Valentine Dinner for Two
By Julie Jensen
VALENTINE . . . Here’s your chance to dazzle the one you adore . . . a time for elegance, nostalgia, grace, and romance. Bring out the stemmed goblets, etched glass compotes, heart-shaped dishes, lace and linens . . . or choose a simpler setting of white paper doilies and red paper napkins.
Gather a paradise of fragrant flowers . . . pink primroses, ravishing red antheriums, white lilies and freesia . . . or simply float one elegant blossom in a glass bowl. Celebrate with a homemade meal lovingly prepared by you . . . a parade of elegant dishes rich and rare to share . . . AROUND THE TABLE.
If planning around a family, the dinner for two could be a later evening meal served around 8 or 9 after the rest of the family has been fed and settled in for the night. Serve your sweetheart’s special favorites or try some of the following menu ideas. These four star recipes do call for a little extra time, effort and expense . . . but this is your gift to the one you love . . . delicacies which go straight to the heart and say “I love you.”
An elegant shrimp cocktail is a great starter followed by rich and aromic red bell pepper soup. Then bring on the main course of salmon presented as a gift or a favorite steak grilled to perfection. The scrumptious spinach salad is a perfect compliment to either main dish while the heart shaped rolls add charm and whimsy. Choose from two grand finales: a divine chocolate cheesecake topped with red raspberries or an ice cream raspberry parfait layered in a glass goblet.
Add romantic music, candlelight and Victorian poetry well chosen or original. How about ending the evening with a simple but charming gift and message . . . here are a few ideas to spark your imagination.
A bottle of sparkling apple or grape drink along with a favorite cheese. “Our love improves with age.”
A map or globe . . . “In all the world, you are my one love.”
A romantic CD or symphony tickets. . . “You are the music of my soul.”
A magnifying glass . . . “The closer I look, the more I find to love.”
A bag of favorite nuts . . . “I’m nuts about you.”
A basket of goodies . . . “Of all life’s pleasures, you’re the best.”
Collector’s item or museum ticket . . . “You’re my incredible rare find.”
Movie ticket or video . . . of a romantic favorite
A kaleidoscope . . . “Even after all these years, you still fascinate me.”
Watch or clock . . . “Morning, noon and night, you’re always in my heart.”
Mirror . . . “You are looking at the love of my life.”
Celebrate your sweetheart AROUND THE TABLE . . .
Befitting a sweetheart
Prawns for two
Ruffled leaf greens
Line individual compotes with ruffled leaf greens. Arrange large cooked prawns on a bed of ice. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with Zesty Sauce.
Zesty Seafood Sauce
A milder dip can be created by substituting 1 / 3 cup
mayonnaise in place of the horseradish sauce.
1 cup chili sauce
1 / 3 cup horseradish sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
Blend and use as dip for shrimp.
RED BELL PEPPER SOUP
Rich and aromic
1 red bell pepper
1 / 2 cup onion, diced
2 Tbs. butter
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1 / 2 fresh lime, juiced
1 tsp. sugar
1 / 4 tsp. pepper, white if available
2 cups half and half cream
1 / 2 cup roux (1 / 4 cup butter, 1 / 4 cup flour, stirred and heated)
Cilantro or thyme, chopped finely
Microwave red bell pepper for 2 minutes. Cut into pieces and puree in blender. In a saucepan, saut onion in butter until tender. Add garlic, pepper, lime juice and sugar. Heat and stir for one minute. Add red pepper puree. Then add half-and-half cream and cook over medium-high heat until warmed through. Add roux stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Stir an additional minute. Serve immediately or reheat briefly over low heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro or thyme.
With a romantic twist
1 loaf (1 lb.) thawed frozen white bread dough
2 Tbs. olive oil
Cut loaf into four equal pieces. On a lightly floured board, squeeze and gently pull each piece to make a 22-inch rope. Twist each rope about 8 turns, then loop to form a heart about 4 inches wide on a lightly oiled 14×17-inch baking sheet (or 2 pans, 10×15-inch); keep hearts at least 2 inches apart. Brush dough with oil; cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until puffy-looking, about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle hearts with salt. Bake in a 400-degree oven until rolls are golden, about 15 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 4.
Alternative: See Around the Table Archives of Autumn Harvest Dinner for Refrigerator Biscuits. Cut into heart shapes.
SPINACH, MUSHROOM &
A scrumptious classic
1 cup fresh baby spinach greens
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 slices bacon, cook or microwave until crisp
1 / 4 cup vinegar
1 / 2 cup salad or olive oil
1 / 2 cup sugar
1 / 2 tsp. salt
1 / 2 tsp. mustard
1 Tbs. grated onion
Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor. Pour 1 / 2 of dressing over sliced mushrooms. Microwave mushroom dressing mixture for 1 minute. Prepare salad by placing 1 / 2 cup spinach greens on dinner plate. Spoon mushroom dressing mixture over each salad as desired. Top with crumbled bacon and green onions. Refrigerate other half of dressing for later use.
Dazzling, divine . . . wrapped as a gift
2 Salmon fillets
Juice of one fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small zucchini,
4 baby carrots
1 / 4 small red onion
1 / 4 red pepper
Twine, for tying parchment paper
2 Tbs. butter, softened
1 / 2 tsp. thyme, fresh if available
Cut parchment paper approximately 12 x 16-inch for each piece of salmon that you will be cooking. Place each piece of salmon in center of parchment paper.
Drizzle fresh lemon juice over salmon. Sprinkle lightly with lemon pepper, crushed rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste.
Thinly slice all vegetables in strips. Layer on top of salmon. Top each with approximately 1 Tbs. Herb Butter.
Wrap the above in the parchment paper and tie in a bow with twine. Place salmon on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Carefully open and check to make sure the salmon is cooked.
Broiled to perfection
2 beef tenderloin steaks
Lightly salt and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Broil about 5 minutes per side or to desired doneness.
– OR –
2 beef rib eye steaks
Lightly salt and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Broil about 10 minutes per side or to desired doneness.
2 large baking potatoes
Olive oil or butter, softened
Scrub and clean potatoes. Rub olive oil or softened butter onto the potato skins. Roll and press in rock salt. Place unwrapped on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.
CHEESE MIX FOR BAKED POTATOES
1 / 2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 / 4 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 Tbs. green onion or chives, chopped
Blend cheese, sour cream, butter and onion. Refrigerate until ready to use. To serve, split baked potatoes. Spoon in cheese mixture. Put on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until mixture is warmed.
MARBLED CHEESECAKE HEARTS
That say “I love you”
2 cups finely crushed crme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 24 cookies)
3 Tbs. butter or margarine, melted
3 (8-oz). packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14-oz). can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 (1-oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with heavy foil; set aside.
Combine crumbs and butter; press firmly on bottom of foil-lined pan. With mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in Eagle Brand until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Pour half the batter evenly over prepared crust.
Stir melted chocolate into remaining batter; spoon over vanilla batter. With table knife or metal spatula, gently swirl chocolate batter through vanilla batter to marble.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool. Chill at least 1 hour. Use foil to lift out of pan. For hearts, cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter or, with knife, cut around waxed paper heart shape. Or, cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator. Freezes well.
RASPBERRY OR STRAWBERRY PARFAIT
Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
Fresh raspberries or strawberries, lightly sugared
Frozen raspberries or strawberries
Layer ice cream and berries in glass parfait.
A gracious touch
Serve your favorite drink such as sparkling apple or cranberry juice. Perhaps you would like to try mixing equal parts of white grape juice and Sprite adding a squeeze of lemon juice for zest. Add a slice of lemon to side of goblet as a garnish.
2006 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.