I posted this on the LA board, in response to a discussion about expensive Valentine's day restaurants. Since it's about at-home prep, someone suggested I crosspost:
If you're broke-ass, like me, and a francophile, allow me to suggest the simplest meal that ever made a girl look at me with absolute devotion in her eyes, that I managed to pull off when I was an early cook. It is simple, clean, good, easy to make, and absolutely sensuous. But it's not so rich that you get all heavy in the stomach and can't get it on afterwards.
It can be made for about $7 per person. And it is terribly French. (This is adapted from a recipe in Jacque and Julia Cook At Home, the best learning cookbook I know. You get to see them argue with each other, which is great)
Sautee some sliced mushrooms and onions and maybe some diced carrots in good unsalted butter. Portobello's work good.
Take a piece of aluminum foil per person. Place 1/3 ib of salmon fillet, seasoned, in it. Put on the sauteed veggies. Top with a tablespoon of unsalted butter, some herbs - thyme works well here. Add some dollops of white wine, or, if you're cheap like me, Noilly Prat dry vermouth. (Just like white wine! But keeps forever! Delicious! Use 1/2 the amount as it calls for white wine.) Wrap up. Bake for, oh, 8 minutes at 425 degrees for an under 1-inch fillet, 10 minutes for a little over 1-inch.
This is hard to screw up. Doesn't dry out like roasting. The salmon and the shrooms and all steam in their own juices, and there is a delightful commingling. You ain't tasted nothing till you've tasted portobellos steamed in salmon juice, white whine, and thyme. It is delightfully primal, in the most decorous of ways. Very romantic.
Best served with a bit of salad, and, most importantly, THE POTATOES. This means: boil up some Yukon Gold potatoes. (MUST BE YG'S! In the area, the best YG's are at either the specialty stand at farmer's markets or at Whole Foods.). Skin em, chuck some more unsalted butter on them, smash with a fork. Do not mash. Serve on the side.
If you get married, the day after, you can blame me.