Romance is definitely in the air and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious dinner á deux?
This was my Valentine’s meal last year but looking at the dishes I think it deserves another outing……….. see what you think!
Starter : Seductive Scallops on a Pea & Mint Purée
According to my fishmonger, Jason, this dish cannot fail to stir the romantic juices! You can make the purée in advance and reheat just before serving. The trick is to have everything ready before you cook the scallops as they are best served immediately. Allow 3 scallops per person.
To make the puree – heat 125 g frozen petits pois, knob of butter, 50 ml chicken stock andseasoning in a small saucepan and alllow to simmer for 3-4 mins. Then whizz in food processor with a small bunch of mint (chopped) and Voilá!
To cook the scallops make sure your pan is red hot, add a little butter and oil, and sear the scallops (seasoned with little salt & freshly ground cumin) for 1 min each side. You want a nice caramelised colour.
Serve the scallops on a dollop of purée with salad leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Main: Romantic Roast Duck Breast with Plum Sauce
I used the frozen Barbary duck breast from Lidl for this – one at €5.99 is enough for two! (I hope they still have them!)
Again you can make the sauce in advance and reheat when needed. To make the sauce sauté 1 chopped shallot in a little olive oil for a few mins. Add 250g red plums (half a punnet), stoned and cut into wedges alond with 50g demerara sugar and stir til the sugar dissolves. Finally add 50 mlred wine and 300 ml beef stock and simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened (should take about 15 mins)
Turn your oven to 180C /Gas 4.
To cook the duck – score the skin with a sharp knife and season well. Place the duck breast(s), skin side down, on a cold pan and bring up to temmperature. (this will stop your meat seizing up ) and cook for 6 mins. Then turn the duck over and add 25g butter, 1 star anise and a sprig of thyme to the pan. Baste the breast(s) with the juices and then transfer to pre heated oven (check your pan is oven proof, if not transfer duck to roasting dish!). Roast for 5-6 mins for pink or 10 mins for well done. Baste the duck with the juices and allow to rest for 5 mins before carving.
Serve the duck breast on a bed of mash with plum sauce spooned around.
Dessert: Decandent Chocolate Cocktails
This rich, luscious chocolatey dessert looks really well served in martini glasses.
Mix 2 tbsp of your liqueur of choice (I used Cointreau but I want to try Mint Baileys…) into 170ml ofdouble cream. Remove 3tbsp of the cream mix and reserve for later. Then heat the remaining cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.
Pour the hot cream over 50g dark chocolate pieces (70% cocoa please!) and stir to melt the chocolate. Divide the mix between 2 martini glasses and allow to cool.
Whip the remaining cream and spoon over the chocolate ( think a pint of guiness!). Then allow to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
To make sure your meal flows smoothly make the dessert, pea purée and plum sauce in advance. You could also make the mash a little ahead of time if you want.
Set your beautiful romantic table, make yourself beautiful/handsome. Pour the champagne. Then return to cooker and sear the duck (I advise wearing an apron for this part!). When you have transferred the duck to the oven, cook and serve the scallops.
Allow the duck to rest while you reheat the sauce and the mash – plate it up and enjoy.
All you need to do with the dessert is dust with cocoa – using a heart stencil of course.
Now the rest is up to you………………