You don't need to have fancy cooking skills in order to prepare the ultimate Valentine's Day meal for your honey, but it does help to have some professional advice to guide you in the kitchen! That's where Bravo's Top Chef comes in — here, our highly skilled Season 16 cheftestants share what foods and recipes are surefire ways to woo your date on February 14, from the simple (just open a bottle and voila!) to the complex (see David Viana's recipe for a sumptuous saffron pasta with lobster and leeks). You're sure to find something that appeals to your particular love style:
Eric Kwaku Sarpong Adjepong
"White wine and butter-poached lobster. Melt a lot of butter low and slow. Cook those tails for a few minutes and plate that on top of some pasta. Feel free to name your love child after me."
Kelsey Barnard Clark
"A perfect ribeye basted in butter, rosemary, and crushed garlic. Wine."
Pablo Emiliano Lamon
"Oysters with fresh lime juice, chopped mint, and lime zest."
"Hot dog and a bag of Cheetos (that’s what I’d want, anyway)."
"Wear an apron. Just an apron. I think if you make a home-cooked meal with lots of thought and care it doesn’t matter what you made — just making it is sexy enough. However, if I had to pick, I think everyone should have their own version of roasted chicken in their back pocket in order to impress!"
"Well, if I was being wooed, it would take a creme caramel or flan topped with fresh passionfruit. First off, I love that flavor combination; the sour and sweet passionfruit with the creamy custard. Secondly, it is a dish with the word passion in it. How could it not be a home run?"
"For my wife, I make a white chocolate panna cotta with macerated fruit and a long pepper crispy butter tuile.
"One surefire recipe for wooing my husband is my M&M cookies. It worked 12 years ago and still makes him very happy."
"A Valentines Day cocktail: Champagne, St. Germain, and strawberry puree."
"Bourbon and water."
"A perfectly roasted chicken for two with deeply roasted potatoes, carrots, and cipollini onions."
"Saffron Pasta with Lobster and Leeks [and here's the full recipe!]:
2 Live lobsters
1 cup butter (at room temperature)
1 large ripe tomato
1 leek (sliced thinly into half moons)
2 tablespoons Pernod
1 teaspoon saffron threads
4 sprigs basil
4 sprigs oregano
4 sprigs parsley
Salt and pepper
Kill the lobsters by inserting the tip of the knife through the lobster’s head. Separate the arms and tails from the body. Blanch the tails for three minutes and the arms for six minutes, cool in ice bath after the blanch.
Remove the meat from the shells and cut into bite size pieces.
Score and x into the bottom of the tomato with your knife. Blanch the tomato in boiling water until the skin begins to curl back from the tomato (30 to 60 seconds). Immediately transfer to ice water until cooled.
Peel the skin from the tomato and discard. Cut the core of the tomato and dice the flesh small.
Heat two tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan over medium low heat. Add the leeks and sweat until soft but not browned. Add Pernod and saffron threads and cook until liquid evaporates.
Blanch the pasta in salted water and add to the pan with the leeks (reserve the pasta water).
Add the diced tomato, lobster meat, butter and herbs to the pan. Toss over medium heat until the sauce gets creamy and coats the pasta. Add a little pasta water if necessary to help create the creamy sauce."
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