I love to celebrate. No matter the occasion, big or small, I love it. And what better holiday to celebrate in style than the most lovey-dovey day of the year – Valentine’s Day!
I have a bottle or two of bubbly perfect for this occasion, so I’ll have two glasses at the ready when my husband walks in the door. Paired with some dried figs and goat cheese, or brie and homemade peach jam, the presentation will be so inviting, he’ll feel ultra special.
Perfectly Peachy Jam
3 lbs. fresh, ripe peaches – NOT frozen
1 box fruit pectin (Kraft Sure-Jell works well)
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
5 1/2 c. sugar
Peel, pit, and chop the peaches. Use a food processor with a circle chopper but don’t make it mushy; leave some larger pieces of fruit still intact. Measure everything very carefully to ensure the jam sets properly. Add 4 c. of peaches to a 6-8 qt. saucepot. Add 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice. Stir in 1 box fruit pectin. Add 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (to reduce foam). Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar quickly. Return to full boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off foam. Ladle immediately into jars.
I’ll keep the bottle of bubbly close at hand for refills. A champagne bucket filled with ice and a few cups of water will keep it at a perfect chill.
While getting things ready, it’s a given I’ll forget to turn on some music to set the mood. Enter my husband, who will grab his glass of champers and immediately remedy the situation by making a beeline to his pride and joy: our vintage stereo/record player. He’ll start up some tunes – most likely something mellow and light-hearted … something vintage from his great aunt’s record collection is always a whimsical, romantic win.
Time to Shine
To further set the mood, I’ll place pretty pillar candles of all shapes and sizes around the room. I mostly use battery-powered candles so I won’t have to worry about melting anything – other than my husband’s heart, that is! I’ll opt for cloth napkins instead of paper, for a dash of fancy, and will polish our glassware till it glitters. (To get glasses really shining, lightly coat the glass in warm water and gently wipe with a coffee filter.)
I already have a bottle of wine in mind to pair with dinner. When I open it to let it breathe, I’ll set it next to a bouquet of red tulips. If they’re available at the nearby market, and are as pretty as those I bought this past weekend, they can really give the room a perfect pop of color.
When dinner is ready, I’ll plate it up on our “fancy” china – simple, sleek white plates that make everything look tempting and tasty. The main course won’t be anything new or elaborate, but rather a recipe that we both enjoy and that I can prepare without stressing.
The Sweetest Ending
Dessert is an absolute staple of Valentine’s Day, and since I don’t bake well, my plan is to pick out a treat or two at the local bakery – a decadent mini chocolate cake and a fresh fruit tart perhaps. No need to individually plate, I’ll simply bring them out on a platter to share. What a sweet ending to another amazing celebration.
- Elizabeth Fox, LA-based catering manager & epicurean extraordinaire