my special valentine's day menu
Do you want to impress your Valentine tonight with a delicious and romantic dinner? do you want her/him to feel special and loved? I have concocted a menu to make your sweetheart melt.
First you should start with a Flirtini Cocktail. The Flirtini is a champagne cocktail recipe made famous by the series Sex and the City. The basic Flirtini recipe is vodka, champagne or sparkling wine, and pineapple juice. But I think you should do a Pink Flirtini and add some raspberry liqueur. I recommend the recipe on http://wine-tasting-reviews.com/winefoodpairing/wine-cocktails-recipes/153-flirtini-champagne-cocktail-recipes.html.
For a delicious and gingery starter, I would recommend a nice Salmon tartare. You can prepare in advance the marinade and chop your salmon. Reserve both in the fridge in separate containers. Mix maximum one hour before serving so the citruses do not cook your salmon.
For the main, I would serve a lovely crispy Seabass with ginger, spring onions and chilli. This recipe will not take more than 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook. Very easy and fiery.
The "bouquet" of the evening is this gorgeous Raspberry Souffle. You can prepare them in advance an just pop the 2 ramequins into the oven before you serve dessert. That's really a dessert to impress as people are usually intimidated to cook soufflés but in fact you really don't need to be a chef to bake soufflés.
Enjoy your dinner and evening!
My dinner party routine
As I explained in my Cooking Style page, I really like to do one-pot casseroles, slow-cooked dishes, where the meat cooks slowly and melts in the mouth. Those dishes are best cooked in advance, up to a day earlier, as reheating them gently will simply enhances all flavours and it will be just succulent. Also you do not want to rush around in the kitchen when your guests are having fun in the sitting room, you definitely want to join them during the aperitif and enjoy your evening as well. After all, who has done all the work? So I would highly recommend to choose main dishes that you can prepare in advance.
Lamb is definitely an excellent choice for slow-cooked stews. I go to my local butcher, the Ginger Pig, (https://www.thegingerpig.co.uk) and ask him to chop in large chunks a leg of lamb and trim off any excess fat. Usually lamb neck is recommended for stews but I find it too fatty. The leg gives leaner pieces of meat and is meltingly tender and has superb flavour. I would also recommend lamb shanks for a slow-cooked dish as it also has a fantastic melt-in-the-mouth effect.
Chicken is also a good choice for dinner parties, and you can find many recipe ideas to suit any occasion. You can cook different parts of chicken depending on the recipes, ranging from a whole chicken, to chicken breasts (bone-in, bone-less), thighs, wings.
If I serve Beef during dinner parties, I choose a slow-cooked recipe, like a Boeuf Bourguignon or an Osso-Bucco for example.
Menu 1: for an elegant and chic dinner party
This menu would work perfectly for an elegant and stylish dinner party with friends or family. I would start with a rocket salad, followed by duck confit parmentier and chocolate mousse. I choose a light starter as it's followed by a classic Gascon dish, duck confit parmentier, which is not for dieters. And for puddings, a classic chocolate mousse because who doesn't like chocolate? This menu doesn't involve any last minute preparation in the kitchen, except for assembling the salad. You can do it on your own time table during the day and enjoy your evening with your guests. For the recipes, please click on the recipe title below photos.
- Rocket Salad: you can prepare your toasted hazelnuts and gremolata in the afternoon, and assemble the salad with hazelnuts, gremolata, goat cheese and vinaigrette on the plates at the last minute. It will take no time especially if you get on of your girlfriends to help you!
- Duck: you can prepare everything earlier during the day and warm it in the oven when your guests have arrived.
- Chocolate Mousse: you should prepare it in the morning as you need time for it to set in the fridge. Add raspberries at the last minute.