By Guest Blogger Dr. Dolly Garnecki
When she’s not in the kitchen training her two year-old son, a.k.a. sous chef, Virginia-based wellness physician and writer, Dr. Dolly Garnecki blogs about family wellness, health, and natural parenting to help women navigate the joys (and challenges) of early motherhood at Traveling with Baby.
I am SO excited to share with you some of my most favorite items for Valentine’s Day that focus on the heart of the home, the kitchen. With, loving hands, I prepare delicious and hearty meals for those whom I cherish.
My new go-to place for ideas for kitchen adventures is Kitchen Kapers–a family-friendly kitchenware store that’s been inspiring a little homemade fun in kitchens since 1975. With 14 locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, Kitchen Kapers specializes in quality kitchenware at affordable prices.
Kitchen Kapers has so many great options for Valentine’s Day.
Are you and your spouse coffee drinkers or tea lovers? Kitchen Kapers’ his and her asian mug set ($19.99) is a fun way to enjoy your weekend tea time for two (or it’s a great gift for a couple celebrating an anniversary in a keepsake box). By the way, today is Chinese New Year!
Want something more daring and romantic? Think of plump and ripe strawberries dipped in fondue chocolate in this electric fondue set from Cuisinart available at Kitchen Kapers for $59.99–50% less than listed retail price!
This cœur a la crème “cream of the heart” mold is perfect for making your own sweetened cream cheese covered in wild strawberries. Yum! And, a 4-inch ceramic mold retails for a mere $4.99–hosting tea parties with cheese and crackers will never be the same again.
Besides carrying great kitchenware online, Kitchen Kapers flagship store and culinary academy, located in Moorestown, New Jersey, is where foodies can find an extensive range of cooking classes from knife skills to learning the art of French cooking or creating beautiful cakes. Foodies can develop an international cooking skill set from Sicilian, Tuscan, Cuban, or Sexy Szechuan in the couples cooking classes–that’s the kind of date night I would LOVE.
For the younger set, Kitchen Kapers has classes for children (ages 5-12) and teens (ages 12-18). I love that they have a class just for young boys to create fun and boy-inspired foods in Emma’s Boy Brigade. Some of the other classes are aptly titled, “How to Cook Better than Your Parents.” When my son is older, we may need to visit Moorestown to acquire a family culinary adventure.
For Valentine’s Day, it is this passion-red porcelain enamel on cast-iron Le Creuset heart-shaped casserole dish that makes me smile every time I walk into our tiny kitchen. This sweet little dish looks like it’s reaching out to give a hug with the little red handles on the sides.
The tight-fitting lid seals in the flavors and creates a blanket of heat for gently cooking food. The enameled surface allows for even heating, longer heat retention, and it doesn’t react to acidic foods.
I can make perfect sticky rice every single time. Stir-fry bell peppers? Simple. Deep frying chicken thighs for chicken cacciatore? Easy to do, easy to clean. I essentially created every part of a chicken cacciatore all in this one little 2 quart casserole (just for the cooking experience), and then I served the rice along side the chicken cacciatore for dinner.
Tonight, I used the “heart pot”, as my son so tenderly refers to it, to prepare a berry crisp with hints of cinnamon and cocoa. The heart-shaped casserole dish from Le Creuset retails for $200, but it’s $50 less on the Kitchen Kapers site. My little family can celebrate Valentine’s Day every day with this passion-red beauty.
Gluten-Free Berry Crisp
- 1 10 oz. bag of frozen organic strawberries
- 1 10 oz. bag of frozen organic blueberries
- 2 T of cocoa powder
- 1 T of cinnamon
- 1 cup of buckwheat flour
- 1/3 cup of sukenot or turbinado sugar or honey or brown sugar
- 2 T sukenot or turbinado sugar or honey or brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of butter
- 1 can of organic coconut milk (optional)
- First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Next, grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish or use an ungreased porcelain enamel cast iron oven–the Le Creuset 2 qt heart casserole dish is perfect.
- Pour thawed and drained blueberries and strawberries into baking dish, and mix the 2 T of sukenot into the berries. Then, dust with cocoa powder.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat or other gluten-free flour with the 1/3 c. honey/sukenot/brown sugar/turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and cut with a knife or pastry cutter until crumbly.
- Then, Layer the flour-cinnamon-sugar mixture over berries in dish. Note that buckwheat flour is already earthy brown, even more so when mixed with cinnamon and brownish sukenot.
- Bake about 30-35 minutes uncovered and try to distract yourself with something else like eating dinner.
- Remove it from the oven and the cinnamon-cocoa-berry smell will bring anyone within wafting-distance standing within two paces of you…or closer.
See how the finished crisp is only a slight shade darker than before it went into the oven? I love the bubbly berries peeking through the crisp!
This dessert should be served warm. It can be drizzled with coconut milk and a little more honey, or topped with ice cream, whipped cream. It makes 6-8 servings.
Gooey berry goodness.
Note: if you haven’t worked with coconut milk before, here’s a little tutorial.
- First, never. ever. NEVER. buy the lite coconut milk. It’s a waste of money and nutritional value. All the good stuff is in the rich and fat of the milk (medium-chain mono-unsaturated fats…good for you!).
- Second, open the can and use a spatula to pour the coconut water and the milk into a mixing bowl.
- It’ll be a chunky and congealed mess. So, take your trusty whisk and beat away until the chunky congealed goop becomes a smooth white liquid.
- There, now you can use it! Take a spoon and drizzle it over your gluten-free berry cobbler. Store the remaining coconut milk in a sealed glass container. It will last in the refrigerator up to 7 days.
I love to use it in smoothies, soups, and sauces. In fact, for Valentine’s Day, I’m using coconut milk to make thai chicken and peanut sauce from the New Intercourses cookbook.
For more “Cooking up love” ideas, read part I of this post series.