Everyday Gourmet (2/4/10)

Pucker up, Valentine

Feb. 4, 2010

By Kim Dannies

Time to perk up and prepare for mid-winter’s love fest — sharing a cozy meal with that special someone. This year I’m going with my heart-healthier Seafood Alfredo spiked with preserved lemons.

Preserved lemons are a cook’s miracle, and they are simple to do. A week of sitting is required, so get started. Wash and quarter-cut 6 lemons and place in a 6-cup mason jar. Fill the jar with 2 cups of lemon juice and 1 cup kosher salt. Seal the jar and shake well. Set the jar on a kitchen counter and remember to shake it a few times daily. After 8 days, pour out the juice, add 2 cups of olive oil, seal, shake and store in the fridge up to 6 months.

To use preserved lemons, remove 3 to 6 wedges, rinse under warm water (remove pulp) and place on a paper towel to dry. Finely dice the zest; add 1 to 2 tablespoons to any stew, casserole, pasta, soup or baked good that you like.

For the big date, my pal Wine Judge advises, “Warm up with a delightful Washington Riesling called Kung-Fu Girl. For the seafood dish, drink Otella Lugana. This is a brisk, elegant white wine from the southern shores of Lake Garda, Italy. Both wines are simply amazing, and cheap, too.” Smack! I’m likin’ the sound of that (Visit www.tutawine.com for full wine reviews).

Lover’s Fettuccine Alfredo

Boil 8 ounces of fettuccine for 9 minutes; add 10 ounces of peeled shrimp and boil 2 minutes longer; drain. Meanwhile, in a medium-hot sauté pan heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil; sweat 1 large chopped sweet onion for 15 minutes. Add 3 minced garlic cloves and 2 cups of 2 percent milk; heat until milk is steaming. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of Wondra flour thickener. Whisk in 4 ounces of shredded Fontina cheese. Sauce will be bubbling lightly. Add a pinch of nutmeg and a large pinch of salt. Add 2 tablespoons of finely diced preserved lemon. When sauce is thickened, add pasta and shrimp; coat with sauce. Pour mixture into a serving dish; top with fresh thyme and freshly grated pepper.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.