The first time I did a newsletter on some of my favorite (which many of you requested, and continue to ask for), I took the challenge 100% seriously: Aside from salt, pepper, and oil/butter, all the recipes I picked really had only three ingredients. This time I’m going to cheat ever so slightly. Why? 1) Because the spirit of a 3-ingredient recipe is that it’s uncomplicated and doesn’t involve a lot of moving parts, so the difference between three and four and five is mostly negligible. 2) It’s Valentine’s Day on Thursday, and what better way to express your boundless passion than by flaunting the rules and going above and beyond? (This is a joke. As you might guess, I don’t acknowledge Valentine’s Day. But if you do, no judgement… chances are, you’re just less cynical than me.)
Valentine’s Day may be ridiculous in all sorts of ways (gender role expectations, the commercialization of affection, etc.,) but it remains a good excuse to cook something nice and use homemade food as a way to show someone else that they mean something to you and are worth a little effort. (SO much better than roses!) When it falls on a weekday (as it does this week), carving out enough time to produce a suitably “special” meal can seem a little overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. The following 3-ingredient (give or take) recipes are perfect for this occasion and require minimal time and effort, which lets you actually focus on whomever you’re cooking for. Here’s what we’ve got:
First, let’s not underrate the Valentine’s Day breakfast. It sets a nice tone for the day (you could also more sardonically think of it as getting it over with), and comes with the element of surprise. A Baked Egg with Prosciutto and Tomato is not only elegant, but stealthy. With no chopping, stirring, or skillet shaking of any kind, you can basically whip this up without making a sound, which paves the way for the highly prized sneak-attack breakfast in bed.
If dinner is more your thing, try seared scallops with a simple pan sauce (which work equally well as an appetizer or main course). They’re quick, luscious, and one of those dishes that for some reason seems really impressive even though it’s totally easy to make. Then there’s always a perfect steak: carnal, rosy red—I get why people like it on Valentine’s Day. The version here (one ingredient!) is grilled or broiled, which lets you avoid the blazing hot stovetop skillet that’ll fill your kitchen with smoke, set off your alarm, and cramp your style. Serve it with a salad so simple that it needs no recipe: a pile of greens tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Some bread. Done.
For dessert (non-negotiable on Valentine’s Day, I guess), look no further than chocolate mousse. It needs a little time to chill, which is actually an asset: Make it the night or a few hours before, put it in some fancy glasses or dishes or whatever you’ve got, and hide them in the back of the fridge behind the milk and OJ. Whenever you’re ready, the mousse will be good to go. (If you want something equally easy and delicious, try this raspberry fool.)
Whoever you cook for this week (yourself, your kids, your partners, your friends), I hope it’s delicious and I’ll see you Friday.
You can cook this dish just as easily for a big group (as long as you have enough ramekins) as you can for one person. At 15 minutes, it’s perhaps the slowest way to cook an egg, but it’s effortless. Instead of the prosciutto and tomato, you could put chopped cooked spinach or cooked asparagus in the bottom of the cup, with a little cream. Or place the egg on a bed of chopped ham, bacon or sausage. Sprinkle with Parmesan if you like.
Here’s the secret to simple and perfectly cooked scallops: Brown them in a hot pan, remove, make a little sauce, then return them to the pan just long enough to heat through and coat with the sauce.
In a nutshell: salt, pepper, meat, heat, eat. That's all I've got.
Once thought of as the most elegant of desserts, this ultra-rich chocolate pudding is still a real winner. It’s blazing quick to make—I’ve prepared it after dinner and still served it before my guests left. Once the chocolate is melted, the cooking is over; the mousse just sits until it sets up. You can spike it with rum, coffee, or other flavorings, but I like it simple—it’s the intensity of the chocolate that makes it special.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.