A Romantic Dinner and Dessert at Home

Romantic Valentine's Dinner

I love going out; trying new restaurants, cocktails, and seeing all the gorgeous spaces in downtown Charleston that seem to be popping up every weekend &emdash; it’s fabulously fun.

Romantic Valentine's Dinner

However, sometimes it’s nice to do a romantic evening at home, away from the crowds, where the parking is plentiful and free, and you don’t have to walk four blocks, ruining your favorite heels, just to stand at the bar for twenty minutes to be seated.  You don’t have to wear shoes at all.

Romantic Valentine's Dinner

I can think of no more perfect time of the year to cook a fantastic romantic meal for two at home than in February, when the temperatures are a little chilly and Valentine’s Day is all around.  So I’m sharing my amazing Risotto Carbonara and Coconut Macaroon recipe with you today.  You’ll have some leftovers for lunch the next day ( reheats beautifully! ), but this is largely a meal perfect for two people, that even a beginner cook can accomplish with my detailed directions.

Romantic Valentine's Dinner

Risotto Carbonara

  • 4 ounce pancetta, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced ( ~1/2 cup, or less )
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks

Ingredients for Risotto Carbonara

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil.  Once the oil has heated through ( it will have a slight “ripple” effect to it ), carefully add the pancetta. Cook the pancetta until just starting to brown ( around 2 minutes ), stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium low.  Add the diced onion and stir to combine with the oil and pancetta.  Cook until the onions are translucent and softened, around 8 minutes.  Stir in the minced garlic.
  3. Add the rice to the pan, stir into the onion/garlic/pancetta mixture, making sure all of the grains of rice are coated with fat/oil.  Continue cooking over medium heat for a minute or two, until the rice starts to look translucent.
  4. Add one cup of the chicken broth.  Stir it into the other ingredients in the pot.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  If it takes longer than 5 minutes for the liquid to absorb, turn up the heat just a little on your stove. If it takes less than 5 minutes, turn the heat down.
  5. Repeat step 4 with another cup of broth.  Add the frozen peas to the pot, and then repeat step 4 again.  Add the last cup of chicken broth and stir to combine.  Cook until the rice is tender, but still has a thick, starchy sauce.  If it cooks until all the broth is gone again, you may add water 1/4 cup at a time to thin it out again.
  6. Remove from heat, and stir in the Pecorino Romano cheese. Stir in the egg yolks. Let the hot risotto rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Garnish with parsley if you’re feeling fancy.

Coconut Macaroons

  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pinch of salt

Macaroons before going into oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk everything but coconut until mixture is frothy.
  3. Stir in coconut.
  4. Shape into balls about 1” in diameter ( a ice cream scoop is a great tool for this — just make sure you really press the mixture into the scoop before doling the scoops out onto the cookie sheet )
  5. Bake for 18 minutes on baking sheet lined with parchment paper ( or a Silpat )

Romantic Valentine's Dinner

You can make both of these recipes at the same time ( making the macaroons during the 5 minute wait time between adding broth to the risotto ), and have dinner AND dessert ready in around 45 minutes.

If you’d like to learn more about cooking at home ( or dining out in Charleston ), make sure to drop by Basil & Bubbly for more posts like this one.

Marianne Rogers is two parts food, one part booze, and a dash of snark. She writes recipes and reviews from Charleston, SC. Her personal motto:...

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