Your sweetheart comes home after a long day at work to the flicker of candle light coming from the dining room. A somewhat foreign but unmistakable aroma leads them past the table, immaculately prepared for two, and into the kitchen. Surprised, they cross the threshold to find you where they least expected you to be—standing across the counter, placing the final garnish atop two perfect steaks. Sure, you’ve cooked in the past, but this!—this looks amazing. You simply smile, pick up the two plates, and float past them towards the table. Valentine’s dinner is served.
30 minutes earlier
There’s a knock at the door. It’s your Munchery order.
Faking a Home-Cooked Valentine’s Dinner
Valentine’s Day is all about sharing a moment with the ones you love, not slaving away in the kitchen only to find out you’ve overcooked your steak. This year, get all the perks with a fraction of the work by letting us take care of the cooking. In this article, we’ll show you how, in under half an hour, you’ll be able to transform your Munchery order in to home-cooked heroics.
A Little Lovin’ From the Oven
Although your meal could be ready in just a few minutes using the microwave, we recommend you prepare your Valentine’s Day dinner in the oven. This should take only a few extra minutes, and it is sure to fill your house with the delicious scent of whatever you are heating up. Aroma is a fake chef’s best friend—we heavily associate smells with the places we experience them, making your home the unquestionable origin of the food coming out of your kitchen. If you’re really looking to sell it, ditch the oven-safe Munchery container and use your own cookware.
Set the Scene
While the food warms in the oven, it’s time for you to warm up the table setting. If you’re looking to go big, check out our holiday table setting pro tips. For a quick solution, think simple and elegant—a few candles, a humble centerpiece of a few flowers, and the necessary silverware for what you’ll be eating. After all, your home-cooked meal will be the star of the night.
Plate Like a Great
Presentation is crucial in pulling this off. The better your food looks on the plate, the harder it will be for your date to imagine it coming from anywhere other than your kitchen. To plate like a pro, follow these three tips from Munchery’s very own food stylist:
- Choose plates that are the right size. Large plates will make the meal look too sparse, and small plates leave the food looking overwhelming. You’ll want just enough negative space to frame the food without distracting from the masterpiece you’ve made!
- Contrast is key in highlighting your hard work. If your food is darker, choose a lighter plate, and vice versa. If you have several components of the same color, be careful not to cluster them together.
- Asymmetry creates an organic flow. This doesn’t mean you should need to be Picasso with your food—just keep it clean and steer clear of contrived symmetry (think a steak with asparagus on either side). Slice your meat and arrange it in a gentle fan—or, if you really want to sell the homemade element, slice it right at the table and plate it live.
Don’t Mind if I Fondue
When it looks like your date couldn’t be more impressed with your culinary capacities, cue the fondue—we’re offering a milk and white chocolate fondue in all our regions so that every Valentine’s dinner can end on a sweet note. Here’s what you need to know to make your kitchen seem like a bonafide chocolate factory:
- Keep the fondue warm during dinner. Not only will you be able to get straight into dessert, the kitchen will fill with the lovely aroma of seemingly homemade decadence. To accomplish this, make a simple water bath—get two big bowls (you’ll be exposing them to heat, so choose accordingly) and place each chocolate sauce in its own bowl. Get two different stove-safe pots and fill them halfway with water. Put them on low heat, and place a bowl of chocolate over each. The steam coming off the warming (but not boiling) water will keep the chocolate gooey and ready to dip.
- Arrange the dip-ables. Feel free to exercise your creativity when plating the sweet accompaniments, but make sure you group like foods together. Scattering the strawberries, for example, will make it seem like there are fewer than there are.
- Bring the water bath along. When you are finally ready to serve, put down a couple pot holders and bring the pots out with the fondue on top. You don’t want to be rushed, and the excess heat from the water should keep your fondue at the correct temperature, even away from the stove. Plus, you want to show off the careful preparation you’ve put into to this meal!