Valentine’s Day is approaching, and it happens to be my second favorite holiday – right behind Christmas. Showing your love for all in your life should be done 365 days a year, but on this special day, we get to take time aside and profess our love. Whether it’s to your spouse, significant other, kids, parents, friends, whomever, it’s a day worth celebrating in my opinion.
This year, V-Day falls on a Tuesday. Not exactly the ideal evening to go out on the town. But perhaps those celebrating out at restaurants will sprinkle their reservations over the weekend. Diners and restaurants alike can benefit from avoiding big crowds all at once, allowing more time for better service.
Should you decide to forgo the night out at a restaurant and opt for romance without reservations, I have a few ideas that can make cooking and dining together at home cozy and perhaps even more romantic than going out.
First and foremost, plan your menu ahead of time. I suggest chatting about it now so you can make your list and figure out what you want to make for your sweetheart. Planning ahead takes the stress out of last-minute “uh-oh I better make it happen now” moments. In most households, the lady-of-the-house is in charge of the majority of the meal prep. So fellas, step up and plan a great meal for your special lady.
Beef is a natural special occasion center-of-the-plate protein, but why not do something different or add some “surf” to your “turf”? I really enjoy king crab legs and hardly ever make them at home, so thought I’d feature them as a fun, different protein for your romantic V-Day dinner at home.
After the protein, it’s all about the sauces. I’ve featured two sauces you can make easily at-home: a spicy garlic oil and the one-and-only Julia Childs’ beurre blanc sauce. Either are delightful with king crab legs or lobster tails. For your sides, you can go as simple or as complicated as you like: roasted asparagus or roasted broccoli, pear salad with candied pecans and shallot vinaigrette and/or twice baked potatoes.
A couple of months back, I picked up some lobster tails at Whole Foods Market because they were on sale. They were very simple to steam, had a wonderful firm bite and buttery flavor and were quite a nice addition to our normal weekday steak dinner. For reference, the 5-ounce lobster tails are $5.99 and the king crab legs are $19.99 a pound at Whole Foods. While you’re there, pick up some flowers for your sweetie – two dozen roses for $20. I love a good deal.
This year, I’ve seen multiple posts on social media for Galentine’s Day parties. I quickly figured out it means Valentine’s for your girlfriends. Like I said, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for romantic love. What better way to celebrate your girlfriends than gather them all together and have a party? I’m actually throwing a Valentine’s lunch for a dear friend on Thursday. That’ll be my version of Galentine’s this year.
I don’t mean to leave the guys out, here. Perhaps you guys should start a Malentine’s Day where you watch football, drink lots of beer and eat fattening foods.
Wait, that just happened. It was called the Super Bowl.
KING CRAB LEGS WITH SPICY GARLIC OIL
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
2 pounds steamed Alaskan king crab legs, cracked
In a large skillet, heat oil, garlic and chili flakes over medium heat, swirling the pan, until garlic is soft and golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a small bowl.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat; add crab legs and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve with oil on the side for dipping.
Recipe courtesy of Whole Foods Market
BEURRE BLANC SAUCE
3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of white pepper
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Have butter ready. Bring wine and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan; add shallots, salt and pepper. Lower heat to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. (There should be about 1½ tablespoons liquid left. If reduced too far, add 1 tablespoon water.)
Remove pan from heat; whisk in 2 pieces of butter into the reduction. Set pan over low heat and continue whisking butter into sauce a chunk at a time, allowing each piece to melt into sauce before adding more.
Remove sauce from heat; whisk in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Serve with fish, poultry or vegetables.
Julia Child recipe from Saveur.com
PANNA COTTA WITH BERRY SAUCE
2½ teaspoons or 1 package flavorless gelatin, with ¼ cup cold water
½ cup whole milk
2¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Fresh berries of your choice – strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, or a mixture
¼ cup sugar
Pour milk into saucepan and bring to simmering point, then remove the pan from the heat. Do not let it boil.
Add the gelatin mixture to the milk. In another pan, add cream, sugar, vanilla and almond and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Once it’s boiling, immediately remove pan from heat and stir in the milk-gelatin mixture. Pour into glasses or ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 3 - 4 hours to set-up, or overnight.
In a small non-stick skillet, add berries and sugar and cook on medium low until the sugar is dissolved. Serve panna cotta with your favorite fruit or fruit sauce.
Recipe by Adriene Rathbun