Making romance at home

Today's recipe is one that I've developed for lovers on Valentine's Day. Getting into a restaurant for that intimate dinner is almost impossible. Certainly it is one of the busiest days in a restaurant's schedule.

Nothing could beat a quiet, candlelit dinner for two at home. This recipe is perfect.

It needs attention in the cooking procedure, but still allows plenty of time for hugs in between stirring.

Karen and I hope that you try it on Valentine's Day or some other day that is special to the two of you.

As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!

Poached Lobster Tails with Baked Pears and Poire Williams Liqueur Infused Risotto

• 2 6-ounce lobster tails

• 1Ú2 cup risotto (1Ú4 cup per serving. I use Superfino Arborio risotto)

• 1Ú2 pound softened sweet butter

• 2 red pears - cut one into half inch squares and the other quartered and cored

• 1Ú2 cup Marie Brizard Poire Williams Liqueur (be sure it is liqueur, not brandy; an equal substitution can be found at a good liquor store)

• 1Ú4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1Ú4 cup heavy cream

• 1Ú4 cup ricotta cheese

• 1Ú4 cup dry white wine

• 1Ú4 cup white grape juice

• 2 T. chopped parsley

• 2 cups vegetable stock (made of celery, carrots and bay leaves 1Ú4 teaspoon sea salt, use grosso, not fine - no onions)

Thaw lobster tails in the refrigerator 2 days in advance.

Split the tail lengthwise using a sharp vegetable cleaver or 8 to 10 inch chef's knife. I find it's easiest to place the knife tip at the tail end of the lobster. There is a little star at the end of the tail so place the tip there and press down the rest of the knife blade through the shell, cutting all the way through. Reverse the knife and do the same procedure, only this time from the other end so the tail feathers are also sliced neatly and carefully. If you purchase the lobster from a good butcher or fish shop, they will do this for you if you request it.

Carefully insert your forefinger into the meat side (opposite of the tail side), between the meat and the membrane next to the shell. Carefully pull out the meat until it reaches just before the tail. Leave the tail attached.

Break off the hard shell, leaving the tail and maybe half an inch of the hard shell to which it is attached. You will need this for the presentation at the time of service.

Start the process 35 to 40 minutes before dinnertime. Note that everyone's stove is different so pay attention to the cooking instructions. Let your palate be the deciding factor.

Once done, rinse the lobster thoroughly in cold water to remove any shell particles. Place in a skillet with a generous rub of butter and a quarter cup of the Poire Williams Liqueur. Rub the liqueur on top of the lobster with a little more of the butter. Place the quartered pear slices (should have 4 pieces) around the sides of the skillet. Set aside.

In a bowl, pre-soak the risotto in hot water for half an hour. Drain, rinse, and shake out all excess water.

In a stockpot, combine the wine, grape juice and vegetable stock. The liquid must be hot as it will be added to the risotto as it cooks.

Cooking risotto is a lot easier than people make it out to be. Cooking takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes (plus or minus). So when you start the cooking process, place the lobster in a 350-degree oven about 10 minutes after starting the risotto.

In a saucepan, melt half a pound of butter on medium-high heat and then add the risotto and stir. Slowly add a quarter cup of the hot liquid and let simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the liquid until the risotto is cooked. You may not need all of it.

Twenty minutes after cooking, taste the risotto for consistency. It is an old wives' tale that you have to stand over the risotto and stir constantly. Stirring is important but you only need to do so about every 5 to 8 minutes. Stir thoroughly but gently. When done, it should have a little snap and not be mushy.

At this time add the chopped pear. Just before the risotto is done, add the cinnamon, quarter cup of liqueur, heavy cream and ricotta cheese. This will be your final prep before presentation.

I like my risotto, especially in this type of preparation, to be loose or soupy. You may like yours tight. Cooking risotto can be touchy at this point. You want a smooth and creamy texture. Slowly stir to melt the above ingredients. The risotto will continue to absorb liquids so remove from the heat at your desired texture.

Place the risotto on warm dinner plates, take the lobster and pears out of the oven then place them on top of the risotto. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.

Which wine?

My wine recommendation is a nice bottle of chardonnay. The Hop Kiln, Russian River, 2004 chardonnay would be excellent. This famous Russian River winery has just recently been taken over by the DiLoretto Cellars, which breathed new life into this property. Their wines are noteworthy; I highly recommend that you try them.

Another choice would be a great riesling. For that selection, talk to our friends at Ben's Liquor and Aloha Wine and Spirits. During the preparation of dinner, a nice sparkling wine would be my call, maybe try a sparkling rosés.

• Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele's. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.


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