Skip dinner reservations this week, and wine and dine your valentine at home instead. Our special homemade menu starts with beautiful red beet risotto, tailor-made for this most romantic of holidays. Rich, elegant steak, chocolate pots de crème and sparkling cocktails complete a celebratory meal.
Cheers to a memorable, blissful dinner for two! Keep reading for recipes and tips to help you pull it off.
Red Beet Risotto
2 red beets, about 1 lb. total, greens removed and reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth, warmed
Chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for grating
Preheat an oven to 400ºF.
Place the beets in a small baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and coat with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, transfer to the oven and roast until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the beet greens and stems. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the beet greens and stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it is almost completely absorbed before adding more.
When the rice is tender but firm to the bite, after about 20 minutes, remove from the heat. Grate about 1/2 cup cheese directly into the pan. Add the beets and stir well. Divide the risotto between 2 shallow bowls or plates and spoon the beet greens on the risotto. Using a vegetable peeler, shave cheese over the top and serve immediately. Serves 2.
Rib-Eye Steak with Pan Jus
1 rib-eye steak, 18-20 oz. (560-625 g.) and about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm.) thick
Kosher salt and pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) dry red wine
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) beef or chicken stock
2 small sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper. Pick the rosemary leaves from the stem and press them into the steak. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat. Let the oil get quite hot, but before it starts to smoke, sear and brown the steak on one side for about 1 minute. Turn the steak over to sear the other side for 1 minute. Use tongs to hold the steak upright and sear the sides of the rib-eye, another minute per side.
Place the pan with the steak in the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes for medium-rare, or until it reaches the desired doneness. Press the center of the steak to gauge doneness; it will still have some give for medium-rare, more firmness for medium. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meat to a carving board. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the wine, stock, and thyme to the drippings in the pan and place over medium-high heat. Deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spatula and loosening any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom, and simmer until reduced by half. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove the thyme sprigs.
Using a chef’s knife, carve the steak with a sharp knife across the grain into thin slices. Arrange the slices on warmed plates and spoon the pan juices over the top. Serves 2.
Note: This is a large portion of steak for 2 people, but using a big, thick piece makes for better end results — wide, perfectly cooked slices still rare in the center. Save remaining steak to use in a breakfast hash. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or wrap well and freeze for up to 1 month.
Chocolate Pots de Crème
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) whole milk
6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./890 ml.) heavy cream
1 1/2 oz. (45 g.) best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus more for optional garnish
2 large egg yolks
2 1/2 Tbs. (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) sugar
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and cream and heat until small bubbles appear along the sides of the pan. Add the chocolate and stir with a silicone spatula just until the chocolate is melted. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly.
In a bowl, gently stir together the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Slowly pour the warm (not hot) chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture while stirring constantly. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring pitcher. Spoon off any foam from the surface.
Arrange two 1/2-cup (4-fl. oz./125-ml.) ramekins, custard cups, or other ovenproof dishes in a deep baking dish. Divide the chocolate mixture evenly between the ramekins. Pour hot water into the dish to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish loosely with foil to prevent a skin from forming on the custards. Bake until the custards are just firm at the edges but still tremble in the center when the ramekins are shaken gently, about 30 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the ramekins from the water. Allow to cool completely before covering and refrigerating for at least 2 hours or up to overnight to set.
Serve the custards chilled. If desired, spoon a dollop of whipped cream on each custard and grate a dusting of chocolate over the top. Serves 2.
- 1 day ahead: Roast the beets for the risotto. Make the pots de crème, cool, and refrigerate overnight.
- A couple of hours ahead: Chop vegetables and grate cheese for your risotto.
- Just before serving: Invite your valentine into the kitchen for a chance to cook together! While one person makes and stirs the risotto, the other can start cooking the steak. Finish the risotto, finish the sauce for the steak, and whip cream to top off the dessert.
- With dinner, drink a Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux wine that will complement a hearty steak. Before dinner, toast each other with something festive for Valentine’s Day, like this Raspberry Champagne Cocktail.
- You don’t need a fancy table to create a beautiful setting. Light several small votive candles and arrange down the center of your table and around the dining room for ambiance.
- Surprise your special someone by tucking a personal note somewhere unexpected — in the folds of a napkin or under a wineglass.
- Play music that has sentimental meaning for the two of you. Start off the evening with your song, or create a custom playlist to listen to during dinner.