There’s something special about that personal touch – which is why staying in and cooking a romantic meal for your Valentine is a great idea to celebrate the day. Here’s what to make.
There are a few things to bear in mind when selecting your menu for a big night in. Firstly, you don’t want to be spending your entire evening in the kitchen – that will be a mood killer. Choose something that you can prepare beforehand.
Secondly, we know you want to impress your date, but don’t make anything too complicated if you haven’t attempted it before. The below recipe selection should be easy to pull off, and is sure to woo your date!
STARTER: SMOKED SALMON CUCUMBER AND AVOCADO ‘SUSHI’ ROLLS WITH SWEET CHILLI SAUCE
8 x 16cm rice paper rounds
8 slices (100g) smoked salmon*
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 cucumber, shredded
1 avocado, thinly sliced
½ cup coriander leaves
½ cup sprouts
Sweet chilli sauce, to serve
Place one of the rice paper rounds in a large bowl of warm water for 10 seconds to soften. Place on a clean surface and allow to soften for a further 5 to 10 seconds.
Place a slice of the smoked salmon in the centre of the round, top with a little of the carrot, cucumber, avocado, coriander and sprouts, and roll to enclose. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make eight rolls.
Cut the rolls in half and serve with the sweet chilli sauce.
* For a more affordable version, substitute smoked salmon for smoked trout – or leave the fish out altogether and have delicious vegetarian rolls.
MAIN: SLOW-ROAST LAMB SHANKS WITH CAULIMASH
1 tbsp olive oil
2 trimmed lamb shanks
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup (250ml) dry red wine
1 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
2 tbsp rosemary sprigs
4 cups chicken stock
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve
800g cauliflower, broken into florets
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Heat the oil in a large flame-proof casserole dish over a high heat. Add the lamb and cook, turning, for 5 minutes or until brown all over.
Transfer to a plate. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Return the lamb and pour over the red wine. Bring to the boil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the wine reduces by half. Remove from the heat. Add the tomato, chicken stock and rosemary. Bake, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is almost falling off the bone.
To make the mash, steam the cauliflower until it is mushy. Using a stick blender or a food processor, purée the cauliflower until it is smooth. While continuing to purée, add the butter and beat until smooth and silky. Season to taste. Cover with cling wrap and simply microwave to reheat.
DESSERT: EASY MICROWAVE CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES WITH RASPBERRIES
75g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
85g light brown sugar
100g self-raising flour
½ tbsp cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten
2 x chocolate balls (we used Lindor)
Vanilla ice cream and raspberries, to serve
Grease two microwavable teacups or ramekins. Melt the butter, chocolate, sugar and 100ml water in a microwavable bowl on high for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. Whisk in the flour, cocoa and egg. Spoon into the teacups, press a chocolate ball into the middle of each, cover with cling wrap and pierce with a knife a few times. Microwave for 5 minutes on medium. Serve warm, dusted with cocoa powder with ice cream and raspberries on the side.
HAVE THE PERFECT DATE
* Prices were correct at time of publication, and are subject to change.