There are many things that divide the world into two camps. Dogs vs cats. Scary movies, yay or nay. And whether or not to go out for a meal on Valentine’s Day vs. staying home and making a delicious, thoughtful, beautiful home cooked dinner. Oops, did I give away which camp I belong to?
Some people truly like to go out on Valentine’s Day, with all of the pomp and circumstance. So, I won’t go into a diatribe about over-priced prix fixe menus or forced public displays of romantic gestures. I’m quite happy dreaming up a meal I know my husband will really like. And in recent years I’ve become truly fixated with setting a table to match an occasion. So getting a really pretty table together is another piece of the ‘Valentine’s Day At Home’ equation.
A Swoon-Worthy Valentine’s Day Dinner
First, the menu – I think risotto is one of the most romantic dishes on the planet, because of its velvety and creamy texture, its amazing fragrance, as well as the sensuous way it comes together in the pot. If you’ve never made risotto before, here are some simple tips to help you feel more comfortable tackling this delicious, classic dish.
Some risotto tips:
- You need to use a starchy short grain rice to make a proper risotto, such as Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano. The starch keeps the grains firm and also helps bind the grains together.
- Warming the broth allows the rice to absorb the liquid more evenly and quickly.
- Add the liquid gradually: You might start with some white wine, then after that is absorbed, add a good cup of broth, and stir frequently until the liquid is almost all absorbed, then add about ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently. The slow addition of liquid helps the starch turn into a binding sauce, and the stirring helps the starch transfer from the rice into the liquid, allowing everything to come together into a creamy, soulful dish.
- You don’t want the rice to be too soft; it should be al dente. Also, when you take it off the heat, make sure it’s a little more liquid-ey than ultimately desired because even as you scoop it into serving plates it will continue to thicken slightly.
- Serve quickly. Risotto waits for no couple.
Along with this lush dish there will be a simple and clean salad of pears and endive. A pale little medley of bitter and juicy-sweet, strewn with a handful of crumbled blue cheese for its bite of creamy tanginess.
And to start – or to finish – a little blast of Valentine’s Day red – a Campari Manhattan, which is kind of like a Negroni and a Manhattan had a little cocktail baby. The flavors echo the bitter and the sweet in the salad (hey all relationships have a bit of the bittersweet, even the best ones!), and the color is sheer happiness.
All of these dishes can be doubled, should you be sharing your Valentine’s Day with other people that you love (probably skip the Campari Manhattans for the kids).
The table will be set with some great printed textiles, textured placemats, pretty napkins, blush pink plates for the salad, shallow white bowls for the risotto, and an assortment of candles in softly colored holders. And if you want to serve up the risotto in a larger bowl, how awesome is this one with its beautiful glaze? Plus, pass the Parmesan in this super cool Wonki Ware plate. The Campari Manhattans look smashing and sophisticated in these speakeasy-style cocktail glasses.
And the piece de Valentine’s Day Resistance – a little timeline of our relationship – this is an easy and inexpensive way to show the person you’re with that you remember all the way back when – no matter how far the back when started. You can pick major milestones (like moving in together and getting engaged), or funny little moments – I should have put it the time Gary gave me a bottle of Elmer’s Glue labeled Toe Glue for our first Valentine’s Day together because I had broken my toe. You can find downloadable timelines on Pinterest, or get creative and make your own. So, this will be my gift to the hubby, and his gift to me will be washing each and every one of the pretty dishes.
Shop this post: White Bowls | Gray Reactive Glaze Serving Bowls | Wonki Ware Blue Plate | Speak Easy Champagne Glasses | Floral Kitchen Towel | Floral Placemats | Blue Palampore Napkins | Pink Mercury Candle Holders | Blush Lotus Candleholder | Tealight Candles
Photos by: Carrie Crow
All recipes serve two