well folks, it’s that time again. cupid’s wings are in hyperactive mode, sprinkling and sparkling love down all around. oh valentine’s day, dear saint valentine. my friend told me that valentine’s is a crossover celebration from an older, pagan ritual for fertility, and then emailed me about lupercalia (i admit, i created an image of a nude–save for the girdle of goatskin–sacrificing a goat and a dog in the cave where a she-wolf suckled the founders of rome and stopped there). needless to say, valentine’s day is a mixed bag for me. but OH the food it inspires!

every valentine’s day, i scour recipes and menus for romance on epicurious, imagining how i’ll treat my love to an intensely passionate meal. rich and reeking of decadence and amor. and then, smiling at myself, i snap back to reality, standing in the kitchen alone. and in this moment, i feel like it’s always sunny in philadelphia’s pathetic girl 43. quickly, to recover from such seesawing emotions, i turn on nantes and forget about all my woes, breaking it down like i know i can, and begin to chop some onions.

in loving honor of valentines day 2010, i bring you smokey love in the kitchen. my take (improVISE!) on pinto-bean mole chili. my years of valentine’s day research has taught me the simple things about a solidly romantic spread: aphrodisiacs. dear friends, have no fear! this recipe’s chock-full. love apples (tomatoes, silly), peppers, chocolate, and garlic: pulse-quickening, sense-amplifying, love-makin’ delight. (clearly, my post-eating, solo kitchen dancing to this acts as a necessary outlet after a meal like this… ha!)

the mole flavor lights up the taste buds. quite enamoring: the smokey heat of the chipotle with the subtle earthiness of the cocoa and the sweet, acidy tomatoes. ooo la la!

happy saint valentine’s day weekend to you and yours.

smokey love in the kitchen
(adapted from pinto-bean mole chili linked above)

1 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo, partially deseeded (depending on spice preference, leave ’em in if you want it hot!), chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
Rounded 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups collards & kale, coarsely chopped 
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups whole tomatoes in juice
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinses 
plain yogurt (optional)

1. cook onions in oil on medium heat until they start to sweet and brown. 
2. as onions sauté, combine chopped chipotle, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and set aside,
3. once onions are soft, add garlic, cook for 1 minute. then add pepper mixture, cook 30 seconds.
4. add chopped greens, cook covered for 5 minutes. 
5. add zest, sugar, cocoa, tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.
6. stir in beans, simmer for 5 minutes more. season with salt, top with plain yogurt if desired.