For Sweethearts to Savor


This year World Marriage Day and St. Valentines Day fall on the same day.

The happy confluence of dates may be at least partially responsible for the fact that there’s not a ticket left to be had for the diocesan Office of Family Life’s annual World Marriage Day Champagne Luncheon at the Breakers in Spring Lake Feb. 14.

 Truth to tell, the event, highlighted by the  blessing of the couples by Bishop John M. Smith, wonderful guest speakers, fine food and a spectacular ocean view is always very well attended, but it’s neat to know that the 2010 World Marriage Day Champagne Luncheon is Sold Out!

This year, Msgr. Sam Sirianni, director of the diocesan Office of Worship will speak on “What Catholic Marriage Says to the World” and once again, Bishop Smith will conduct the Blessing of Couples and Renewal of Marriage Vows.

Because the event is sold-out, I’ve tried to come up with an acceptable subsitute: easy to prepare adaptions of the the gourmet menu that will be featured at the Breakers that sweethearts can savor at home.

The menu, like that at the Breakers, includes penne with Vodka sauce, poached salmon with whole grain mustard dill sauce and chocolate mousse.

The recipes here come from my file and from various Internet sites. Poached salmon is a favorite around our house and the penne ala vodka has been requested by family members for holiday meals.

The easy chocolate mousse was adapted from a couple of Internet sites as was the salad — a lovely mix of fresh strawberries, baby greens, toasted almonds and rasberry vinegarette.

Quick Poached Salmon with Dill and Mustard Sauce

Ingredients: 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt; 1/4 cup Dijon mustard; 1 tablespoon honey; 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice; 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill; 1 pound salmon fillet; 1 cup white wine; 1/2 cup water; 1/4 cup chopped shallots

Directions: In a small bowl, blend the plain yogurt, mustard, honey, lemon juice and dill. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

In a medium saucepan, bring the wine and water to a rolling boil.  Then add the salmon fillet skin side up and enough water to cover the fish. Sprinkle with shallots and salmon and then turn off the heat. Cover the saucepan and allow the salmon to “cook” in the hot water for 10 to 12 minutes, peel the skin, drain, cut into four pieces, plate gently and serve with the sauce.  Makes four servings.

Penne ala Vodka

Ingredients: 1- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes; 1 clove garlic, crushed;  4 slices prosciutto; 1/2 stick butter; 1/2 cup heavy cream; 1/4 cup vodka; 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes; salt to taste; 1 pound penne pasta

Directions:  Cut the prosciutto into small pieces. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and saute prosciutto and garlic until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, pepper flakes and salt and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally over low heat. Keep the the pan partially covered so the sauce can reduce.

Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package directions. when the sauce has reduced to about half, add the heavy cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for 1/2 and hour and serve over the pasta.

Almond Strawberry Salad with Rasberry Vinegarette

Ingredients: 3 cups fresh, mixed baby greens; 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries; 1/4 cup sliced roasted almonds; 1 tablespoon rasberry vinegar; 1-1/2 tablespoons rasberry vinegar; 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin  olive oil, salt to taste.

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, mix the vinegar, olive oil and salt and shake well, drizzle over the salad and toss to coat. Makes four servings

Easy Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients: 1 envelope gelatin; 1/4 cup cold water; 2 tablespoons softened butter; 1-1/4 cups whole milk; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 1-1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed. Can real whipped cream for topping

Directions: In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over cold water and let it stand for 1 minute. Then stir over low heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the butter until melted.

In a blender or food processor, blend together the milk, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. While blending, gradually add the gelatin mixture and process until blended. Pour into a bowl and blend in whipped topping. Turn into 4 individual dessert dishes or one single bowl and chill until firm. Garnish with real whipped cream.

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