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Selecting a Romantic Valentine's Day Menu to Make at Home
Why go out and suffer crowded restaurants and inflated prices, when you could stay home on Valentines day? The simple answer? Because staying home means you have to cook. Food goes hand in hand with romance, but cooking? Not so much.
It's difficult to find the time, there's the smell, and the mess, and what happens if something goes wrong?
It's not just young unmarrieds who want to enjoy Valentines day, and for families with children, there is no worse day to try and find a babysitter, so relax and grab a coffee. This hub is full of meal ideas to make even the most homebound couples evening a valentines day to remember.
Planning Your Valentines Menu.
Spend some time before hand working out the right menu, and you can say goodbye to all these problems. You'll enjoy an intimate meal to stimulate the senses, and if things progress well, then you don't have to wait until you get home!
This hub looks at two main types of valentines meal.
1. Fondue based meals where most of the preparation consists of cutting up bread or fruit to dip in your fondue and
2. Rose based recipes where rose water or rose petals add an exotic flavor and scent to your meal. Can there be anything more appropriate for Valentines than roses?
Decorate the table
Heart shaped candles, floating in a bowl make a very simple romantic centerpiece for valentines day. If you prefer roses in the center, float one of these in a water filled wine glass at each place setting.
Scatter these on the table, around the table on the floor, and even on the bed to set the right romantic mood.
What To Look For in Valentines Food
- Easy to prepare
- No strong, unpleasant smells
- Even easier to clear up
- Not too expensive - makes it easier to do a dry run if you want to
- Appealing to the senses.
Sounds good? Of course, but how easy is it to find meal ideas that fit the bill? Here are some general ideas.
Make something which can be frozen ahead of time. You'll know it all worked, you won't smell of the food you chopped and there'll be almost no mess to clean up. Plus, freezing often enhances the flavor of certain foods. For a starter - make soup and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Serve it with croutons (also made ahead and frozen) cut in the shape of hearts. For the main course, make a casserole and freeze it in an oven, freezer and microwavable dish, a pretty one you can bring to the table. Serve with boiled rice and crisp french bread. Choose a simple, frozen desert and take it out when you start the meal, just in case you never get to it.
You'll find some example recipes in the next section.
Does it sound too ordinary? Agreed, this could be a simple, well planned meal at home, but you can make it a special Valentines meal by
- eating at the table
- dressing up
- decorating the table
- adding a floral centerpiece
- spend time on the extras. A heart shaped cookie cutter can be used to cut bread into heart shapes, to cut pastry, or to mold rice.
Avoid cooking - Go for Fondue for Your Valentines Meal
There something sexy about feeding each other, and serving fondue makes that really easy.
Fondue is a dish made in a portable stove, usually from melted cheese. The fondue dish sits in the middle of the table and you dip food into the cheese mixture using a long fork. You can also use a fondue dish to heat hot oil, and then dip small pieces of meat into the oil, again using the long fork. You may also have seen fondue dishes used for desert dishes, where the mixture is made of chocolate, and slices of different chopped fruits are dipped in.
How to Make Cheese Fondue
And Fondue Dessert
This is the induction ring I have, it boils water really quickly and since it has precise temperature control it's great for melting chocolate, cooking hot oil. The controls allow for a power setting or a precise temperature control.
Easier Ways to Cook
When you decide to melt something like chocolate, you'll see the usual suggestion is to to use a double boiler or bain marie as it is quite easy to burn chocolate if the temperature gets too high. I've solved the problem with a portable induction ring. You need an induction ready pan, but once you've used this method of cooking, you won't want to go back. Everything is faster and you can regulate temperature really well. Also, as its portable, you can take the ring and put it on the table or on the buffet to keep things hot, or to allow you to make something spectacular like crepe suzette.
Rose based Recipes
Rose water has been used in Middle Eastern cooking since recipes were first recorded. It adds scent and delicate flavor, so you'd imagine it would be appropriate in desserts, but you can use roses in any type of recipe to give a special flavor. Deep red roses tend to have the msot flavor - you can use them add them to salads, or, as I've done here, add an exotic flavour and scent to your Valentines menu.
Our selection starts with a cold soup.
Pear and Rose Soup - Ingredients
- 2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 4 pears, ripe, peeled cored and diced
- 1 tablespoon sugar, granulated
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons almonds, sliced and toasted
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup edible rose petals
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the pears and saute until golden brown all over.
- Add sugar ginger, salt and pepper and combine
- Add chicken broth and bring to the boil
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
- Transfer to a blender, add almonds, half and half and half the rose petals. Puree until smooth.
- Chill soup before serving.
- Serve, garnished with the remaining rose petals.
This recipe has many advantages, the biggest is that you can make it well ahead of time. The downside is that the soup is cold. St Valentines day is in February, often the coldest month of the year. If you'd prefer a warm soup and something that doesn't take long to prepare, buy condensed cream of shrimp soup. Use cream instead of water or milk to make up the amount and put the mixture in a microwave proof measuring jug. Then heat it in the microwave when required. Why shrimp? Well, you know what they say about seafood and romance! But seriously, it's pink. Drop some cream on top and sprinkle with fresh herbs de provence.
Main course - Linguini With Rose Petal Pesto
Prepare the pesto sauce ahead of time, then all you have to do is cook the linguini, toss it in the sauce, add some garnish and serve.
In addition to 1lb of linguini, you'll need
- two cups of fresh basil.
- one cup of rose petals
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of rosewater
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup of grated romano
- 1/4 cup of heavy cream
Rinse the rose petals and the basil, then chop the roses into slices with scissors.
Pell and chop the garlic, then mix with the basil and pine nuts in a food processor. Slowly add the olive oil while blending. Add the cheeses, salt and pepper and blend again.
The recipe should yield enough sauce for four, so put some aside for another day.
When you are ready to eat, cook the linguini in boiling salted water. When cooked drain, then add 2 tablespoons of cream to the pesto and toss the pasta in the pesto sauce. Then serve, garnished with chopped rose petals.
Dessert - Rose Petal Ice Cream
Buy 1 1/2 gallons of good quality vanilla ice cream (the kind that uses real vanilla). Let the ice cream soften and add 2 tablespoons of rose syrup plus a teaspoon of rosewater. Blend the whole thing and then add 1/4 cup of crushed, dried rose petals. The refreeze. Serve garnished with rose petals and sliced strawberries.