At-Home Dinner Date for Valentine’s Day

At-Home Dinner Date for Valentine’s Day

By Mary Small Published January 2021

Since the last Valentine’s Day you celebrated, it is likely you have had the majority of your “date nights” at home with your honey. That is why it is extra important that you amplify your efforts this year. ABC Fine Wine & Spirits', Chef Macy, has crafted a four-course menu full of remarkable recipes to impress your love. Of course, we wouldn’t suggest any dishes without the proper wine to pair! ABC wine expert, Nathan Dale, has selected his favorite bottles to pop open with each delicious bite.

First Course

They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. If that is true, then a four-course meal should do the trick. For the appetizer, you will want to select something relatively light, so they don’t fill up before the main dish. We suggest seafood paired with a light and effervescent wine.

Tempura Fish Sliders with Picked Onion, Apple and Fennel paired with Jean Philippe Crémant de Limoux Rosé

The Dish: Tempura Fish Sliders with Picked Onion, Apple and Fennel

  • 8, 2-ounce pieces flakey white fish (1 pound)

  • 6 ounces ponzu sauce

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 2 cups chilled soda water (regular water will also work)

  • Coconut oil

  • 1, 12-count package sweet rolls

  • 2 cups pickled onions, apples and fennel*

  • Citrus yogurt drizzle*

*Pickled Onions, Apples and Fennel:

  • 2 limes, juiced

  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

  • 1 small red onion, julienned

  • 1 small bulb fennel, shaved or sliced thin

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, julienned

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

*Citrus Yogurt Drizzle:

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • 1 orange, juiced and zested

  • 1 limes, zested

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • Pinch of cayenne (optional)

For Pickled Onions, Apples and Fennel: Add to mixing bowl: lime juice, vinegar, honey and olive oil; mix well. Add remaining ingredients, toss to coat. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

For Citrus Yogurt Drizzle: Combine all ingredients together and mix until combined.

Place fish pieces into a sizable bowl and toss with ponzu, coating thoroughly; set aside and allow to marinate for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix flour, cornstarch and salt. In separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and cold water. Once you are ready to fry the fish, sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mix. Tap the flour mixture into the wet mixture, turning the bowl each tap, until just incorporated but not overmixed. Batter should be lumpier than traditional pancake batter.

Heat coconut oil to 330 degrees Fahrenheit in a frying pan.

Take fish pieces and make sure to pat them dry completely, then dunk into batter, shake off excess batter and hold end piece in fryer for 2 seconds, then drop the fish into the oil (this enables the piece to float versus immediately sink to the bottom and stick). Fry 5-6 minutes until crispy and light golden brown, flipping halfway through frying, and until they have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oil and transfer to wire rack. Fry remaining pieces.

Prepare sliders by cutting rolls in half and toasting the cut sides under broiler or in a pan. Place 1 piece of fish on bottom of each roll then top with pickled onions, apple and fennel, drizzle with citrus yogurt and place top bun; secure with toothpick if necessary. Serve immediately.

Wine to Pair: Jean Philippe Crémant de Limoux Rosé

Jean Philippe Crémant de Limoux Rosé is a perfectly pink sparkling drink to start off your Valentine’s night. “Sparkling wines generally go with everything, but the acidity will mingle beautifully with the tempura batter and the fish, while the fruitiness will connect with the apple and fennel,” said Dale. With aromas of pink roses and strawberries and a dry finish, this sparkling Rosé will be a highlight of your holiday.

Second Course

For round two, a soup or salad is appropriate to serve. Since this is no ordinary at-home dinner, stray away from the typical lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad. Roasted vegetables are easy and impressive and beans make a great salad base. Try the best of both with this roasted cauliflower and garbanzo bean salad paired with a creamy white Burgundy.

Roasted Cauliflower & Garbanzo Bean Salad paired with Domaine Gueguen Bourgogne Côtes

The Dish: Roasted Cauliflower & Garbanzo Bean Salad

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into ½” florets (stems can also be included)

  • 2 tablespoons & ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground

  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced

  • 3 green onions, sliced thin

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 bunch Italian parsley (about 2 cups), finely chopped (stems included)

  • 2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced

  • 1, 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

  • 4-5 ounces arugula

Set oven to high broil and place rack on the second to highest place in oven.

Place cauliflower, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and cumin in bowl and toss to coat. Spread out evenly onto sheet pan (do not overcrowd), place in oven and cook for 5-7 minutes or until browning occurs. Flip over cauliflower and continue to cook for additional 5-7 minutes or until browning occurs. Remove and allow to cool.

Combine garlic, onions, remaining salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, parsley and remaining ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil into a large bowl and mix. With clean hands, crush tomatoes into the mixture until broken down. Toss in beans and cauliflower; mix thoroughly. Place on top of a bed of arugula and serve family style or individual. Serves 4-6 people.

Wine to Pair: Domaine Gueguen Bourgogne Côtes

White Burgundy (Chardonnay typically) works great with this dish because of texture. The creaminess of the garbanzo beans will complement the mild creaminess of the Chardonnay. The stone fruit flavors will also contrast the roasted cauliflower in a very enjoyable way.

Third Course

The main course is where you want to shine. Risotto is notorious for being a difficult dish, but this buckwheat twist will leave a lasting impression. A heavier dish like a hearty pasta or risotto needs a full-bodied wine that stands up to the flavors to pair. A Nebbiolo from Northern Italy rises to that challenge.

Mushroom Buckwheat Risotto paired with Cabutto Nebiolo Langhe DOC

The Dish: Mushroom Buckwheat Risotto

  • Truffle oil

  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • 8 ounces mushrooms (cremini, button, or shiitake or a blend of all), sliced

  • 1 small yellow onion or ½ medium, diced

  • ½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence (or Italian herbs)

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced

  • ¼ cup dry red wine

  • 2 cups dry buckwheat groats, soaked and rinsed thoroughly

  • 4 cups (32 ounces) bone broth or stock (any type), divided

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • ½ cup Italian parsley, chopped

  • 9 ounces shaved aged parmesan

Pour truffle oil in a medium-sized Dutch oven or similar pot, heat pan on medium-high heat. Add butter. Once butter starts to foam, add mushrooms, stir once, then spread out and browned for 2-3 minutes. Stir, then add onions and herbs. Cook for 2 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then deglaze with red wine; making sure to scrape the bottom of pot for any brown bits.

Add buckwheat and 2 cups of bone broth, salt and pepper, and stir. Cover and turn heat down to low. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add additional bone broth and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring periodically. Replace lid and cook for additional 12-15 minutes or until buckwheat has softened and a creamy consistency has occurred. Stir in parsley and 8 ounces of parmesan. Drizzle with truffle oil and garnish with remaining parmesan.

Wine to Pair: Cabutto Nebbiolo Langhe DOC

Stick-to-your-ribs food like this needs a wine that can do the same. “Cabutto is a large, brooding and tannic Nebbiolo from the Langhe that will slice right though the umami flavors in this dish,” said Dale. Enjoy a glass with your main course, but don’t forget to save room for dessert!

Fourth Course

You may be full at this point, but take a deep breathe and press on. You won’t want to skip these chocolate swirled butter cookies. Afterall, chocolate is an aphrodisiac. We know you’ve already done a lot of work, so we kept the dessert recipe simple.

Keto chocolate swirled butter cookies paired with Cuvelier Los Andes Malbec

The Dish: Keto Chocolate Swirled Butter Cookies

  • 1 ¾ cups almond flour

  • ¼ cup coconut flour

  • ⅔ cup monk fruit or swerve sweetener

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 8 tablespoons European butter, softened

  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon cocoa powder

Place flours, sweetener and salt in mixing bowl and mix on low speed using a paddle attachment. Turn speed up to medium and add butter, one tablespoon at a time until mixed.

Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and continue to mix for 30 seconds.

Remove from bowl and mound in the center of large piece of plastic. Place another piece of plastic on top and flatten into a rectangle, about ⅓” thick. Wrap completely and refrigerate until chilled through, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from fridge and remove top layer of plastic wrap. Dust evenly with cocoa powder. Then roll dough into a 6” x 2” log or divide in half and roll each half into smaller logs, (make sure plastic is not included). Rewrap tightly in plastic by twisting both ends.

Freeze for an additional 20 minutes, (rotating halfway).

Once firm, remove from plastic wrap and cut into ¼” rounds and place onto parchment paper lined sheet pan.

Place into preheated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate and turn down temperature to 315 degrees Fahrenheit for 9 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool completely.

Tips & Ideas

  1. You can also opt to roll out dough after refrigeration and do cut-outs instead of log form.

  2. Change flavor profile by adding or swapping out different flavored extracts.

  3. Prior to rolling, spread a little jam or hazelnut spread.

  4. After baking, melt chocolate of choice and top with nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles or all three.

  5. Make sandwich cookies too.

Wine to Pair: Cuvelier Los Andes Malbec

High altitude Malbec tends to have a richness that can be likened to chocolate. This particular choice is not too sweet, but round, fruity and warm. Cuvelier Los Andes Malbec will make your cookies all the more decadent. You’ll enjoy intense aromas of blackberry and blueberry with hints of spices as you sip with your sweetheart.

Looking for other ways to spice up your Valentine’s Day? Check out more ABC Fine Wine & Spirit tips on how to wine and dine your Valentine.

Interested in learning more? Visit our ABC Blog page.