Last year was my first Valentine’s Day with a significant other, so naturally, I wanted to do it right. After way too much research, I found the perfect restaurant and booked a reservation – all that was left was to figure out my outfit: a short, gorgeous black dress. Everything was coming together beautifully until, on the night of V-Day, I stepped outside. Now, anyone who lives in New York knows that February is frigid and that no pants is a horrible idea. I knew this, but I chose to believe it would be fine. It wasn’t. As soon as I was out of my apartment, I was slipping on the ice in my heels. I felt like Jack in Titanic… it was not a good scene. Once we finally got to the restaurant, it was crowded, loud, and we had to wait twenty minutes until we were seated. Sure, the food was okay, but I was uncomfortable the whole time and, well, so was my mood.
Why am I telling you this embarrassing anecdote? So you don’t make the same mistake I did. This year, I’m staying in, staying warm, and whipping up a home-cooked meal, which you should probably do, too.
So, without further ado, here are a couple options for a romantic meal for two – ready to get cooking?
Chill two martini glasses.
Pour the Cointreau, pomegranate juice, vodka, and lemon juice into a cocktail strainer over ice.
Cover and shake until you see frost outside the shaker.
Strain everything into the chilled martini glasses.
Toss in a few pomegranate seeds to garnish.
Cut the sugar cube in half and place one half into each Champagne flute.
Put four dashes of bitters into each glass.
Pour the Champagne into each glass to fill.
Add raspberries on top.
Spicy Mussels & Crostini
1/4 cup olive oil (separated into two 1/8 portions), plus more if needed
1/2 an onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 garlic cloves, whole and crushed
1 cup tomato purée (from 1 28-ounce can)
Pinch dried thyme
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded, discarding any that have broken shells or stay open when clamped
Pinch black pepper
1 loaf Italian bread, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a wide pan, heat up one 1/8 portion of oil.
Making sure the pan is hot, add the whole cloves of garlic, salt, and black pepper.
Once the garlic cloves begin to shimmer, take out and discard. Turn off the flame.
Place the sliced bread on a cookie sheet; brush or drizzle the flavored oil over all slices.
Put the cookie sheet in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the bread begins to golden and become crusty.
Take out bread and set aside.
In a large pot, heat the other 1/8 cup of oil over medium-low heat.
Once pot is hot, add the onion, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, half of the parsley, thyme, salt and black pepper; mix.
Once onions are translucent (about five minutes), stir in the tomatoes; reduce the heat to low, and simmer for twenty minutes partially covered. Stir occasionally.
Add mussels to the pot, cover and bring to a boil.
Cook just until the mussels begin to open (about three minutes), shaking the pot occasionally.
Take out the mussels and continue simmering the sauce for five more minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle broth over the mussels. Top with the rest of the fresh parsley.
Serve with the bread.
3/4 cup mini cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup mozzarella pearls (find at a deli counter) – if you can’t find, just chop up a ball of fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped finely and separated into two equal portions
1 garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
MAKE THE DRESSING
In a small bowl, add half of the basil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and mix. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Whisk well, cover with Saran Wrap and place in the fridge.
PREPARE THE SALADS
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Slowly add the dressing to coat (there may be extra left over – perfect for your next salad!).
Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.
Place the salads into two of your best wine glasses.
Make a slit, vertically, into two tomatoes and place on rim of glass.
4 slices pancetta
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch dried, crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
Heat up water for the pasta; salt water heavily.
Place pancetta slices in a thick, wide pan and cook until crispy (should look the same as your favorite bacon); dry on paper towels.
Remove most of the fat from the pan, leaving about one tablespoon.
In a small bowl, whisk the yolks, cheese, salt, and pepper.
Cook the pasta until al dente and drain; reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
Slowly whisk the pasta water into the egg mixture.
Put the pasta into the bacon pan and turn the fire on to medium-high; toss the pasta for a minute until well coated.
Take the pasta off of the heat.
Pour the egg mixture on the pasta, tossing consistently with tongs. Add the bacon and continue tossing until everything is well incorporated.
Place pasta in serving bowls and top with fresh parsley for garnish.
Wine Braised Short Ribs
2 pounds bone-in short ribs (about 4 2-inch ribs)
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 carrots, peeled – one diced, one sliced into thin coins
Preheat the oven to 300°.
Salt and pepper the short ribs liberally, on all sides.
Coat the bottom of a thick, wide, oven-proof pan; put the stove on medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the short ribs; make sure they are in one layer and not crowding. Brown on all sides as best you can. Remove from pot and set aside.
Add the diced carrot and onion; cook and stir until the veggies start to soften.
Add the garlic to the same pan and cook for a minute until it becomes soft.
Stir the tomato paste into the pan and cook until the paste starts browning a bit (a couple minutes).
Add the wine and stir, making sure to scrape all of the brown goodness from the bottom of the pan; bring to a boil and cook for a minute.
Add the beef stock and bay leaf.
Add the ribs so they are almost fully submerged – if they aren’t, keep adding beef stock.
Cover the pan and put in the oven; cook for an hour and a half, or until the meat is tender and falling off of the bone. This could take a while.
Once the ribs are done, take out of the pan and keep them warn in the oven (250° or lower. Preferably lower).
Start skimming off the fat – you’ll see it separating on top. Discard.
Bring the sauce to a boil; add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the ribs back into the pan; simmer just a couple minutes to incorporate everything.
Place the ribs and sauce into serving bowls.
Perfect Raspberry Chocolate Mousse
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Carton of raspberries
Place an inch of water into a small saucepan; heat on medium low.
Place a metal bowl on top of the saucepan, add the chocolate and butter, melt and remove from heat. Beat chocolate with a wooden spoon.
Beat egg yolks into the chocolate. Place bowl in the fridge.
Beat the egg whites and half the sugar in a Kitchen Aid until they hold stiff peaks but aren’t dry. It could take a while. Set aside.
Beat the cream with the rest of the sugar and vanilla; beat until it holds soft peaks.
Stir a couple spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up; fold the rest of the whites into the chocolate, carefully as to not break the eggs.
Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture; chill in the fridge.
When ready to serve, take the mousse out of the fridge. Get the prettiest glasses you have and place a bit into the bottom of the glass.
Add a layer of raspberries to the glass, then add more mousse; repeat the process until the glass is filled.
Make the last layer raspberries so it looks pretty!
We only added one dessert because really, the mousse is all you need.
Feel free to mix and match courses – it’s your night! Also, for those of you who are spending their Valentine’s Day with friends or by your fabulous selves, either double or half the recipes. We checked em’, we promise!