Valentine’s date dinner recipes

Lisa Johnsey with her husband, Wayne.

By LISA CULOTTA JOHNSEY

Valentine’s Day is a day set aside to tell everyone how much we love them.

My husband and I celebrate each year by cooking a romantic meal at home. A tradition we started many years ago, we generally prepare the meal together, and to make it extra special, we get dressed up and eat in the dining room. Sometimes we invite another couple or two to enjoy the meal with us. Our children eat early and retire upstairs for a movie while we proceed with our dinner.

Our menu is extra special since it is just the two of us. It varies from lamb to fish or beef. This year, we are preparing a beef tenderloin served with a gorgonzola sauce along with sautéed shrimp and linguini and a simple salad. For dessert, we’re having my famous crème brulee with berries and chocolate dipped strawberries.

My husband puts on some music and we linger over dinner and try to focus on the emphasis of the night. Our conversation is not about the kids. We concentrate on the two of us and make it as romantic as possible. Last year, as we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, we began making plans to renew our vows while enjoying the Valentine’s Day dinner.  I wonder what this year’s dinner will bring!

Having a romantic dinner at home is a fun way to get reacquainted with one another. I hope you try some of these recipes for a very special meal from my table to yours.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Beef Tenderloin
1 tablespoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
3-5 pounds beef tenderloin

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix seasonings together in a bowl. Line a roasting pan with foil; leave some extra to cover the roast when done. Sprinkle roast with rub. Roast 45-55 minutes, depending on how you like it done (140 degrees for rare and 155 for medium).

Gorgonzola Sauce
1 ½ cups heavy cream
3 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Chives (chopped) to taste

Bring heavy cream to boil. Cook on a low boil for about 20 minutes until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until the cheese melts.

Sautéed Shrimp and Lemon Pasta

4 lemons (2 zested; 4 juiced, divided)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
½ teaspoon pepper

Combine ingredients and set aside.

2- 3 tablespoons butter
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Parsley, chopped
2 lemons, zested and juiced

Combine juice of two lemons, olive oil, Parmesan and pepper; set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet; add red pepper flakes and shrimp, sauté until just pink. Then add lemon zest and remaining juice. In the meantime, boil water for pasta; reserve some pasta water to thin out sauce if needed. When pasta is done to your taste, add it to the shrimp along with lemon sauce, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine shrimp and pasta, if too thick add some pasta water to thin it out.

Lisa Johnsey’s homemade crème brulee and chocolate covered strawberries.

Crème Brulee
1 egg + 4 egg yolks (room temperature)
½ cup sugar + some for the top
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat cream to scalding hot (not boiling). Beat eggs and add sugar slowly, beating until just mixed and a little frothy. Add cream to eggs, slowly, so the eggs do not curdle. Add vanilla. Fill custard cups or ramekins until almost full. Place in a baking pan and fill ½ way up with boiling water. Bake for about 30 minutes until custards are firm. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve sprinkle each cup with sugar (enough to cover the top completely). Heat a kitchen blowtorch and caramelize the tops until brown. Let cool briefly. If you do not have a blowtorch, you can put them under the broiler to brown. Serve with sliced berries.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
1 cup heavy cream
1 12-ounce package chocolate chips (your favorite)
Strawberries

Heat cream in a pot to the scalding point. Put chocolate chips in a bowl, pour cream over chips and stir vigorously until well combined and chocolate is melted.

Dip strawberries in chocolate, place on a dish and allow to dry. Chocolate will set but not harden.

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