Fabulous Valentine’s menu for family
February 13, 2020 8:38 AM   Subscribe

My family likes to eat at home on Valentine’s Day, and enjoy cooking something new together. Well, my husband and 10 year old son enjoy, my 13 year old sighs and rolls her eyes and reluctantly joins in. We eat pretty much anything, and we work the day of but can meal prep tonight.

In past we’ve done steak and twice baked potatoes, a French tourtiere and baked Alaska (the year we discovered GBBO), and salmon. This is our first year with an amazing gas range, and weather probably not conducive to grilling outside. I’m a fairly skilled cook-ingredient expense not much of a factor. I have a hard time thinking of what dishes go together for a meal-would love your ideas of a main, app, veggie and dessert.
posted by purenitrous to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Puff pastry makes very compelling messy fluffy fun desserts.

Chicken Frarej but consider just doing two spatchcocked chickens over a ton of potatoes, tomatoes, and lemons, because you'll want leftovers. Do two large roasting pans, foil pans even so they're deep enough to hold the oil and liquid that comes off them, with one chicken each. The amount of olive oil there is not incorrect (obscene, but not incorrect). It makes good use of mediocre winter roma tomatoes. If you can get your hands on sumac, use that in your chicken seasoning as well. I had forgotten about this recipe, which I ate obsessively at my favorite Lebanese restaurant in Fort Worth many years ago, until just now; I'm going to make this tomorrow myself. It's so...everything. So lemon, so chicken, so tomato.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2020

Best answer: I always think Beef Wellington is the height of fancy fare. It's really not especially hard to make, but it looks impressive when it's made and you can pair it with so many things. Plus, everything is better in pastry!
posted by xingcat at 9:01 AM on February 13, 2020

I think there is nothing more emblematic of Valentine's Day than a souffle. I know it seems odd but Disney Cruise line has a recipe for an excellent one that I can vouch for. Sometimes I add an additional sauce to the creme anglaise that they recommend, such as pureed berries or dark chocolate. Besides the sauce(s), there's not much you can do ahead and it does take most of your attention during the active part. But it's a lovely end to any traditional Anglo-French meal.

For the mains I like classic fancy comfort food, like bacon-wrapped filet mignon with pommes purees and asparagus. Rack of lamb or braised leg of lamb are also some of my favorites. One more lamb dish would be the souris d'agneau the superb Clotilde Dusolier serves with polenta. She does it stovetop but you can cook it in the crockpot all day on low. A creamy soup like Vichysoisse or curried cauliflower is a fine accompaniment as well. Hope you have a great Valentine's Day.
posted by wnissen at 9:03 AM on February 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

You're in the PNW - do you have a local source for sashimi-grade seafood? Making your own maki rolls can be fun. Take turns.

Aburi oshisushi (pressed nigiri that's flame seared, usually topped with a [often mayonaise-based] sauce) is a newish thing going around.
posted by porpoise at 9:31 AM on February 13, 2020

Best answer: The first thing I thought of was Pioneer Woman's Pots de Crème a l’Orange. Because it's the easiest desert to make and delicious. Then, thinking backwards from that I remembered that my family loves it when I make Mme Maigrets coq au vin, with Riesling instead of red wine. It is very fancy, but actually not so hard to make. The link is to the recipe from Simenon, but there are several ways to make it simpler and importantly, the original recipe is for a real cooking rooster, not a normal supermarket chicken, so the cooking time is much too long. Think more like 20-30 minutes. You can make the stock tonight or use a low-sodium commercial stock. I sometimes buy a couple of extra thighs to supplement the whole chicken. Also, the recipe calls for sloe brandy, which you probably can't find, and it isn't necessary at all.
Rice or baguette and something green, like steamed spinach or fine French peas for sides.
For the appetizer, I'd prefer something rich with a "dark" taste. The main feels light and bright in spite of the cream, so with a rich appetizer and desert you get an ABA pattern. Maybe a birds' liver mousse (made tonight, ready tomorrow), some mushroom crostini, or just some very good smoked wild salmon on rye bread.
posted by mumimor at 9:35 AM on February 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

For group cooking, I like things with a group assembly step where each person can learn how to do it and create a version with their own taste/choices. Spring rolls and homemade sushi rolls (we do vegetarian, but you can buy sushi grade fish too) are our favorites!

I also like very complex dishes with multiple components that take hours, like this ramen!
posted by amaire at 10:00 AM on February 13, 2020

We usually do cheese fondue for special occasions--it's easy and lends itself to allowing for some variety, as you can include vegetables along with bread and potatoes. Or consider chocolate fondue as a fun dessert.
posted by carrienation at 10:06 AM on February 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

I think I'm doing thin pancakes (with lemon and sugar). Everyone is home tomorrow night, and its been awhile since we had them
posted by Ftsqg at 10:10 AM on February 13, 2020

Cassoulet is wonderful for cold wet weather. It would be lovely with some fresh bread (maybe your 13-year-old is old enough to choose and make a bread recipe), a fancy salad, and maybe a fresh apple pie for dessert.
posted by amtho at 10:27 AM on February 13, 2020

I'm making vegan stuffed shells, which my six-year-old loves to help make. They're not exactly a showstopper but they're enough work that we don't do them very often, and they're cozy and tasty (we use a homemade tofu ricotta that even my very picky kids can't tell apart from regular ricotta).
posted by SeedStitch at 10:35 AM on February 13, 2020

I love old-school French bistro classics for special occasions. Duck confit, Beef Bourguignon, etc. Confit is a fun skill to have in your back pocket (and one of the components of cassoulet). Beef bourguignon is more of a chop everything, sear the meat, and put it in a pot sort of thing. Osso bucco (braised veal shank) is another good one if you do not have ethical issues with veal. I serve it with a faux-risotto-Milanese: orzo in saffron cream. Memail me if you want any recipes for the above :)
posted by unstrungharp at 2:46 PM on February 13, 2020

Best answer: Super simple but a favorite: cook and serve chocolate pudding (whole fat milk is an extra luxury but necessary) served hot, the the top skim just starting to set and then topped with really good vanilla ice cream. Don't use instant pudding - hot pudding and cold ice cream is the best.
posted by metahawk at 9:13 PM on February 13, 2020

Some sort of red wine pasta! It’s festively purple. I usually do this with a ham steak for the meat. (Pink) Sometimes with a red soup, either roasted red pepper or tomato. Sometimes with a salad that includes raspberries or strawberries. Have done variations of this pink, purple, red theme for the past 4 years.
posted by MadMadam at 8:37 AM on February 14, 2020

Response by poster: So many great answers-we used a couple of them and I’ve bookmarked some others for later (the Lebanese chicken might happen this weekend). We ended up making beef Wellington-sous vide the steak the night before and make the duxelles, so assembly And finishing was doable on a work night. Roast potatoes and a great salad with beets and feta. Was going to do green beans almandine but forgot to get beans-we had plenty of food. Daughter made double chocolate pudding. Everything was a hit-perfect celebratory meal!! And so many leftovers. Thanks everyone!
posted by purenitrous at 7:09 AM on February 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

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