So, it’s that time of year again. It seems like everybody is falling in love and basking in their perfect relationships. Valentines is one of those ‘marmite’ days, if you have a special someone, you probably love it (probably due to the presents, chocolate and affection you are set to receive); however, if your love life is needing a bit of TLC, it can sting a little. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. If you’re one of the oh so lucky people, you can scroll on down to the recipe section of this post. If like myself, you are not living the Hollywood dream, then stay with me here.
Nobody panic! There are some benefits for us singletons on Cupid’s big day. First of all, you save a ton of cash that would otherwise be spent on flowers, chocolates and romantic meals out at fancy restaurants. Just think what you could buy yourself with that money? (It’s okay to be a little selfish here, you deserve it after all). Secondly, you can indulge as much as you want and not worry about the aftermath. You don’t have to keep to anybody’s standards but your own! So grab the Ben & Jerry’s, stick Bridget Jones on and put your feet up.
So whether you’re spending the day with a significant other, on your own, or with your other lonely lovelies, we’ve got the perfect menu for you, that won’t break the bank or burst your belt. And whether you love it or hate it, there’s no harm in cooking up a storm, is there now?
Cooked Oysters with Burnt Butter
To kick things off, we’re putting our food fate in the trusted hands of Jamie Oliver. We couldn’t resist this recipe for oysters with burnt butter, after all, everybody knows the said benefits of our favourite Crustacean (don’t pretend the aphrodisiac thought didn’t cross your mind). In the words of the great man himself;
“Luxurious ash-cooked oysters drizzled with lemony, caramel butter – this will blow you away”
Tempted? This recipe is super easy and only takes 20 minutes to make, so why not give it a bash? For all those of you watching what you eat this year, the nutritional information is available on Jamie’s website. I won’t be joining you on this, seeing as my strongest and longest relationship is with food.
What you’ll need:
- 8 rock oysters, scrubbed clean
- 800 g rock salt, (if cooking indoors)
- 40 g unsalted butter
- Tabasco sauce
- ½ a lemon
“Cooking oysters in the embers of a fire will completely transform these little beauties, but if you’re cooking indoors, you can imitate the results in your trusty oven. It’s not quite the same, but it’ll still taste delicious.
“If you’re cooking outdoors, nestle the oysters in the ash of your fire for around 10 minutes, or until the oysters pop open (some might stay closed, but don’t worry, you’ll just need to apply a little extra force to get these ones open).
“If cooking indoors, preheat the oven to full whack. Place the rock salt into an ovenproof frying pan, then pop in the oven to preheat for around 20 minutes, before carefully placing the oysters on top and returning to the oven for 10 minutes.
“Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it turns a deep golden colour and starts to sizzle. Add a few drops of Tabasco to taste, then remove from the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice, swirling the pan until combined. Put the pan to one side.
“Insert an oyster knife or a blunt knife into the oyster, then carefully lever it open – beware of the hot steam! Discard the oyster tops, then place the bottom shells with the oyster on a platter, drizzle over the burnt butter and serve straightaway.”
Steak & Sticky Red Wine Shallots
Okay, so moving onto the main course; Steak & sticky red wine shallots. Who doesn’t love a bit of steak every now and then, especially when with a sticky red wine sauce? Surprisingly, you only need 5 minutes prep to create this decadent dish.
What you’ll need:
- 8 brown shallot, peeled and quartered but left whole at the root
- 2 sirloin steak, about 175g/6oz each
- crushed black peppercorns
- 25g butter
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- large glass red wine, about 175ml/6fl oz
- 150ml beef stock
“Simmer the shallots in a pan of water for 2-3 mins, then drain and set aside. Season the steaks with a little salt and plenty of crushed peppercorns. Heat half the butter in a pan until sizzling, then cook the steaks for 3 mins on each side for medium or until done to your liking.
“Remove the steaks and keep warm. While they rest, add the remaining butter to the pan, throw in the shallots, and then sizzle in the sticky pan until starting to brown. Add the balsamic vinegar and bubble for a few mins. Add the wine and boil down until sticky, then add the beef stock and simmer until everything comes together. Spoon the shallots over the steaks and serve with green beans and chips.”
This recipe is from BBC Good Food. To check out the original, click here.
Tiramisu for Deux
Tiramisu anybody? One of my favourite food blogs posted this brilliant recipe titled ‘Tiramisu for Deux’. These can be made in two separate ramekins, or if you’re feeling extra romantic, just put it all into one dish and share. Everybody wants that ‘Lady And The Tramp’ moment after all, although that may work better with spaghetti! This is one to make the night before, to allow time for the cream to set. I know, I know. It’s hard having to wait. We get impatient too, don’t worry! But we think you’ll agree, it’s well worth it!
We actually put a little Silver Mushroom twist on ours, and served them in Kilner Jars, but our photographs were nowhere near as beautiful as the originals so we’ve stuck with Kristan Raines’ photographic genius!
What you’ll need:
- 1/2 Cup Strong Coffee
- 6 Teaspoons Marsala Wine, depending on desired strength
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
- 1 Tablespoon, plus 1 1/4 Teaspoon Sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 Cup (4 oz.) Mascarpone, room temperature
- 4 Italian Lady Fingers
- Cocoa Powder, for dusting
“In a small bowl, combine coffee, and marsala wine, adding more or less marsala depending on desired strength, and set bowl aside.
“In a small bowl mix together heavy cream, vanilla bean paste, sugar, and a pinch of salt until combined. Then, begin to whisk the cream until stiff peaks form; set bowl aside.
“In another bowl, smooth out the mascarpone cheese 2-3 time with a spatula. Add a bit of the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese, and gently fold a few times until just combined. Add remaining whipped cream, folding until combined. *Note: Mascarpone cheese curdles very easily, so try to fold mixture as few times as possible.
“There is enough cream to create 3 layers in each cup, so to assemble, begin by placing 1/6 of the cream in the bottom of each cup. Then, break the lady fingers in half and quickly dip them into the coffee mixture. Place 2 pieces (1 broken in half) into each cup. Place another layer of cream on top of the lady fingers in each cup, topping that layer with a dusting of cocoa powder.
“Repeat this process a second time and divide remaining cream between the cups, dusting the top layer of cream with a generous amount of cocoa powder.
“Cover each cup with a bit of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours, or overnight. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before serving, this will give the cream a chance to soften.”
So, lets bin the flowers and chocolates, we all know the best way to the heart is through the stomach. Happy Valentines, enjoy your special day and your special foods!