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The origins of Valentine's Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Held on February 15, Lupercalia honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

In addition to a bountiful feast, Lupercalia festivities are purported to have included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women's names from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year's celebration.

While this pairing of couples set the tone for today's holiday, it wasn't called "Valentine's Day" until a priest named Valentine came along. Valentine, a romantic at heart, disobeyed Emperor Claudius II's decree that soldiers remain bachelors. Claudius handed down this decree believing that soldiers would be distracted and unable to concentrate on fighting if they were married or engaged. Valentine defied the emperor and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14.

After Valentine's death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine's Day to honor Saint Valentine

What is a Soul Mate?

If you have found a smile

that is the sweetest one you've known,

If you have heard, within a voice,

the echoes of your own,

If you have felt a touch

that stirs the longings of your heart,

And still can feel that closeness

in the moments you're apart,

If you have filled with wonder

at the way two lives can blend

To weave a perfect pattern

that is seamless, end to end,

If you believe some things in life

are simply meant to be,

Then you have found your soul mate,

your heart's own destiny.

The recipes below are sure to put you in a romantic mood.



1 12- to 14-ounce sirloin steak

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

6 tablespoons Merlot

3/4 cup beef stock or canned broth

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add steak and cook until brown, about 1 minute per side. Reduce heat to medium and cook steak to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to plate; tent with foil.

Add shallots to same skillet and sauté over medium-high heat 1 minute. Add Merlot; boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock; boil until syrupy, about 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Add butter and whisk until melted. Season with salt and pepper



4 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound Cornish game hens, giblets removed

1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

4 large fresh rosemary sprigs

3 tablespoons olive oil

24 garlic cloves, peeled

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup canned low-salt chicken broth

Additional rosemary sprigs (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Season cavities lightly with salt and pepper. Place 1 lemon wedge and 1 rosemary sprig in cavity of each hen. Rub hens with 1 tablespoon oil. Season outside of hens lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange in heavy large roasting pan. Scatter garlic around hens.

Roast hens 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Pour wine, broth and remaining 2 tablespoons oil over hens. Continue roasting until hens are golden brown and juices run clear when thigh is pierced at thickest part, basting every 10 minutes with pan juices, about 25 minutes longer.

Transfer hens to platter, pouring any juices from cavity into roasting pan. Tent hens with foil to keep warm. Transfer pan juices and garlic to heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to sauce consistency, about 6 minutes.

Cut hens in half lengthwise. Arrange on plates. Spoon sauce and garlic around hens. Garnish with additional rosemary sprigs and serve.


This is a perfect dish for the holiday, because it looks appetizing and colorful on the table. It can also be doubled easily.

3 cloves garlic, peeled but whole

½ cup Italian olive oil

4 medium red potatoes, skins on, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise, then crosswise in ½-inch slices

4 ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces

1 ½ cup fresh snow peas

1 teaspoon dried basil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

About 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Salt, if desired

Brown the garlic cloves in the oil in a large skillet. Remove the garlic and discard. Add the potatoes, cover the pan, and cook 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, snow peas, basil, pepper, hot pepper sauce, and salt if desired. Continue to cook, covered, about 4 minutes more. Serve in a chafing dish or at room temperature.


3/4 pound medium shrimp

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

6 plum tomatoes (very ripe fresh or canned), coarsely chopped

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Salt, if desired

Shell and devein the shrimp.

Combine the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until brown. Remove and discard the garlic. To the skillet, add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and cook about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp, lemon juice, herbs, and seasonings. Stir and cook until shrimp are pink, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Serve immediately.



3 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps thickly sliced

6 ounces oyster mushrooms, thickly sliced

6 ounces crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, caps thickly sliced

4 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

1 teaspoon dried thyme

5 large eggs

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

6 cups 1-inch cubes crustless day-old French bread (about 6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms, garlic, basil, parsley, sage and thyme and sauté until mushrooms are tender and brown, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk eggs, cream, milk, 1/4 cup Parmesan, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend. Add bread cubes; toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture. Transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over. Bake until pudding is brown and puffed, and set in center, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

Splendid Raspberry Spinach Salad

2 Tablespoons Raspberry Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam

1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

8 Cups Spinach, rinsed, stemmed and torn into pieces.

3/4 Cup coarsely chopped Macadamia nuts or toasted almond slices

1 Cup Fresh Raspberries

3 Kiwis, peeled and sliced

Dressing: Combine vinegar and jam in blender or small bowl. Add oil in thin stream, blending well.

Toss spinach with 1/2 of the nuts, 1/2 of the raspberries, 1/2 of the kiwi's and the dressing. Top with the remaining ingredients (nuts, raspberries and kiwis.) Serve immediately.

Tomales Bay Oysters on the Half-Shell Mignonette Sauce (Serves 2)

12 ea. fresh oysters

Mignonette Sauce:

1 shallot, minced

2 Tbs. virgin olive oil

1/2 Tbs. sherry vinegar

fresh ground pepper to taste

Rock salt


1. Combine shallots, olive oil, vinegar, and season with pepper. Set aside.

2. Place a kitchen towel over your hand, place an oyster on top of the towel, tightly gripping the oyster in the palm of your hand. USING AN OYSTER KNIFE ONLY, wedge the tip of the blade into the narrow point at the end of the oyster, working the blade back and forth. Gradually you will feel the muscle release. Run the the blade along the length of the oyster and pry it open. Loosen the meat from the muscle so you can "slide" it out of its shell. Repeat with all 12 oysters. Discard the top shell.

3. Place a bed of rock salt on your serving plate. Place 6 oysters in a circle pattern. Drizzle the mignonette sauce over top of the oysters using a spoon


24 oz. cream cheese

4 eggs

2 1/4 c. + 2/3 c. granulated sugar

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

5 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. lemon peel, freshly grated


16 graham cracker squares (8 full

rectangles OR 1 c. crumbs)

1/4 c. confectioners' sugar

4 tbsp. butter, melted

8 oz. sour cream

6 drops green food coloring

1 tbsp. cornstarch

10 oz. strawberries, crushed

6 drops red food coloring

Red silk flowers

Combine cream cheese, eggs, 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, lemon peel and 4 teaspoons lemon juice. Mix for 20 minutes at medium speed with electric mixer. Crush crackers and combine with confectioners' sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom of 2-piece removable-bottom angel food cake pan to form crust. (Do not line sides of pan with crust.) Pour cheese mixture into pan on top of crust and bake 35-40 minutes in 350 degree oven. Cool for 30 minutes.

Frost with sour cream which has been mixed with 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and green food coloring. Return to 425 degree oven for 7-10 minutes. Chill in refrigerator at least 6 hours. At least 8 hours before cake is to be served, remove from pan. Combine cornstarch, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, red food coloring and crushed strawberries in a saucepan. Cook until thick and glossy, stirring constantly.

Cool, pour on cake and chill in refrigerator until cake is to be served. Garnish the hole in the center with silk flowers.


2 ounces peach juice (from fresh peaches or bottled concentrate)

4 ounces ice-cold champagne, sparkling wine, or dry white wine

Dash grenadine syrup (optional)

Combine all the ingredients and serve straight up.


3 lbs. Whole milk ricotta cheese

15 eggs

2 cups sugar

juice of an orange

2 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons anise flavoring

1 tablespoon (approx.) finely chopped orange skin

1 tablespoon almond syrup

Mix and blend all ingredients; set aside in refrigerator.


1 stick sweet butter

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoon milk

3 cups flour

Stir dry ingredients. Work in butter. Add in eggs and milk. Form into dough. Divide in two equal parts. Roll out. Fill Springform pan with one crust for bottom. Now pour in cake filling. Cut other crust into ½" lattice strips for top of cake.

Bake in 350° oven for approximately 1 hr, 15 min. Test for doneness.

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