Isn’t it Romantic?
Sometimes the most memorable dinners are those shared at home. Entice your loved one with this tempting Valentine’s Day menu for two.
- CategoryEat & Drink
- Written, styled & photographed byKara Mickelson
It’s a time to celebrate and cement a connection, yet it often comes with the pressure of dinner reservations, high-priced floral arrangements and an explosion of overly sentimental cards that don’t quite convey a personal touch. And let’s face it: Being single on V-Day can be depressing. But beyond the roses and dinner reservations, the day should remind us to celebrate love in all forms.
Taking an old-school approach, we crafted a menu for two and offer a few entertaining tips for the special day. Two lovers, just family or two friends … we will let you decide.
Menu for Two
Valentine’s Day is all about honoring the perfect match … the yin to your yang. This land-and-sea-inspired menu delivers a sophisticated touch without too much fuss. Follow the simple recipes and methods below. The dessert takes a little more finesse, so we included some handy shortcuts.
Love Potion Cocktail
Warming ginger, decadent chocolate, rose water, citrus and spices add another dimension to this intoxicating blend. Use equal parts ginger vodka, crème de cacao, dash of rose water, dash of cardamom bitters or a crushed pod, splash of citrus juice. Shake with ice. Strain. Top with edible rose petals.
King Crab Legs with Melted Butter
What could be easier? No recipe needed. Shop it (about 8 ounces per person), steam it and serve with melted butter and lemon wedges. Be sure you have proper tools to crack the shell and get to the meat.
Filet Mignon with Garlic Herb Sauce
We opted for a garlic herb sauce; however a compound butter is also great. Lots of flavor with less stress than a warm sauce that needs last-minute attention. Chop two whole garlic cloves, add the juice of one lemon, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 6 tablespoons of chopped parsley or mixed herbs, ½ shallot diced and a splash of sherry wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and mix with olive oil to create a nice consistency. Chill. Bring to room temperature before serving. Follow our chef tips for a perfect filet.
Rest meat, 15 to 20 minutes, at room temperature before cooking. Heat heavy cast iron or oven-safe skillet to smoke point. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and butter to the skillet just before adding filets.
Dry surface, press meat into coarse salt and a blend of cracked peppercorns. Add the filets to the hot pan and cook until surfaces are nice and brown, turning as needed.
Add whole peeled garlic clove to the pan. Swirl with butter and pan juices and drizzle on top of filets. Finish cooking in a 400º oven, approximately 3 to 7 minutes for a 6-ounce filet.
Doneness check: The soft spot between your thumb and index finger is what rare feels like, when your hand is open and relaxed. Now press your middle finger and thumb together and feel the spot again … that is what medium rare meat feels like. Continue closing in your fingers to the thumb to feel the levels of doneness from medium to well done. A closed fist would represent well done.
Stacked Potatoes with Sea Salt and Thyme
Wash, slice, mix and stack 2 to 4 russet potatoes in an oven-safe dish. Add a little melted butter and olive oil between the potato layers, season and add some fresh thyme. Cook, covered, in the oven at 375º for 15 minutes. Remove cover and cook until fork-tender and light brown on the edges, about another 15 minutes. Check seasoning and add a fresh thyme sprig before serving.
Roasted Heirloom Carrots and Cauliflower with Serrano Ham
Trim, clean and peel vegetables as needed. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, top with torn pieces of ham. Roast in the oven at 375º on a sheet tray for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. Check seasoning before serving.
Baked Alaska Flambé
Shortcut: Use a store-bought cake, cookie or pound cake for the base of the dessert.
Swiss Meringue (makes 4 to 5 cups)
6 egg whites, room temperature (freeze the yolks for another use)
pinch, cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Place bowl in a saucepan filled ¼ full of water. Heat and whisk until mixture registers 120º and sugar is dissolved. Transfer bowl to electric mixer and whisk on low until frothy. Add cream of tartar and continue to whisk until thick and glossy, about 20 minutes. Meringue should hold a firm shape when the whisk is lifted.
1½–2 pints each, strawberry and pistachio ice cream or gelato
Optional: 80 proof liquor, for flambé
Assemble cake or cookie and filling. Use a 4- to 5-cup, freezer-safe bowl as a guide to cut cake base. Line bowl with plastic wrap. Cut remaining cake into triangle shapes and layer bowl with cake pieces. Use smaller pieces secured with jam to fill any holes. Or just use a cookie or pound cake base and don’t line the bowl. Layer slightly softened ice cream into bowl, leaving enough room for the base. Spread with strawberry jam and secure base to bottom of dessert. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight.
Remove frozen dessert from bowl/mold. Remove plastic wrap. Place on heatproof dish. Use a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or a spatula to pipe or spread on the meringue topping working quickly.
To bake the dessert, preheat the oven to 500º. Bake on a heatproof dish on an upper rack, close to the heat source until light brown, approximately 2 minutes. Or torch the meringue by holding a kitchen torch at an angle while moving the flame back and forth to create a nice light brown color.
Serve immediately, or once baked or torched the dessert can be frozen for up to 1 day. Reheat or let rest until you can slice it easily, approximately 10 minutes. Drizzle dessert with liquor and light tableside on a heatproof dish. Make sure to have a large pot or cover handy to stop the flame if needed.
Set the Mood
Yes to red and hearts, but try a subtle approach. We like red décor accents versus an explosion of color. Maybe add some beautiful red glassware, napkins or a red vase. Try a mixed arrangement of red and white for the table and add some sexy red to your wardrobe.
Heart-shaped décor is fine, but don’t raid the local party store for all things valentines. Add accent heart shapes to gifts and at place settings and be sure to choose some items that come in a color and a style that match your home—brushed tin, natural or painted wood—whatever looks nice.
With a solid relationship foundation, you can play your hand more and go for a bigger splash of thematic embellishments. For a newer connection, go low-key on excessive table décor and put the emphasis on time together. Even diehard romantics can feel a fevered blush and some anxiety with too much V-day ambience.
Plan your playlist in advance. Add some festive current and vintage background music. Some of our favorites are “Love Potion # 9” by The Searchers, “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding, “Kiss Me” by Ed Sheeran, “Valentine” by Kina Grannis, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake, “We Found Love” by Rihanna and Calvin Harris, “Closer” by Tegan and Sara, “Adore You” by Miley Cyrus, “Still Into You” by Paramore and many more by Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Frank Sinatra and Elvis.
It’s hard to make it through Valentine’s Day without flowers … especially red roses. Jenny Barker of Magical Blooms states, “Flowers in red and white are the classic aura tone for this theme. Roses, associated with the heart chakra of love, have the highest vibration. The color red is optimistic, energizing, sexy and powerful. White is a symbol of hope, goodness and purity. Be creative and consult your florist for the meaning of flowers and their colors to add a special touch to your arrangement.“ If your loved one has a special flower or florist they like, be sure to use them.
Buying an arrangement can be like picking out jewelry. It is very personal. You don’t have to break the bank, but look for details that matter such as flower choice, arrangement style and container. You will want your flower currency to get you through the night and happily into the future.
There is always boxed chocolate and jewelry, although we adore handmade gifts like this recipe.
Spiced Chocolate Ganache Heart “Truffles” with Smoked Salt
Bring 2 cups whole whipping cream to a simmer with 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon white pepper, a pinch of cayenne and 1/8 teaspoon of grated Balinese Long Pepper or cracked pink peppercorns. Remove from heat and pour over 2½ cups 60% dark cocoa chips in a heat-resistant bowl. Let sit for 30 seconds and slowly begin to stir until everything is combined.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a 9” x 13” pan lined with buttered parchment paper sheet. Sprinkle with smoked salt. Chill to set.
Remove from pan and cut with heart-shaped cutters. Dust with cocoa and add more salt if desired. Makes about 50 (1½-inch) pieces. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
Dust off your hat and head down south to Del Mar for another thrilling summer of wining, dining and all those glorious Thoroughbreds.