Take A Break
Start off simple and begin your evening with a crisp Winter stroll. Wrapping up and watching the sun set together is the perfect opportunity to unwind, reminisce and appreciate each others company!
Recipe For Success
Skip the expensive restaurant this year and treat your other half to a delicious, romantic dinner in the comfort of your own home. Woo your partner with this quick, easy and undoubtedly impressive recipe. Instead of one of you slaving away for the other, this recipe lends itself to togetherness in the kitchen, whether you’re cooking with a loved one, a group of friends or family.
Risotto will give a classy edge to your evening and the versions that turn out not quite technically perfect, will still always taste great.
Begin the recipe by heating your oven to 400°F. Then fully rinse and dry your shrimp before tossing them in olive oil, paprika and a generous helping of salt and pepper for seasoning. Once complete, spread them out on a baking tray and leave them to set in the fridge.
Warm 8 cups of chicken broth in a saucepan set over low heat.
Next, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic, and cook until they are soft and beginning to brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add 3 cups of Arborio rice and stir thoroughly to make sure it is coated with the butter and onions. Cook the rice for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with half a cup of white wine, stirring and scraping the pan until the wine has evaporated.
Begin adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. This gradual addition of liquid is key to getting the rice to release its starch and create its own delicious sauce, so don't rush this step. If the broth is evaporating very quickly, or the rice is boiling hard, turn the heat down so you just see a gentle simmer. This should take you around 18 minutes.
Begin tasting the rice after about 13 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. The risotto is ready when the rice is still a bit chewy, and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge.
In the last 5 minutes of cooking the risotto, put the pan of prepared shrimp in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink.
When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat and stir in one and a half cups of grated Parmesan and about 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve immediately, spreading your risotto in heart shaped pasta bowls and topping with shrimp and a sprinkle of chopped parsley to add that decadent finishing touch.
Serve with a glass of crisp Pinot Grigio to enhance the flavours and help you wind down.
Once you’re both pleasantly stuffed, it’s time to create the perfect romantic atmosphere to help you relax and set the mood. Scented candles, tea-lights and music are all key in creating a relaxed, romantic aura. Opt for sweet smells such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry throughout your candles and disperse tea-lights around the space to give a warm low-light glow. A playlist featuring your favourite shared songs or most memorable moments will set the tone for an evening of romance and reminiscing.
Prepare to wind down and retire to the Valentine retreat whilst you snuggle up under hotel-inspired sheets. Opt for crisp, luxurious cotton or linen covers in deep shades of red and plum highlighted with dimmed lighting and more scented candles. Finally, finish on a sweet note with a platter of chocolate dipped strawberries whilst settling down watching your favourite old time movie. Our favourite old Romantics at Julian Charles are Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing and The Notebook.