Perhaps there is one thing more romantic than cooking for another: cooking together.
Learning the rhythms of everyone’s daily movements, like the way you fold laundry and cook dinner — or burn toast — is one of the best ways to get to know someone. For veteran couples, cooking a meal together can be a sweet reminder to look out for each other. If it’s something you already do every night, why not treat yourself to a little luxury on Valentine’s Day?
Here’s an elegant menu that lets you do just that. These three dishes go together easily, proof that the quality of a meal does not depend on hours and hours of preparation. This will come in especially handy on a day like Valentine’s Day when it’s all about spending more time with your partner.
As a starter, radicchio, with purple leaves barred with white flecks like lightning bolts, goes well with camembert, taleggio, or another soft, funky cheese that puffs up at room temperature. Together, they make an ideal starter that you can munch on while tackling the other dishes (and sipping that first glass of wine).
The wonderfully bitter radicchio tastes otherworldly when seared briefly in a pan, and the cheese melts gloriously in the hot pan. When seasoned with honey and sherry vinegar, the dish sings a sensual melody. (Think Ariana Grande’s velvety “Thank U, Next.”)
The main course is more regal, but takes a modern approach. The English beef wellington dish – a fillet of beef wrapped in flaky pastry – is usually a big deal. But the joy of this single-serving version, in which store-bought puff pastry wraps around individual filet mignons, is that it’s much easier to put together, which makes it much less daunting. And with two in the kitchen, you can share the work and, just like in life, meet up at the end.
Pâté de foie gras and prosciutto are common ingredients in a traditional Wellington, but they’re skipped here in favor of ease and more balanced flavors. Equally common is a mix of deeply caramelized mushrooms and shallots known as duxelles, which lend a strong earthy umami anchor to the beef. In this version, a little red wine and heavy cream add richness to the vegetables.
Serve baby wellingtons warm with roast potatoes, a succulent green salad or more cheesy radicchio.
Dessert is all about preparation. The night before or earlier in the day, one person can whip the cream for the ice cream while the other melts the chocolate for the hot fudge. For efficiency’s sake, the same can of sweetened condensed milk goes into olive oil ice cream and sauce which is drizzled like molten lava, minimizing potential waste.
The fruity olive oil, with its subtle tongue-coating fatness, slips beautifully into the salty sweet cream – a rogue yellow-green scarf tucked into the folds of a snow-white comforter on laundry day.
The ice cream is churn-free, which means you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it. Instead, the condensed milk base is aerated with whipped cream, which is gently incorporated. Once that fluffy mass is frozen and scooped up, the silky texture will have you thinking: why is anyone churning at all?
Receipts: Pan-fried radicchio with soft cheese | Individual Beef Wellingtons | Churn-Free Olive Oil Ice Cream with Hot Fudge
And to drink …
Beef Wellington is the type of dish that goes well with good red wines. Whether you’re serving it for Valentine’s Day or not, it’s a great excuse to crack open something wonderful. A good Burgundy or Barolo would be my first choice, especially with some age, which will help the wine pair with the mushroom flavors. Count at least 10 years for a Premier Cru of Burgundy, depending on the vintage, and even more for Barolo. Properly aged Pomerol would also be a fine selection. If these are not available, other red wines will also be great. Options include Chianti Classico, Rioja Reserva, understated Pinot Noirs from around the world, and flavorful Syrahs, whether sourced from the northern Rhone or elsewhere in that Rhone style. ERIC ASIMOV