Ultimate Valentine's Day Dinner

What's more romantic for Valentine's Day than dinner by candlelight?

Kerry Heffernan, executive chef of South Gate restaurant in Manhattan's menu to set the mood (including at least one item long thought to have aphrodisiac qualities):• Oysters on the Half Shell• Braised Beef Short Ribs with Wilted Mustard Greens• Chocolate Pot De CrèmeAlso, Kerry's chef's hat was automatically tossed into the "How Low Can You Go?" ring. The "shoestring" chef with the lowest ingredients total at the end of the year will be invited back to prepare our holiday feast! Another great Valentine's Day Dinner! "Early Show" recipes galore!FOOD FACTS (all from Epicurious.com):

Oysters on the Half Shell: A phrase commonly used to describe raw oysters served on the bottom shell only, usually on a plate of crushed ice or, in the case of cooked dishes such as oysters Rockefeller, on a bed of rock salt. Some oyster lovers eat these fresh oysters without any condiments, sipping the oyster liquor from its bottom shell. Others adorn theirs with lemon juice, horseradish, Tabasco sauce, cocktail sauce, ketchup or vinegar.

Mustard Greens: The peppery leaves of the mustard plant are a popular soul food ingredient, ranking second only to collard greens. They're both members of the same family along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and kohlrabi. The leaves are a rich, dark green and have a pungent mustard flavor. Though they can be found year-round in some locales, fresh mustard greens are most abundant from December through early March. They're also available frozen and canned. When choosing fresh greens, look for crisp young leaves with a rich green color.

Short Ribs: Rectangles of beef about 2 inches by 3 inches, usually taken from the chuck cut. Short ribs consist of layers of fat and meat and contain pieces of the rib bone. They're very tough and require long, slow, moist-heat cooking.

Pot de crème: French for "pot of cream," this dessert consists of a creamy-rich custard prepared and served in tiny (about 3-ounce) pot-shaped cups. Though the classic flavoring is vanilla, pot de crème comes in many variations including chocolate and coffee.

RECIPES:

Oysters with Mignonette Sauce
INGREDIENTS:
1 dozen Fresh oysters*
Pairing knife
4 tablespoons Red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Coarse crackled black peppercorns
6 sprigs Chives, minced
1 Lemon, sliced in quarters and seeds removed

METHOD:
Oysters
Hold oyster in the palm of your hand with a towel to act as a grip
Position oyster in your hand with cup-side down with the curved shell facing down and the flatter side facing up
Insert a pairing or oyster knife between the shell, near the hinge
Twist the knife so that the oyster's muscle are detached
Remove the top shell
Scrape the meat from the top shell into the bottom shell
Serve it on the half shell with the mignonette sauce

Mignonette sauce
Combine and vinegar and pepper in a small sauce pan. Bring it to just below simmer, remove from heat and cool
Add chives
Splash a teaspoon over the just opened oysters and squeeze a hint of lemon

*Kerry recommends East Coast, West Coast or Sag Harbor varieties

FOR MORE RECIPES, GO TO PAGE 2.

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