Whether you approve of Valentine’s Day or not, a date night every now and then is a brilliant practice. It keeps sparks flying (not from the frying pan, hopefully) and it spurs you to make an effort, which is one of the contributing factors to a happy relationship.
Going out is usually taken too much for granted. Especially for Valentine’s Day: restaurants know well couples will come in droves so they, unlike the couples, don’t make an effort. Prices are all time high and the quality nowhere near matching.
Much better, especially if you eat out a fair amount, is to make it a special night in. We’re already better practiced at it than we used to be pre-pandemic, with fine dining meal kit deliveries we never knew before. This time though let’s start from scratch!
You can both cook if that’s what you do well. It often happens that one person is a control freak thinking it will be all ruined unless it’s done exactly like THEY want, or even unless THEY do it. I’m talking from experience, and it’s not The Weather Man who has control issues. But I’m working on it.
Alternatively, you can prepare a surprise meal and the chef part doesn’t have to be played by the person who usually cooks (we at home take turns). If both are proficient, you can set a challenge in the form of a specific cuisine, style or ingredient. Another option: one prepares the meal and the other – dessert, made in advance so your ways don’t cross annoyingly in the kitchen and the surprise is kept secret.
Time for recipe suggestions. Camembert en croute is an easy and exquisite but very filling starter. Fish would then be advisable to follow, with miso haddock, halibut with braised leeks or fragrant fish stew possible mains.
Or start with a light cucumber and feta salad and continue with oven roasted duck breast with pineapple, reverse steak with umami butter or super-easy, super-impressive chicken saltimbocca.
Simple and vegetarian: padron peppers blistered in a frying pan, served with good bread could precede sumptuous butternut squash in cheesy custard, or maybe a celeriac and mushroom Wellington?
If you both love Asian flavours, there’s yu xiang aubergine or chicken, depending on preference, served with plain, perfect rice. And if you prefer Middle Eastern vibes, consider muhammara with pita or lavash bread, then either mushroom and fondue filo pie or a similar dish with a duck filling.
Dessert doesn’t have to be pink and heart-shaped though it should be chocolatey, like a mousse or profiteroles. But favourite flavour ice cream with puff pastry straws will be perfectly fine too. Either way, hope you have a wonderful Valentines, or another date night!