Valentine's Day is the time for special recipes.
But "special" doesn't have to mean complicated.
This week, readers have some easy and delicious recipes that are perfect for sharing for Valentine's Day on Friday.
"My husband Ed and I are the only two people in the world who LOVE this weather," Diane Traher of Dyer wrote me.
"We both love the snow and cold. I even love driving in it. I dread the summer heat. Anyway, I have a quick easy Valentine dessert. I don't normally do desserts, since that was my sister Janet's area of expertise and my sister Lynne's specialty. But this one is perfect and easy. It is called 'Kick and a Lick Dessert Sauce.' All you have to do is soak fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in white wine for a few hours. Then spoon the soaked berries over vanilla ice cream. It is my husband Ed's favorite, probably cause he doesn't get homemade cakes. I got this recipe so many years ago, from Cosmopolitan magazine, back when I was young enough to be reading it."
Thank you Diane for sharing this flavorful sweet and easy treat, with its added "zip." And yes, Diane's sister Janet Krygoski of East Chicago was certainly a great baker, especially her cakes.
Janet, who provided me with a great recipe for an orange loaf cake that is featured in my third cookbook, remained an avid fan of both this column, as well as my daily entertainment column, until her death at age 73 in December 2010. Janet's favorite heirloom baking recipe was courtesy of one of the Betty Crocker's contests from decades ago. In 1938, Betty Crocker sponsored a "Name the Nameless Cake Recipe" contest, offering $8,000 in prizes, including the $5,000 grand prize, along with 50 runner-up prizes for $50 each and 500 honor mention prizes paying $1. According to the tiny yellowing newspaper clipping provided to me from Janet before her passing, the contest asked bakers: "Just bake the cake and send a name, using the entry blank here. Get husband and friends to suggest names. Cake names will be judged on basis of uniqueness, originality and aptness. Yours may win!"
Today's featured recipe comes from Alvin Goldfarb of Bloomington, Ill., who served as President of Western Illinois University from 2002 until his retirement in 2011. Dr. Goldfarb also spent 25 years at Illinois State University, where he served as Provost and Academic Vice President, Dean of Fine Arts, Chair of Theatre, Managing Director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Professor of Theatre. He has also served on the Illinois Arts Council. At holiday party gathering in December, he brought his recipe for an easy Salmon Pate that was so delicious, I asked him to share the recipe with me. Pate always makes an ideal, elegant and romantic spread to serve with champagne for Valentine's Day.
"Philip, here is the recipe," Al wrote me.
"Could you also put this disclaimer, or something like it, with it? The following is a recipe I have made for parties for more than 20 years. I can't remember where it came from originally, but it is wonderful!"
A happy Valentine's Day to readers and their friends and families!
1 (16-ounce) can of salmon, drained and cleaned with bones and skin removed
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 envelope of dry Italian dressing (such as Good Seasons brand)
Crackers and sliced cucumbers for serving
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until soft and thoroughly mixed together. An electric mixer works well to whip the pate smooth for spreading. Place pate into a plastic wrap lined bowl or loaf pan. You can also turn the soft mixture into a specific shape, such as a heart for Valentine's Day or a fish, garnished with almond sliver scales or thin sliced cucumber scales. Refrigerate overnight so the flavors meld. Place on serving dish with crackers and cucumber slices. Makes 4 servings.