Bonus letter: Treat yourself
Valentine's Day ideas from around the internet
Every holiday in quarantine is kind of a drag, and Valentine’s Day generally seems to be great for only a very small proportion of people in a normal year, so I bet we’re all really looking forward to Sunday, huh?
In honor of this dubiously romantic day, I wanted to give you a few cooking project ideas to treat yourself with. Most of them require some work (except the steak...yes there is steak because that’s what I personally would prefer to chocolate). But that’s okay, because YOU are worth it. All but one of these recipes I’ve made multiple times over the years (but not so recently that I have photos for all of them, sorry!).
I identify as someone who doesn’t like chocolate, but I do eat a few chocolate things and brownies are one of them. Hold the chocolate chips please. (Don’t @ me. Haven’t I suffered enough?) This recipe uses cocoa instead of chocolate, but still asks you to build most of the batter over a double boiler (bowl set over a pot of simmering water) and later you will have to “beat vigorously for 40 strokes.” But! The payoff for that work is a super fudgy pan of brownies that even a chocolate hater can love. If it sounds like too much work, buy brownie mix! I am not here to judge you.
I first made this recipe as heart-shaped cupcakes straight from Nigella Lawson’s baking cookbook, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, with my high school boyfriend. Since then, I’ve made it many times for Valentine’s Day and birthday gifts--because yes, this unadorned loaf cake is good enough to be a birthday cake. It’s curiously light and fluffy and dense and rich at the same time, and takes well to having some warm spices added if that’s your jam. The only challenging part is the last step, which asks you to alternate adding flour and boiling water to the batter by the spoonful, but I’ve always found the reaction of my friends on their first bite to be worth the work.
Butterscotch Pudding by David Lebovitz
A dimly-lit pub type of restaurant at a mall in my hometown had butterscotch pudding as a dessert and I would always order it because it was unique to me as a kid (and not chocolate). I remember it being rich and toasty tasting, and always served warm. At some point as an adult I decided to give it a shot at home, and I have a very fond memory of making this recipe on vacation with my partner and having to let it set overnight, so we ate it for breakfast the next day. This particular recipe discourages you from pressing plastic wrap onto the pudding as it sets, a step that most people do to avoid it forming a skin. I however prefer it without the skin and unlike the recipe writer, again, I am not here to judge you.
Confetti Cookies by Smitten Kitchen
Cookies that taste as good as they look (pictured above). God bless. They taste like what a vanilla cake tastes like in your dreams. Also they have sprinkles because you are special! The only finicky things about this recipe are that it calls for a very small amount of cream cheese (treat yourself to bagels too!) and, of course, rolling the dough balls in the sprinkles...but if you want confetti cookies, how else do you expect the sprinkles to get there?
Steak for One by Eric Kim
Okay, now we are moving away from the most Valentine’s Day associated treats and toward my personal taste, which is savory. I have not actually made this steak recipe but I just want to support you in making a steak for yourself if that’s what you’re into, and Eric Kim’s column where this recipe was featured is all about cooking for one, so he wants to support you too. (He also has a recipe for chicken parmesan for one. You’re welcome.) My steaks for one in college were cheap little cuts of chuck that I would rub with salt and dried sage and pan fry...not terrible, but this concoction with a fish sauce-brown sugar-lime butter poured over sounds more refined, no?
The Best Oven Fries by Two Red Bowls
I will encourage you to go above and beyond and put in some work for yourself, but generally what I will not do is tell you to deep fry anything. These fries are almost-boiled, drained, and then roasted on a preheated, pre-oiled baking sheet until they are thickly crispy on the outside with big puffy golden brown dimples and fluffy on the inside. After making these, you will understand deep in your soul that every other oven fry is just roasted potatoes cut in batons. This is the closest you’ll ever get to making french fries without a pot of hot oil.
Last, but not least…here’s an aggressively egotistical self-love playlist to dance around your apartment to.
Let me know if you make anything here by emailing back, leaving a comment, or hitting me up on the ‘gram: @yungggarlic I love hearing from you!
Make it a great weekend. 💝