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A Valentine's Day Dinner For Two By Brian "Mac" McDonald

Local Chef Mac is here to share an amazing Valentine's Day Dinner for you and your Valentine!

Escape From Alcatraz Cocktail

Let's get your night started with a take on the Escape from Alcatraz, a cocktail made of rye whiskey, citrus liqueur, fresh ginger, fresh orange, lemon juice, and a sprig of rosemary.

What you need: • 5oz of Rye Whiskey (Templeton)

• 3oz of Citrus Liqueur (Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao)

• 7 Slices of Orange

• 2 tsp of Fresh Grated Ginger

• 1 a tsp of Grenadine or Simple Syrup

• 2 Sprigs of Rosemary

Slice an orange into 4 1/4 inch slices, cut the last slice in half, and set it to the side to garnish. In a shaker, muddle down the 3 slices of orange, and your fresh grated ginger. Pour 5oz of whiskey, and 3oz of citrus liqueur over fruit and ginger. Shake for 1-2 minutes and pour over ice, using the back of the spoon pour grenadine (or simple syrup) into the glass running it down the side and to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with remaining half orange and a sprig of rosemary.

This cocktail can be made in advance, just make sure you shake well before pouring.

Shrimp And Grits

This is a dish I've always loved to put a spin on, it is comfort food, it is technical, and simple at the same time. Shrimp & Grits, with a creole twist.

What you need:

• 2 cups of Grits ( I used local red grits from Riverview Farms)

• 1lb of Shrimp (I Prefer Blue Shrimp)

• 1/2 Link of Andouille Sausage

• 1/4 cup of Butter

• 1/2 Cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

• 1/4 cup of unsalted butter

• Fish Sauce

• 4 slices of smoked bacon (I used Main St Meats)

• 1 Vidalia Onion, diced

• 3 garlic cloves

• 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

• 1/4 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

• 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

• 1/3 a cup of chicken broth

• 1/2 cup of white wine

• 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

• 1 Green Onion, chopped

• 1 Ancho Pepper

Start by preparing the grits, bring 7 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. When the water starts to boil, start slowly whisking in 2 cups of grits; reduce heat to medium, whisking constantly for 5 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, allow to cook for 1 hour or until tender. Fold in cheese, and 1/4 cup of butter and set to the side.

Peel Shrimp, devein and butterfly the backs by cutting along the backs about 1/4 into the shrimp. Sit to the side.

Cut strips of bacon down the middle, long ways, and then dice into 1/4 inch squares. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon pieces till crisp, remove and strain bacon. Save about 2 Tbsps of drippings in the skillet, add 6 Tbsp of butter into drippings reducing heat to medium.

Add onion (diced), Ancho Chile pepper (diced), Garlic (diced), and saute' until translucent. Deglaze with white wine, add lemons, add slices of andouille, and add shrimp cooking until shrimp turn pink, stirring often to incorporate. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, add broth, adding more flour if needed until sauce thickens.

Serve over grits, garnish with green onion and bacon, drizzle sauce on the plate. Enjoy!

Lava Cake

Valentine's Day is a chocolate lover's dream holiday, and this lava cake recipe is the king of decadence.

What you need:

• Four 6oz Ramekins or Small Mason Jar (My Favorite)

• 3/4 cup of bittersweet chocolate

• 1/2 cup of butter

• 1/4 cup of brown sugar

• 1/3 cup of granulated sugar

• 1/2 tsp of sea salt

• 1-1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

• 1/4 cup of flour

• Confectionary Sugar

Preheat oven to 450* and start by greasing each ramekin with unsalted butter, and powder lightly with all-purpose flour coating all the walls of the ramekin, dump out excess flour. Fill a medium saucepot halfway with water and simmer. In a medium-sized glass bowl, add 3/4 cup of bittersweet chocolate, 1/2 a cup of butter, and place on top of your simmering pot and melt, stirring occasionally.

In a separate bowl, add two eggs and two egg yolks and beat eggs with mixer until volume doubles in size, add 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, and continue mixing. Gradually add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, and 1-1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, then combine mixture with the now melted chocolate and stir until thoroughly combined.

Add your batter to the ramekins evenly, and bake at 450* for 8-11 minutes(ovens vary in temp, so check them often). The key to a good lava cake is under-baking, so start at 8 minutes and see where the middle is with a toothpick, if the outside still isn't set continue to bake until set in minute intervals. Let cool for 1 minute, slide a knife around the outside of the cake to release it, and invert onto the plate. Dust cake and plate some with confectionary sugar, and add a scoop of ice cream if desired!