Here are some recipes for Valentine's Day entertaining from bad-girl chef Nadia Giosia, host of "Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen" on Food Network Canada. "Shkiaffing" is Giosia's word for slapping your creations onto the plate:
Balsamic Baby Back Ribs With Truffled Baked Potatoes
These ribs and potatoes offer "a nice punch to the palate in the best kind of way," says Giosia.
2 russet potatoes
50 ml (1/4 cup) heavy cream
45 ml (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
60 ml (4 tbsp) truffle oil
3 green onions, finely sliced
125 ml (1/2 cup) minced flat-leaf parsley, divided
2 ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt
10 ml (2 tsp) freshly cracked black pepper, divided
50 ml (1/4 cup) brown sugar
30 ml (2 tbsp) smoked paprika
15 ml (1 tbsp) cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 fresh oregano sprig, minced
30 ml (2 tbsp) kosher salt
2 racks baby back pork ribs
50 ml (1/4 cup) canola oil
250 ml (1 cup) apple cider
30 ml (1 oz) whisky
125 ml (1/2 cup) aged balsamic vinegar (minimum 7 years old)
125 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
175 ml (3/4 cup) ketchup
1 red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 habañero chili, minced (wear latex gloves to chop)
Potatoes: Heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Wrap russet potatoes in foil and bake for 1 hour. When they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half, delicately scoop cooked potato flesh into a bowl and set skins aside. Add cream, butter, truffle oil, green onions, 50 ml (1/4 cup) of the minced parsley, sea salt and 2 ml (1/2 tsp) of the freshly cracked pepper and mix. Stuff mix back into potato skins, wrap in foil and refrigerate.
Rub: In a bowl, mix brown sugar, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, chopped garlic, remaining parsley, oregano, salt and 7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) of the pepper. Heat oven to 160 C (325 F). Place each rack of ribs on a piece of foil large enough to completely cover ribs. Brush each rack of ribs with 15 to 30 ml (1 to 2 tbsp) of the canola oil, and massage with 15 to 30 ml (1 to 2 tbsp) of the spice rub. Wrap foil tightly around ribs, place on baking sheets and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until ribs are tender. Add truffled potatoes to oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking time.
Sauce: Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat, and add apple cider, whisky, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, ketchup, red onion, minced garlic and habañero. Stir and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Increase heat to medium-high for the last 15 minutes to reduce and thicken, stirring often.
Unwrap ribs and slather with sauce. Place ribs directly on baking sheet and broil for a few minutes until the sauce is bubbling and caramelized.
Shkiaffing it together: Place rack of ribs (either full rack or cut) on each plate and serve with truffled baked potato.
Makes 2 servings.
Remixed Champagne Kirs
Give your Valentine's Day celebration a punch with this twist on kir.
125 ml (1/2 cup) vodka
50 ml (1/4 cup) raw sugar
1/2 red Thai chili, sliced
125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh raspberries
1/2 vanilla bean pod
1 bottle Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
In a medium bowl, combine vodka, sugar, chili and peppercorns and mix. Add raspberries and vanilla bean pod and stir carefully until all the raspberries are covered in vodka marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
Shkiaffing it together: Place 3 marinated raspberries in the bottom of each Champagne flute. Carefully pour chilled Champagne over top.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
If you don't have silicone moulds, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and slather on the mixture about 2.5 centimetres (an inch) thick and then cut it. "Even if it looks a little messy, you just say it's rustic," says Giosia.
6 slices maple-cured bacon, minced
250 ml (1 cup) chopped milk chocolate
125 ml (1/2 cup) crisp rice cereal
In a medium pan, fry bacon over medium heat until very crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain bacon bits and place on a paper towel to remove excess grease. Pat with more paper towels (you want to remove as much grease as possible). Set aside and let cool.
Meanwhile, in the top pan of a double boiler over medium heat, melt chocolate. When chocolate is 80 per cent melted, remove from heat and keep stirring until completely melted and smooth.
Shkiaffing it together: To melted chocolate, add bacon bits and cereal. Delicately fold it all in. Pour mixture into silicone moulds and refrigerate for 2 or more hours to set.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
DIY Vodka Bar
This sexy do-it-yourself vodka bar always makes her parties a hit, Giosia says. Guests have a blast mixing their own custom cocktails and getting rowdy.
Bring 750 ml (3 cups) water and 500 ml (2 cups) raw sugar to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Simmer for 3 minutes to reduce slightly. Remove from heat and refrigerate until completely cold. Divide syrup equally among 3 medium bowls.
Spicy Berry Mixer
1 l (4 cups) cranberry juice
500 ml (2 cups) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
1 fresh jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds
Maple syrup, to taste
To a bowl of simple syrup, add cranberry juice, berries, jalapeno and maple syrup. Mix well.
Grapefruit and Fresh Cilantro Mixer
1 l (4 cups) fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice
125 ml (1/2 cup) minced fresh cilantro
Maple syrup, to taste
To a bowl of simple syrup, add grapefruit juice, cilantro and maple syrup. Mix well.
1 vanilla bean, sliced open
125 ml (1/2 cup) limoncello liqueur
Zest and juice 6 lemons and 6 limes. To a bowl of simple syrup, add citrus zest, vanilla, the juice of the zested lemons and limes and limoncello. Slice remaining lemon and lime into 5-mm (1/4-inch) thick slices and add or use for garnish.
Shkiaffing it together: Serve the bowls of mixers alongside bottles of chilled vodka, rum, carbonated water and ice.
Source: Nadia Giosia, host of "Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen" on Food Network Canada.