Fortunately, my blue comes from the fruit topping my gooey bruléed appetizer, not the masochistic isolation brought upon by a holiday demanding chocolate in boxes, a necessary “Romeo”, and the over-expression of cranial endorphins.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love love. Really, I do! While I am self-admittedly a romantic at heart, I must confess, I don’t care much for Valentine’s Day. Whether I’m as hitched as a wagon or as loose as braised beef, I would like to think of every day as a day where a little bit of romance is involved.
Regardless of my distaste for mandated affection, I have a fierce appetite for enjoying good food with good company! Thus, make tonight special with a romantic night in, some appetizers in private before you go out, looking into the eyes of your soul mate, or solo and glued to Netflix. Let these simple-to-make petite plates add to the romance that is life:
1. Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Dates – Remove the pits from several medjool dates and stuff with either goat cheese, your favorite seed butter (homemade?), or any other dairy-free cheese substitute of choice. Wrap with prosciutto, and broil in the oven on an ungreased baking sheet for about 6-8 minutes, until prosciutto is crispy. Top with lemon zest to be fancy like this photo.
2. Broiled Blueberry Cheese Toasts – Cut your favorite gluten-free bread into petite squares and top with a dallop of blue cheese (or goat’s/dairy-free cheese for the non-stinky fans), broil on an ungreased baking sheet for about 2-3 minutes (until just soft) and top with a tiny teaspoon of blueberry preserves.
3. Chocolate-filled Peaches – Slice a peach in half, remove the pit. In mixing bowl, add about 1 tbs. hot water to about 1/2 cup your favorite chocolate chips. Keep adding hot water until a chocolate goo is formed, stirring well. Spoon into peach center, and yum!
4. Fried Calamari – Combine 1 cup rice flour, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. paprika, and a few grinds black pepper in a mixing bowl. Coat calamari in mixture, shaking away excess. Heat a few tablespoons high heat oil in an iron-clad pan (not teflon) and fry about 5 pieces at a time for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown, and just cooked through. (Do not overcook, as that is when it gets chewy.) Remove, let oil soak on paper towel for a minute, and serve.
5. Homemade Sweet Potato Chips – cut one large sweet potato into thin disks and let disks soak in room temperature water for at least 30 minutes. (Removes the starch). Drain. Toss with 2 tbs. high heat oil in mixing bowl. Bake with no overlap on ungreased baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25-30 minutes, or until inside is soft, outside is crispy, and nothing is burnt.
6. Dairy-Free Caprese Salad – thinly slice a few tomatoes, dice half a white onion very finely, and cut some basil into ribbons (chiffonade). Spread out tomatoes like you see in the photo, season with salt and pepper, top with onions and basil, and drizzle a bit of high quality balsamic and olive oil on top. Salt to taste as you desire.