A Stay-at-Home Dinner Menu for Valentine’s Day (or Any Date Night)
Valentine’s Day can be a tough night for dining out—restaurants are often overcrowded, and sometimes full of people trying just a bit too hard to have the night of their lives. Plus, set menus can make it difficult to order your favorites. This year, we suggest a dinner at home with this custom menu, from a festive and well-named cocktail to a dessert that even those who claim not like sweets will love. Candles optional.
DRINK: Hanky Panky Cocktail
From Shake. Stir. Sip. by Kara Newman
- Ice cubes
- 1 1/2 oz [45 ml] gin
- 1 1/2 oz [45 ml] sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Fernet-Branca
- 1 strip orange peel
- In an ice-filled mixing glass, combine the gin, vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. Stir well, and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Twist the orange peel over the drink to spray its essential oils over the top, run the peel around the rim of the glass, then drop in the peel before serving.
SIDE: Julia’s Caesar Salad
From Small Victories by Julia Turshen
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 4 olive oil–packed anchovy fillets, drained
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup [60 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- ¼ cup [25 g] finely grated
- Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 hearts of romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed, dried, and cut into bite-size pieces
- A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- In a blender or food processor, puree the garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and mayonnaise until smooth. Add the Parmesan and give the dressing a few pulses just to incorporate the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, finely chop the anchovies, put them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, and whisk everything together.)
- Put the lettuce in a large bowl and drizzle nearly all of the dressing over it. Use your hands to mix everything together, making sure each and every piece of lettuce is coated with dressing.
- Divide the dressed lettuce among four plates. Divide the tomatoes evenly among the salads and drizzle the last bit of dressing over the salads. Serve immediately.
MAIN: One-Pan Roast Deviled Chicken
From One Pan, Two Plates by Carla Snyder
- 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
- 1 small yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
- 2 new potatoes, scrubbed and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
- 2 carrots, cut in half lengthwise and then into 8 pieces about 2 in/5 cm long
- 2 parsnips, cut in half lengthwise and then into 8 pieces about 2 in/5 cm long
- 1 turnip, each cut into 8 pieces about 2 in/5 cm long
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp Dijon or whole-grain mustard
- 1/3 cup/75 ml beer, chicken broth, or water
- 2 tsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC/gas 6. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat a 12-in/30.5-cm ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken, skin-side down, and brown it for about 4 minutes. Don’t try to turn the chicken if it’s stuck to the bottom of the pan; it will release once it is sufficiently browned. Turn the chicken with tongs and brown the other side for about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. (It won’t be fully cooked at this point, but the skin should be nicely browned.)
- If the pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil. Add the onion, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnip, rosemary, 1/2 tsp salt, and a sprinkling of pepper to the hot pan and sauté, stirring every now and then, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Spread the skin side of the chicken pieces with the mustard and lay them on top of the vegetables, mustard-side up. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Pour the beer into the pan and roast everything until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and browned, about 10 minutes longer. Pierce the chicken with a fork to check for tenderness and check the thick part of the breast with an instant-read thermometer. It should read 165ºF/74ºC.
- Divide the chicken and vegetables between two warmed plates, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve hot.
DESSERT: Butterscotch Pots de Crème with Salted Caramel
From Gjelina by Travis Lett
Serves 8, and can be made in advance for up to a week
- 9 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups [250 g] packed dark brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp [55 g] unsalted butter
- 3½ cups [840 ml] heavy cream
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
Salted Caramel Sauce
- ¼ cup [50 g] granulated sugar
- 2¼ tsp water
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¹⁄³ cup [75 ml] heavy cream
Whipped Crème Fraîche
- ¼ cup [60 ml] whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp Crème Fraîche
- Preheat the oven to 300°F [150°C]. Arrange eight ramekins or custard pots with a ¾-cup [180-ml] capacity in a large, shallow baking pan. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large liquid measuring cup or pitcher. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook the brown sugar and butter, without stirring, until the sugar turns a deep amber color and develops a nutty smell, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the heavy cream into the mixture gradually (and carefully, to avoid hot spatters), whisking constantly. Remove from the heat. Add the kosher salt, and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture. Stir to combine.
- Slowly pour the hot butterscotch mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Strain the custard through the sieve into the measuring cup. Pour into the ramekins, dividing the custard evenly. Pour hot water into the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekins, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue to bake for 15 minutes more, or just until the custard has set and doesn’t jiggle with you shake the pan. Remove the pan from the oven, uncover, and, using tongs, carefully lift the custards from the water bath and set on a cooling rack. (The custards can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
To make the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the granulated sugar, water, and kosher salt and cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns red-brown in color, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the heavy cream, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the whipped crème fraîche: In a large bowl, whip the whipping cream with the crème fraîche until soft peaks form.
Serve the pots de crème at room temperature, topped with a dollop of the whipped crème fraîche, a drizzle of the salted caramel sauce, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
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