5 Tips for an Imperfect Valentine's Day!
Cooking for a date be intimidating! Even though the internet is overflowing with recipes for Valentine's day dinners like "Engagement Chicken," "Not Single For Long Pasta," and "Get Yo' Man Chicken," narrowing it down to just one can feel close to impossible. If you're not careful, you can end up spending more time fretting in the kitchen than actually enjoying dinner, which kind of defeats the purpose. We're here to help with some kitchen-tested advice that are sure to make your special dinner more delicious with less stress.
- Make what you love! Rule number one for cooking for a romantic evening is to make something you know how to make and love making. Making a dish that you've made many times before will make cooking less stressful and will let your passion and affection shine through in the food. There are times to test out a new recipe, but Valentine's day is not one of them.
- Don't overextend yourself. Plan out your meal ahead of time and decide what is realistic given the time, equipment, and space that you have. Be tactical about the meal and remember that you don't have to do everything! Simple appetizers like a nice baguette with good cheese and cured meats are a great way to buy some extra time before dinner without having to cook another course. If you are making a labor intensive main course, go for a store bought dessert, or if you must make one, make it the night before. Budget extra time to do everything so you can finish prep early and savor time with your date instead of frantically chopping vegetables at the last minute.
- Don't worry about using expensive ingredients or anything billed as an aphrodisiac. We promise that you can make a wonderful meal without using caviar, truffles, oysters, or anything else with a hefty price tag and high expectations attached. Special occasions like Valentine's Day are a great time to showcase the best ingredients that you can afford, but this does have to mean breaking the bank. Something as simple as your favorite vegetable from your box, roasted to perfection, can make a big impression. Deliciousness is the best form of luxury!
- Use fresh herbs to brighten things up! Fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, basil, and mint can take your cooking to new levels as they give your cooking a brightness and lift that is hard to get any other way. The natural breath freshening effects don't hurt either! Use hard herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano for dishes that cook for a while like soups and sauces, and save soft herbs like mint, basil, and cilantro for garnishing dishes. Never underestimate mint. It's not just delicious on desserts, it's also a brilliant garnish for Southeast Asian stir fries and Middle Eastern meats.
- When in doubt, go with a classic. Dishes like a roast chicken, seasonal pasta, or velvety vegetable soup are timeless for a reason. They are time-tested to be delicious, approachable enough for anyone to cook well, and lend themselves to lots of creative variations. There's no need to re-invent the culinary wheel just because it's Valentine's Day. Cooking a classic dish well is a satisfying and easy way to hit a flavorful home run!