A Foolproof Guide to Cooking Dinner on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to show your love than with a delicious homemade dinner? Keyword, delicious

Whether you’re new to the kitchen or needing to brush up on some of the basics, we gotchu. Here are some simple cooking tips that will help make your Valentine’s Day dinner go off without a hitch…or maybe getting hitched is what you’re looking to accomplish, in which case—we hope this leads to that type of hitch. Anyway, we digress – step one, make one epic Valentine’s dinner.

How To Cook Fish

A plate with two fish and lemons

Cooking fish can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Once you master the technique, you’ll realize that it’s a much faster and easier to prep than meat. 

  1. Choose the right fish. The type of fish you choose will depend on your personal taste, but it’s important to select a fresh, high-quality fish. Look for firm, shiny flesh and a pleasant sea-like smell. Some popular options include salmon, cod, halibut, and tilapia.
  2. Use the right cooking methods. There are several ways to cook fish, including baking, grilling, sautéing, and frying. Each method has its own pros and cons, so choose the one that best suits your recipe and personal preferences. For example, grilling is great for fish with a firm texture, while baking is better for delicate fish like sole.
  3. Season your fish. Fish is a delicate food, so it’s important to season it lightly. A simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and lemon juice is all you need. You can also try different herbs and spices to add extra flavor, such as dill, parsley, or cumin.
  4. Be careful with the heat. Fish cooks quickly and can easily become overcooked. Keep a close eye on it and use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Fish is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.

How To Cook Shellfish

A bowl of clams and spaghetti

The number one rule for shellfish, and all seafood in general really is to make sure it’s fresh—there’s nothing romantic about food poisoning. Make sure to buy shellfish that is still alive and smells like the ocean. Avoid shellfish that is slimy or has a strong fishy smell. Before cooking, rinse the shellfish under cold running water and remove any dirt or debris. For mussels and clams, remove the beards by pulling them out with a sharp knife or scissors.

Steam Shellfish: 
  1. Steaming is one of the easiest and most popular ways to cook shellfish. Simply place the shellfish in a steamer basket or colander over a pot of boiling water and cover. Steam for a few minutes until the shells open. Discard any shells that do not open.
Grill Shellfish: 
  1. Grilled shellfish is a great option for a summer barbecue. Simply brush the shellfish with oil and seasonings, and grill for a few minutes on each side until the shells open.
Sauté Shellfish: 
  1. Sautéing shellfish is a quick and easy way to cook them. Simply heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the shellfish, and sauté for a few minutes until the shells open.
Pressure Cooker Shellfish: 
  1. If you’re in a hurry and want to cook shellfish quickly, a pressure cooker is a great option. Simply add the shellfish, liquid, and seasonings to the cooker and cook for a few minutes until the shells open.

Finally, serve your shellfish with a sauce. Shellfish is delicious on its own, but it’s even better when paired with a flavorful sauce. Try serving shellfish with a garlic butter sauce, lemon-herb sauce, or a spicy tomato sauce.

How To Cook Steak

A cast iron pan with steak and roasted vegetables

For a perfect steak, it’s important to bring the steak to room temperature before cooking, season it generously with salt and pepper, and cook it to your desired level of doneness. A good way to cook steak is on a cast iron skillet or grill.

  1. Choose the right cut of meat: When it comes to cooking steak, the cut of meat you choose is crucial. Some of the most popular cuts for steak include ribeye, filet mignon, and New York strip. Each cut has its own unique flavor and texture, so be sure to choose the one that best suits your taste preferences.
  2. Season the steak well: Before cooking, be sure to season your steak with a generous amount of salt and pepper. This will help to bring out the natural flavors of the meat and ensure that your steak is perfectly seasoned.
  3. Preheat your pan: Before cooking your steak, make sure to preheat your pan to a high heat. This will help to ensure that your steak cooks evenly and quickly.
  4. Cook to your desired doneness: When cooking your steak, be sure to pay close attention to the internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your steak is cooked to your desired doneness.
  5. Let the steak rest: Once your steak is cooked, it is important to let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. This will allow the juices to redistribute and ensure that your steak is juicy and flavorful.
  6. Serve with the right sides: To complete your steak dinner, be sure to serve it with the right sides. Some popular options include roasted vegetables, potatoes, or a salad.

How To Cook Chicken Breast

A plate of grilled chicken breasts and vegetables surrounded by cherry tomatoes

Chicken breast can be a bit tricky to cook as it can easily become dry. To avoid this, make sure to pound the chicken breast to an even thickness before cooking.

  1. Start with the right cut of chicken. When it comes to chicken breast, look for plump, even-sized pieces that are not overly thick or thin. This will ensure that they cook evenly and don’t dry out.
  2. Marinate your chicken. Marinating your chicken breast in a flavorful mixture of herbs, spices, and acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar can help to keep it moist and flavorful. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight for extra flavor.
  3. Cook at the right temperature. Chicken breast should be cooked at an internal temperature of 165°F, which can be achieved by cooking it at 350-400°F in the oven, or on medium-high heat on the stove. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature before removing the chicken from the heat.
  4. Don’t overcook it. One of the most common mistakes when cooking chicken breast is leaving it in the oven or on the stove for too long. Overcooking can cause the chicken to dry out, so be sure to keep an eye on it and remove it from the heat as soon as it reaches the right internal temperature.
  5. Let it rest. Once your chicken breast is cooked, be sure to let it rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to become more tender.

How To Cook Vegetables

A plate of roasted potatoes

To cook the perfect vegetables, it’s important to choose fresh, high-quality produce and to not overcook them. 

Roasting Vegetables:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut your vegetables into similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly.
  3. Toss the vegetables with a bit of olive oil and your favorite seasonings.
  4. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  5. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and golden brown.
Steaming Vegetables:
  1. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Place your vegetables in a steamer basket or colander and place it over the boiling water.
  3. Cover the pot and let the vegetables steam for 5-10 minutes, or until they are tender.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the steamer and season them with your favorite herbs and spices.
Stir Fry Vegetables:
  1. Heat a bit of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add your vegetables to the pan and stir fry them for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add your favorite sauce or seasoning and continue stir frying for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the pan and serve immediately.

How To Prepare a Romantic Dessert

Heart shaped pink sugar cookies with Valentines messages

To finish off the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner, a romantic dessert is a must. 

  1. Start with a classic recipe. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the tried and true when it comes to Valentine’s Day desserts. Chocolate truffles, cheesecake, and red velvet cupcakes are all classic favorites that are sure to please.
  2. Add a personal touch. To make your dessert extra special, add a personal touch. For example, you could make a heart-shaped cake or write a message on top of a cheesecake with frosting.
  3. Use high-quality ingredients. The quality of your ingredients will greatly affect the taste of your dessert. Make sure to use the best quality chocolate, butter, and cream you can afford.
  4. Experiment with flavors. If you’re feeling adventurous, try experimenting with different flavors. For example, you could add a touch of lavender to a cheesecake or make a chocolate raspberry tart.
  5. Get creative with presentation. The presentation of your dessert is just as important as the taste. Get creative with your presentation by using different shaped molds or decorating your desserts with fresh flowers or edible glitter.
  6. Make it a team effort. If you’re making a dessert with your significant other, make it a team effort. You can take turns measuring ingredients, mixing, and decorating.
  7. Practice makes perfect. Remember that practice makes perfect. If you’re new to baking, don’t be afraid to make a few test runs before Valentine’s Day.

Story Plate Recommended Recipes

If you’re looking for more specific recipe inspo, we suggest checking out our collection of recipes that give back to charitable causes. Maybe start your meal with an Asaparagus and Gingered Grapefruit Salad from Ris or a Ceasar style salad Insalata Nostrana from Nostrana. For your main course check out our recipe for Pan Seared Diver Scallops with Tart & Creamy Lemon Truffle Risotto with Chive Oil from Vessel NOLA, or Braised Lamb Shoulder from Angèle Restaurant and Bar, or even Pad Thai from Pig and Khao. End your meal with Macchialina’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote or for something sweet and simple, Em’s Mom’s Blondies from Emily Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. 

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