Three Meals Perfect for Valentine's Day Dinner
Valentine’s Day often brings to mind a quiet dinner at a posh restaurant, but between the wait, the crowds and the noise, reality rarely lives up to expectation. This year, skip the hassle and prepare a charming dinner for you and your sweetheart. After all, who needs Cupid when you can choose one of these three chef-driven meals to fan the flames of love?
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Adapted From Table 3 Restaurant and Market, Nashville
Nashville’s Table 3 Restaurant and Market offers traditional French brasserie cuisine alongside a French-centric wine list selected by co-owner Elise Loehr. These smoked salmon cakes have a casual bistro feel that belies a lot of preparation.
This recipe requires two separate remoulade sauces and a slaw, but don’t fret: You can prepare both sauces a day in advance and toss the slaw an hour before serving. If your date-night vibe is casual and lighthearted, this will still be perfect.
- 1 pound smoked salmon, broken in small pieces
- ½ cup ⅛-inch-diced Yukon Gold potatoes, blanched, drained and cooled
- 1 shallot, minced
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup fresh-grated or prepared horseradish
- 1 egg, beaten
- Pinch lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup panko
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Red remoulade (recipe below)
- Celery root–apple slaw (recipe below)
In large glass mixing bowl, combine salmon, potatoes, shallot, mayonnaise, horseradish, egg, lemon zest and salt. Mix until integrated. Add panko in stages, and fold in chopped herbs. Form 4 equal patties.
In large skillet over medium heat, add oil. Fry salmon cakes on both sides until light golden-brown and warmed through.
Serve salmon cakes with remoulade and slaw. Serves 2.
In large ceramic mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup Creole mustard, ⅓ cup tarragon white-wine vinegar, ⅓ cup ketchup, ¼ cup prepared horseradish, 1 teaspoon garlic purée, 1 tablespoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon each cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Continue to whisk, slowly adding 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Gently whisk in 1 tablespoon fine-chopped scallions and 2 tablespoons fine chopped parsley.
- Celery Root-Apple Slaw
- 1 cup aioli
- 2 teaspoons tarragon, fine chopped
- 2 teaspoons chervil, fine chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- 1 tablespoon fine-chopped cornichons
- Juice of one small lemon
- 1 large apple, cut into matchsticks
- ½ celery root bulb, cut into matchsticks
In medium glass bowl, whisk together aioli, tarragon, chervil, capers, cornichons and lemon juice to make white remoulade.
Add apple and celery root matchsticks and toss to coat.
Loehr recommends August Kesseler 2017 The Daily August Rosé from Rheingau, Germany. “With an array of earthy marigold, tangerine skin, muskmelon, Rainier cherry and kiwi juice aromas and flavors, this goes far beyond expectations for a dry saignée rosé at this price,” she says. “One sip has you going back for more, and with the rich smoky salmon cakes, it’s a ‘knock-it-out-of-the-ball-park’ combination.”
José Andrés’s Jaleo is the epicenter of the Spanish tapas boom in the U.S. Andrés and Jaleo’s culinary director, Ramón Martínez, reworked this tapas-style dish to be served as an entrée for two.
If your romantic mood is adventure, this is the meal for you. First, it’s a bit of a quest to find presa Ibérico de Bellota, an uncured cut from between the shoulder and the loin of black-footed Ibérico de Bellota pigs. (Try Tienda or order a pork shoulder steak in advance from a specialty butcher.) But once you pull it together, you’ll be transported. This is the perfect meal over which to make plans for travels to come.
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup well-packed cilantro leaves or parsley leaves, chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
- ½–¾ pound presa Ibérico de Bellota or pork shoulder steak
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (if cooking indoors)
- 4–5 fresh rosemary sprigs
- Flaky sea salt, like Maldon, to taste
- Confit piquillo peppers (recipe below)
- Pan con tomate (recipe below)
To make mojo verde, use mortar and pestle to grind garlic and salt into smooth paste. Add cilantro/parsley and cumin seeds, and continue to grind. Slowly pour in olive oil while grinding. Add Sherry vinegar and 1 teaspoon cold water. Combine well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
If using grill, set to high heat. Add rosemary sprigs to fire, and cook presa Ibérico de Bellota for 4–5 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature is 130˚F for medium-rare. Rest meat for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
If cooking indoors, heat oven to 450˚F. In large cast-iron pan on stovetop over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Sear presa for approximately 2 minutes on each side. Place rosemary sprigs on presa, and transfer pan to oven. Cook for 5–7 minutes, or until internal temperature is 130˚F for medium-rare. Rest meat for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Divide presa between two plates. Serve with mojo verde, peppers and pan con tomate. Serves 2.
Heat oven to 250˚F. Put 5 piquillo peppers (fresh or canned), 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 tablespoons cold water in blender, and purée. Cover bottom of 8-inch ceramic baking dish with purée. Place 20 piquillo peppers (or remainder of can) atop purée in single layer. Season with salt, and add 2 smashed cloves garlic. Pour 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil on top to submerge peppers. Cover with lid or aluminum foil.
Bake for 1½–2 hours, or until soft. Remove from oven, and let peppers cool to room temperature. This can be done 24 hours in advance. Use tongs to remove peppers from oil, and serve. Save leftover oil for other uses, if you like.
Cut 1 large, ripe tomato in half, and grate cut sides on box grater. Discard skins. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to tomato. Season with kosher salt, to taste. Toast or grill 2 slices bread, like baguette or ciabatta. Spoon tomato over toast, then drizzle with more olive oil, if desired. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, like Maldon.
Jordi Paronella, sommelier at Jaleo, recommends the Bodegas Ontañon 2010 Reserva from Rioja, Spain. “[The year] 2010 was an excellent vintage for the Reserva. It goes really well with the presa Ibérico. Oak aging brings out some spice notes that will perfectly complement the rosemary smoke and the brightness of the mojo verde, as well as some of the smokiness from the piquillos. There is a touch of Graciano in the blend, which adds some acidity to cut the fattiness of the pork.”
Adapted from Danny Grant, executive chef/partner, Maple & Ash, Chicago
Steak is the star at upscale Chicago eatery Maple & Ash, but you’ll receive the accolades when you whip up Danny Grant’s ribeye at home. Seared beef may be a heavy choice for a romantic dinner, so you can save leftovers for a hearty steak and eggs breakfast in bed. This meal channels a mix of cozy simplicity—it’s just steak and potatoes—and extreme opulence. Indulge in this lavish dinner if your idea of a romantic evening is pure creature comfort.
- 20- to 24-ounce dry-aged boneless ribeye (approximately 1¼ inches thick)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1½ tablespoons butter
- Potato purée (recipe below)
Place oven rack in second-highest position, and set broiler on high. Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Warm large cast-iron pan over stovetop burner on high until hot. Place steak in pan, and transfer to oven. Broil for 4–5 minutes.
Flip steak, top with ½ tablespoon butter, and broil for 4–5 minutes, or until internal temperature is 135˚F for medium-rare. Remove from oven, and top with ½ tablespoon butter. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Add remaining butter. Slice steak, and divide between two plates. Serve with potato purée. Serves 2.
Place 3 medium potatoes, peeled and medium-diced, in medium stockpot. Cover with salted water, and boil until tender. Drain and transfer to stand mixer. Run mixer, and add ½ cup warmed heavy cream, ¼ cup melted butter and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Mix until creamy and smooth. Serve while hot.
Amy Mundwiler, wine director at Maple & Ash and its downstairs sibling lounge, 8 Bar, suggests Paolo Scavino 2014 Monvigliero Barolo. “While this sumptuous Barolo will age well for several more years, its velvety tannins are a nice antidote to the well-marbled fat in the ribeye and the creaminess of the potatoes. Meanwhile, the toothy steak will not overpower the bright strawberry, cherry and spice flavors of the wine.”
- 1Smoked Salmon Cakes with Red Remoulade
- 2Presa Ibérico with Mojo Verde
- 328-Day, Dry-Aged Ribeye Steak With Pureed Potatoes