Valentine's Day Dinner Ideas

Valentine's Day is all about the flowers, chocolate, and cards, but there's no better way to spoil your sweetie than with a nice meal for two at home! Check out three meal ideas for the beginner, the intermediate, and the show off chefs!

   ITALIAN ANTIPASTO PLATTER  Serves 8 to 10 (can be adjusted for 2)  All the ingredients below can be purchased at your local grocery store, here's what you'll need:  2 loaves of Italian or French bread  Extra Virgin Olive Oil  20 slices sopressata or Genoa salami  20 slices mortadella20 slices prosciutto6 ounces (approximately 1-1/2 cups) Parmesan cheese, cut into chunks  1 cup marinated olives  1 cup white bean puree  3 roasted red bell peppers  To prepare the crostini, adjust the oven rack to the middle position,  Pre-heat  the oven to 400 F.  Cut the bread on an angle in 1/4-inch slices. Brush both sides of each slice lightly with olive oil and place on  baking sheet. Bake until the bread turn golden and crispy, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. (There’s no need to turn the slices over halfway through.) You should have more than two dozen slices, You can make the crostini up to four days before you use them; store them in an airtight container  Arrange the salami, mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmesan cheese on a large platter. Serve the crostini, artichokes, olives, white bean puree, and peppers along side in separate bowls.

 

ITALIAN ANTIPASTO PLATTER

Serves 8 to 10 (can be adjusted for 2)

All the ingredients below can be purchased at your local grocery store, here's what you'll need:

2 loaves of Italian or French bread

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

20 slices sopressata or Genoa salami

20 slices mortadella20 slices prosciutto6 ounces (approximately 1-1/2 cups) Parmesan cheese, cut into chunks

1 cup marinated olives

1 cup white bean puree

3 roasted red bell peppers

To prepare the crostini, adjust the oven rack to the middle position,

Pre-heat  the oven to 400 F.

Cut the bread on an angle in 1/4-inch slices. Brush both sides of each slice lightly with olive oil and place on  baking sheet. Bake until the bread turn golden and crispy, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. (There’s no need to turn the slices over halfway through.) You should have more than two dozen slices, You can make the crostini up to four days before you use them; store them in an airtight container

Arrange the salami, mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmesan cheese on a large platter. Serve the crostini, artichokes, olives, white bean puree, and peppers along side in separate bowls.

      CAPRESE SALAD  2 large, fresh tomatoes (Beefsteak, Big Boy or other large varieties are particularly good in this salad)  1 8-ounce ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella  Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  ¼ cup julienned fresh basil  Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling  Instructions  Slice each tomato into slices about ½ an inch thick.  Slice the mozzarella ball into ¼ to ½ inch slices.  On a platter or plate, alternately lay the tomato slices and mozzarella slices – you can lay them in a line on a long platter, or in a circular pattern on a smaller plate.  Season with salt and black pepper. Then, sprinkle the julienned basil over the slices.  Just before serving, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.  Serve immediately.

 

 

CAPRESE SALAD

2 large, fresh tomatoes (Beefsteak, Big Boy or other large varieties are particularly good in this salad)

1 8-ounce ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup julienned fresh basil

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Instructions

Slice each tomato into slices about ½ an inch thick.

Slice the mozzarella ball into ¼ to ½ inch slices.

On a platter or plate, alternately lay the tomato slices and mozzarella slices – you can lay them in a line on a long platter, or in a circular pattern on a smaller plate.

Season with salt and black pepper. Then, sprinkle the julienned basil over the slices.

Just before serving, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Serve immediately.

         ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST WITH HERBS AND LEMON  1/4 cup olive oil   3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)   1/3 cup dry white wine   1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)   2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice   1½ teaspoons dried oregano   1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves   Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper   4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on*  1 lemon     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.   Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown.  Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 X 12-inch baking dish.   Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.  Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.   Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.     MUSHROOMS AND FRISEE'    For the Mushrooms and Frisee': 5   pounds     mixed mushrooms, such as oyster, chanterelles, cremini, brown clam shell, gray clam shell, beech, or royal trumpets, cleaned and trimmed     1/2   cup     extra-virgin olive oil     1 1/2   cups     thinly sliced shallots     2   teaspoons     salt, divided     1   teaspoon     black pepper, divided     1/2   cup     dry (white) vermouth     4    cloves     garlic     1   cup     chopped parsley     3   tablespoons     fresh lemon juice     8   ounces     frisee (curley endive)   Separate mushrooms from clusters, tear large oyster mushrooms in half lengthwise, cut creminis into 1/4-inch slices, and slice royal trumpets lengthwise (if using). Leave smaller mushrooms whole and cut larger mushrooms in half, retaining as much of their shape as possible.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in each of two large heavy skillets (10 to 12 inches) over high heat until oil shimmers. Add half of shallots to each skillet and cook, stirring, until shallots are soft, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add one-fourth amount of mushrooms to each pan and cook over high heat with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in each pan, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a large bowl.  Divide remaining oil between skillets and heat until it shimmers. Divide remaining mushrooms between skillets and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to each skillet. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender and liquid is absorbed.  Add vermouth to both skillets of mushrooms and cook, stirring, until vermouth is absorbed. Transfer all mushrooms to a large pot.  Stir parsley, garlic, and lemon juice into mushrooms and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until mushrooms are heated through and garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat, stir curly endive into mushrooms, and serve immediately.

 

 

 

ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST WITH HERBS AND LEMON

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on*

1 lemon

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown.

Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 X 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.

Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

 

MUSHROOMS AND FRISEE'

For the Mushrooms and Frisee': 5 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as oyster, chanterelles, cremini, brown clam shell, gray clam shell, beech, or royal trumpets, cleaned and trimmed

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced shallots

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/2 cup dry (white) vermouth

4 cloves garlic

1 cup chopped parsley

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

8 ounces frisee (curley endive)

Separate mushrooms from clusters, tear large oyster mushrooms in half lengthwise, cut creminis into 1/4-inch slices, and slice royal trumpets lengthwise (if using). Leave smaller mushrooms whole and cut larger mushrooms in half, retaining as much of their shape as possible.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in each of two large heavy skillets (10 to 12 inches) over high heat until oil shimmers. Add half of shallots to each skillet and cook, stirring, until shallots are soft, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add one-fourth amount of mushrooms to each pan and cook over high heat with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in each pan, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a large bowl.

Divide remaining oil between skillets and heat until it shimmers. Divide remaining mushrooms between skillets and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to each skillet. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender and liquid is absorbed.

Add vermouth to both skillets of mushrooms and cook, stirring, until vermouth is absorbed. Transfer all mushrooms to a large pot.

Stir parsley, garlic, and lemon juice into mushrooms and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until mushrooms are heated through and garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat, stir curly endive into mushrooms, and serve immediately.

   WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE  2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature  1 vanilla bean, split and seeded  1/2 cup heavy cream  1/2 teaspoon salt  3 Safe Egg whites  1/4 cup sugar  8 ounces white chocolate (a high quality white chocolate makes all the difference)  Instructions  Beat cream cheese and vanilla bean with an electric mixer. Add the cream and beat until combined. Set aside.  Melt white chocolate gently over a double boiler.  Place the egg whites and salt in a large bowl. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, slowly add the sugar and set aside.  Fold the melted white chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese and chocolate. Fold until just combined.  Pour the mousse into small bowls or ramekins and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with fresh raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

 

WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 vanilla bean, split and seeded

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Safe Egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

8 ounces white chocolate (a high quality white chocolate makes all the difference)

Instructions

Beat cream cheese and vanilla bean with an electric mixer. Add the cream and beat until combined. Set aside.

Melt white chocolate gently over a double boiler.

Place the egg whites and salt in a large bowl. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, slowly add the sugar and set aside.

Fold the melted white chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese and chocolate. Fold until just combined.

Pour the mousse into small bowls or ramekins and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with fresh raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

      HERB & PANKO CRUSTED RACK OF LAMB   1/2 cups panko  2 cloves garlic, minced  3 tbsp chopped parsley  1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary  1 tsp onion powder  1  tsp salt  1  tsp pepper  3 tbsp olive oil, divided  1 frenched rack of lamb (8 cutlets) at room temperature  4 tbsp Dijon mustard     Preheat the oven to 425 F  Mix the panko, garlic, parsley, rosemary, onion powder,  and half the salt and pepper together. Stir in 2 tbsp olive oil to hold the mixture together. Set aside.  Season the lamb with with the remaining salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil till it just starts to smoke. Add the meat to the pan, browning on each side for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the skillet. Cover the lamb with the Dijon, then press the panko mixture onto the mustard. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes for medium rare (130 F on an instant read thermometer). Cover with foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

 

HERB & PANKO CRUSTED RACK OF LAMB

 1/2 cups panko

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp onion powder

1  tsp salt

1  tsp pepper

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 frenched rack of lamb (8 cutlets) at room temperature

4 tbsp Dijon mustard

 

Preheat the oven to 425 F

Mix the panko, garlic, parsley, rosemary, onion powder,  and half the salt and pepper together. Stir in 2 tbsp olive oil to hold the mixture together. Set aside.

Season the lamb with with the remaining salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil till it just starts to smoke. Add the meat to the pan, browning on each side for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the skillet. Cover the lamb with the Dijon, then press the panko mixture onto the mustard. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes for medium rare (130 F on an instant read thermometer). Cover with foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

   ROASTED PARSNIPS AND CARROTS   ½ bag     carrots     ½ bag     parsnips    ½ - 1         sweet onion    to drizzle    extra virgin olive oil    to taste       kosher salt    to taste       fresh cracked pepper    a sprig        fresh thyme (optional)   Peel and cut the carrots and parsnips into thick “fry” shapes (or however you want to cut them) – as long as they are all the same size and shape for even cooking. Arrange all veggies on cookie sheet. You can line with foil for easier clean up if you’d like.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add stripped thyme leaves if desired. Roast in oven about 400 F for about 45 - 60 minutes or until insides are fork tender and outsides are crispy, turning every 20 min or so.     CHOCOLATE SOUFLE'    12 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt, Perugina, or Valrhona), chopped       1/2 cup heavy whipping cream       2 large egg yolks       Pinch of salt       6 large egg whites, room temperature       2 tablespoons sugar        Butter eight 3/4-cup soufflé dishes; sprinkle with sugar, tilting cups to coat completely and tapping out any excess. Arrange prepared soufflé dishes on large baking sheet.  Combine chocolate and cream in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Stir egg yolks and salt into chocolate mixture. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until semi-firm peaks form. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold remaining egg whites into chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Divide chocolate mixture among prepared soufflé dishes, filling dishes completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.   

 

ROASTED PARSNIPS AND CARROTS

½ bag     carrots

½ bag     parsnips

½ - 1         sweet onion

to drizzle    extra virgin olive oil

to taste       kosher salt

to taste       fresh cracked pepper

a sprig        fresh thyme (optional)

Peel and cut the carrots and parsnips into thick “fry” shapes (or however you want to cut them) – as long as they are all the same size and shape for even cooking. Arrange all veggies on cookie sheet. You can line with foil for easier clean up if you’d like.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add stripped thyme leaves if desired. Roast in oven about 400 F for about 45 - 60 minutes or until insides are fork tender and outsides are crispy, turning every 20 min or so.

 

CHOCOLATE SOUFLE'

12 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt, Perugina, or Valrhona), chopped

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 large egg yolks

Pinch of salt

6 large egg whites, room temperature

2 tablespoons sugar

 

Butter eight 3/4-cup soufflé dishes; sprinkle with sugar, tilting cups to coat completely and tapping out any excess. Arrange prepared soufflé dishes on large baking sheet.

Combine chocolate and cream in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Stir egg yolks and salt into chocolate mixture. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until semi-firm peaks form. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold remaining egg whites into chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Divide chocolate mixture among prepared soufflé dishes, filling dishes completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

 

photo credits: pinterest