Dinner For Two

Rather than getting dressed up, driving to a crowded restaurant and waiting an hour or more for a table, why not make this Valentine”s Day special by cooking a romantic Valentine”s Day dinner for two at home? By putting a little thought into the menu and adding a few special touches to your house or apartment, you can create the most romantic and exclusive restaurant in town!

Before Dinner for Two: Setting the Mood

When planning to stay at home, presentation is essential. Capture what”s special about eating out at a fancy restaurant and try to recreate some of those elements at home. You can create a peaceful and intimate setting by decorating with flowers, lighting some candles and serving dinner on your best plates.

If you”re going to serve your romantic dinner at your kitchen or dining room table, make sure to place a nice centerpiece on the table and use nice linens. If you really want to up the romance factor, place a soft blanket on your living room floor and arrange pillows and cushions on top. This can be a great place to enjoy champagne and wine, especially if you have a fireplace.

When setting the mood, also be sure to have some soft music playing in the background. To keep the evening romantic, steer clear of loud, harsh music, such as heavy metal. Try some jazz or classical music instead.

Dinner for Two: Small Touches Count Big

A large part of romance lies in the small details. When serving a romantic dinner for two, use your best plates and add some flair to each course. Decorate the plates with tiny edible flowers, sprigs or fresh herbs or a drizzle of a delicious sauce.

Adding layers to your dishes is also a quick, easy way to improve culinary presentation. Even a Chinese take-out dinner can look good if you top a mound of rice with slices of beef or chunks of chicken and then add slivers of green onion. To really make the plate pop, drizzle toasted sesame seed oil around the rice and float drops of soy sauce in the oil.

Here are some other helpful tips to keep in mind when serving a romantic Valentine”s dinner for two:

  • Go light on the garlic and raw onion to prevent embarrassing bad breath issues.
  • Keep portions small so that you and your guest won”t get overly full.
  • Make sure you find out if your guest has any food allergies.

Follow these guidelines and your romantic dinner for two will surely be a success.

Romantic Valentine”s Day Dinner Recipes and Ideas

When planning your Valentine”s Day menu, try to incorporate some of your Valentine”s favorite foods. Or, for a surprise, try one of these delicious recipes!

Coconut Fruit Salad

(adapted from Coconut Fruit Salad from about.com)

This very simple recipe will get your romantic dinner started on a delicately sweet note. As a plus, this dish can be prepared up to one day in advance. If prepared in advance, cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Ten to 20 minutes before serving, spoon into bowls and let the salad sit at room temperature.

Ingredients

  • one 15-ounce can of tropical fruit blend, or any mixed fruit, packed in juice
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin.

Directions

  1. Drain fruit, reserve 1 Tbsp. of juice.
  2. In a small bowl, mix reserved juice with cinnamon and cumin. Add coconut and stir. Most of the juice will be absorbed.
  3. Lightly toss coconut mixture with fruit.
  4. Serve in small bowls.

Pan-Seared Steaks with Mushrooms and Shallots

(adapted from Port Mushroom Steak from PastryWiz.com)

This recipe is easy but can be a bit messy. Use a spatter guard, if you have one. Spatter guards are widely available at kitchen stores.

Ingredients

  • two 6 to 8 oz. beef filets, approximately 2 inches thick
  • table salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • one small shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. fresh Italian parsley, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar.

Directions

  1. Ten minutes before cooking, take steaks out of the refrigerator. Bring them to room temperature and pat them dry with paper towels.
  2. Season one side of the steaks with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 12-inch skillet over high heat until hot, about three minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high. Gently lay steaks, seasoned side down, in pan. Season the other side once in the pan.
  4. Let the steaks cook without moving them until well browned, about four minutes. Use tongs to flip steaks and cook four minutes more for rare, five minutes for medium-rare and six minutes for medium. Transfer steaks to a plate and loosely tent with foil to keep warm.
  5. Remove pan from heat and add shallots. Stir until they begin to just turn translucent. Do not allow the shallots to brown.
  6. Return pan to medium heat, add butter and stir until melted. Add mushrooms and saut for approximately five minutes, stirring often.
  7. Add wine and cook for approximately two minutes.
  8. Remove from heat. Add parsley and balsamic vinegar and stir.
  9. Transfer steaks to dinner plates, spoon mushrooms over each and serve.

Chocolate Cashew Truffles

(adapted from Cashew Truffles at about.com)This is treat is easy to make and is a wonderful way to end your delicious Valentine”s Day dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup finely chopped cashews.

Directions

  1. In small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring cream and butter just to a boil. Remove pan from heat.
  2. Add chocolate and stir until mixture is creamy and smooth. Add vanilla and stir.
  3. Refrigerate until candy is firm enough to handle easily, about two hours. Form candy into one-inch balls, then roll each in chopped cashews.
  4. Cover in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Resources

Larsen, Linda (n.d.). Cashew Truffles. Retrieved September 18, 2007, from the About.com Web site: http://busycooks.about.

com/od/candyandsnackmixes/r/cashewtruffles.htm. Larsen, Linda (n.d.). Coconut Fruit Salad. Retrieved September 18, 2007, from the About.com Web site: http://busycooks.

about.com/od/sidefruitsalads/r/cocfruitsalad.htm.

PastryWiz. (n.d.). Port Mushroom Steak. Retrieved September 18, 2007, from the PastryWiz.com Web site: http://www.pastrywiz.com/dailyrecipes/recipes/252.htm.