It was a long-awaited sip of something sweet and profound in a glass of Syrah
Voluptuous, soft, and juicy, oozing with possibilities
But with this particular drink of serendipity that I had ventured back for
a deeper moment, a wisp of time that I would never forget
That splendid sip of burgundy serum trickling down my throat
no bitterness, only the lovely stream of fate flavored with the essence of an ancient vine
A wondrous and unforgiving pleasure, not to be questioned
but an unmistakable prelude to the next luscious kiss
I stepped into the sacred temple, a church
a place where no others could go, for it was mine alone to share with him
To quench that lingering thirst that whispered
of the infinite with a quiet exhale of all that was possible
Unthinkable pain coexisting with the ecstasy of love
Faith, joyously leaping from the rocky cliff, falling…into the depths of untold bliss
Surrender, to be adored and cared for
The treasure, the gift
Whether you are sharing Valentine’s day with your lover, friend, children or yourself, celebrate love. I spent many a Valentines’ day with my son, friends, and on my own, occasionally with only my dog and cat. I would take a walk on the beach, buy myself flowers, go out with friends and laugh. When I was feeling particularly lonely and lacking love in my life, I’ve done what Mother Teresa recommended, I’ve found someplace where I could give rather than receive. I would go to the local homeless shelter and cook or serve in some way, and in return, I received the gift gratitude and smiles and would always leave with a full heart.
Later in life, I found the love of my life in the form of a gentle and beautiful man. I am convinced that it was our destiny to meet when we did, after we had gained the hard-earned wisdom that life relentlessly offered us in the form of lessons, over and over again, until we got it right. We joke that it took us nearly fifty years to get it right, but we did, and we are grateful.
I wish for all of you, in any of its many forms, love.
Here are a few Valentine’s Day dessert suggestions to help you celebrate.
Fill them with whipped cream, pastry cream or ice cream and serve with berries. Keep it easy and give them a drizzle of store bought chocolate or dulce de leche sauce and add a sprinkle of chopped nuts.
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup water
4 large eggs (lightly beaten and measured to 1 cup)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with one rack placed on the upper third of the oven and another in the lower third.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Heat water, butter, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan bringing it just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and quickly mix the flour in one go.
Stir vigorously and blend thoroughly. Continue to stir over med-high heat for 2 to 5 minutes, until the mixture separates from the sides of the pan forming one mass, and it begins to film the bottom of the pan (this process is very important as it cooks the flour and removes moisture). Remove from heat.
Using an electric hand mixer, add a quarter of the eggs to the dough and beat until it becomes smooth. Continue to add the eggs and beat until all of the eggs are incorporated. You may need to scrape the dough off of the mixer a few times as it seems to creep up. Mix until smooth and shiny.
Place dough into a pastry bag and chill for a half hour.
To create small puffs, drop the paste on the baking sheet using your pastry bag with either a 1/2-inch round or a I did with a large star tip (#80) into mounds about an inch in diameter and half an inch high and 2 inches apart. For larger puffs, simply drop more dough onto the pastry sheet giving plenty of room in between.
Place the pans in the preheated oven, one on each rack, and immediately turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for 35 minutes. Quickly rotate pans, close the oven and lower the heat to 325 and bake for another 10 minutes. Reduce heat once more to 300 and bake for another 10 minutes. Puffs should be golden brown, firm and crusty to the touch.
Remove the puffs from the oven and transfer them to a rack. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, using a sharp serrated knife, cut each puff in half and remove the excess dough from inside. Continue to cool the puffs on a rack.
At this point you can put the puffs into an airtight container and freeze for future use or leave them at room temperature for a few days. I like to make small cream puff shells and then using a melon ball scoop, place rounds of different kinds of ice cream in them and then freeze them for serving later. The shells will thaw very quickly so you can place them on a serving dish, garnish with whichever sauce you choose and in a matter of minutes they are ready to eat. My favorite is mint chocolate chip topped off with a hot chocolate sauce.
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, topped with dulce de leche and chopped pistachios.
Vanilla bean ice cream served with Driscoll organic strawberries and a hot chocolate sauce.
Some other Valentine’s Day suggestions: