Cook up a storm on Valentine's Day

Friday 12 February 2016, 06:32 PM

Philip Pulling
Client Support , LifeSearch

  • Valentines-meals-Lg


Some say it’s the most important meal of the day, I say it’s the first step in astounding your partner with your recently acquired culinary expertise. Now there’s always the classics, pancakes, bacon roll, egg sandwich… beans on toast etc. But you need to try harder than that.

Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon.

Main Ingredients: 4 eggs, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, a bit of butter, 2 English muffins (in halves), 8 slices of smoked salmon (switch for bacon if preferred), chives (chopped for garnishing).

Hollandaise: (Alternatively buy shop bought – I won’t tell) 2 tsp lemon juice, 3 egg yolks, 2 tsp white wine vinegar, 125g unsalted butter.

1. Sauce - First things first, we have to make the hollandaise sauce. Start by putting lemon juice and white wine vinegar in a small bowl and add the egg yolks. Whisk with a balloon whisk until the consistency is light and frothy. Place the bowl over a simmering pan of water and then whisk until the mixture has thickened. Now you need to gradually add the butter, you must make sure you are whisking constantly until thick. If at any point the mixture looks like it is splitting, you need to remove it from the heat and whisk off the heat for at least a few minutes. Now season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

2. Poaching – Some find this an impossible challenge, however, it is a very simple process. Fill a pan with water and bring it to the boil, now add the vinegar. The next step is to lower the heat to keep the water gently simmering. Softly stir the water to create a slight whirlpool, now slide in the eggs one by one. Cook each egg for around 4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.

3. Prep – You now need to lightly toast the muffin, it’s best to do this under the grill. Once toasted, place a couple of slices of the smoked salmon (or bacon) on each half. Pop an egg on each half and spoon over some of your homemade Hollandaise. To finish the dish, garnish with chopped chives. Best served with a kiss.

Valentines Tip #1: Use his or her Pinterest as a shopping list ;)

Want to start the day off with something a little bit simpler but just as effective. Try this!

1. Grab a piece of bread and cut a heart shape in the middle of it. Not too big as it will weaken the frame of the slice.

2. Now fry on a low heat in a pan as if you’re making fried bread. Remember to flip it.

3. Now crack an egg in the heart shape in the centre of the bread. 4.) Once the egg is cooked pop the whole lot on a plate and serve. Best eaten in bed.

Tip: You could write a nice message in ketchup. Saucy! Sorry… you’re egging me on ;) Simple! Now watch your loved one smile.

Gift Idea #1: Modernise the valentines’ mixtape: Create that special someone a mixtape on Spotify. Can you still buy cassettes?

CANDLE LIT DINNER (The candles are NOT optional).

Without argument, dinner is the meal we all look forward to most during the day. A time to let our hair down, catch up with each other, share a gaze or two. If you’ve got kids give them dinner and have a couple’s dinner once they’ve retired to bed. It’s okay to be selfish, it’s Valentine’s Day.

As with breakfast, there are so many classics to pick for dinner. My tip would be to think outside the box, make them something they wouldn’t expect you to make (make sure they like it of course). If you’re not up to cooking a simple dinner then I’m sure your partner won’t mind you ordering their favourite takeaway. The only things I can say are key is music (try some Gregory Porter), candlelight and great conversation… show them you really do appreciate them. Creamy Mussels with Smoky Bacon & Cider

Main Ingredients: Olive oil 6 Rashers of smoked streaky bacon (sliced to 1cm thick) 1 kg of mussels 1 clove of garlic (peeled and sliced finely) 150 ml of quality local cider 2 tbsp of fat-free natural yoghurt Small bunch of fresh tarragon (chopped roughly) Small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped roughly Optionally add rustic toasted bread to make this dish go further – Don’t wanna be wasting that lovely sauce

1. Put a large pan on a reasonably high heat with a generous glug of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the sliced bacon and cook for a few minutes, or until crispy and golden. Take the bacon out of the pan leaving that flavour infused olive oil and fat behind.

2. Check your mussels (make sure you have purchased these from a sustainable source) ask your fishmonger, they also need to be debearded and scrubbed, this is usually done by the fishmonger. If any of the mussels are open, just give them a little tap and they should close, if they don’t close after this they’re no good to consume so throw these ones away. Now add the mussels to the hot pan, that you cooked the bacon in, along with the garlic, cider and another good glug of olive oil. Cover the pan with a lid and leave the mussels to steam for a good 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mussels have opened and are soft and juicy. Be sure to shake the pan occasionally. Once all of the mussels have opened, they’re ready. Now you need to transfer them to a fairly large platter, leave the juices behind in the pan they cooked in. Remember… if any of the mussels have stayed closed, they’re no good, throw these ones away.

3. Stir the yoghurt into the pan with the remaining juices and bring it to the boil. Now let it bubble and boil away for a few minutes. Add the majority of the herbs and a bit of the bacon. Now taste your almost complete masterpiece and season with pepper. Give the pan a bit of a shake and jiggle and then pour the sauce over the mussels in the platter. Scatter the rest of those herbs and the remaining bacon on top and get ready to see that impressed look you remember so well. REMEMBER! Candles.

Gift Idea #2: Marshmallows with your faces on! Yes you heard me right. Get them here:


If she’s/he’s always busy, running errands, looking after the kids, making sure everything is in order why not skip the chocolates and jewellery and give them the gift of time. Pure unadulterated time. Send them off to the cafe with a book and some money for a coffee (or 2), schedule a massage. Scoot them on out the door for at least a few hours. There’s nothing better than being out of the house with no time restraints and no responsibilities. Meanwhile you get to spend some quality time with the kids. Forget your watch, after all “A clock is a little machine that shuts us out from the wonder of time”.

Gift Idea #3: Write a poem. Okay so we don’t all have the ability but it can only make things more personal. Write down your feelings. They don’t have to rhyme!

Things to remember for the day: Leave all your qualms and troubles at the door. Enjoy the day, the night, the weekend. Whoever you’re cooking for or treating will definitely appreciate the effort you make. Have fun and you’ll find by the end of the night that you have grown just that tiny little bit closer to each other. Remember though, romance isn’t just for 14th February.

Valentines Tip #2: Set a (low) budget for both of you to follow. Now be creative. Spending less actually encourages you to put more effort and thought into gifts.

Enjoy! x

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