Faith Durand and Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan
Cooking for one is relatively simple, but putting a big meal together can be challenging if you're new to it -- it's not the cooking, but the dance of shopping, coordinating and timing, plus being relaxed and very romantically present to your sweetheart, that makes it potentially hazardous.
Here is The Kitchn's guide to Valentine's dinner for, well, not dummies exactly, but cooks who want to impress without getting too flustered on the most romantic evening of the year. Here's menu of simple, foolproof dishes that can be finished off with a store-bought loaf of bread for a full meal. Impressively delicious, too, which is perhaps the most important part.
ROASTED BEETS AND SAUTEED GREENS WITH HAZELNUTS AND GOAT CHEESE
4-6 small beets, or 2-3 larger betters, tops on
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
2 tablespoons herb butter or olive oil
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water, stock or white wine, optional
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons very cold goat cheese, broken into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Remove the beet greens just above where they connect with the beet. Rinse the beets and greens thoroughly. Wrap each beet loosely in foil. Roast for about an hour, until beets are barely soft to touch. When cool enough, remove skin and slice into quarters or eights, depending on size (small bite-sized pieces).
Toast the hazelnuts in a medium saute pan over medium-high flame, turning constantly, until brown, about 5 minutes. Set nuts aside.
In the same pan over medium flame, melt the butter and saute the garlic until turning color, about 2-3 minutes. Add the beet greens, stems intact, and saute until wilted, about 3-5 minutes. If pan gets too dry, add a splash of water, stock, or white wine.
Remove from flame and toss in roasted beet pieces, nuts, salt and pepper. Empty onto serving platter or individual plates and top with bits of cold goat cheese.
This method takes 15 minutes, tops. Have the rest of your meal ready, the candles lit, and the wine poured before you start cooking. (Although you should probably heat the broiler at least 20 minutes before you need to cook.) It turns out a beautifully juicy, medium-rare steak, with crisped and crunchy edges, and so much flavor! This is even easier than grilling.
1 ribeye steak, approximately 1 pound, 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick
Canola or vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1. The first, and most important, step in cooking a great steak is to buy a great steak. The best way to do this is to go to a local butcher, preferably one who either raises the animals himself or sources them from a local farm. The beef should be at least partially grass-fed and humanely butchered. Look for steaks that have been dry-aged to intensify the flavor, too.
2. Buy a rib eye steak. It should be at least 1-inch thick and have some fat marbling around the edges. Again, buy the best you can. No matter how expensive it is, it will still be cheaper than eating out on
3. Open the package and drain out any juices. Blot the steak dry with paper towels or a rag. Let the steak come to room temperature, if it isn't already.
4. Turn on your oven and heat it to broil. Put a cast iron skillet in the oven to heat up with the oven.
6. Pour a little canola or vegetable oil (about 2 tablespoons) into a small bowl.
7. Put about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt into a ramekin and mix in a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
8. Brush the oil all over the steak, coating it generously on both sides and on the ends.
9. Now sprinkle the salt and pepper mix generously on both sides of the steak, patting it into the steak so it sticks.
10. Turn on a stove burner to high heat.
11. Very, very carefully remove the hot cast iron skillet from the oven, using your thickest and most reliable oven mitt or pad! Place it over the high heat and use long, sturdy kitchen tongs to place the steak on the hot pan. It should sizzle immediately.
12. Cook the steak for 30 seconds, then flip it over.
13. Cook the steak for an additional 30 seconds on the other side. Then, again carefully, put the skillet and steak back in the oven. Cook the steak for 2 minutes. (Don't forget to turn off the burner) Open the oven and carefully flip the steak, using the long tongs. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 2 minutes. At this point your steak will be medium-rare (as seen in the photos). If you prefer your steak closer to medium, add 2 minutes to the oven time.
14. Take the steak out of the oven. Turn off the oven. Remove the steak from the pan and put it on a large cutting board. Cover it with aluminum foil and let the steak rest for about 5 minutes.
15. Slice the steak against the grain and fan slices out on each plate. Serve immediately.
(This method is adapted slightly from
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH OLIVE OIL AND SEA SALT
Makes about 10 small portions (2 ounces) or 4 larger portions (6 ounces).
2 eggs, thoroughly beaten
3/4 cup whole milk
6 ounces good-quality semi-sweet dark chocolate
3 tablespoons freshly brewed strong decaffeinated coffee (optional)
1/4 cup finishing-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Tiny pinch fine salt
Sea salt or grey lavender salt, to serve
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve
Whisk the eggs and milk together, beating for at least a minute. Put in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Put a thermometer into the milk mixture and carefully heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 160 F. Take off the heat.
In another small, heavy saucepan, put the chocolate over low heat. (Break up the chocolate into shards, if not using small baking pieces.) Heat slowly, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Take off the heat and stir in the coffee, if using, and the olive oil.
Add the milk and egg mixture to a blender or food processor, along with the maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of fine salt. Blend to combine blend the combine eggs, milk, olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.
With the food processor or blender running, slowly pour in the chocolate and coffee mixture and blend until well combined. The final mix will be frothy and smooth.
Fill four 6-ounce dishes or eight to 10 smaller ramekins and put in the refrigerator to chill. Depending on the size and depth of the dish this mousse will take from a half hour to three hours to set.
Serve with whipped cream and just a pinch of rough salt.
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Valentine's Day Dinner for Dummiess - Recipe
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