So you'd like to have a cozy Valentine's Day dinner for two, but fighting your way through an overcrowded restaurant doesn't exactly scream "romantic." Why not stay in this February 14th? A homey Valentine's Day dinner can be just as memorable, as long as you include a few special touches, as in this steak dinner for two. Bonus: It can be pulled off with a minimal amount of planning.
· Appetizer: A fancy cheese plate paired with the wine of your choice. Scour the specialty cheeses at Food Lion, and pick some (maybe Manchego or Gruyere) that you've never tried before. Pair thin slices of cheese with artisan multi-grain crackers.
· Entrée: Grilled teriyaki flank steak. What could be more romantic than a steak dinner for two? Here's a hint: One of the most delicious steaks is also the most economical. Try flank steak. The secret is in the preparation. First, ask your Food Lion butcher to score the meat, criss-crossing it lightly with a knife. The night before your dinner, marinate the flank steak to make it tender. You can use a terrific ready-made version, like Soy Vay or Kikkoman, or concoct your own. (For a 1-pound steak, blend ¼ cup oil, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 garlic clove, and 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger.) To prepare, grill the steak on high heat about 6-8 minutes for rare, or 10 minutes for medium. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, and then slice very thinly across the grain for optimum tenderness.
· Sides: Nothing could be easier (or more delicious) with steak than a fluffy baked potato served with generous dollops of butter and sour cream (it's Valentine's Day, so go ahead and indulge). Simply scrub potatoes, poke holes in them with a fork, and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. With 15 minutes to go, add a pan of fresh veggies to the oven. (A good mix is carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts drizzled with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.) Roast for 15 minutes, or until the veggies are nicely browned at the edges.
· Dessert: Dip plump, ripe strawberries into melted chocolate for a classic Valentine’s Day dessert. In a bowl, microwave a 10-ounce package of chocolate chips plus a tablespoon of vegetable shortening for about 45 seconds. Stir and microwave a little more if the mixture isn't quite melted. Dip the ends of the berries into the melted chocolate and place on wax paper to set. (You can add a few sprinkles to make them even more festive.) Bonus: You can make this dessert ahead of time and keep chilled till the time is right. You may love it so much that you'll decide to stay in again next year.