To some, order enjoying a fancy meal downtown on Valentine’s Day sounds romantic, but to others, spending the holiday at a crowded restaurant is far from ideal. If you fall into the latter category, or if you simply forgot to make reservations, don’t worry; while restaurant food may be impressive, nothing is quite as thoughtful as a home-cooked meal from the heart. We spoke with Groovin’ Gourmets Executive Chef, Tim Delling, as well as Patrick Phelan, Chef and Co-founder of pop-up outfit Longoven that is currently hosting a series of dinners at Sub Rosa Bakery, about simple, delicious dishes that even the most novice of cooks can create for Valentine’s Day:
Gourmet mac and cheese: When in doubt, make cheesy pasta. “Amping up mac and cheese is super easy with just a few components,” says Patrick. “I recommend adding lobster, asparagus, truffle oil, and gruyere cheese” he says. Just purchase your favorite mac and cheese (Patrick prefers one made with white cheddar), cook the lobster, dice it into pieces, and stir in thinly sliced, steamed asparagus. “Add truffle oil and some grated gruyere cheese on top, and you’ve got some next level pasta.”
Lasagna: Since lasagna is a “set it and forget it” kind of meal, requiring little more than browning the meat and layering the elements in the pan, you’ll be able to spend more time with your Valentine, and less time in the kitchen. Seemingly complex, yet incredibly simple, “It’s also a versatile dish that can be customized to your Valentine’s taste, ” says Tim. To score extra points, try making a crab and lobster lasagna for if your sweetheart loves seafood, or a butternut squash and spinach lasagna for a vegetarian date.
Shrimp Scampi: Easy, elegant, and an aphrodisiac? We couldn’t come up with a better Valentine’s meal if we tried. Tim says that shrimp scampi is the perfect romantic meal because “it’s just a few ingredients, minimal prep, and only takes 15 minutes to cook.” To prevent over-cooking the shrimp, he suggests adding it to the sauce last minute, and taking the scampi off the heat when they turn translucent, not pink. “The residual heat will continue to cook the shrimp, so pink in the pan typically means it’s gone too far.”
Chocolate Mousse: Rich and velvety chocolate mousse makes a sophisticated Valentine’s dessert, and “it will be far more impressive than just opening up a container of chocolate pudding,” jokes Patrick. Making it only requires, butter, egg yolks, heavy cream, and chocolate and these “simple ingredients result is a smooth, creamy dessert that can be eaten alone or paired with your favorite fruit.” Easy recipes can be found in many places online, and to switch things up a little, instead of using plain chocolate, Patrick suggests switching things up with flavors such as hazelnut or orange rind.
Chocolate Fondue: This dish can do no wrong, and by dipping with unique foods like pretzels, peanut brittle, macarons, dried fruit, and even potato chips, you can give it an impressive and modern twist suitable for 2016. “Whole Foods and other stores carry a wide variety of dried fruits, such a pear, apple, orange, and grapefruit. Candied ginger is really great too,” says Patrick. Using a crock-pot or slow cooker is the simplest method, and requires little more than whisking. Easy variations can be made by incorporating different types of liquor (kahlua, bourbon, Grand Marnier, etc.) or other add-ins such as caramel, fruit preserves, or peanut butter.
With these delicious, simple dishes, you’ll be able to charm your Valentine without ever having to leave home. For other great date nights, be sure to look into Patrick’s events calendar for upcoming pop-up dinners. The next event will be January 31 at Sub Rosa Bakery, and tickets can be purchased online.