Food is the food of love
So Andrew has some handy hacks to make sure you’re serving up something special this Valentine’s Day
With the festive season a distant memory and the last of your new year’s resolutions hanging by a thread, the bright spot in February’s foodie calendar is the feast of St Valentine. And, as we know, the way to your loved one’s heart is... letting them hang up the oven gloves for the night.
February 14 is the day when the less polished home chefs get their chance to step up and impress their significant other with their best kitchen moves. Fortunately, I’m going to let you in on a few impressive hacks to have your other half swooning without you sweating.
1 Can’t cook? Don’t cook! Instead of subjecting your special someone to the results of your first fumblings in the kitchen do some judicious shopping instead. Cured meat and smoked fish both make delicious sharing boards. With some really good bread, sauces and other nibbly bits like pickles or olives you can assemble an impressive platter to deceive your date into thinking you know what you’re doing without the risk of getting dumped.
2 Cook something you don’t like, but your partner does. That selfless gesture is an act of pure generosity that will get you big brownie points in the bank. If my wife made me a curry, I’d be so overwhelmed and flattered that I probably wouldn’t even mention it’s not spicy enough!
3 Try cooking something that resonates with both of you like a dish from a date when you first met or a romantic holiday you shared together. Taste and smell are very powerful triggers for emotional memories. But be selective, my wife definitely wouldn’t appreciate being presented with curried lamb brains (again!)
4 If there’s one ingredient that’s bound to spice up an evening in, it’s a fresh truffle and luckily they’re still in season. Truffle can be grated on everything – try it over pasta, pizza, fish, even sushi. I had one customer at Farmyard who asked me to grate it over his sticky toffee pudding – good man.
5 Make your main course a centrepiece by sharing a whole fish on the bone. It looks like you’ve really pushed the boat out, tastes phenomenal but it’s the most straight forward way to cook fish. Season, fresh herbs, butter and lemon. Bosh.
Stick to the classics! You simply can’t go wrong with a beautifully-marbled steak, fresh local mussels or a decadent chocolate dessert... like a chocolate mousse.
Chocolate is always a winner. Both my signature desserts are chocolate – we do a miso caramel chocolate bar at Farmyard and a gooey chocolate fondant at The Dial House. Both are proper crowd pleasers. My chocolate mousse focuses on the quality of the chocolate so make sure you buy something decent… (Serves six)
255g good quality dark chocolate 200ml milk
2 egg yolks
5 egg whites
75g caster sugar
1. Bring milk to boil and pour directly on to the chocolate
2. Whisk until smooth and shiny
3. Add the yolks and whisk again until shiny
4. Whip the whites to soft peaks
5. Gradually add half the sugar
6. Whip to high peaks
7. Add the remaining sugar and keep mixing until completely dissolved
8. Gently fold the whites into the melted chocolate and transfer into serving glasses or container. Chill to set.
ABOVE: Chocolate mousse