Let’s face it. Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day can sometimes ruin the romance of the day. Restaurants are packed, and overworked kitchen staff often turnout sub-par meals. The wait staff, many of whom would much rather be home with their special someone than waiting on you, want to turn tables quickly to make an extra tip or two. This doesn’t happen in all restaurants, but it happens in many of them.
Why not plan a casual, unrushed evening by staying in and cooking together? It’s the together part that makes the plan work so share the work in the kitchen. Here are some tips.
• Pick a recipe that you will both enjoy that involves a bit of preparation – chopping vegetables, making sauces – a recipe that will keep you in the kitchen for a while. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can do spaghetti with homemade meatballs and sauce. Of course, it can be fancy like a mouthwatering Beef Filet Diane.
• If you’re cooking the main dish together, buy prepared sides if you want. The goal of cooking together isn’t to prove you can time everything perfectly. It’s to enjoy each other’s company. If the main dish you’re making is involved, feel free to buy pre-made garlic mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or whatever sides go with your meal.
• Open the wine while you are cooking. Ever hear the saying, “I love to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food?” Having a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a cocktail while you’re cooking is perfectly acceptable. Not sure which wine to pair with the dish you chose? Take a look at this basic food and wine pairing chart.
• Don’t forget to dessert. Small will be better after your big meal so gourmet chocolates from a local chocolatier or a small cake from the neighborhood bakery are great choices for your Valentine’s sweets.
• Set the mood. Bring out the China (or hit a local thrift store for two place settings if you don’t have china). Light candles. Use a tablecloth. Put on Frank Sinatra. You worked hard on your meal; you should eat it in style.
Remember, the point is to create something together. If your recipe doesn’t turn out perfectly, laugh and pour yourself another glass of wine. Enjoy the company of your sweetheart and have a Happy Valentine’s Day.