Valentine's Day: Dinner for Two
Let's be honest. Valentine's Day seems a little bit forced (OK a lot!). I'm all for romance, but I don't like being told when it should happen. And I certainly don't associate love with red roses, teddy bears, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. For me, romance involves creativity – and an element of surprise. To come home on a random Thursday and find a beautiful bouquet of tulips (which happens to be my favorite flower) on the table would make my week. Or finding a little handwritten love note tucked in my purse, or being served a hot cup of coffee in bed, or getting an unexpected text telling me to put on heels and meet my man out for a glass of bubbly. To me, these little things – done at random – keep the romance alive. And I'm so blessed to have a creative husband who loves surprising me. I have to work hard to keep up!
So for this Valentine's Day, I want to do something special for him. I have no interest in going out to dinner on V-Day with all the cheesy, pre-fixe "aphrodisiac menus" and couples who look, well, bored. Instead, I plan to make a cozy dinner diner à deux at the yellow table. There is nothing more romantic to me than a table set – with fresh flowers and lots of candles – for two. It completely transforms the ambiance of the apartment. Brandon doesn't cook at all, which is fine by me, because I've already got the menu planned!
If you're looking for something special to do for your honey on Tuesday, why not cook him or her dinner? The menu below is delicious, simple, and–obligatory chocolate dessert aside–light and healthy. I tried to pick vibrant colors and flavors, but that wouldn't be overly filling. Because the last thing you want on Valentine's Day is a food coma...trust me!
Menu for 2
(Scroll down for recipes)
• Goat Cheese Crostini with Kumquat Chutney and Rosemary
• Honey Dijon-Glazed Wild Salmon with Frisée, Blood Orange, & Avocado Salad
• Bittersweet Molten Chocolate Cakes with Raspberries and Crème Fraiche
What to drink? Rosé Champagne, of course! (Or crémant, cava, or Prosecco). I just love the pale rosé color–it just seems fitting for Valentine's Day, and you can't get much more celebratory than bubbles!
Don't be intimidated by this menu – it truly is quite simple. Much of it can be prepped in advance, and the dessert can be made the day before and reheated before serving. (Though it definitely tastes best right out of the oven!)
For the crostini, toast some little flatbread rounds (or any type of bread, really) and spread them with goat cheese, a dollop of kumquat chutney (or marmelade), and a sprinkle of chopped rosemary. Five minute appetizer, easy.
For the main course, simply brush some wild salmon with a honey-Dijon-soy glaze and roast it in the oven for about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, toss some frisée (a slightly bitter, curly lettuce) with oranges (I used Cara Cara and blood oranges), avocado, and a citrus vinaigrette.
And for the dessert, these are my favorite little bittersweet chocolate cakes. I know the whole molten chocolate craze has passed, but you really can't get much better than a dark chocolate cake with an ooey-gooey chocolate center. I mean, come on!! Who can say no to that?!
The great thing about these (besides being insanely good) is that you can either a) make the batter in advance, spoon them into souffle dishes, and bake them while you're finishing dinner (this will give you that molten chocolate center) or b) bake them earlier in the day, or even the day before, and just reheat in the microwave for dessert. Option a) tastes better but option b) is easier and still tastes great. So you decide depending on how much time you have.
But honestly, with a homemade dinner, sparkling wine, and candlelight, you kind of can't go wrong – this Tuesday or any day of the week. Happy Valentine's Day everyone![recipe:best-honey-dijon-glazed-wild-salmon-citrus-frisee-salad-recipe]
BITTERSWEET MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKES
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°F and butter two 3/4-cup souffle dishes. (NOTE: You can also make these in muffin tins–just butter 4 muffin cups and bake for slightly less time, about 8 to 9 minutes.)
In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
In a medium better, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Add the sugar, then the chocolate mixture and flour, whisking until smooth. (Whisk in the Kahlua, if desired). Divide the batter into two dishes. (If you are making them in advance, just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them).
Bake for about 10 to 11 minutes (a few minutes longer if the batter was refrigerated) until the tops of the cakes have puffed up slightly and the center is still runny. Run a knife around the edges and quickly turn the cakes onto two plates. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with creme fraiche (or vanilla ice cream) and raspberries. Serve immediately so you get the chocolate gooeyness!