Everyone who has ever started a new relationship knows you don’t want to reveal your hand to early on. The Boy and I went on our first date a week before Valentine’s Day and, well, we all know that ol’ V-day kind of forces the issue. Do you feign notcalance and not risk a date that night? Or go forth early on into the arena of competitive coupledom with restaurants set solely with tables for two, sloppy PDAs and opportunistic street vendors offering (will he or won’t he buy one?) single red roses. It’s a minefield – too romantic and it’s too much too soon, too little and does he give a shit?
So the Boy's tactic was to try and cram as many dates as possible between 6th and 14th February to see if I was worth a V-day date. Evidently I was as he invited me round to his for dinner. I took this as a good sign: a) he cooked and b) he cared enough to cook for me. The rest, as they say, is history – oh, and he cooked salmon, potatoes dauphanoise and tiramisu, I brought love hearts, and we even managed to finish the lot before his banished flatmates returned.
Since then Valentine’s Day for us have always revolved around cooking. And the Boy cooking. So this year in the spirit of equality we decided to split it. The Boy: brunch and starter. Moi: main and dessert. I even decided to throw in some canapés for good measure. I. Could. Not. Wait. Especially when the boy announced he was off to Borough Market on Saturday....
Brunch was Polenta and Wild Boar Prosciutto baked eggs, quite appropriately from Borough Market cookbook. Plus champagne. Of course.
1 tsp unsalted butter
4 slices of thin wild boar prosciutto (can use parma ham)
1 tbsp double cream
1 sprig tarragon
1 spring onion
25g Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 170. Grease two ramekins with butter and line with prosciutto – make sure it complete covers the ramekin and make a wee lip over the edge. Crack an egg in each, sprinkle with grated Gruyere and drizzle with double cream. Scatter over tarragon leaves and season. Transfer to roasting tin and fill it with enough hot water to come up to halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake until the egg whites are set – about 15min. While the eggs are baking, pour 90ml of water in a small saucepan, season and bring to the boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Reduce to simmer until thick and creamy, stirring occasionally – about 5-6min. Once at right consistency stir in butter, Parmesan and chopped spring onion (greens and whites). When eggs are set, remove from oven (carefully!) and divide polenta between two plates. Run sharp knife round edge of ramekin and slide out prosciutto wrapped eggs onto the polenta. Delicious. Of course even more so when you’re not cooking and reclining in bed sipping champagne...
Come afternoon and a trip to Sainsbury’s and Waitrose later, canapés are served. Always love a canap me. Blini’s with homemade guacamole and smoked salmon or crème fraiche and salmon caviar. Pretentious, moi?
The Boy’s work was done with escabèche of red mullet (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay's Passion for Seafood) washed down with a very easy-going Alsace Riesling.
Having agonised all Friday (good ol’ four day week) about what to cook, I finally settled on Cod, wrapped in thin slices of crispy potato, crab mash and lobster bisque sauce, served with sapphire, which in all the excitement I forgot to dish up. Ooops.
The cod was wrapped earlier on – potato slices (done with a veg peeler) were pan fried to just short of crisping then wrapped, a few to each fillet, around the fish before heading back into the fridge. The mash simply was fished up with a dressed crab, some cream and lemon juice. The lobster sauce was actually a bit of a cheat – a can of lobster bisque soup pouring in over a sautéd chopped onion and chilli, good slug of brandy, tbsp tomato puree simmered then add couple of diced tomatoes and some chive. Pan fried the potato wrapped cod and serve.
Dessert has never been my fortay so I went for presentation over expertise – Tia Maria and chocolate creams served in cocktail glasses. Which are pretty much just chocolate and cream, oh, and of course Tia Maria.
50g dark chocolate
150ml double cream (plus some more for whipping)
2 tbsp Tia Maria
Cocoa powder (I went for Green & Blacks all round on the chocolate)
Mix cream and Tia Maria in saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate (broken in a bowl)
Stir until chocolate melts
Divide between the glasses and cool slightly
Mix some more cream with Tia Maria until slightly thickened and spoon over chocolate mix. Put in the fridge to set (while you cook the main...)
To serve, appropriately, cut a heart in a card and dust with cocoa. Mine was more of a dollop than a dust. According to the boy I should have used a sieve...
Serve with amoretti biscuits... I should have made my own, oh well, maybe next year.