Cooking a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner for two is one of the best ways to spend Valentine's Day. I’ve put together some of my favorite Valentine’s Day recipes, along with 6 romantic dinner tips to ensure a night filled with love, laughter and delicious food.
Keep the menu simple and easy to prepare. A great way to do this is to rely on great ingredients. Buy the best and freshest ingredients you can find. This is the time to ask the butcher for a hand cut steak, or stop by the bakery for a crusty loaf of bread. French cheeses, artisanal pasta and farm-fresh vegetables don’t need a lot of preparation to taste amazing. Spend your time flirting instead of cooking.
Gazing into each other’s eyes while you fork food into your mouth is great, but feeding each other is better (even if you are just buttering their bread). When you have something to do with your hands; eating is more fun. That’s why fondue is such a romantic dish. If you don't have a fondue set (and don't mind getting messy), a pile of King or Snow crab is a fun meal to tackle, For the more reserved, a simple plate full of sliced prosciutto, cheeses, olives and figs is a great choice for an easy appetizer. The more you use your fingers, the better.
You can take this a step further by cooking together. Turn on some mood music, pour two glasses of wine and get busy in the kitchen. This is a great way to get comfortable with someone.
Sometimes it’s fun to skip the big dinner and nibble through the evening instead. Light a warm fire, turn on a favorite movie and get cozy with a big selection of yummy treats. This dinner tip takes the hands-on approach to the next level.
Delicious (and easy) nibbles:
Cheeses and crusty bread
Berries and cream
If you are cooking an entree, don’t make a heavy meal. The last thing you want is to fall into a food coma when you are shooting for an evening of romance. Stay away from huge steaks, casseroles and heavy pasta. If you do make a steak, keep portion size small and steer away from starchy sides.
Try something you haven’t had before. Experiencing things together is bonding, and sexy--even if you spit it out! Cook something daring or try a favorite food in a new way. Do you love going out for ceviche or sushi? You can make them easily at home.
Just the thought of eating food considered an aphrodisiac is sexy. Pull out all the stops by serving a full meal consisting of aphrodisiacs. It gives your meal a theme, and pretty much ensures a romantic evening.
Some top aphrodisiacs:
Why not make a London Broil this Valentine’s Day?
Maybe London Broil isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of romantic Valentine’s Day meals, but it should be. I’ll give you three good reasons why.
Reason one: Your usual Valentine’s Day fare may be a filet mignon or lobster tail, but why serve up a cliché? This recipe for London Broil with wild mushrooms is every bit as romantic (and delicious). Its home cooking for the one you love, and what could be more romantic than that?
Reason two: A London Broil steak is easy to make and affordable. It’s usually a flank or top round steak, marinated for flavor and tenderness. You can cook up a meal for two and still have leftovers for juicy roast beef sandwiches the next day. Get the most bang for your buck from your hard work in the kitchen.
Reason Three: London Broil is sexy, especially when you top it with a creamy wild mushroom sauce. Score big points when you slice into a perfectly-cooked steak to reveal a delightfully pink center.
Some tips for making the perfect London Broil:
Add the marinade ingredients to large resealable plastic bag. Add the steak and seal shut. Place into a large baking dish to prevent spills. Marinate in the refrigerator 4 hours to overnight, turning the bag a few times.
Preheat the oven to a high broil. Remove the steak from the marinade and reserve the marinade for the sauce. Pat the steak dry and season liberally with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. Place into an oven-safe broiler (shallow) pan and cook about 8 inches from the heat. Cook for 6-7 minutes per side until an internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F.
Remove the steak from the oven and transfer to a plate. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Add butter to a large skillet heat on medium-heat until foaming. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the liquid is released and the mushrooms are well-browned. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Add the marinade, wine (or liquor) and broth to the hot pan. Cook on high heat until reduced, about 3-5 minutes. Lower the heat, add the cream and mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
To serve, cut the steak across the grain in thin slices. Pour any steak juices into the sauce and spoon over the steak.
I have to admit; this isn’t a typical recipe for me. Chocolate cups? Strawberry mousse? I think I spent a little too much time on Pinterest last week looking at Valentine’s Day desserts. I wanted to make a chocolate mousse with champagne zabaglione, inside a freshly baked chocolate tart shell. Maybe I will someday. When it came down to it, I was tired and didn’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen while my toddler fussed…only to make a big (bigger) mess of my kitchen.
All the egg yolks too. That dessert would have a ton of eggs in it. I couldn’t do it.
Instead, I made chocolate cups, which are super-easy. I also made a fresh strawberry mousse, which doesn’t have any artificial food coloring or flavoring (yum!). Piped into the chocolate cups and served with fresh strawberries, this recipe makes a romantic Valentine’s Day dessert, or anytime dessert. You can make the mousse more interesting by substituting your favorite liquor for the water in this recipe. Try it with port, or ice wine, or even vodka. It’s up to you how boozy you want to make it.
The mousse is very light and airy. It’s creamy, too, which pairs nicely with the crunch from the chocolate cup. Serve this strawberry mousse with a glass of champagne. Chocolate, champagne and strawberries just love to be together!
Adapted from Spoonful recipe
Pour the cold water (or liquor) into a small bowl and stir in the gelatin. Allow to stand for 2 minutes. Pour the boiling water (or liquor) over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Set aside 6 strawberries for garnish. Clean and remove the leaf-ends of the remaining strawberries. Add the hulled berries, gelatin, lemon zest and sugar into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Set aside a few spoonful’s of whipped cream for garnish (whip in additional sugar if you want). Fold together the remaining whipped cream and strawberry mixture. If you are using chocolate cups, chill the mousse in a container before adding to the cups.
If you are not using chocolate cups, spoon the mousse directly into serving glasses. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and strawberries before serving.
Use disposable cups. Cut them down to the height you want them if they are too tall.
Add the chocolate to a dry glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on the lowest heat setting (use the “melt” setting if you have one). Stir the chocolate. Continue to microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in-between, until the chocolate in completely melted, but not too hot.
Using a spoon, add about 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate to the inside of the plastic cup. Smooth along the sides using the back of the spoon. Add another teaspoon and smooth again, running the spoon completely around the inside until completely coated with chocolate. Add a little to the bottom of the cup if necessary. You want a thin, even coating.
Chill the cups in the refrigerator for an hour, until set. To remove, peel the cup away from the chocolate, being careful not to leave fingerprints on side of the cup. It helps to hold the cup at the bottom with one finger on the top edge and one on the bottom. Chill cups again before adding mousse.
Fill chocolate cups with mousse using a spoon or piping bag.
I’ve searched far and wide for the best Valentine’s Day gifts for food lovers 2014. Of course, there are food gifts in this list, but there are also one-of-a-kind kitchen tools, books and inspirational ideas to get your gift-giving juices flowing. I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoyed making it!
If your Valentine is a foodie connoisseur, the Taste Trunk is the ultimate gift. Choose from six “trunks” featuring amazing gourmet products, like the Sweet Trunk, Health Trunk, Gourmet Trunk and BBQ Trunk. Each trunk contains a curated mix of 5-10 products, with coupons, recipes and information about each company. Buy one box, or sign up for monthly deliveries for just $29 a month.
Each box is packed with a group of products from a travel destination, like Rome, Tahiti, or Napa Valley. Once a month, you get a mix of luxury products, including full size bath and spa products, gourmet snacks and treats inspired by the destination, plus a chance to win a vacation. Past boxes have included escapes to Colorado, Italy, Vermont, Hawaii and Oregon. If you don’t want to sign up for monthly deliveries, check out the “Offers” page for their Valentine’s Day “Chocolates of the World” box for $39.95
Some more ideas for surprise lovers:
♥ Tickets to see their favorite band (with dinner)
♥ Reservations to their favorite restaurant
♥ A winery tour
♥ A foodie vacation
I love these handmade pint glasses from Pretentious Beer Glasses. I couldn’t pick just one. The 2-chamber glass, which combines your favorite beers into one perfect sip? Or the pint glass with a mustache? Get one of each ($35) or a set of 4 for $125
If your man is a beer lover, he’ll appreciate this Mr. Beer Gold Edition Beer Kit. It includes a 2-gallon fermenting keg with tap and two refill brew packs, plastic bottles, caps, labels and instructions. The kit makes 4 gallons of home brewed beer. Refill packs include popular beer types like Octoberfest, IPA, Irish stout, Bavarian Weissbier and other favorites. $64.99
Two pennies, each with your lucky penny year (birth year, anniversary), stamped if you choose, with a heart or clover, and attached to a “Lucky Us” bottle opener keychain. What’s more romantic for your favorite beer aficionado? This is an especially good gift if you met in a bar or party! $20.00
Some more ideas for beer lovers:
♥ A beer-of-the-month-club
♥ Tickets to a beer festival
♥ Dinner with beer tasting
Nine small-batch, artisanal chocolate bars freshly made for your sweet. Ingredients are organic and fair trade. Flavors include dark chocolate with spiced rum and coconut, candied ginger and orange, and Fluer De Sel. $42.40
This is my favorite chocolatier right now. Vosges truffles come in some unique flavors, like the Black Pearl, with ginger, wasabi, dark chocolate and sesame seeds, or the coconut ash and banana dark chocolate bar. Impress your foodie with a collection of vegan truffles, champagne truffles, bacon truffles or my favorite, The Hunger Games truffles. Vosges also offers wine and champagne pairings with a box of truffles. $40 for 16 pieces
Some more ideas for chocolate lovers:
♥ A chocolate tasting
♥ A chocolate making class for 2
♥ Chocolate festival tickets
♥ A chocolate spa treatment
From one of the world’s premier chocolatiers for 150 years, San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Chocolate Cook Book contains a revised collection of classic treats. Including beautifully photographed cookies, cakes, bars and drinks, this book is the perfect gift for chocolate lovers. Over 80 recipes, plus a holiday recipe section featuring edible gifts you can make at home, like cake mixes and fudge sauce. Hardcover $17.11
Poundcakes, cheesecakes, pies and cookies from the famous Brown Betty Bakery in Philadelphia. Three generations of women created these old-fashioned recipes with modern twists, like sweet potato poundcake and an Apple Brown Betty with rum sauce and potato crust. The book includes heartwarming and inspiring stories along with extraordinary recipes. Hardcover $17.97 (Kindle edition available).
Stunningly photographed heirloom recipes organized by seasons, from Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell. The book includes old-time favorites like fruitcake, Buche de Noel, coconut layer cake and double-chocolate pudding, plus new ones like Creamsicle Angel Food cake, chocolate Rocky Road potstickers and chocolate-espresso soup. Hardcover $21.61 (Kindle edition available)
Make your foodie giddy with Thomas Keller’s masterful collection of American and French recipes from his famous bakeries. You will find classic brioche, muffins, scones, cakes, tarts and more, on glossy pages with a large format presentation. The instructions are thorough and easy to understand, and the results? You’ll both be in love with this gift. Hardcover $33.24
Some more ideas for book lovers:
♥ Buy a Kindle loaded with cook books
♥ Cook a romantic dinner from a favorite book or film
♥ Write a food-themed poem
Custom, laser engraved cutting boards with monograms, names and dates on walnut cutting boards. Each board is unique, hand selected and sanded to bring out the wood’s natural beauty. Choose from Red Oak, Maple, Cherry or Mahogany finishes. $39.00
Any food lover would appreciate some good music in the kitchen. This modern rustic speaker works with Bluetooth enabled devices to play music in handcrafted style. Each speaker is made with reclaimed redwood from a fence along the central California coast. $249.00
Some people are just nuts about popcorn. For them, I recommend this sampler of 8 seasonings from Dell Cove Spice Co. Choose from 38 flavors or let them send you the most popular. Flavors include caramel, dark chocolate, key lime pie, salt & vinegar, Cajun, pumpkin pie, dill pickle, pizza and white cheddar, shipped in a gift box. $27.95
Made-to-order buttery shortbread cookies with the flavor of freshly picked lavender. Sprinkled with pale purple sanding sugar. These gorgeous cookies will make hearts melt.$15.oo
Some more ideas for one-of-a-kind lovers:
♥ Make a handcrafted gift
♥ Bake a favorite dessert
♥ Adopt or sponsor a zoo animal, tree or wild animal
♥ Put together a memory book of photos
In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains some affiliate links to products I would (or have purchased) purchase and use myself. Any commissions go toward the costs of maintaining Love and Duck Fat.