Dinner for your Valentine

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I fell hard for Texas hospitality 17 years ago and have been indoctrinated in all things Southern since. And as any good Southerner, transplant or not, can assure you – nurturing our relationships and nurturing our bodies is a natural pairing.

Meals prepared with love sew together ordinary days that create life’s defining moments: toasting achievements, deepening friendships, falling in love and celebrating births. There is one meal I take extra care in preparing every year – the one for my Valentine.

If “the way to his heart is through his stomach” is true, what a miracle that my beau proposed. One part of Southern hospitality that took me a while to master was cooking elegant, celebratory dinners. I am thankful that the recipes in the Junior League of Houston’s cookbook, Peace Meals, render beautiful meals with little effort.

The Duck Breast Confit adds grandeur to Valentine’s Day dinner. While preparation is required, this dish’s final presentation remains straightforward, becoming more extraordinary with a bold, red wine. Malcolm Rowland, the Junior League’s Tea Room general manager, recommends the La Crema Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, with its notes of blueberry and violet framed by baking spice and conifer and on the palate, brambly fruit, espresso, vanilla and black tea.

The Chocolate Molten Lava Cake from Peace Meals, served in ramekins, is perfect to round out the evening. Topped with whipped cream and berries or ice cream, each bite is rich and decadent. I like to dust hearts with powdered sugar on each cake.

No matter the dish, preparing your meal with care may be the greatest expression of love for your Valentine this year – as honest and pure as sweet tea.

Source: February 1, 2018, The Buzz Magazines, by Suzanne Carlson Hays