Valentine’s Day Date Night Recipes

Suzanne Phifer Pavitt
March 18, 2013 | Suzanne Phifer Pavitt

Valentine’s Day Date Night Recipes

Proprietors Suzanne Phifer Pavitt and Shane Pavitt will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Wild Mushroom Risotto and Red Velvet Cake alongside their 2011 DATE NIGHT Sauvignon Blanc and 2009 DATE NIGHT Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Pavitts will prepare the risotto with friends in their home near their winery in Calistoga. “The yin-yang of the earthy and almost meaty flavors of the mushroom and cheese just sing when we pair it with our Cabernet Sauvignon,” she explains. She credits chef Casey Thompson ( with this recipe.

Wild Mushroom Risotto 4-6 servings

For mushrooms:

  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. ½ white onion, diced
  4. 1 garlic clove, peeled, minced
  5. 1 pound fresh hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, separated into pieces
  6. 2 oz dried porcini (soaked in 2 cups boiling water and then drained, reserve mushrooms)
  7. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (leaves only; remove & discard stems)

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the onions and the garlic and sauté until soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 1 minute. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Place into bowl and reserve.

For the risotto:

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. ½ white onion, diced
  3. 1 garlic clove, minced
  4. 2 cups Arborio rice
  5. ½ cup DATE NIGHT Sauvignon Blanc
  6. 8 cups mushroom stock or chicken stock (recipe follows), warmed
  7. ½ cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
  8. 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  9. 1 tablespoon butter

In a heavy bottom sauce pot over medium heat, coat the bottom with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onion until it is translucent or for 3 minutes, do not brown. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil for 2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir to incorporate. Now, add 1 cup warm stock and stir until all of the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add another cup and continue the process until all of the stock is incorporated. Make sure the stock is evaporated before adding more stock each time. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice. Add the cheese and the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with herbs. Ladle into warm bowl. Top with more cheese, serve immediately.

For the stock:

  1. 1 white onion, sliced
  2. 1 leek, rinsed and chopped
  3. 4 garlic cloves, skins on, smashed
  4. 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. ½ tsp peppercorns
  7. ½ pound fresh cremini mushrooms
  8. 2 carrots, sliced
  9. 6 parsley sprigs
  10. 3 thyme sprigs
  11. 2 sage sprigs
  12. 2 bay leaves
  13. 9 cups water

Place a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a little water. Cook until the onions are soft. Add all other ingredients. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Strain and reserve the liquid.

And for dessert?!

True to her Georgia roots, Suzanne enjoys serving this lavish Red Velvet Cake. She sometimes—according to Southern tradition—will serve a slice of cake with a dill pickle on the side.

Red Velvet Cake

  1. 2 ½ cups sugar
  2. 6 large eggs
  3. 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  4. 3 cups all purpose flour
  5. 1 cup butter, softened
  6. 1 8-oz container sour cream
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  8. 2 ounces red food coloring (two 1-ounce bottles) (Suzanne uses natural food coloring she finds at the local health foods store)

In an electric mixer beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar until light & fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each one. Combine flour, cocoa and baking soda and add to mixer alternately with sour cream, blending at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla, then stir in red food coloring.
She likes to make this as a tall layer cake, in 6 buttered and floured 8-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; then remove from the pans and let cool completely on the racks before frosting. The frosting recipe is below; Suzanne recommends making two batches to be sure you have enough to lavishly frost the cake, between the layers and on the top and sides! You can also bake this cake in a 12-cup tube or Bundt pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes (check at that time; it might need up to 15 minutes longer). You can also bake this cake as cupcakes; it will take 23 to 28 minutes in a 350 degree oven (and will make between 32 and 38 cupcakes).

Red Velvet Cake Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  2. ½ cup butter, softened
  3. 2 16-ounce packages powdered sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. Beat the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.


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