Valentine’s Day! Besides your anniversary, it’s the single most romantic day of the year. Although I believe affection and romance should be shown all year around, it’s always smart to have a good plan up your sleeve for Valentine’s Day. Cooking dinner for your beloved not only shows way more of an effort than making a reservation or picking up take out, it also gives you the perfect opportunity to show off your skills in the kitchen. Just another reason to impress the one you love. With this Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two menu and ideas, you can easily create a personalized ambiance perfect for the two of you. The menu items are elegantly intimate yet easy to make, taking help from a few ready-made items from the local market. Here is the menu, from a seductive cocktail and appetizer to a sexy chocolate fondue for dessert. All you need are a few candles and some Barry White tunes. Good luck!

OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

Oysters Rockefeller is the perfect way to serve oysters, especially if you are not fond of raw oysters. These are cooked and delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oysters
  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 sprigs, chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tspn cayenne
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked & minced
  • 1 bunch spinach, puréed
  • 1 cup bread crumbs 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Cream the butter with the minced shallots, parsley, salt, cayenne, bacon, spinach and bread crumbs. Season the oysters with salt and pepper, then cover them with the butter mixture. Place the shells on baking sheets covered with a layer of rock salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until plump. Turn the oven to broil. Place the oysters under the broiler to brown and serve at once. Serve with a wedge of lemon. 

LOBSTER RISOTTO

LOBSTER RISOTTO

Lobster risotto is a fantastic way to use the meat from the bodies of lobsters, as well as the shells. It is a great second-day dish after you feast on the tails and claws — although this risotto is traditionally done in Sardinia with spiny lobsters, which have no claws. Make the lobster stock ahead or use chicken stock or water. Make sure you use Arborio Rice — and make sure you have some saffron on hand; it really makes the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb lobster meat
  • 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli (or other short-grain) rice
  • 4 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tblsp. chopped parsley
  • Large pinch of saffron
  • 1/4 cup white wine (Vermentino would be ideal)
  • 1 qt. lobster (or fish or chicken) stock
  • Salt

Directions:

Take half the lobster meat and chop it finely. Crush the saffron into the white wine and stir well. In a heavy, medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the shallots for 2-3 minutes. Do not let them color.

Add the garlic and the rice and stir well for about a minute. Add the finely chopped lobster meat, about a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the white wine-saffron mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Stirring frequently — about once every 90 seconds or so — let the white wine boil down. Turn the heat to medium and start adding the lobster stock about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring all the while. Keep cooking until the rice is done, but still a little al dente. You don’t want mushy rice. Add the rest of the lobster meat and the parsley, then check for salt — add some if needed.

HERB-ROASTED CHATEAUBRIAND w/ BRANDIED SHALLOT REDUCTION

HERB-ROASTED CHATEAUBRIAND w/ BRANDIED SHALLOT REDUCTION

Ingredients

• One chateaubriand or other beef tenderloin roast, about 3 pounds
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 tablespoon dried parsley
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Brandied Shallot Sauce
• 2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon
• 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
• 1/2 cup brandy
• 1/2 teaspoon low-sodium beef base, dissolved in 1 cup hot water (see notes below)
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

To prepare the roast, remove all of the silver skin with a small sharp knife. If necessary, tie the roast with butcher’s twine to make it an even size. (Your butcher can do all of that for you.) The meat should be at room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Rub the mustard all over the meat. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Rub or pat the mixture all over the meat. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, then the meat. Sear until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Place in the oven and roast until desired doneness, about 35 minutes for medium-rare, or an internal temperature of 125°. Remove roast from pan and let set about 10 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Pour off the fat from the skillet. Place over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the brandy, bring to a boil, stirring to loosen all the browned bits in the bottom of the pan, and reduce slightly. Add the water with the beef base and the thyme. Boil until reduced by half. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the extra 1 tablespoon of butter and cook, whisking constantly, just until the butter is incorporated. Stir in the fresh parsley. Taste for seasoning. Remove the twine from the roast and slice as desired, but not too thick. Place on individual serving plates and top with some of the sauce. Serve immediately.

Notes: Chateaubriand is a very expensive cut of beef. However, there is no waste. It is the wide end of the tenderloin. When I am feeling extravagant, and the whole tenderloins are on sale, I bring one home and cut into filet mignons and roasts. The tenderloin has very little fat and, therefore, should never be overcooked. If you like meat well-done, another cut would be preferable. One cup low-sodium beef stock or broth can be used in place of the beef base and water. Roasting times will vary depending on the diameter of the meat. To be certain of the doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer. 

CARAMEL PECAN CHOCOLATE FONDUE

CARAMEL PECAN CHOCOLATE FONDUE

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh fruit and shortbread cookies

Directions:

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, combine cream and honey; heat until warm. Add chocolate; stir until melted. Stir in pecans and vanilla.

Transfer to a warmed fondue pot or a 1-1/2-qt. slow cooker and keep warm. Serve with strawberries, bananas, berries, fresh fruit and cookies. 

 

Antonio D’Anello ccc

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