There is nothing romantic about rocking up to the trendiest restaurant on Valentines Day only to have to wait in a crowded bar (for an hour) while yelling back and forth to your date; because the restaurant is blaring Barry Manilow. Once you do sit down the cranky waiter, whose wife or GF is texting him obscenities for picking up the VDay shift, tosses the pre-fixe LOVE menu at you and over pours your water splashing it onto your lap. Add dry cleaning now to the cost of the evening. The pre-fixe menu cost could buy a small country and the most exciting menu option is a seafood risotto. Even Italian rice shouldn’t cost that much. It is just rice after all. It’s an dressed up 3rd world staple, you are thinking, rather than listening to your date. Oh what’s that? Why yes, of course, we want a bottle of Dom P to get things rolling. Another small country just got purchased. So the night goes with lackluster service, mediocre food, overpriced champagne and day old strawberries dipped in waxy second-rate chocolate.
If you aren’t footing the bill then most likely you are looking down at your dozen red roses and feeling so in trend as every other woman in the restaurant has the same bouquet. You are holding your breath because you HAD to wear the red dress that you really don’t fit in anymore. You are thinking how the bubbly champagne & starchy risotto are going to make your stomach bloat and you might pop the zipper at any moment. Forget sex later, you just want two waters pills and your flannels.
Do I sound like the most super jaded anti-Valentines Day woman alive?
Good! I have your attention now.
I am here to tell you, there is a choice. How about a nice romantic Valentines Day with no crowds, no waiting, no huge expense, no cliché red roses?
How about a mouth-watering menu that is super easy to prepare, a light Prosecco toast, the music you want (at an appropriate volume) and your date for dessert 😉
Now that’s what Valentines Day is about!
So here it is. Two delicious recipes that will have your date drooling (in a sexy way).
Guys, I am talking to you too! If you can make scrambled eggs, you can make these two dishes.
First Course – Whole Wheat Penne; Roasted Eggplant; Roasted Habanero; Salty Capers
Boil water. (See you can do this)
Cook the pasta to al dente (that means it’s still held its form and isn’t mushy)
Set aside. Now chop the eggplant into 1 inch cubes. Slice the Habanero to make rings. In a skillet add 1 tbsp olive oil, some fresh chopped garlic and the Habanero. Saute a few minutes and add the eggplant. Add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, cover the pan. Cook until the eggplant is tender (about 20 mins). Stir it every 5 mins and make sure there is still liquid in the pan. Add either red wine or more balsamic to keep some liquid in pan. When its ready, toss in the pasta, a handful of salted dry capers and stir to mix it up.
Scoop however much you want onto two plates or just one if you are channeling Lady & The Tramp.
A salty spicy first course…just like you!
Main Course – Filet Mignon; Creamed Spinach, Portobello Mushroom Gratin; Blistered Tomatoes; Baby Potatoes
Open the butcher paper that your 1 lb filet mignon is wrapped in. In a small bowl mix fresh chopped rosemary with fresh ground black pepper and salt. Rub the mixture all over the filet and place in a dry skillet. Set the skillet over a medium flame and sear all sides and ends in the hot pan. Turn off flame and put filet in a 300 degree oven until it reads 130 on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven and let rest, covered with foil for at least 10 minutes.
In a skillet add a glug of olive oil, fresh thyme, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Rough chop a head of fresh spinach. Slice mushrooms. Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and herbs for a few minutes. Toss in the spinach and mushrooms until spinach wilts. Add 1/2 cup heavy creme. Cook down until creme is almost absorbed. In small ramekins (baby bowls) place a few spoonfuls of the mixture. In a bowl mix 2 cups panko crumbs and 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese. Cover the bowls with the dry crumb mixture. Bake alongside the filet.
In a pan toss olive oil with baby grape tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Saute over high heat until the tomato skins crack. Set aside.
In a roasting pan toss baby tricolor potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 25 mins. Take out and with a fork, lightly smash each potatoe. Coat with some more olive oil and cook another 10 mins.
Voila! Now just slice the filet and plate alongside the tomatoes and potatoes. Serve the gratin on the side.
Open a fine red wine. Toast your date to whatever suits the mood; which is probably something like “Isn’t this so nice to be here together without the distraction of waiters, women selling roses tableside, wandering mariachis and that drunk lady at the next table exposing her husband’s affair?” Well, something to that effect.
Now DESSERT. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
PS. Guys – Do not buy your lovely date red roses. Its lame. Period. Be a little creative. Show some individuality. Red tulips are super sexy. Trust me on this. That last course will be a lot better if you show some initiative. Everywhere 😉