When was the last time that Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday? Wikipedia says 1999 and Yahoo! says 2005. I only ask because there is no better day to wake up relaxed, maybe lounge in bed with or without the kids, eat sweet decadent things and cuddle. Is that really possible in this day and age? Well, like Captain Pickard says to his No. 1, “Make it so.”

You know how much I love a good brunch, so I would suggest something like eggs Benedict, or Norwegian (cured salmon) or Florentine (spinach in place of the Canadian bacon, for the vegetarian set), a bottle of champagne with some peach nectar or fresh squeezed orange juice, some good coffee or tea with cream and sugar and some long stem strawberries and dark chocolate dipping sauce. Am I showing my hand?

Either of these egg dishes calls for some hollandaise sauce. It’s not the easiest sauce to make, but worth a try and can be used on a Valentine’s Day dinner that night with roasted salmon (a heart healthy protein on this heart holiday) and asparagus.


2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

3 tablespoons cold water

1/4 teaspoon salt

White pepper to taste

3 large egg yolks

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened

1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (more to taste)

3/4 teaspoon cayenne

Boil vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, salt and white pepper in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon water.

Whisk in yolks, then cook over very low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened (be careful not to scramble yolks), about 1 minute. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time, lifting pan occasionally to cool sauce and adding each piece before previous one is completely melted.

Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice, cayenne and salt to taste.

And what is Valentine’s Day without something that is over-the-top sweet and decadent? Ya got me! I came across a new idea for our beloved red velvet cake from Food Network madam Paula Dean and her lust for butter. Please don’t eat it all at once…


2 cups sugar

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 ounces red food coloring

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon vinegar


3 cups half-and-half

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch sheet pan.

Using the Red Velvet Bread Pudding set of ingredients, in a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely. When the cake is cooled, cut into 1-inch cubes.

Place cubes onto 11-by-17-inch cookie sheet. Place in oven for 10 minutes.

For the Bread Pudding Mix, combine the half-and-half, eggs, egg yolk, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl. With an electric hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the half-and-half mixture.

Place the red velvet cubes in a large baking dish or 8 individual ramekins. Add the pudding mixture to the dish. Make sure the cake cubes are completely covered. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pudding is set. Serve with ice cream.

Other Harlem Food News: [Monica, please highlight or offset this section somehow. Thanks]

Starting this Monday, February 15, through March 15, is the first annual Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week (even though it’s a month) Winter 2010, brought to us by the newly formed Harlem Park to Park merchant association. The program offers $20.10 three-course prix fixe menus and $20.10 on select retail items. $1 of all proceeds will go to UNICEF for Haiti relief efforts. Visit www.harlemrestaurantandretailweek.com for a list of all participating locations.

I will be heading to Chez Lucienne for more of their banana cream pie, Nectar for a glass of sparkling shiraz and that truffle tremor cheese, and Katrina Parris Flowers for one of her signature designs…ooh, and maybe I can get more heated yoga classes at Bikram Yoga East Harlem, too. Bravo, Harlem businesses! Make it so!

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

Questions at dinnertime? Chat with me at AskSCHOP, Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m.

Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! SCHOP! is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? E-mail kysha@iSCHOP.com.