You can be romantic and practical by choosing to dine in this Valentine’s Day. Besides, if you don’t already have reservations, it’s probably too late to get into the best places, as more than 70 million Americans eat out on Valentine’s Day, according to the National Restaurant Association. No need to stress. You can heat things up in the kitchen by cooking together while sipping on wine or Champagne. Our recipes for a perfect three-course V-Day dinner menu will help you make it a night to remember. Choose from two entrees and two desserts. You can keep it fun and casual or go for more romantic fare. These recipes are good for any date night year-round.
SHRIMP, AVOCADO & CITRUS SALAD WITH TOASTED WALNUTS
1 small package baby mesclun greens (ready to use, washed and cleaned)
6-7 shrimp, peeled and ready to eat (see cooking instructions if purchasing raw)
1 Hass Avocado
1 navel orange or ruby red grapefruit or both
10 pieces of walnuts, halves
Discard tail from shrimp if any. Cut shrimp in half on the bias. Repeat with remaining shrimp and place back in refrigerator. Place mixed greens in a bowl and refrigerate.
Remove peel from citrus by slicing off top and bottom ends. Place the citrus upright and begin to shave peel away with knife from top to bottom. Discard or compost peel. Looking at each segment, carefully make a V-like incision against each side of the segment and remove the segment into a small bowl. Repeat until all segments are removed.
Preheat oven to 350. On a piece of foil folded into a sturdy square, place walnuts onto foil and place into oven for 8 minutes. Remove and cool on a plate. Prepare Citrus-Honey Vinaigrette.
3 tbsp white wine vinegar (can use distilled if only option)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
Remaining citrus juice
Lightly Whisk all ingredients together, season with salt and pepper.
Slice the Hass avocado in half and store remaining half in refrigerator. Flip knife over to use the dull side of the blade to score slices of avocado and remove with a spoon. Place on a plate. In salad bowl, toss shrimp, walnuts and some segments with 2 tablespoons dressing. Place serving on a plate and garnish with shrimp, avocado and additional segments. Drizzle remaining dressing on top.
ROAST PORK LOIN IN ROSEMARY-ORANGE, ANISE, PORT REDUCTION WITH SWEET POTATO MASH
One pork tenderloin filet (can substitute chicken or duck breast, cooked to 165 degrees)
1 cup orange juice
1 star anise
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp honey or brown sugar
1 cup port wine (or use any in kitchen already open just add a little agave, honey or sugar to sweeten)
2 rosemary sprigs
2 large sweet potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp black course ground pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
Combine orange juice, anise, garlic, cayenne one tablespoon honey or sugar. Rinse tenderloin and pat dry with paper towels and place on a foiled baking sheet or pan. In a shallow bowl place the tenderloin inside to marinade. The tenderloin may have to curl up a bit to fit in the bottom of the bowl but that is okay. Let marinate at least 30 minutes.
While tenderloin is marinating, cover the counter top with a 12×12 inch piece of plastic wrap.
Peel sweet potatoes over this so when you are done you can discard the peels in the plastic and leave little to no mess. Chop the sweet potatoes in rough chop form. In a 2 quart saucepan bring sweet potatoes to a boil with stock or water until fork tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove tenderloin and rub in salt, pepper and chopped rosemary. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast tenderloin in oven for 35 minutes. For faster cooking cut tenderloin in half before roasting. Cook until oven thermometer reaches 145 degrees. Let rest and slice. Season sweet potatoes with nutmeg, cinnamon, butter and remaining tablespoon of honey or sugar.
Reduce cup of wine in a saucepan with any leftover rosemary bits. When it reaches syrupy consistency add chicken stock and reduce about 5-7 minutes longer. Remove from heat and swirl in butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
PIZZA AND A MOVIE
1 package ready made pizza dough
9oz shaved serrano ham or prosciutto (find packaged or at Cured Meat Section)
1 small box of arugula
3 roma tomatoes sliced
6-7 ounces of hard manchego or parmesan(shave with a peeler or slice thin)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 can of crushed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
one quarter vidalia onion (sweet onion)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp basil (optional)
Saute onions and garlic with olive oil until translucent and aroma is peaking. Add spices. Add tomato and bring to simmer; simmer for 30 minutes. Season once again with additional spices and salt and pepper (light pepper). Remove and let cool.
Heat oven to 375. Place pizza crust on cookie sheet. Lightly brush edges with a little olive oil
Spoon sauce on and around crust spread with back of spoon. It does not have to be covered completely but evenly distributed onto crust. Drizzle with touch of olive oil. Place in oven for 15 minutes to heat (or according to reheating instructions) but don’t let sauce dry out. Remove and top with arugula, then tomatoes, then serrano ham, then manchego. Drizzle olive oil on top. Enjoy with a nice bottle of chianti.
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES ROLLED IN CHILE POWDER
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ounce cream
1 tsp chile powder
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a hot water bath. Add in cream using spatula. Incorporate cream and chocolate well. Add pinch of cinnamon. Cover and chill at least 2 hours
Sprinkle chile powder on a plate. Remove chilled chocolate. Working quickly, scoop out a teaspoon of chilled chocolate, roll into melon ball size and roll into chile powder. Place on a plate. Repeat process with remaining chocolate. Place back in refrigerator until time to serve.
Strawberries, Champagne, and Malibu Cream:
1 pkg strawberries rinsed and air dry
1 small cup of cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
One airplane-size bottle of Malibu rum (available at any liquor store)
In a mixer attached with whisk or using a handheld beater with both attachments whip cream and sugar until frothy, add rum. Whip to whipped cream consistency. DO NOT over whip! You will know it is ready when it starts to look wavy. Cut strawberries in half or leave whole. Use your imagination as to how to serve.
Felicia N. Medina graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor of science in Tourism Marketing. She received a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu Pasadena, California, and has worked as a private chef on both coasts, including in Newport Beach, Los Angeles, and New York City. She recently relocated to Pennyslvania with her fiancee to take over a Tavern, Restaurant and Banquet Space located at the historic Holly Inn. The Tavern’s new menu reflects her Tex-Mex culture along with comfort, and Asian-inspired dishes, while also introducing local, farm to market to table ingredients.