The Lutece Cookbook, by Andre Soltner and Seymour Britchky (Random House, 1995)

2005_02_food_lutece.JPGLast Valentine's day, Lutece served its final meal. Fortunately for us, Andre Soltner, Lutece's chef for 30 years, wrote The Lutece Cookbook after selling the restaurant in 1994. While most of the book's 333 recipes are not ones that we would ordinarily cook from (or, in the case of hot souffle of sea urchins, eat!), the book itself serves as an engaging history of the introduction of French food to the United States, worth perusing for inspiration and cooking from every so often.

Truffle photo courtesy channel4.comWhile most of Lutece's meals are much too fancy to be approached in this column, the chocolate truffles, which were traditionally served at Lutece around Christmastime, are shockingly easy to make (no thermometer!) and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. One thing Gothamist really enjoys is making candy for our friends and loved ones. They gasp when we tell them we made it ourselves! The hardest thing about making these truffles will be keeping it a secret that they are so easy! We hand-delivered a box of these truffles to our friends' birthday party, where they were described as "addictive" and "like portable chocolate mousse." Check out photos of the rapidly-disappearing morsels here.

For more truffle-making ideas, check out the recipes at Epicurious. We also like making chocolate-dipped fruit.

For other great Valentine's Day cooking ideas, check out Intercourses, an aphrodisiac cookbook, The Seduction Cookbook, and of course Booty Food. If you are really desperate, check out The Chick Magnet Cookbook and Cooking to Hook Up. Our favorite "way-to-a-man's heart" tome? Saucepans and the Single Girl, of course. Being Rules girls, however, we're not cooking at all on V-Day. 'Cause we'll be eating these truffles and watching all Hugh Grant's movies.

Lutece's Chocolate Truffles
makes 50

3 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 T rum (or liqueur of choice-we like Grand Marnier)
2 egg yolks
1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 T (3 oz.) heavy cream
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa (sifted and divided into two 1/4 cups)

1. Melt the chocolate with the rum in the top half of the double boiler and remove the top part of the double boiler when the chocolate is melted.

2. Stir the egg yolks into the melted chocolate; then the butter; then the cream; then the sugar; and finally 1/4 c. of the cocoa. Stir until smooth and refrigerate for at least 3 hrs.

3. With cold hands, form the mixture into small balls (you may want to use a melon baller dusted with cocoa to portion) and roll them in the remaining cocoa, not letting your hands (or the dough) become warm in the process. Depending on the heat of your apartment, this may involve scooping the dough into portions onto a cookie sheet, chilling the sheet, then rolling it into balls with cocoa-dusted hands. You can also dip the balls into tempered chocolate if you want to be fancy about it; there are special tools for this or you could just use a fork.

4. The most important part: presentation! We like to wrap our truffles in candy foil or box them up and sit them in cute little cups (We got ours at Bridge Kitchenware).

Feel free to make the truffle dough a few days in advance and make it into balls when you get the chance. It worked for us!