On the Menu: A Classic Valentine's Day

Original Tried & True Recipe.

Valentine's Day is coming up and if you're like me, the thought of fighting the crowds to go out for dinner isn't the most romantic thing in the world. But, if you're also like me, you don't want to spend hours in front of the stove when you could be cuddling up with your sweetie instead. That's why I'm crafting three easy-to-prepare menus to get you through the day, without having to slave over the stove.
 

The menu featured in this post is for a Classic Valentine's Day. Because dinner is going to be a bit heavier and slightly more labor-intensive than the Tunisian-Inspired Dinner, I'm recommending a light brunch and a super easy dessert. Plus, you'll probably have ricotta cheese left over so you'll be able to incorporate that into dinner! Make sure you stock up on oranges since you'll be using them for your dessert!


CLASSIC VALENTINE'S DAY MENU

BRUNCH

Blushing Ricotta Cheese Toasts with Pears

DINNER

Seared Steak with Baked Layered Potatoes and Creamy Leek Sauce

DESSERT

Sliced Oranges with Sea Salt and Chocolate


BRUNCH

Blushing Ricotta Cheese Toasts with Pears

Serves: 2
Cost: Approximately $4.76 per serving.*

GRADE

Cost: $
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 blood oranges

2 teaspoons maple syrup (or honey)

Flaky sea salt and fresh cracked pepper pepper

1 Anjou pear

2-4 slices of hearty oat bread (Our loaf was quite small, so we used four slices of bread. Two slices may be sufficient!)

2 tablespoons butter

METHOD

Prep Ingredients: Juice the oranges and zest half of one orange. Thinly slice half the pear. Cut the other half of the pear into wedges.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, orange juice and zest, a touch of sea salt and maple syrup. Stir to incorporate. The ricotta cheese should turn a nice, light pink color. Chill until ready to use.

Toast the bread with the butter.

To Serve: Divide the ricotta cheese on top of the toast, using the back of a spoon to lightly spread it. Arrange thin pear slices on top and season with a touch of flaky sea salt and a crack of fresh pepper. Serve with additional pear wedges. Enjoy!


DINNER

meal (2 of 3).jpg

Seared Steak with Baked Layered Potatoes and Creamy Leek Sauce

Serves: 2, with leftover potatoes
Cost: Approximately $14.55 per serving. Note: price doesn't include the additional leftover potatoes.

GRADE

Cost: $$$$
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 1 hour 45 minutes (60 minutes active)

INGREDIENTS

1 pound steak of your choice (I used petite sirloin steak, but you can use Filet Mignon, New York strip, or hanger) (You may use (1) 16-ounce steak or (2) 8-ounce steaks)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons butter, divided

2 medium russet potatoes

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon

2 leeks, white and light green parts only

1 shallot

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 Meyer lemon

8 ounces cream, divided

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

A few sprigs of thyme

2 ounces good quality, aged cheddar

Soft baby greens and a tomato (for a side salad)

Dressing of your choice, if desired

Cooking spray

METHOD

Prep Ingredients: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Pat the steak(s) dry and season with salt and pepper and chill, uncovered, until ready for use. Peel the potatoes and slice, very thinly (about 1/8'' thick) into rounds. Transfer to a bowl of cold water until ready to use. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, thoroughly rinse and thinly slice crosswise. Slice the shallot into rings. Juice the lemon. Cut the bacon into lardons. In a food processor, combine the ricotta cheese and heavy cream and pulse until smooth. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pick the thyme leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Mash the garlic once with the back of your knife.

Add the bacon to a medium skillet and turn the heat to medium high, cook for 10 minutes or until the fat has completely rendered and the bacon is crispy. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Discard half the bacon fat and leave the other half in the skillet.

Add the leeks and one tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper and turn the heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes or until the leeks are completely softened and turning dark brown in places, adjusting the heat and stirring regularly to keep them from burning. Add the sliced shallots and cook an additional 5 minutes until softened.

Add the flour and use a wooden spoon to coat the leeks with the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the flour. Slowly add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking to incorporate after each addition until you have a thick, velvety sauce. Stir in the remaining cream and reduce to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep over very low heat, stirring occasionally.

Drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels.

Lightly spray a baking dish (I used a quiche dish). Arrange half the potatoes in an even layer, overlapping the potatoes slightly. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon half the leek sauce over the potatoes and top with the ricotta cheese mixture. Layer the remaining potatoes on top and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the rest of the leek sauce over the potatoes and top with the grated cheese and thyme leaves. Sprinkle with the bacon.

Transfer the dish to the oven and cook for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and the top is browned.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, heat a slick of canola oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high until almost smoking. Add the steak(s) and cook without moving for 3-5 minutes (depending on the thickness). Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. After 2 minutes, add 1 tablespoon of butter and add the garlic clove to the top of the steak, using the back of your spoon to press it into the meat. Carefully tilt the pan toward you and use your spoon to baste the steak with the butter for 1 more minute. Once the steak has reached your desired temperature, remove from heat and rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain.

To Serve: Divide potatoes between plates with the sliced steak. Serve with a light salad and your choice of dressing. Enjoy!


DESSERT

Sliced Oranges with Chocolate and Sea Salt

Original Recipe from Food52.

Serves: 2
Cost: Approximately $3.50 per serving.

GRADE

Cost: $
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 blood oranges

2 navel oranges

2 ounces dark chocolate

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Sprinkle of flaky sea salt

METHOD

Prep Ingredients: Cut the ends off from the oranges. Remove the skin and as much of the pith, membranes, and core. You can follow the instructions on Food52 to remove as much as possible, but I didn't fuss over it too much! Slice into thin rounds.

Arrange the oranges on a plate with slices overlapping each other. Drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Use a cheese grater to grate the chocolate over the oranges and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.

To Serve: Serve the oranges with additional oil, chocolate, and salt at the table. Enjoy!

Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!