Two years ago, in February, I discovered bookworms in my pantry.
This year, the pantry is filled with aphrodisiac foods.
What's a girl to do when she finds foods of love hiding on her spice rack, in the cupboards, even in the fridge and freezer?
Cook with them, of course -- and that's what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks here on The Perfect Pantry. If you're still thinking about what to make for your sweetheart this weekend, try incorporating some of these love-inducing ingredients from your own pantry:
You might also have these lover-ly spices on hand, though they're not in my pantry:
According to Eater's Digest, these non-pantry foods also should be on your menu of love:
And, if your goal is romance, avoid these foods:
Lentils (are you as surprised as I am to find these on the list?)
Arugula (I don't know why; I think it's delicious.)
River snails (honestly, who has these in the pantry?)
Skink flesh/lizard (or this?)
So, what's going to be on your menu for Valentine's Day?
Sometimes, for your valentine, you just need to make the thing he or she loves the most. Here's a recipe with hardly any known aphrodisiac ingredients. But, trust me, this stew makes my sweetie swoon every time I make it. And, like all stews, it's even better the next day. Serves 8-10; can be frozen.
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 lb beef stew meat (chuck or bottom round), cut in 1-1/2-inch cubes
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, sliced
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp thyme leaf, or a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 bottle red wine
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp oyster-flavor sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/2 tsp paprika
4 large carrots, cut into chunks
8 small red-skinned new potatoes, cut into chunks
2 medium rutabaga, wax coating removed, cut into chunks
4-5 parsnips, peeled, cut into chunks
1 package (16 oz) frozen pearl onions
Heat oil in a very large (12-quart) stockpot. Dredge meat lightly in flour and, adding a few pieces at a time, brown meat thoroughly on all sides (remove the pieces as they're browned, into a bowl; when all of the meat is browned, add back the reserved meat and juices). Add sliced onion, and the garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until the onion becomes translucent. Then, add the thyme, bay leaf, wine, mustard, tomato paste, oyster sauce, peppers and paprika. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to lowest simmer. Cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add all of the vegetables and cook, covered, for another hour or more, until all of the vegetables are tender (the potatoes will start to fall apart a bit). Stir frequently to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The sauce should thicken, but if you'd like it thicker, stir in a solution of 1 Tbsp arrowroot dissolved in 3 Tbsp water. Don't over-thicken; the sauce will thicken on its own by the next day, assuming you have some stew left over.
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