I hadn't given a ton of thought to Valentine's Day food posts this year….
For one thing, I don't really think you should heap that much pressure on yourself to come up with The Perfect Meal. Do that and you practically guarantee burnt sauces and overdone meat and wilted salads and accidentally-used-salt-instead-of-sugar desserts. I'm not saying that'll happen to everyone, but still, pressure to be perfect can up the odds.
I think, well, at least for me, in my own little world, it's much more fun to cook the meal together. Just pick some fun dishes that appeal to you, and go for it. Just hanging out in the kitchen, chopping stuff, elbowing each other out of the way, doing each others' prepwork dishes, tasting sauces and deciding if something needs salt – it's a nice way to spend an evening, or an afternoon, or whatever time of day works for you.
Back before we had kids, we used to cook together a LOT. In our tiny little rental cottage kitchen (which was carpeted, I kid you not. Indoor/outdoor carpeting through the whole little house.), with the weirdly textured faded goldenrod-colored counters. We had a blast. We did a lot of Asian cooking in those days, and lest you think I'm lumping all Asian cuisines together into one big pile, I'm not. We cooked Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese, Indian, and who knows what else. It was a great learning period, and we had some incredibly memorable meals. We threw little parties with tons of food, and drove ourselves happily crazy with all the prepwork and planning and timing and WHERE DO WE PUT EVERYTHING? It was great fun.
Anyway, if you enjoy cooking, and if you've got someone who enjoys cooking, too, then that might be the thing to do this year.
One year we actually made a reservation at our favorite restaurant and went OUT to eat for Valentine's Day. As did everyone else on the planet. Our cozy, homey, lovely, 11-table Italian husband-and-wife-run restaurant was packed, and it just was NOT the same experience at all.
So stay home. Avoid the crowds. Cook your own food. Get rid of the pressure. It's only a day, like any other day. And…that being said…rather than treating Valentine's Day like the One and Only Romantic Special Day in the Year, tone that down, and distribute the feeling throughout the year. Cook together every weekend. Or every other weekend. Make regular old non-hyped days special.
That said, I went back to February 2008 in this blog, a year when I'd decided to do a whole series of Valentine's Day food ideas, from February 1 to February 13. I really cranked them out in those two weeks. Some dinner or lunch…some dessert. I don't remember right now if I'd put a breakfast in there or not. Guess I'll find out in a minute when I start adding the links.
Anyway, in case you're interested, I've got links to all those posts conveniently gathered below, and then I might throw in a few other links to foods that seem special (to me, anyway) and worthy of torturing yourself with cooking for someone else. Or cooking WITH someone else.
Ready? I've babbled on enough, I'm sure. Here we go, then. In order of appearance.
Baby Buffalo Ball Sandwiches – February 3, 2008 (I'm not sure if this was part of the series, but they're yummy, so why not? Or you could make them for Superbowl Sunday, if you prefer.)
Chocolate Hearts with Raspberry Coulis and Crème Anglaise – February 5, 2008 For which you will need to refer to the following accompanying posts:
(I didn't post anything for a couple of days, but then I got caught up again)
That's the end of the 2008 roundup. Now here are a few other recipes to help fill in any gaps….
Or, if that's too early in the day for you…
My Favorite Pizza Dough – the toppings are up to you.
Pastry-Wrapped Brie with Caramelized Onions (which, incidentally, was recently featured by Saveur.com in their Best of the Web series, which means I am now listed among their "Sites We Love", and that just continues to amaze me. In a good way.
Split Pea Soup (because nothing says "I Love You" like legumes and a ham hock!)
Risotto with Really Wild Mushrooms (or you could just make pretty much ANY kind of risotto. Yum.)
Oh, you get the idea.
And yes, those are just recipes you can find on my li'l ol' site here. I know there are TONS of other great ideas out there, so, if you're planning to cook or bake, but you don't know WHAT yet, then you've got your work cut out for you, with all the choices there are.
And now, back to normal posting.