Dinner For Two: An Easy and Romantic Meal

As many of us work during the day, the idea of whipping up a gourmet meal for Valentine's Day can be a little overwhelming.  But cooking a special dinner at home doesn't need to be complicated or time-consuming.  

Below is my sure-to-impress, romantic and oh-so-easy Valentine's dinner for two.

Make Ahead: Dessert First
Chocolate covered strawberries are a decadent and super easy dessert that's sure to please.  The best part? They can be made a day in advance so you don't have to worry about them the night of.  (The hard part? Not eating them before dinner!)
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  • Wash and dry strawberries. Set aside.
  • Coarsely chop semi-sweet chocolate and put in microwave safe bowl. 
  • With your microwave at 50% power, heat for one minute, stirring halfway through 
  • Stir chocolate again, adding 1 tbsp butter. 
  • With your microwave at 50% power, heat for one additional minute, stirring halfway through. (Every microwave is a bit different so keep your eye on the chocolate and stir more frequently if necessary, to prevent burning.)
  • Carefully remove chocolate from microwave and stir mixture til smooth.  
  • Holding a strawberry by the top, dip into chocolate until it is 3/4 covered.  Lift straight up and twist slightly, to allow any excess to fall back into the bowl.  Set on waxed paper to harden. (Sprinkle with coconut if desired)
  • Continue until all strawberries have been dipped.  
  • Allow to cool for  at least 30 minutes.
  • TIP: Storing in the refrigerator will cause the berries to sweat (which will turn them into a gooey, not-so-impressive mess).  Store in a parchment lined container at room temperature until ready to plate.
Dinner's On 
The total time to prepare this dinner is about an hour, including prep.  The recipes are simple, and allow the true flavors of each food item to shine. It's also a light menu, which means you won't be too stuffed or bloated afterward for *ahem* other activities. 
  Remember that cooking WITH someone can be as romantic as cooking FOR someone.  Or, invite them to have a glass of wine while you cook and impress them with your kitchen prowess.  

Step 1: Potatoes
Note: The potatoes will take the longest to bake, which is why they need to go in first.  Your salmon will need to share the oven for the final 10-12 minutes of the cook time.  
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Cover a half sheet pan in olive oil 
  • Wash and dry potatoes 
  • Chop in half (this allow the cut side to caramelize and get some color) and place on pan. Try to make them as evenly sized as possible. 
  • Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. Herbes De Provence, 2 tsp. kosher salt & 2 tsp pepper 
  • Place in preheated oven and set timer for 40 minutes. Turn potatoes halfway through.
Step 2: Salmon 
The salmon pouches are something unique and fun.  Because the pouch can go directly onto the plate, it keeps plating neat, and there is an element of fun in breaking into the pouch to eat (think -cracking crab legs open- but less messy and expensive).
  • Thinly slice lemons, and set aside several sprigs of dill.
  • Check filet for pin bones by running your finger along the cut side.  
  • Slice filet into portions 
  • Cut a section of 14" parchment for each portion of salmon. 
  • Place 1 fish portion on parchment so that the right edge of portion is in the middle of the parchment (salmon will look slightly off-center).
  • Drizzle salmon with olive oil. Place 2-3 lemon slices and 2-3 sprigs of dill on top of the fish.
  • 1. Fold parchment in half over salmon, by bringing the right side of the parchment to meet the left.  Press the fold together to create a crease, being careful to avoid the section where the salmon is.  2. Starting at the bottom right corner, fold and crease the parchment 90 degrees to the left, stopping at the bottom of the fish. 3. Again, start at the right corner and make another 90 degree fold (you will be folding on top of the first fold.  The idea is to create a semi-airtight pocket.) 4. Continue folding/rolling the parchment around the salmon until you reach the opposite side.  You will have only a small "tail" of parchment left over. 5./6. Fold tail directly under the salmon pouch.  
  • Place pouch on baking sheet and slice a tiny hole in the top for steam to escape.
  • Repeat process for all salmon portions. 

  • When potatoes only have about 10-12 minutes left, reduce heat to 400 degrees and place salmon tray in the oven as well.  
  • Check the salmon after 10 minutes.  The fish should be firm but bounce back with a little bit of pressure. If you're unsure, insert a meat thermometer into the slit in the pouch (being careful not to rip the parchment).  Salmon is done at 140-145 degrees. 
 Step 3: The Asparagus
A broiler is, essentially, an upside down grill.  It's a great way to cook up veggies quickly and get that great caramelized flavor from the flame. Asparagus is already a festive and out-of-the-ordinary vegetable (that looks great when plated), but by this simple preparation - the basic herbs, splash of olive oil and crisp texture from the fire - you allow its unique flavor to come through.
  • After washing asparagus, break off the thick ends and place on baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and toss til coated. 
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  • Once potatoes and salmon are finished, pull from oven, and allow to rest while cooking asparagus
  • Turn on broiler.
  • Broil asparagus 5-7 minutes, turning 1-2 times. 

Once the Asparagus is pulled you can plate the meal, pour the wine and light the candles (Pinot Grigio would be an excellent addition to this meal!).  Finish with some chocolate covered strawberries and champagne, and enjoy where the evening takes you.  

Happy Cooking!

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