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Feb 6, 2008 04:48 PM

Gas Station Gourmet Valentine's Day

My girlfriend has been complaining about my spending money on top quality ingredients when I cook for her. Copper River Salmon, Kobe Beef, Heritage Turkey, Bordeaux wines, D'Artagnan foie gras, and I could go on about the exotic produce, spices, and my recent molecular gastronomy kick.

So, for this Valentines Day, I want to let her know that I got the message and still love her. (She has a great sense of humor!)

I want to create a dinner experience using the cliche bottom of the barrel ingredients, but prepared in a very gourmet style with a surprisingly great taste. I want to source as many ingredients from either the 99 cent store or the gas station. Here's a rough sketch of some ideas I have so far...

Menu scrawled in crayon on the back of a fake Arrest Report

Andre sparkling wine chilled in a mini metal trash can with strawberry Pop-Rocks in the plastic champagne glasses for added flavor and fizz.

Wine from a box served in mason jars.

"Fwaw Graw O Torch-On de Spam" (in the shape of hearts)

Something using Top Ramen that I haven't figured out yet

Rum Soaked Twinkie Flambee with a Hershey's Dark Chocolate Syrup and Orange Tang Sauce

I'll be wearing ripped jeans, white tank top (wife beater), a loud tie, baseball cap, and a dinner jacket. The music selection will start with "Dueling Banjos" and move on to "Let's Get It On" by Jack Black.

Obviously, I need help brainstorming this if I'm going to pull it off. Would like to have more courses. Could use suggestions on menu planning, recipes, decor, and music. It's all in the name of love. ;-)

Let loose the hounds!

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  1. This tastes somewhat like Chinese Chicken Salad

    Ramen Cabbage Salad


    2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
    2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (Marukan is best)
    3 Tbsp granulated sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    4 Tbsp cooking oil
    1 tsp toasted sesame oil
    1 ramen chicken flavor packet


    8 cups (1 head) cabbage, shredded
    1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
    2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
    1 (3-oz) brick ramen noodles, broken into 1/4 inch pieces - uncooked

    In a small saucepan, heat vinegar and sugar over medium heat until sugar
    dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, pepper, contents of ramen
    chicken flavor packet, cooking oil and sesame oil. Stir until everything
    is well mixed. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine broken up
    ramen noodles and shredded cabbage. Mix well. Pour cooled dressing over
    the shredded cabbage mixture. Sprinkle toasted almonds and toasted sesame
    seeds on top of the cabbage salad.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Antilope

      i actually had this once, it's not bad.

      1. re: im_nomad

        Yeah...I don't consider that white trashy at all. It's actually fairly crisp and refreshing. I love it without the chicken.

      2. re: Antilope

        THis is actually good and doesn't look very trashy when done.

      3. oh to have such complaints!!

        kudos to you for putting so much thought into an event.....and i hope, as you say...that your girlfriend does in fact, have a great sense of humour.....and that Valentine's Day is the appropriate day for you to make fun.....(and that you're not making fun of HER).....then again, laughter is such a great aphrodesiac.

        the Kraft website has a lot of KD casseroles if those are any good to you.

        5 Replies
        1. re: im_nomad

          Thanks to everybody for the great suggestions. Keep them coming!

          Yeah, my girlfriend has a stellar sense of humor. These types of creative efforts tend to go over better than the time I took her to French Laundry up in Napa. Go figure. ;-)

          1. re: ChewToy

            I wonder if you can find any recipes on the Bravo Top Chef website from the vending machine or convenience store challenges...

            and let me know if things don't work out between you guys; I'm really hilarious ;).

            1. re: mollyomormon

              Top Chef was my first thought for research but they don't have any of those recipes that I could find. Probably because they were quickfire challenges.

              The search continues ;-)

              1. re: ChewToy

                the good news: you'll have the recipes for valentine's day 2009...


              2. re: mollyomormon

                mollyomormon -- you are, indeed hilarious! ;-)

          2. Test the twinkie idea way ahead of time. I tried this as a going away gag for our French Pastry Chef at work - none of us could get the damn things to ignite! We tried every form of alcohol that kitchen had. We finally decided twinkies must be the safest material to build a fireproof bunker from!

            8 Replies
            1. re: meatn3

              I agree, the twinkies are probably made of asbestos. I figure I have 2 options....

              1) Soak the twinkies in a rum that's over 100 proof. Although, using 151 Bermuda rum goes against the Ghetto theme and would probably get her tanked. ;-)

              2) Soak the twinkies in regular rum and then make a preparation much like bananas foster. Heat butter, brown sugar, and rum in a pan (napalm). Toss in twinkies. Give the twinkies about a minute to get coated and up to temp. Ignite in the pan and then plate and deliver quickly.

              This is all theoretical so I should try it first and remember where the extinguisher is. ;-)

              1. re: ChewToy

                Report back as to what ends up working. When we tried we were trying to do it quickly before service began. You never saw so many cooks trying to flambee something - that in itself probably ended up being funnier than the idea of the prank!

                I love your whole concept - she is lucky having a SO who cooks & has such a great sense of humour. A happy Valentines for you both!

                1. re: ChewToy

                  I've seen recipes for Tiramisu using either Twinkies or Ring Dings, a chef I know made it as a joke and said it was actually decent.

                  1. re: coll

                    here's a tiramisu that calls for nilla wafers, cool whip, maxwell house coffee, & philly cream cheese. there's a picture.


                    1. re: soupkitten

                      How about the ol' cheescake in a muffin cup with Nilla wafer base, canned pie filling on top, we used to LOVE them!

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        I'm speechless....but I am laughing! LOL!

                  2. re: meatn3

                    Instead of Twinkies flambeed, you could also batter and deep fry them and serve drizzled w/ Chocolate Sauce from the squeeze bottle.

                    1. re: meatn3

                      Bacardi 151 should work. It works for flaming shots, just make sure to warm the alcohol first.

                    2. Clearly, you need to serve Tarte au Frites -- Frito pie! Just make one bag and romantically feed each other from it.

                      1. Oh, for the entertainment part of the evening you can snuggle & watch this:
                        hold the cursor over the different figures - it is so corny that it transcends...
                        BTW, the ball cap will have the bill facing the back? The disposable orange handywipe sort of towel would make a lovely dinner napkin. Convenience stores usually have single roses sprayed with glitter around V-Day too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: meatn3

                          To paraphrase the supreme court: I know obscenity when I see it and tha't obscene. Spam is a four letter word.