For those of you looking to skip the crowded restaurants this year to cook up some romance at home or on board, try toasting to your relationship with these flirty Valentine’s Day cocktails and appetizers. These recipes from one of my regional cookbooks, Golden Steer Steakhouse: Recipes, Tales & Celebrities from the Legendary Las Vegas Restaurant, will bring a little old Las Vegas-style glamour into your Northwest galley, starting with two beautiful cocktails that take mere minutes to make, and then two sublime starters that shine a spotlight on the sea’s bounty. Enjoy, and may all your Valentine’s dreams come true.
Influenced by the French 75] and Bellini cocktails, this drink is a light, refreshing cognac-based sipper. The blended ingredients take on a golden hue and is best served in a tall champagne flute to truly appreciate the bubbles—especially on Valentine’s.
2 ounces cognac
½ lemon, juiced
½ ounce white peach purée
Champagne or prosecco
Garnish: Lemon twist and a cherry
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the cognac, lemon juice, and white peach purée. Shake well and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with champagne or prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist and cherry and serve.
This sweet loving concoction is influenced by the iconic Flamingo Las Vegas, which opened in 1946 and became a popular hangout for the Rat Pack’s Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.
Serves 1 or 2
5 ounces Bacardi Dragon Berry rum
½ lime, juiced
1 dash simple syrup, recipe follows
2 ounces Galley-Made Grenadine, recipe follows
Garnish: Lime wedge or wheel
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and Grenadine. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel and serve.
Simple Syrup: In a saucepot over medium-high heat, bring the equal parts water and sugar to a boil. (I suggest 1 cup each so that you’ll have extra for additional rounds of cocktails!) Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture is clear, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store in a sealed container until ready to use.
Galley-Made Grenadine: In a large mixing glass, combine the equal parts pomegranate juice and powdered sugar. (The same 1-cup proportions work well here.) Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely. Store in a sealed container until ready to use.
Alaskan King Crab Cocktail
This mouthwatering appetizer, which pairs well with a fruity cocktail or champagne, showcases the succulent sweet meat from the largest crab in US waters—the red king crab (which happens to boast the perfect color for Valentine’s Day).
2 Alaskan king crab legs
2 leaves butter lettuce
Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving
Galley-Made Cocktail Sauce, recipe follows
Tabasco hot sauce (optional)
Defrost the king crab legs and remove the meat from the shell; set aside. Fill a vintage shrimp cocktail glass (or martini glass) with some crushed ice (about three-quarters full). Place a lettuce leaf inside, on top of the ice. Arrange the crab meat in a large mound on top of the lettuce leaf. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley and serve with lemon wedges and a side of Cocktail Sauce and Tabasco, if desired.
Galley-Made Cocktail Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup sweet chili sauce
¾ tablespoon horseradish sauce
½ lemon, juiced
2 or 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
In a small bowl, combine the sweet chili sauce, horseradish sauce, lemon juice, and Worcestershire. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve. This sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks.
This legendary appetizer, best served with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc for an unforgettable evening, originated in New Orleans in 1899. Named after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time, Oysters Rockefeller is a baked dish known for its fresh oysters and rich creamy sauce. The original recipe remains a secret, but this dish incorporates two ingredients believed to be included in the original: creamed spinach and homemade hollandaise.
Serves 1 or 2
6 fresh West Coast oysters
6 tablespoons creamed spinach, recipe follows
6 dollops Hollandaise sauce, recipe follows
Crumbled cooked bacon
Butter lettuce, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Shuck the oysters and arrange on a baking sheet. Top each oyster with 1 tablespoon of Creamed Spinach, one dollop of Hollandaise Sauce, and some crumbled bacon. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown and bubbly.
Remove from the oven and arrange on a serving tray lined with butter lettuce, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.
1½ cups frozen chopped spinach
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 teaspoon Pernod anise-flavored liqueur
1 tablespoon fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons roux
To prep the roux: In a sauté pan over low heat, combine ¼ cup olive oil with ¼ cup flour; mix well. Cook the roux, stirring frequently, until it reaches the consistency of a smooth paste. Remove from the heat and reserve until ready to use.
In a small stockpot over low heat, add the spinach, heavy cream, garlic, shallots, butter, and Pernod. Mix well to combine. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the Parmesan and roux mixture, and keep warm until ready to serve. (Makes enough for Oysters Rockefeller with extra to freeze for next time.)
Makes about 2 cups
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon warm water
1 pinch salt
1 pinch white pepper
2 or 3 dashes Tabasco hot sauce
2 cups melted salted butter
1 lemon, juiced
In a small stockpot, add the egg yolks, warm water, salt, white pepper, and Tabasco. Whisk well to combine and place over low heat. Slowly whisk in the melted butter and lemon juice. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and use immediately.
>> Look for more galley-ready recipes beginning next month in Fraioli’s upcoming cooking column, Sea Fare. A James Beard Award–winning cookbook and cocktail author with more than 40 published titles to his credit, Fraioli’s books have been featured on Ellen and the Food Network, and in Vogue, People, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He resides in Bellevue, but keeps his sport-fishing boat (a 28-foot Albin) in beautiful Anacortes, the gateway to his beloved San Juan Islands. Have a cookbook idea or project in mind? Email email@example.com.