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ACA Chefs Share Romantic and Affordable Valentine's Day Menu

January 25, 2011

What’s sweeter than preparing a romantic and budget-friendly Valentine’s Day dinner at home for the love of your life? Chefs Steven Serano and Annmarie Chelius, educators at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts, share a menu that proves romance doesn’t have to be expensive.




Pan Seared Scallops with Spicy Corn Cakes - $14

Chef Steven Serano


·      8 each, 10-20 size scallops

·      2 T olive oil

·      1 cup cornmeal

·      1/2 cup corn kernels

·      1 cup flour

·      2 tsp. baking powder

·      3 T honey

·      1 red pepper, diced

·      1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

·      2 eggs

·      10 oz. milk

·      2 T butter


1.)   In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

2.)   In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, peppers, corn and melted butter.

3.)   Slowly whisk the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

4.)   Add oil into a heated non-stick pan and drop 1 T batter into the pan, and cook (like pancakes); repeat until the batter is gone.

5.)   Place 3 corn cakes on each plate.

6.)   Season scallops with salt and pepper.

7.)   In a heated sauté pan, sear scallops on each side for 2 minutes.

8.)   Arrange scallops on top of corn cakes.



Braised Short Ribs with Pommery Celeraic “Noodles” - $14

Chef Steven Serano


·      1.5 lb. slab, boneless short ribs

·      2 carrots, medium dice

·      2 ribs of celery, medium dice

·      1 large onion, medium dice

·      2 bay leaves

·      1 cup red wine

·      2 cups stock, chicken or veal

·      kosher salt, to taste

·      black pepper, to taste

·      1 celery root

·      4 oz. heavy cream

·      1 T pommery mustard (or Dijon)

·      3 T olive oil 


1.)   Cut boneless short ribs into two equal pieces

2.)   Season generously with salt and pepper.

3.)   Add olive oil to a heated sauté pan and sear the ribs on both sides until golden brown.

4.)   In a roasting pan, add carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme.

5.)   Place seared ribs in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.

6.)   Add wine and stock of your choice.

7.)   Cover with aluminum foil, and place in a 325-degree oven for approximately 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and begins to fork.

8.)   Strain liquid from roasting pan, discard herbs and vegetables and place jus into a heavy bottom sauce pan. Reduce liquid until it coats the back of a spoon.

9.)   Place the meat on a plate and pour the reduced sauce on top of the braised short ribs.

Celeriac Noodles


1.)   Peel outer skin of the celery root, exposing the white, fleshy part.

2.)   Slice the celery root thinly on a slicer or mandolin, then julienne.

3.)   Boil a pot of salted water and blanch the julienned celery root.

4.)   Reduce the heavy cream in a sauce pan, add the pommery mustard,and the celery root. Cook slowly until the cream is reduced and the noodles are well coated.

5.)   Place noodles on top of the short ribs.


Chocolate Ganache - $6

Chef Annmarie Chelius


·      1 1/2 lbs. chocolate, chopped to pieces the size of a pea.

·      1 pint heavy cream

·      1 T liqueur, any flavor (optional)


1.)   Place chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl.

2.)   Heat cream until it steams. DO NOT BOIL.

3.)   Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.

4.)   Stir to combine. Finish by adding liqueur.

Presentation Tips: Use as a dipping sauce for fruit or pound cake, or pour over your favorite ice cream for a mouth-watering treat.

Note: The higher quality the chocolate, the better tasting the ganache. If ganache becomes cool, simply reheat carefully in microwave.

The ACA, located at Atlantic Cape’s Mays Landing Campus, has been training future chefs and food service professionals since 1981. For more information on the Academy, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, e-mail or visit

*Browse the flickr photo set to see how ACA students created elegant Valentine's Day table settings with a $10 budget.