Happy Coerced Affection Day! Seriously, I hate this day for any number of reasons, but I do my best to conjur a magical evening that puts all the retail enslaved sheeple to shame.
Ken and I have only been married a little more than a year, but we’ve been putting up with each other’s shit with grace and good humor (and a lot of poking fun and fighting over the Netflix queue) for 7 years now. Really, we became the quintessential old married couple from the day we signed the marriage certificate, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the occasional night out. I just don’t think Valentine’s Day was a good choice for a date night.
We had reservations to go to The Melting Pot, which is one of my favorite restaurants for special occasions or rare date nights. Then I found out that they got rid of all the things I love in favor of a simpler Valentine’s menu. And instead of being $100 for the two of us, they jacked the price to $70 per person for shit I can make at home a third of that. And so that’s what we’re doing. Ken cancelled the reservations on Saturday, I sent them hate mail for being half assed wieners, and I spent $60 on groceries last night for the most amazing Valentine’s dinner ever.
So what sort of voodoo merriment is on the menu for the evening? Glad you asked!
Wine Course #1 (yes, wine is its own course in my house)
2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling
Sautéed shrimp in garlic butter
Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Candied Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Wine Course #2
2009 Fontanafredda Barbera d’Alba Tondo
Filet Mignon with Beurre Maitre d’Hotel
Red Wine Risotto
Steamed Broccoli with more Beurre Maitre d’Hotel
White Chocolate Crème Brulee with fresh sliced strawberries
More Eroica Riesling
That’s right, hungry people – 4 food courses. It’s okay to be jealous. I would actually prefer it.
I spent until 11:00 last night making last night’s dinner (chicken fettucine alfredo) and getting all the prep work for tonight’s dinner done, plus making the crème brulee. All I need to do tonight is drink wine while I make the shrimp and risotto, drink a little more wine while I make grill love to the filet mignon, set some sugar to flaming (best wedding present EVER!) and then eat like Henry VIII, circa the fat years. I will then slip into a food coma on the couch until bedtime. And you know what? I find that perfectly romantic, compared to spending $140 + 150% marked up wine cost on a menu that didn’t look terribly appetizing.
So I have a few recipes to share with you folks that are actually quite easy for cooks at every level.
Sauteed Shrimp in Garlic Butter (appetizer serving)
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and saute until pink and opaque, 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat and add garlic. Saute until garlic is soft and your house smells like heaven. Don’t allow garlic to brown. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add lemon juice and parsley. Toss with shrimp and serve.
Red Wine Risotto
4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups dry red wine
1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat broth to simmering in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat low enough to stop the simmer, but keep the broth hot.
Heat oil in a separate pot over medium-low heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until the shallot is very soft and translucent. Add rice and salt and stir to coat. Toast risotto for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to keep it from burning.
Stir 1/2 cup of the hot broth and a generous, Martha Stewart, lushy sized splash of wine into the rice. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding broth and wine, 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring after each addition until most of the liquid has been absorbed. The risotto is done when you’ve used all the broth and wine and the rice is creamy and just tender (think al dente), 20 to 30 minutes more.
Remove the risotto from the heat; stir in 3/4 cup cheese and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
White Chocolate Creme Brulee for Two
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, chocolate and 2 tablespoons sugar. Heat over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolk mixture; return all to the pan, stirring constantly.
Pour into two 10-oz. ramekins. Place in a baking pan. Add 1 in. of boiling water to pan. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 50-55 minutes or until center is set. Remove from water bath. Cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature prior to serving. Sprinkle the top of each ramekin with 1 tbsp sugar. Heat sugar with the torch until caramelized. Garnish with the berry of your choice and/or shaved white chocolate. Serve immediately.