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3 Reasons + 1 Gourmet Recipe To Stay Home This Valentine's Day

Veronica Werhane |
February 10, 2011 | 12:45 p.m. PST

Columnist

If you are planning on dining out this Valentine’s Day, you’re certainly not the only one. While a Valentine’s dinner at a gourmet restaurant is a lovely way to indulge with your significant other, I am here to give you three reasons plus one delicious fettuccine recipe to STAY AT HOME this Valentine’s Day evening.

1. Valentine’s Day is the Busiest Night of the Year

Any restaurateur will tell you that Valentine’s Day is the busiest evening of the year in restaurants across America.  With so many people dining out, many restaurants are completely booked with reservations several weeks beforehand.  This can be a problem for people without reservations, as they end up spending more time and energy trying to find a place to eat than they do enjoying their evening together.  

For those who do have reservations, eating at restaurants with a full house can be noisy and crowded, especially the popular ones.  While restaurants are usually well prepared to accommodate a surplus of customers, it is difficult to provide the same level of personal attention and service to every customer when there are three times as many tables to wait on and triple the amount of meals for the chef to prepare in a timely manner.  

To make service more efficient and less chaotic, many restaurants will offer a limited, or “prix-fixe,” menu instead of their full menu.  This brings me to my next point:

2.  Restaurants Are WAY More Expensive on Valentine’s Day

When customers have a full menu to choose from, the chefs need to be able to prepare every single dish with the highest quality and the kitchen needs to be stocked with all of the necessary ingredients to make these dishes. On a busy night like Valentine’s Day, offering a fixed menu makes it easier to prepare quality dishes in an efficient manner. 

Many restaurants offer a special Valentine’s Day “prix-fixe” menu, which typically offers customers a choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert at a fixed price.  Prix-fixe menus are convenient and fun to order from, but they often are extremely overpriced because of the holiday and popularity of dining out.  

Cooking at home is significantly cheaper than dining out, even with more expensive food like steak or lamb.  You can put the money you will save toward a nice bottle of wine or your Valentine’s Day present.

3. Cooking At Home Shows You Truly Care

Taking the time to plan a menu, buy the ingredients and prepare a delicious meal truly shows someone you care.  It takes way more effort to prepare a fabulous meal yourself than it does to make a reservation at a restaurant.  

Inviting your special someone over while you cook is not only a great way to spend quality time together, but it is curiously impressive. Even if you are a terrible cook, the fact that you took the time and effort to cook makes the finished product less important; what matters is that you tried to produce something your sweetheart would enjoy.  It would also be fun to cook a meal together, rather than one person cooking.  

If the meal doesn’t turn out, you both can laugh about it over a freshly delivered pizza.

The menu DOES NOT need to be fussy or over the top; pasta dishes are great for people who aren’t the best of cooks.  Pasta is easy to cook, substantial enough to stand alone as an entrée and it is very easy to transform into a gourmet meal.  

Here is one recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook that I love, love, love: Fettuccine with melted Brie, sweet cherry tomatoes, and garlic. My mom used to make it all the time when I was growing up, and the only thing you have to cook is the pasta.  It’s absolutely the most delicious and easy recipe I’ve ever cooked and I have to say it’s by far the most elegant in presentation.  And don’t be afraid to use garlic—garlic is flavorful and perfectly okay to eat on Valentine’s Day since both of you will be eating it.

Fettuccine with Melted Brie, Tomatoes, and Basil-Anna Burges Lumsden deliciousmagazine.co.uk
Fettuccine with Melted Brie, Tomatoes, and Basil-Anna Burges Lumsden deliciousmagazine.co.uk

Fettuccine with Melted Brie and Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

Original recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Ingredients

• 4 ripe large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I use 2 packages of vine-ripe cherry tomatoes instead)

• 1 pound Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces (sometimes I add a an extra ¼ lb)

• 1 cup cleaned fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

• 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil

• 2½ teaspoons Kosher salt

• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• 1½ pounds of linguine (I use fettuccine; trust me, it holds the sauce much better)

• Freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

1.  Combine tomatoes, Brie, basil, garlic, 1 cup olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a large serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

2.  Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining salt. Add the pasta and boil until “al-dente” (tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes).

3.  Drain pasta and immediately toss into the bowl with the tomato and Brie sauce. Serve immediately after the Brie is melted and smooth, with freshly grated Parmesean cheese and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

NOTE: If you have time, make the Brie, olive oil, tomato and garlic mixture 1-2 hours in advance and let it sit, covered with plastic wrap at room temperature.  This allows the flavors to infuse into the olive oil.  If you don’t have time, it’s not a big deal—I’ve made it before just making the mixture while the pasta cooks.

So, if you were just about to Google the phone number of your favorite restaurant, consider instead trying this luxurious and velvety smooth pasta recipe or looking up some other delicious recipes that you can prepare and enjoy in the comfort and privacy of your own home.  There are TONS of websites, blogs, and online food websites that are filled with sample home-cooked Valentine's Day recipes and menu ideas.  Save your money and dressy outfits and spend the evening enjoying a romantic, thoughtful, and truly special dinner made with love.

Here are a few websites with Valentine's Day recipes and sample menus.  Take a look!
Send your food questions/suggestions (recipe ideas, restaurant recommendations, food questions, cooking tips, anything food related) to Veronica.  Your questions and comments might be featured in next week’s column!


 

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Comments

Anonymous (not verified) on February 14, 2011 4:11 PM

Soo good