on the page magazine

issue no. 1, winter 2000–2001
outsiders & community

valentine's day for one

the 'me' celebration

the menu

We asked Debbie Epstein, owner of Debbie Does Dinner, if she had advice for a tasty solo dinner; but Debbie Does Weddings during the month of February and had no time to share. Then we contacted an unofficial culinary expert, Lyn Dacanay, and, catching her between romances, she passed on this memorable meal for one.

the mood

Since I'm spending Valentine's alone, this is the meal I would have to celebrate my love for ME, ME, ME.

First some mood music. So put on Nina Simone. Her CD, A Single Woman, would be good. It has her signature forceful singing and piano playing: serious, moody, but strong, beautiful, and uplifting. Just like me. Har har. I'd also put on some Chet Baker (the ones where he sings). His version of "My Funny Valentine" always puts me in a sexual mood. Honest. It's the voice. Set me up with a jazz singer, and I'm gone.

the menu

Pan-seared tuna, slightly red on the inside. Tuna is coated in crushed black and red pepper. Sides would be garlic mashed potatoes and steamed spinach prepared Japanese style, called oshitashi. The spinach is lightly steamed, then dressed with toasted sesame seeds and soy sauce and dusted off with bonito flakes.

A glass of white wine will be enjoyed with the meal. I have a bottle of La Crema chardonnay that might do, but most likely I'll splurge and buy a great bottle of Pinot Grigio which I think would be lighter and more pleasing with the meal.

Since the main meal really is quite light (other than the helping of garlic mashed potatoes), dessert will be rich. I'm having cheesecake made with crème fraîche and ricotta cheese. I'll top these with sliced strawberries and chocolate-covered leaves. I am salivating already....

A cup of coffee will end the meal. Since Valentine's is a work night, I'll be having decaf.

That's my meal this year. If you want to join me, come on over to my house. Dinner will be memorable.

Lucy's Cheesecake

Graham Cracker crust
(or use any homemade or store-bought crust—does not have to be graham cracker crust)

(from Joyce Goldstein's French Cheesecake, adapted from her cookbook Feedback (Richard Marek Publishing, 1978), and published in San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Jan. 14, 2001)

- 1 lb Bellwether fromage blanc (or cream cheese)
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt

* Beat cheese with electric mixer. Add sugar and flour. Mix. Add egg yolks, crème fraîche, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
* In another bowl, beat egg whites with salt until stiff. Fold into cheese mixture.
* Pour the batter into the crust.
* Bake 50-60 minutes in 350 degree oven.
* Serve at room temp.

* Serve with fresh berries (in season) and/or chocolate leaves.

Chocolate Leaves
* Wash a dozen camelia or lemon leaves. Dry.
* Melt 2 oz dark chocolate, 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
* Using paintbrush, paint melted chocolate onto veined side of leaves. Place leaves on foil-covered baking sheet.
* Place baking sheet in fridge for 10 minutes, or until chocolate is hardened.
* Peel leaves off from chocolate.
* Place chocolate leaves on cake.

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