An easy three-course Valentine's Day recipe to get from stomach to love
A lot of people are down on Valentine’s Day. The most common complaint I’ve heard is that it seems too manufactured to be genuine: why should we love each other on this one particular day any more than any other day? I for one find Valentine’s Day endearing. If I’m attached, I like to do something creative and special for the person I’m with, and if I’m single, I like to buy yellow roses for my friends and eat chocolate with them.
I completely don’t agree that you should feel lousy on Valentine’s Day if you’re not attached. That’s just programming, and frankly it’s a little self- absorbed. It’s not all about you, ya know. Plus, the day is an excuse to go out and find someone to sleep with. Make it work for you.
But it’s a particularly odd spot to be in if you have just begun dating someone and Valentine’s Day pops up.
It’s kind of like a quiz neither person has studied for. Flowers and chocolate make you feel like a cliché (although I think they’re sweet). Jewelry is too much too fast. It’s easy to fall into that apathetic spot wherein your confusion causes inaction.
But don’t do that.
Even if you are not a chef and even if you hate cooking, the down-home gesture of this three-course meal will knock his or her socks off. It’s not terribly complex, so anyone can do it. But that’s not what makes this menu special.
This is the ideal meal to share for people just getting to know each other, because it’s a specially designed gas-free, bloat-free, stomach-ache-and-heartburn free, anti-bad breath and no-little-bits-to-get-stuck-in-your-teeth-free meal that will kick-start your sexy times. Because there is nothing worse on a Valentine’s date than covering your rumbling stomach with a cough while accidentally flashing the cilantro leaf plastered on your incisor.
Am I right?
Starter: Oysters with Champagne-vinegar Mignonette
2 tsp champagne vinegar
1 ½ tsp finely chopped shallot
6-8 whole white peppercorns, crushed slightly with the side of a knife
pinch of sugar
1 ½ cups of kosher or other coarse salt
½ dozen small oysters, such as Kumamoto of PEI, shells scrubbed, oysters left on the half shell with liquor reserved and oysters picked over for shell fragments
½ tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
Mix ingredients for the Mignonette together and let stand for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat broiler to high, spread ¾ cup of the salt in a baking dish or pan, arrange oysters on their shells in salt, then top each with a piece of butter. Broil until butter is melted and sizzling and the edges of oysters are beginning to curl, about 1-2 minutes.
Divide remaining salt between two plates and place 3 oysters on each. Spoon ¾ tsp of mignonette over each oyster and serve.
Second Course: Beeting Heart Salad
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp honey
¼ (scant) tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad:
¼ cup peppered goat cheese
1 large red beet
12 ripe Mission figs
1 bunch watercress
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.
Wash and peel the beet, and cut into 4-5 slices, each about ½ inch thick. Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter or freehand with a knife, cut out small hearts from the beet slices. Place on a bed of coarse salt and bake in the oven at 400 until fork tender. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Wash and arrange the watercress on two plates, half figs lengthwise and place on watercress. Add beet hearts and crumble goat cheese over top. Dress and serve.
Third Course: Steak with Rich Balsamic Glaze and Sauteed Asparagus
2 steaks of your preferred cut
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup dry red wine
1 bunch asparagus
Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper to taste and allow to come to room temperature. Heat a skillet over med-high heat and place steaks in hot pan, cook for 1 minute on each side or until browned. Reduce heat to me-low, and add balsamic vinegar and red wine. Cover, and cook for 4 minutes on each side, basting with sauce when you turn the meat over.
Remove steaks to plates and spoon one tbsp of the glaze over each. Allow to rest while you make the asparagus.
In a separate skillet, add ¼ cup of water and heat on medium-high, add asparagus. Steam for about 5 minutes, then add 1 tbsp butter, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Sautée until desired tenderness is reached, then serve alongside steaks.
And there you have it! That wasn’t so bad, was it? And look at you, making a nice gesture for someone else. Now you are both full but not stuffed, with no raunchy breath and no grossness in your teeth, so you can get to, um, other things.
For those who still want to avoid the kitchen this Valentine's, here's a guide to Vancouver's most romantic restaurants. And for more amazing recipes and slightly raunchy humour, check out the author's blog, Crass Cuisine.