Valentine’s Day evokes in each person a different sentiment. I tend not to give in to overbooked cinemas and eschew the enforced closeness of overpriced restaurants; equally I do confess it is for me, a romantic day of the year.
Over the years I have remained imaginative and gone from open air silent movies to 1920 candlelight clubs, but this year I have decided to stay and enjoy a supper à deux!
I love cooking and certain foods exude romance – for their rumoured aphrodisiac merits or seductive earthiness.
So with that in mind, here is how I will make the most of my glass clinking, fire roasting, belly laughing, cosy and most importantly romantic, Valentine’s dinner for two!
Everything has been designed to be easy to cook with company in the kitchen and with minimum effort. Knowing myself I will probably open a bottle of bubbly and enjoy the starter on the kitchen island whist chatting and preparing the main.
- Starter | Roasted Mushroom Crostini
- Main | Drunken Pheasant
- Dessert | Gooey Chocolate Pudding
Pre-washed linen is such a relaxed, natural fibre, and the Arles Charcoal Napkin makes the perfect choice for this casual dining. You can mix and match the three Arles colours and tie a rosemary wreath as napkin rings.
Any mature reds such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, northern Rhone will pair just perfectly.
Roasted Mushroom Crostini
Prep Time 5 min | Cooking Time 20 min
In a baking dish, add 4 cups of assorted mushrooms roughly cut, add ½ cup of white wine, some thyme, garlic, a bit of butter and olive oil and coat evenly. Roast mushrooms in oven at 200C for 20 minutes. Spoon mushroom mixture over grilled bread and top with lots of fresh parsley and sea salt.
Prep Time 5 min | Cook 15 min
Season 2 skinless pheasant breasts with cracked pepper. Coat with a little bit of dark mustard and wrap each in 2 or 3 rashers of bacon. Add a glug of oil to a medium to hot pan. Put the breasts in facing down. Cook for a couple of mins on both sides. Flip. Add a knob of butter and thyme. Baste the breasts and continue cooking for a couple more mins till just done. Remove from the pan and put aside to rest.
Pour 1/3 mug of Scotch (red wine is good too) and same quantity of chicken stock in the pan and crank up the heat. Simmer till reduced by two thirds.
Plate up the pheasant and drizzle over the sauce. Serve with marvellous braised greens and celeriac mash (if you feel up for it) or just normal mash - Sides could be the Sous Chef's job?
Gooye Chocolate Pudding
Prep Time 10 min | Cook 12 min
I would prepare this before starter and main, keeping in the fridge until needed. Put the 120g best-quality bittersweet chocolate chopped and 8 tbs of butter in the top of a double boiler above simmering water. Whisk every now and again until melted. In a bowl, whisk together the 3 eggs, ¾ cups of sugar, and ¼ cup of flour until just blended. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Set aside.
Grease 4 ramekins with a bit of butter then flour, tapping the ramekins to get rid of excess. Preheat the oven to 200C about half an hour before you want to eat the puddings. I’d leave cooking them until you’ve finished the main course. So, pour the mixture into the ramekins and put them on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops are firm and cracking slightly and the edges set. Serve immediately with a pitcher of cold, cold cream.
Image Credits: (Larissa and John) taken by Anna Pummer Photography / Able and Cole and Spoon Fork Bacon / Krautkopf Foodblog