My husband is a sweetheart. Seriously—he’s romantic, sincere, kind-hearted, giving…the list goes on and on.
And I’m…well, I’m an asshole.
While he spends time making sweet gestures that strengthen our marriage, like surprising me with flowers, I spend my time making fun of his beard, or his field of study, or his love of Smallville, or all three at once.
Here’s the Valentine’s Day card I got for my sweet husband:
Nice, right? Here’s the inside:
Aaaaaand I’m an asshole. As my dad likes to say, “That’s my M.O.” (Wonder where I got it from?)
But somehow, day after day, month after month, year after year, Ryan puts up with me. And so, every so often, I decide to surprise him with a romantic gesture of my own…Lord knows he deserves one.
For Valentine’s Day, Ryan made reservations for us to try a semi-new restaurant in downtown Altoona—Bold. While I’m still excited to try this restaurant, when he told me that he’d made the reservations, I began to hatch my own plan for how to surprise him with a Valentine’s Day dinner at home. Ryan has surprised me twice now with fun, romantic meals (remember the owl appetizers?), and I’ve yet to do the same for him. Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect time to get a little sneaky with a romantic surprise.
I planned a meal that wouldn’t really require any unusual ingredients, so I was able to throw everything I needed into the cart during our regular shopping trip on Sunday without Ryan even noticing. The meal plan: provencal roasted carrots, caramelized onion and goat cheese risotto, harvest salad, and strawberry wontons for dessert.
When Ryan left for campus yesterday, I got to work caramelizing the onions. Caramelized onions are always a struggle for me, mainly because I’m so impatient. The key is to put them over *very* low heat, but I always try to pump the heat a little higher to hurry the process along, and then the onions end up getting burned. Yesterday, I took my time:
(two onions, chopped, plus a table spoon of olive oil and a 1/2 tsp. salt)
And they ended up perfect, about 45 minutes later!
I also did a trial run of the wontons. To make the filling, I simply mixed about a cup of strawberries, diced very small, with a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a few teaspoons of sugar. You could leave the vinegar out, but I think it gives the filling a nice sweet tang.
To make the wontons, I simply used store-bought wonton wrappers, placing a very small amount of filling on one side, and then folding the other side over. Wetting the edges of the wonton wrapper helps them to adhere.
Later that night, after our actual dinner, I brushed the top of each wonton with an egg wash, sprinkled some sugar over them, and baked the wontons (6 total) for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees. It doesn’t take long, and you have to watch them closely—otherwise, they’ll burn.
But, before we got to dessert, we had…dinner! Ryan had a guitar lesson from 5:00 to 5:30, so as soon as he got out of the house, I got to work on the risotto. I think some people are intimidated by risotto, but once you learn the method for cooking it, it really is no-fail. Here’s the recipe I used last night:
Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Risotto
3-4 shallots, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1 generous pour of white wine (about a cup?)
4 cups broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup caramelized onions
1/4 cup goat cheese
In a pot, put the broth over low heat. It should be warm when stirring into the risotto. On a separate burner, in a heavy-bottomed pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to shimmer. Add rice and cook over medium heat until rice begins to toast a bit, about 5 minutes (you can do this longer for a deeper flavor, but be careful not to burn the rice). Season with salt and pepper. Add wine, deglazing the pan. Allow to boil down, and once wine has been absorbed, begin ladling in broth on cup at a time; with each cup, allow the rice to absorb the liquid, stirring frequently, before adding more.
After about 30-40 minutes, you should have worked your way through all of the broth, and the rice should be done—creamy, but not falling apart. Stir in the parmesan cheese plus additional salt and pepper if needed.
Top with caramelized onions and goat cheese and serve immediately.
And serve immediately…we did! After I sent him on a little Nick Nolte/Julia Roberts-style goose chase (I Love Trouble, anyone?), he arrived home around 6:00 to a fully-cooked Valentine’s dinner!
We sat down to risotto:
…and roasted carrots:
…and, of course, wine:
After dinner, I cooked up the wontons and spooned the remaining strawberries and sauce on top:
We really liked this dessert! I foresee some wonton experimenting in our future… 🙂
Ryan was very pleased with his sweet surprise…which is good, because it probably won’t happen again for at least another six months. It’s back to asshole mode for me. Sorry, Matisyahu.
Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day too!