All The Luxury, Half the Price: A Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner for Two
Romance is in the air...and in my kitchen. My fiancé and I are skipping the stuffy Valentine's Day steakhouse dinner in favor of an at-home meal filled just as much luxury. By using lobster tails in a decadent macaroni and cheese and serving strawberries with a homemade champagne vinaigrette, we'll still dine like rockstars, but for a fraction of the cost.
Here's the plan:
Strawberries & Champagne Spinach Salad
For the champagne vinaigrette:
For the salad:
In a small bowl, whisk together champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and shallot. Slowly whisk in olive oil to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Lightly toast walnuts in a dry pan over medium-low heat until fragrant.
Toss spinach, strawberries, and red onion with vinaigrette and top with chopped walnuts and crumbled cheese. You might as well serve this with some champagne too.
Steakhouse Lobster Mac & Cheese
Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Set aside.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and cook for three to five minutes, stirring a few times as to not let it brown. Gradually whisk in half and half, raising the heat to medium and bringing to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for five minutes to thicken.
Remove from heat and add in shredded fontina and Gouda cheese, stirring until fully melted. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Roughly chop the cooked lobster meat and gently fold in to cheese sauce. Return to heat to warm through and finish with cognac. Add in pasta and toss to coat.
Pour into individual baking dishes and top with panko breadcrumbs tossed with parmesan cheese and chopped fresh chives.
Set under broiler until browned and bubbly. Serve hot with a dry white wine.
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
Brush two ramekins generously with melted butter (or use cooking spray). Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Using a double boiler setup or a microwave (on high for one minute), melt butter and chocolate pieces, whisking until chocolate is melted.
Stir in sugar until combined, then add in egg and yolk. Stir to combine and add in flour, espresso powder, and salt, stirring gently until mixture is just combined.
Distribute the batter evenly among the buttered ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and cook for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the edges have set and the middle is soft to the touch (not liquidy, but soft).
Place inverted serving plates on top of each ramekin and holding the ramekin with a dish towel, flip over and set down the plate.
Carefully remove the ramekin, allowing the cake to gently slide out. Dust with sugar and serve with ice cream, homemade whipped cream, fresh berries, and chocolate shavings.
Whipped Cream makes 1/2 cup
In a chilled bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream and vanilla until it holds a loose peak. Sift in sugar and beat until it holds a soft peak. Serve, or refrigerate covered for up to 4 hours.
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