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Those who had found their half certainly notice February is the month of Valentine’s Day, and if you are searching for romantic surprises, we come to your rescue following the advice of my grandmother: “Men need to be taken by the throat!”.
Literally or figuratively, it doesn’t matter, ‘cause at the end of this article you will have all the instructions to prepare a delicious dinner. Strictly by candlelight.
You are not in pairs ?! It matters little. Celebrate with your best friend. Sex and The City rulez.
Whether you want to or not to follow the menu that I propose below, just remember that I chose (and I recommend you to choose an alternative) simple dishes that do not require long waits for your partner and allow you to sit with him or her at the table as long as possible and without the smell of a person freshly out of a fryer.
Here’s the menu:
Sandwiches of rye bread as your imagination suggests
Fresh pasta with lemon, thyme and “stracciatella” (not the ice-cream, it’s similar to mozzarella)
Prawns with salt and red pepper with mixed sprouts or fresh salad
Chocolate truffles with olive oil
The running time of the whole menu is about 1 ½ hours. Better then Master Chef!
This year, however, Valentine’s Day is on Sunday, so you can catch the opportunity to take your time and cook calmly.
What is needed:
1 bottle of white wine (because he will forget the wine!)
1 small bottle of rye bread
Ingredients to taste for sandwiches (butter garnish, anchovies, capers, pickles, mayonnaise, cheese with herbs, salmon … according to your imagination, indeed!)
The grated zest of one organic or untreated lemon
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
250 g of fresh pasta in small format (in my case, “cavatelli”)
100 g stracciatella
1 knob of butter
12 whole prawns
200 grams of coarse salt
2 tablespoons red pepper
Mixed salad or fresh sprouts
100 ml of fresh cream
200 grams of dark chocolate
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Maldon salt (or salt flakes) or ½ teaspoon salt
Unsalted pistachios (optional)
What can I prepare before:
The evening before, or in the morning, you can prepare chocolate truffles and store them in the refrigerator, tightly closed in a jar. Or cut the rye bread and season canapés. If you buyed frozen shrimp, well… un-freeze them!
You have to prepare different dishes, so my advice is to “prepare the board”. Use the first 15 minutes to weigh the ingredients of each recipe and divide them into cups, plates and bowls, or cooking paper pieces, one set for each recipe, as I did. It will take a bit more initially, but you will have everything at hand when needed. And a clean kitchen.
Also, please read the recipe carefully, so as to understand which tools to have on hand and how to move between pots and pans, especially, since you already are on the go for t
his big night!
I always start to prepare the dessert: at least you will not run the risk that truffles taste of shrimp, don’t you?
Sandwiches of rye bread as your imagination suggests
Using a small pastry rings or a coffee cup, cut many disks for your canapés from rye bread slices and get jiggy with seasonings. My advice is to transform what your refrigerator offers or go for simplicity, without having to buy vases and pots that you will not finish ever. Obviously without risking food poisoning (you read my last article?). How about butter and anchovies? It is a timeless classic that goes cheek to cheek with prawns. Or a radicchio pesto and its strong flavor. Or, salad of red cabbage, seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, perfect for rye bread.
Make no mistake, even that’s great the classical robiola, just sprinkled with different spices for each sandwich (paprika, oregano, pepper, chives …). And then, I know that eventually you will use the cheese already spicy and ready-to-use … I forgive you! ;)
Fresh pasta with lemon, thyme and “stracciatella”
The simplicity and taste of this pasta will steal your heart … and hopefully make inroads into the one of your other half!
So, while enjoying a drink, put water to boil. Add salt and cook the pasta. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter with the finely grated zest and lemon thyme leaves (keeping aside a little for the garnish), at a very low heat (the butter should not fry but just take the flavors). Add a few tablespoons of cooking water and stir. When the pasta is “al dente”, drain and pour into the pan, mixing well. Pour on plates and completed with a tablespoon of stracciatella, a bit of lemon zest and a few thyme leaves.
If you want, you can cook pasta in advance (but I recommend: it must be fresh pasta and small format!), stealing two minutes from the cooking time. Drain, remembering to set aside more cooking water in a cup, and cool it under running cold water, mixing well, and giving it extra stir every time you remember. Then put it in the pan with the sauce for about 3-4 minutes over low heat.
Prawns with salt and red pepper with mixed sprouts
If that black strand of prawns bothers you, cut with a knife on their back and pull it put it out with the help of a toothpick. I personally, do not take off it, especially in recipes like these in which you must hear, loud and clear, the flavor of the whole crustacean!
In any case, wash the prawns and dry them well. Crushed pepper in a mortar or with the blade of a knife and mix with coarse salt.
Take a pan with high sides, big enough to hold the shrimp and sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Arrange the shrimp next to each other and cover with the remaining salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 220 ° C, in static mode, and cook for 10 minutes (you can do this just before serving the pasta, turning on the oven while cooking it).
Once cooked, remove the shrimp from the oven and take off the salt. Place them on a bed of sprouts or fresh salad, already seasoned to taste with a little olive oil and lemon.
Chocolate truffles in olive oil
Chop the chocolate. Mix the cream and sugar and bring almost to boil. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate, add the oil and salt and mix well with a spatula, until the mixture will present no more lumps. If necessary, use without fear the immersion blender.
Put the resulting ganache in the freezer for at least half an hour, or if you have more time, in the refrigerator for about two hours.
When it will be hardened, take a knob of mixture at a time and formed into balls (I recommend using latex gloves, or you can say goodbye to your manicure). No matter whether they are regular in shape: they are called truffles for this reason! Now you can roll your truffles in cocoa and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Place them in the refrigerator, tightly sealed in a jar, and take them out a few minutes before serving.
Now you just need to run to the grocery store and set the table! I wish you a delicious Valentine’s Day!
Piatti e utensili: Ikea // Stovetop: Ikea
Pentola in rame: Ballarini // Copper pot: Ballarini
Tovaglie e tovaglioli: Ikea // Tablecloths and napkins: Ikea
Bicchieri: Bormioli Rocco // Glasses: Bormioli Rocco
Candela: Yankee Candle // Candle: Yankee Candle
Teglia: Emile-Henry // Baking pan: Emile-Henry
Photos and video by Federica and Jennifer