Ah, the day of love. What to do when it falls on a Tuesday, the least romantic day of the week? Get in the kitchen.
Say you went out for small plates this past weekend, or are headed to your favorite restaurant on Saturday. That makes Tuesday the perfect night to stay home, get cozy, and cook up something delicious. I'll let you decide how to tackle the meal. Maybe one person cooks while the other cleans. Maybe one of you forgot about Valentine's Day altogether, and this is your grand please-don't-be-mad gesture.
Below are a couple of recipes for a romantic dinner for two. (I'll be trying the Ricotta Gnocchi for sure.) If you're feeling extra ambitious, finish things off with two glasses of champagne and these macarons. And be sure to check out these ways to make your evening in as fun as an evening out.
Cheese Fondue With Potatoes Bread and Vegetables
- 12 fingerling potatoes, cut in half or 24 (1-inch) baby potatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 jigger dry sherry
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed of stems, tips reserved
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped or chopped
- ½ French baguette, cubed
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- Cover potatoes with water and bring the water to a boil. Salt the water and simmer potatoes 10 to 12 minutes, until just tender. Drain potatoes and return to warm pot to dry the potatoes. Drizzle potatoes with a little oil to keep them from discoloring and to shine them up.
- Fill a second skillet or saucepan with 2 inches of water. Cover and bring the water to a boil on the stove. Salt the water, replace the cover and reduce heat to simmer.
- To a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and the chopped shallots. Saute shallots for 2 or 3 minutes, then add sherry and allow it to almost evaporate, a minute or two. Add half-and-half to the pan and reduce heat to low. Cut cream cheese into 1-inch slices and add it to the pot. Allow the cream cheese to slowly melt into the half-and-half, 5 minutes. Add Parmesan and shredded Gruyere or Swiss to the sauce and stir until cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Stir in lemon juice. Season sauce with, nutmeg and black pepper. Place a candle underneath a wire rack or warm a fondue pot. Transfer cheese sauce to fondue pot or place saucepan over wire rack and burning candle.
- To simmering, salted water, add broccoli and cook florets, covered, 3 minutes. Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon to a plate and add asparagus tips. Cook asparagus tips 2 minutes, then remove with tongs to a plate.
- Arrange the items for dipping on a large serving platter. Garnish the cooked potatoes with chives. Set the cubed baguette on the opposite end of the platter, to balance color. Between potatoes and bread, arrange cooked broccoli, asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Set out fondue forks or bamboo skewers for dipping. Serves 4.
Rosemary Shrimp Scampi Skewers
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 18 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about ¾ pound)
- 6 (6-inch) rosemary sprigs
- Cooking spray
- Lemon wedges (optional)
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp; seal and shake to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Working with 1 rosemary sprig at a time, hold leafy end of sprig in one hand. Strip leaves off sprig with other hand, leaving ½ inch of leaves attached to leafy end of sprig. Repeat procedure with remaining rosemary sprigs to make 6 rosemary skewers. Thread 3 shrimp onto each rosemary skewer.
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat both sides of shrimp skewers with cooking spray. Arrange 3 skewers on pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining skewers. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired. Serves 2.
Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto
- 1 pound ricotta, about 2 cups, drained well
- Salt and pepper
- 3 or 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ to ½ cup all-purpose flour, as needed
- Flour, for dusting
- 3 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped for garnish
- Put ricotta in a large mixing bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Whisk in Parmesan and taste. Add eggs and mix well, then sprinkle in 1/4 cup flour and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate. You should have a soft, rather sticky dough. Dump dough onto a clean work surface. Add a little more flour if necessary and pat very lightly to form a soft mass.
- Test the dough: Bring a saucepan of well-salted water to a boil. Take 1 tablespoon of dough and drop into water. Dough should sink to the bottom, then rise to the surface. Let simmer 1 minute, then remove and taste. If the dumpling keeps its shape, continue to Step 3. If it falls apart, add a little more flour to the dough, but carefully: If you add too much, the gnocchi will be stodgy.
- Dust dough lightly with flour, then cut it into 4 equal parts. Dust work surface with semolina. With your hands flat, gently roll each piece into a rope about 3/4-inch in diameter and 12 inches long. Keep sprinkling semolina on dough to keep it from sticking to the counter or your hands.
- Using scissors or a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut each log into 12 pieces. Dust bottom of a baking sheet with semolina. Transfer gnocchi with a spatula to baking sheet, leaving space between them so they are not touching. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour.
- To make the pesto, put parsley, garlic, olive oil and butter in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly, then blend to a rough puree. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You should have about 1 cup pesto, more than you need for this recipe. Leftover pesto can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to a month.
- Place a large pot of well-salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add gnocchi, working in batches, if necessary. When they bob to the surface, let them cook for about 2 minutes and lift them from the pot with a slotted spoon or spider, transferring gnocchi to a large, wide skillet. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons pesto and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water to skillet and swirl pan to coat gnocchi.
- Serve gnocchi in warmed individual shallow soup bowls or a deep, wide platter. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and dust with Parmesan. Pass more grated Parmesan separately.
- 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 1 bar (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 packages (3 ounces each) soft ladyfingers
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
- In a medium bowl, mix espresso powder with 3 tablespoons boiling water until dissolved. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water; set aside.
- With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese with heavy cream and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Spread a few tablespoons of cream-cheese mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart serving dish. Separate ladyfingers. One by one, dip a third of ladyfingers in espresso, then arrange in bottom of dish. Spread with a third of cream-cheese mixture. Repeat twice with remaining ladyfingers, espresso, and cream-cheese mixture (can be refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day).
- Dust with cocoa just before serving.