It’s here! It’s here! It’s… ugh. No matter your feelings about Valentine’s Day—whether you’re the sort to pick out your all-red outfit weeks in advance or you ignore the “holiday” altogether—we can agree it gets a little high-pressure if you let it. So don’t. Especially if you’re cooking at home.
We have a revamped menu for you. It eschews the (pricey, overdone) clichés in favor of more flavorful, economical alternatives. But these aren’t the cheap heart-shaped box of chocolates version of dishes. They’re tried and true favorites in-house. Each is destined to make someone go gaga for you (or at least for their supper).
The Cliché: Oysters and Champagne.
Have the bright idea to make your lover oysters? Hmm. If you don’t want to smell like the bottom of the sea but do want a hint of brininess to start your meal conjuring the seashore, consider these pinxtos. These Spanish skewers offer the same seafaring hit without the trickiness of shelling oysters at home. It’s a simple execution: anchovies; Spanish olives and mild Spanish peppers. Nestled together, spooning a toothpick, they pair beautifully with a Spanish cider. (Those tend to be bone-dry, with a funky flavor and just a hint of effervescence.)
The Cliché: Fondue for two.
We’re just going to say it: This is a better way to enjoy cheese.
Fondue has its place, of course, but we’d relegate it to the slopes or to actual Switzerland most of the time. Instead, we’d bust out a cheese board like the one above. We mean, is it even a contest? A good board is a thing of beauty. You want to keep yours organic and structured at once (tips for that over here). You can rumple prosciutto like silk bedsheets and place seductively fat figs here and there. And if you don’t make it to the steak because you’re transported by cheese, well, our work here is done.
The Cliché: Filet Mignon.
Pro tip: Don’t be the person who spent so much time and money making V Day dinner that you end up resentful of the person for whom you’re cooking. Really. Skirt steak is super-flavorful, cooks up fast, and only the most knowledgeable folks around realize it costs a fraction of filet mignon. The thing that makes this recipe particularly special is a pow-whoa-good chimichurri of fresh herbs you can spoon over eggs and flatbread for breakfast another day this week.
The Cliché: Chocolate Souffle.
A chocolate souffle is a fine thing indeed, but for the most part, we’d leave them to restaurant professionals. Souffles deflate, and mousse tends to be a ton of work. But not a blender mousse. The back-pocket secret weapon of pro cooks and smart home cooks alike, the blender (such as a Vitamix) can make a mousse just as silky as the one you’ve been slaving over using a hand whisk. We love this recipe because it doesn’t leave you exhausted and ready for bed after a bite; it’s an avocado-chocolate mousse. Think: fudgy, silky, but decadent and luxurious as all get out. You’ll have energy after scraping the ramekin clean, as will your beloved.
Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.