If you’re anything like me, you’d rather stay home on Valentine’s Day and cook a nice dinner-for-two instead of shelling out big bucks for a prix-fix meal somewhere. But Valentine’s Day isn’t some random “chicken breast and side salad” kind of night. It’s a time for romance, it’s a time for heat — it’s time for business, people.
To help us spice up our Valentine’s Day menu, we turned to the experts at Cookology Culinary School in Sterling, VA. Located in Dulles Town Center, Cookology offers professionally taught, hands-on cooking classes in their commercial kitchens. They have dozens of classes — ranging from Persian food to gluten-free Italian — for all ages, including toddlers. Cookology’s founder, Maria Kopsidas, was kind enough to create an aphrodisiac menu for us, including a very special recipe for the main course.
The key to spicing up a meal is cooking with foods that naturally enhance your mood by boosting oxygen and blood flow to the brain while stimulating certain hormones (the frisky ones!).
Arugula Salad with Strawberries and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Seafood & Saffron Rice Paella
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Stimulating nutritional facts about this menu:
- Red wine contains antioxidants that boost blood flow and help circulation
- Arugula contains antioxidants that boost energy levels and increase blood quantity
- Strawberries contain vitamin C which boosts energy
- Roasted Pumkin Seeds contain Omega-3, Zinc, Manganese & Phosphorus, and Iron all of which boost energy, blood flow and circulation
- Saffron contains crocin, an antioxidant that boosts energy levels and libido
- Seafood can trigger the release of hormones, like testosterone, and omega-3 fatty acids boost circulation
- Dark Chocolate contains dopamine which increases feelings of pleasure
Sounds good, right? Try to control yourselves until dessert!
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs, with skin
Four 6-ounce sole fillets, halved lengthwise
2 large pinches of saffron threads
4 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound dry chorizo, sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 small squid, bodies sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch rings and tentacles halved
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Arborio or other short-grain rice
1 cup frozen peas
1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, well-drained and picked over
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a large bowl, mix the paprika, 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the chicken and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Arrange the sole in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil with 1 pinch of the saffron. Drizzle the oil over the fish and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a saucepan, combine the vegetable stock with the remaining pinch of saffron and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and keep warm.
In a 14-inch paella pan or cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 15 minutes; transfer to a platter.
Add the chorizo to the pan and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to the platter with the chicken. Pour off and reserve any excess fat in the pan; leave a thin layer of fat coating the bottom. Add the squid and cook until just white throughout, about 2 minutes. Transfer the squid to the platter with the chicken.
Return 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat to the pan. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to the platter.
Return 2 additional tablespoons of the reserved fat to the pan. Stir in the rice and cook over moderately high heat for 2 minutes. Add the chicken, chorizo, squid and onion mixture to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Stir in the peas. Gently pour the warmed stock into the pan. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Using tongs, nestle the clams and mussels into the rice. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Arrange the sole fillets and the crabmeat on the rice. Cover and cook for 5 minutes longer, until the sole is cooked through and the rice is tender. Remove the pan from the heat and let the paella stand for 5 minutes. Discard any mussels and clams that have not opened. Sprinkle the paella with the parsley and serve right away.
In addition to cooking classes, Cookology also hosts birthday parties for all ages, caters, offers corporate team building sessions and off-site demonstrations. For a full list of services, visit their website.
21100 Dulles Town Circle
Sterling, VA, 20166
Located next to Macy’s