolling pin, flatten bread slightly. Spread each slice with a thin coating of butter and cut it on the diagonal into 4 triangles. Place bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° until slightly crisped. Do not allow to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in a sealed plastic bag. Yields 16 Toast Points.


Russian Mini-Muffins with Salmon
& Creme Fraiche with Lemon & Dill

While this recipe yields more muffins than you will need, unused muffins can be frozen. Mini-muffins are served warm, not hot or cold. Room temperature is O.K. Creme Fraiche can be made with the light cream and light sour cream. However, non-fat sour cream cannot be substituted.

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Bisquick

Beat together all the ingredients until blended. Do not overmix. Grease small hors d'oeuvre-size Teflon-lined muffin pans. Fill 1/2 full with batter. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Tops will settle when cool. Serve warm with a dollop of Creme Fraiche with Lemon & Dill and a thin slice of smoked salmon. Caviar is also an excellent accompaniment. Yields 24 to 30 muffins.

4 ounces smoked salmon, thinly sliced and cut into 1- inch squares
1/2 cup Creme Fraiche with Lemon & Dill

Creme Fraiche with Lemon & Dill:
1/4 cup cream (or half and half)
1/4 cup sour cream (or low-fat sour cream)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

In a glass jar, stir together all the ingredients until blended. Allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour and then, cover jar and refrigerate. Can be prepared 2 days earlier. Yields 1/2 cup.


Chocolate Walnut Torte with Apricot &
Cocoa Buttercream

This is one of the finest tasting chocolate tortes. It presents beautifully, yet only takes minutes to prepare. This will give you plenty of time during the day to luxuriate in free time and to look and feel beautiful.

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/3 cup heated apricot jam

In a food processor, beat together first 6 ingredients until the walnuts are very finely ground (just a little texture should remain), about 1 minute. Stir in the finely chopped walnuts (this will give a little texture.) Pour batter into a greased and paper-lined 10-inch springform pan and bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester, inserted in center, comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan.

When cool, remove from pan and place on a beautiful cake plate. Spread warmed apricot jam over the top. Swirl Cocoa Buttercream on top and sides in a decorative fashion. Serves 8.

Cocoa Buttercream:
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 1/3 tablespoons sifted cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat butter until light and creamy. Beat in the remaining ingredients until thoroughly blended.


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