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Cooking Guide: how to prepare the perfect Valentine's Day meal

Decided to give going out a miss this Valentine’s Day, and instead plan to impress your partner with a romantic home-cooked feast?

If you are a decent cook, this will be a no brainer, but if you are new to cooking, don't worry, I’ve put together a romantic menu that can be easily be prepared by you and will score you major points in the romance stakes!

Remember, it doesn't matter if everything isn't absolutely perfect. Your better half will appreciate the effort you’ve taken to put a lovely meal together. Add in some soft lighting and their favourite music, along with some fine Champagne and a nicely set table and they might not even notice the food - but I'm sure they will.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Starter

Hot smoked salmon served with a zesty salad

An ideal starter for the cooking novice, as the salmon could be shop bought and pre-cooked, leaving the simple yet effective salsa and zesty lemon dressing to create the wow-factor on your lovers’ plate.

Ingredients

For the salmon:

2 neat pieces of hot-smoked salmon (available from most supermarkets)

For the lemon dressing:

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

20ml of white wine vinegar

100ml of olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the salsa:

1 ripe avocado, diced into 1cm cubes

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh chopped coriander

A quarter of a red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

The zest of 1 lime

Salt and pepper

300g of rocket or dandelion leaves

 

Method

To make the dressing:

1 Put the juice and zest of the lemon and vinegar into a mixing bowl

2 Slowly whisk in the oil until it has emulsified

To make the salsa:

1 Mix the avocado, chilli, coriander, red onion, fish sauce, lime, salt and pepper in a bowl

Presentation:

1 Using a ring, put the avocado salsa in the middle of the plate

2 Place the rocket or dandelion leaves on top of salsa then place the hot smoked salmon on top

3 Drizzle the lemon dressing around the plate and serve

 

Main course

Chicken saltimbocca with basil mash

This light as a feather dish is simple to make, but packs a flavoursome punch that is sure to score points with your Valentine.

Ingredients

2 skinless chicken breast fillets

2 large basil leaves

2 slices prosciutto

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of Marsala

100ml of chicken stock

For the basil mash:

500g of potatoes, cut into large chunks

2-3 tablespoons of milk

1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan

1-2 tablespoons of chopped basil

 

Method

To make the mash:

1 Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15-20 mins until tender

2 Drain the potatoes and mash well

3 Stir in the milk, then the Parmesan and basil

4 Season with black pepper and keep warm

To make the chicken saltimbocca:

1 Sit the chicken breasts on a board and cut through them horizontally, leaving one side attached

2 Open them up like books and lay a basil leaf on top of each, topped with a slice of prosciutto

3 Secure with a cocktail stick

4 Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and add the chicken breasts, prosciutto side down

5 Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden, then turn over and cook for 2 minutes more

6 Pour over the Marsala and allow to bubble for 1 minute

7 Add the stock and simmer for 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked

8 Lift the chicken out, cover to keep warm and then boil the pan juices to reduce a little

9 Serve with the basil mash and a green salad on the side, if you like.

 

Dessert

Chocolate fondants

Melt your loves ones’ heart these little gooey puds!

Ingredients

50g of melted butter (for moulds)

Cocoa powder (for dusting)

200g of good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks

200g of butter, chopped into small chunks

200g of golden caster sugar

4 eggs and 4 yolks

200g of plain flour

Vanilla ice cream or orange sorbet, to serve

 

Method

Getting the moulds ready:

1 Using upward strokes, heavily brush the melted butter all over the inside of the pudding mould

2 Place the mould in the fridge or freezer

3 Brush more melted butter over the chilled butter, then add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the mould

4 Tip the mould so the powder completely coats the butter

5 Tap any excess cocoa back into the jar

6 Repeat the process with the next mould

To make the chocolate fondants:

1 Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt the chocolate and butter together

2 Remove the bowl from the heat and stir the chocolate and butter until it is smooth

3 Leave to cool for about 10 minutes

4 In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail. Use an electric whisk if you want.

5 Sift the flour into the eggs and beat together

6 Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter

7 Tip the fondant batter into a jug and evenly divide between the moulds

8 Chill for at least 20 minutes

9 Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6

10 Place the fondants on a baking tray and cook for 10-12 minutes until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds

11 Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 minute before turning out

12 Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds

13 Sit a fondant in the middle of each plate and place ice cream or sorbet on top of the fondant

14 Enjoy
 

From the archive: romance at Glasgow's dance halls

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