Valentine’s Day will be upon us before you know it! (eek, I have got to lose some weight before a family wedding and a trip south) Feb 14th is one of the busiest days and weekends of the year for restaurants. Combine this with cold winter temperatures and a depleted bank account after Christmas, and the prospects of spending a $100 on a dinner out and getting back into a car that will not start, doesn’t sound very romantic does it?
Now, do not get me wrong. Evenings out and date nights are of the utmost importance to a marriage and as a result, your family. Believe me; I have almost thirty years experience in this area. The scheduling of which, just does not need to happen on Valentine’s Day. Who needs a certain day to receive and express love anyway?
I am particularly blessed because my husband is a cook. In fact, where I would call myself an inventive home cook, he is a professionally trained cook, having studied Food Service and Hospitality at Ryerson in Toronto. Best of all, he loves to be in the kitchen and we love to cook alongside one another. When you think about the act of eating, it is one of the most intimate things that you can possibly do together, and chopping and tasting before hand is a natural extension of that wonderful time.
Our kids are all grown up but our youngest daughter still lives at home and we still think that it is a thrill to have the kitchen to ourselves on a Saturday night. I remember the days when our children were little and the stress of finding a babysitter (especially when all of our friends and family were also on the hunt), could become downright stressful.
So here’s my suggestion for a Valentine’s Day Dinner for two. Chose a somewhat “exotic” ingredient like seafood or a fine cut of meat and plan on a late dinner. If your kids get tucked in early enough, feed them and then change into that little black dress while they are brushing their teeth. Once they are asleep, the evening can commence by pouring a nice glass of wine and turning the kitchen lights down low (not so low that you cut yourself while chopping though). Select an easy and yet unique recipe that calls for imagination and trying something new.
For example, we made this dish recently as we were taking a break in a movie that we had snuggled up to watch. We could have prolonged the meal with a salad and dessert course (that was made ahead and sitting in the fridge) but in our case, we were anxious to get back to our movie. From the time we hit “pause”, poked our heads into the fridge and were lifting up our forks in the candle light, it was 10 minutes (slightly longer if you decide to serve this with pasta-crusty bread will do).
- 1 T garlic, minced
- 2 T butter, (not margarine-it does taste different)
- 2 pounds live/fresh mussels, drained and rinsed in cold water
- 1 fresh tomato, diced
- juice of one lemon
- 2 c wine (any dry white or even rose)
- ⅓ c fresh parsley, chopped
- Sautee the garlic in butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, until the garlic starts to become fragrant.
- Bring the temperature up to high and add the rinsed mussels.
- Throw in the tomato, lemon juice, wine and parsley and cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Let the mixture come to a boil (which in most cases will be about 5 minutes but depends upon your stove)-the steam in the pot will open and cook the mussels. Stir the mixture just once in this process.
- Ladle into a warmed bowl.
- If you are serving with bread, you can head to the table, if pasta, then proceed to the following:
- Any noodle with a broad surface will soak up the fabulous sauce. On this night we already had cooked spaghetti noodles in the fridge which I rinsed under hot water.
- Grind sea salt and cracked pepper over the pasta and then add your preferred amount of freshly grated Parmesan (in Italy cheese is never served with seafood pasta, but we love it).