Easy Valentine’s Day Dishes
Even if you can’t boil water, you can make these 2 dishes at home, in less than 30 minutes. If those who have money and wish to be waited on and can get reservations, great. For those of you who prefer a quiet meal at home and don’t want to play into the hype, pay extra, or whatever, here are a few things which can be served in minutes for less than $3 per serving.
Tortellini en Brodo
Simple enough… buy a can of chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegetarian). Buy a package of Bertoli or Buitoni fresh 3-cheese tortellini. Buy 1 shallot. Chop shallot, add to hot pot of extra virgin olive oil, let it cook for 3-5 minute or until shallot is clear and you can smell it throughout the kitchen. Shot of sherry, brandy or white wine, if you have it helps, if not, no loss, add in 1 can of broth, 1/2 can spring water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Add in tortellini for 7-10 minutes.
And, while its cooking… explain this to your date over a glass of wine or cocktail of choice as it cooks. The Greeks called the Goddess of Love Aphrodite, but the Romans called the exact same Goddess Venus. But this form of pasta for the Italians was made in honor of their Roman ancestors who worshipped Venus, the Goddess of Love. Why? Well, she came to an old quiet mountain inn to sleep for the night and wanted a healthy, light but delicious dish for lunch. The chef, alarmed, nervous and not having any seafood nearby had to think of alternate ideas (as the legend goes, Venus was born from the foam of the sea). So what does he do? He is up all night and cannot think of what might please her other than seafood. He sneaks down to her room after midnight and looks through the keyhole and peer in for a sight of inspiration. There she is, the beautiful Goddess of Love Herself, Venus, asleep in bed, partially under white sheets, with the exception of her navel being exposed. Beautiful smooth white flesh, and her bellybutton exposed. So now he has an idea and rushes back to the kitchen to start making chicken stock and forming a new shape of pasta that is filled with ricotta cheese, folded and twisted until it resembled the shape of Venus’ navel. There you have tortellini. The best method is to bring the broth to a boil, add the fresh tortellini and you have the classic “Tortellini en Brodo” (Tortellini in Broth)… again, its so simple its ridiculous… even add some grated cheese if you want. If your date is not impressed by the dish, they will be impressed by the story and make it that much more appetizing!
1 Shallot $1
15oz Can of Chicken or Vegetable Stock $1
1 Package of Fresh Tortellini $4
= Sure fire win.
The great thing about stuffed pasta like ravioli or tortellini, you can make just about any sauce… butter, olive oil, crushed tomatoes from a can, crushed tomatoes from the garden, simple garlic and olive oil… even meat sauce or simple marinara — again, you can’t go wrong, because this is more about the tortellini and not the sauce. And in the most simplest form, chicken broth does just fine.
Another super simple recipe is simply taking a shallot, chopping it, adding it to a pot of extra virgin olive oil, cooking till fragrant and/or translucent (3-5 mins) then adding in a splash of sherry or sweet wine, cooking for a few more minutes for the alcohol to dissolve and then adding in 1 15oz can of chicken or vegetable broth and/or a can of vegetable and beef broth – again this also can be vegetarian, but the beef broth will really add the savory element to this soup. Any handful of each dried or fresh mushrooms will work here. I had dried chanterelles, porcini, black trumpet, oyster and crimini mushrooms, added them to the broth to re-constitute for 15-20 mins, scooped them out with a slotted spoon, chopped them up and put them back into the pot for 10 more minutes. Lastly, I added in heavy cream, just a few ounces, until it became creamy but not white, you want to keep it slightly brownish or tan in color. Pour in slowly. Let heat, serve.
The only other thing to worry about is a salad, but who can’t buy any mix of green leaf salad and serve with dressing of choice? For me balsamic & olive oil works, just as well as red wine vinegar & oil. If you like something creamy, just buy it and offer your guest a choice. Naturally I like everything to be made by hand, but if its just for one serving and time is limited, nothing wrong with something from a jar on your salad.
Dessert: NOT the hardest part, in fact the easiest. This may not sound tasty, but give it a try before hand and you will see it is. Buy a box of strawberries, cut in half twice (quarters) add a little fresh cracked pepper, maybe even a sprinkle of salt, and marinate with splash of balsamic vinegar — DO NOT JUDGE until you have tasted it. This chemistry of flavors come together to create something savory and sweet and to compliment a perfect meal.
Sweeter Dessert: Vanilla Ice Cream, with a double shot of Whiskey poured over it. When this idea was presented to me by my cousin in Rome, I told him up front I don’t like whiskey… he told me don’t judge, try it first, and something about the sweet vanilla and the sweet smokey whiskey was just one of the very best things I’ve ever eaten. Better yet, try it with Amaretto. Sweeter, almond, much more a compliment to vanilla ice cream, but either work.
Yes, very easy indeed. 2 parts Kahlua, 2 Parts Vodka (Stoli Vanil is a good choice for more sweeter/vanilla flavor)… 2 ounces of heavy cream and you have the perfect adult milkshake. Even better if served in shooter glasses. But a regular glass is fine.
Now how hard was that? You would have easily paid $75-100 with tip in most metro areas, but you spent about half that much and have enough leftover to last at least a few more meals of the same kind.
VARIATIONS: For Tortellini, you can use any sauce, alfredo, marinara, bolognese, even butter and/or garlic and olive oil; for the cocktail, use Godiva chocolate liquor in place Kahlua. There are many combinations, but remember you can even serve pizza bought from a local pizzeria with a good wine and some good music an candle light to make this day a memorable one for your mate. Its simple, its not about luxury, its about awareness of this day, the fact that it is important to your mate, and you were able to bring them something special they might not have experienced in a fancy or not so fancy restaurant. Its all you, its your cooking, its your setting your candles, your crib, and you even bought a card for them to read later. Its so easy, it just takes some thought, and hopefully this gives you some insight as to how to please the person that pleases you in life. Good luck, please message me with variations and/or similar or different ideas that work best!