Cooking Valentine's Day Dinner with the Scottos

Sara joins the Scottos at their family restaurant Fresco to cook up a delicious romantic dinner.

Italian Wedding Soup (serves 6)

1 pound ground beef
1 cup dried bread crumbs (store-bought are fine)
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
pinch of pepper
2 tablespoons cold water

½ cup olive oil
1 cup dried onions
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced zucchini
1 pound escarole, chopped
5 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1. To make meatballs: Place the ground beef in a large bowl.
2. Add the bread crumbs, egg, parsley, cheese, salt, and pepper.
3. With wet, cold hands mix the ingredients together well.
4. Add the cold water. Form the mixture into about 18 one-inch meatballs. Set aside.
5. To make soup: In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are glazed.
6. Add the chicken stock and bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and zucchini, lower the heat, and simmer for about 1½ hours, or until the vegetables are tender.
7. Add the meatballs and escarole and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt. Serve warm.

Spaghettini alle Vongole
Manilla Clams, Olive Oil, Garlic, and Oven Roasted Tomatoes (6 servings)
1½ pounds dried spaghetti
¾ cup olive oil
¾ cup dry white wine
1½ teaspoons chopped garlic
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
3 pounds, manila, littleneck, or cherrystone clams, well scrubbed
18 pieces oven roasted tomatoes or dry packed sun dried tomato halves, roughly chopped

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 6 to 8 minutes until barely al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the wine, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, and clams. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the clams open. Discard any that do not open.
3. Add the pasta, tomatoes, and reserved cooking water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the water has almost evaporated. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with parsley.

Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding (6 to 8 servings)

Bread Pudding
6 cups ½-inch cubes egg bread, brioche or panettone
2 cups half and half
½ cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons butter to grease 9- x 13-inch baking dish
1 cup leftover cranberry sauce

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the half and half, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Fold in the chocolate then add the toasted bread cubes; mix thoroughly until it’s completely blended.
3. Pour into 9- x 13-inch greased baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
4. Remove from oven, uncover, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite gelato and/or sauce.

Butterscotch Sauce
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup water
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream

1. Stir sugar and water in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Mix in corn syrup and butter. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber.
2. Reduce heat, pour in cream (will begin to bubble), and stir until caramel is melted and smooth.
3. Increase heat; boil until sauce is reduced to 1¾ cups, stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside. Keep warm until ready to serve.


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