Valentine’s Day Menu 2019

Well, it’s that time again to celebrate that most romantic of holidays, VD. And if your Valentine’s Day is anything like ours (“ours” meaning mine and The One Who Brings Me Love, Joy, and Happiness), it usually involves smooching, exchanging of cards and gifts, an argument (or three), and dinner of some sort.

But we rarely go to restaurants these days. The sight of billing and cooing couples is the ultimate anti-aphrodisiac. (That’s why God created bedrooms, people!) On top of that, unless we remortgage the apartment to pay for dinner at a chichi, Michelin-starred, lock-jawed restro where I actually have to wear a jacket AND a tie, we end up someplace having a meal we could’ve made (better) ourselves. And that usually ignites a huge argument. So, to avoid ending up on someone’s YouTube feed having a fabulous gay catfight, and considering that we like cooking and spending time alone, we now opt to cook at home.

A terrine of country pate with one slice cut and resting on a wooden cutting board with a knife beside it
David Leite | Elie Nassar
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Country Pâté

This country pâté is made by cooking pork shoulder and liver with spices, heavy cream, and a splash of brandy. Perfect for entertaining and a stunning addition to any charcuterie plate.

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday, so we’ll be rushing up to our house in Roxbury, Connecticut, from our apartment in Manhattan to cook together. The menu is simple but the appetizer–Country Pâté from the upcoming Pâte, Confit, and Rillette by Brian Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman–does require a bit of planning. So we’re making it this weekend and letting it rest for several days before digging in. (Since we don’t have the recipe on the site–yet–below is an admirable substitute.)

Two chops from a roasted rack of lamb with parsley, Dijon, and chives on a white plate with a cooked zucchini and tomato mixture.
Quentin Bacon
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Roasted Rack of Lamb with Parsley, Dijon, and Chives

This is lovely served with a market-fresh green vegetable, including spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, collard greens.

For those of you who might not fancy our menu’s main course of a rack of lamb, we also include below a few other options, including a sassy, indulgent, vegetarian truffled mac and cheese. Yes, truffled.

A white plate full of dry fried green beans with crumbled pork and a pair of chopsticks on the side.
Tara Fisher
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Dry-Fried Green Beans

Dry-fried green beans are one of Sichuan's most famous recipes. The beans are fried until slightly wrinkled. Ground pork, rice wine, and fermented Ya Cai round out the flavor.
A white casserole dish with a roasted, spiced chicken it in, flanked by a dish of avocado salad and a bowl of lime wedges.
Ellen Silverman
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Peruvian Roast Chicken

This Peruvian roast chicken borrows its Latin American accent from a marinade of paprika, cumin, lemon, and garlic, creating an amazing Technicolor Dream Coat color and a really quite spectacular taste.
Truffled mac and cheese in four mini-casserole pans, one with a fork and a few mouthfuls missing.
Ben Fink
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Truffled Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese just went from kids' food to fancy schmancy. All you need to do is toss in a few shavings of black truffle and some truffle oil. Pricey, perhaps. But well worth it every once in a special while.

Now, while you can end your night with any of a gazillion desserts, we implore you to join us in baking our Forever and Completely Chocolate Cake. (Ok, fine. It’s the classic Hershey’s chocolate cake from the back of the tin. But I added espresso powder to the batter and fiddled with the frosting to make it extra silken and rich.)

A slice of Hershey's chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a yellow plate, with the remaining cake on a stand in the background.
David Leite
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Hershey’s Chocolate Cake Redux

This Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe with frosting is an old-fashioned classic American dessert that will never, ever disappoint. Simple and simply the best.

Because this Valentine’s night, while The One and I are sitting at our table splurging on big fat slices of our chocolate cake, we’ll be thinking of all the couples, thruples, single ladies, human-pet duos, and those who think VD is a ridiculous, commercial holiday meant to make Hallmark rich. And we’ll be hoping that they, too, are sporting chocolate-smeared smiles. Won’t you join us?


David Signature

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. David, beautiful meals, all. How can one decide? At least there’s no thinking about the dessert–chocolate! My husband has no interest in cooking, but he’s a good helper–he’ll come in and chop stuff for me when I have too many irons in the fire!