Food to put you in the mood for romance
- Credit: Archant
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis shares recipes for a French-inspired supper to share with the one you love. Photos: Sarah Lucy-Brown
There’s something rather romantic about making food for the person you love, be it a bowl of soup when they’re feeling under the weather, or a whopping great chocolate cake for a celebration. Cooking for someone else shows you care.
I can’t say it always goes to plan in our house. My husband usually makes a slap-up steak supper on February 14. He always manages to use every pan and utensil in the kitchen and the meal is rarely on the table before 10pm. But seeing the pride on his face makes it special. So this Valentine’s Day, why not give some of these recipes a twirl?
Pan-fried scallops and prawns with braised fennel, spiced bacon jam and cauliflower crumb
Duck with shallots three ways and potato galette
Passionate pink pud trio
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Shellfish and chillies are, allegedly, aphrodisiacs. This starter will certainly set your tastebuds alight with sweet, salty, spicy, smoky flavours. For the easy version, Syms Pantry of Suffolk make a great version available locally. The leftover jam can be kept for a couple of days in the fridge and is brilliant on cheese on toast.
4 fat scallops halved, 6 raw peeled king prawns, oil for cooking
For the fennel: 1 bulb fennel finely sliced, knob butter, 100ml water, 1tsp fennel seeds, salt and pepper
For the bacon jam: 200g lean smoked streaky bacon chopped very finely, 1 small onion finely chopped, 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, ½ bird’s eye chilli deseeded and very finely chopped, 1/2tsp each of mustard powder, ground cinnamon, dried rosemary, 1tbsp honey, 1tsp treacle, 1tbsp brown sugar, 1tbsp soy sauce, 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
For the cauliflower crumb: 1 large floret cauliflower, cooked and chopped into tiny pieces, 1tsp oil, 1/2tsp paprika
For the fennel: place all the ingredients in a small pan. Make a cartouche by cutting a piece of greaseproof paper the size of the pan. Scrunch it up then unfold and place over the fennel mix, tucking in the edges. Boil then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until very soft. Remove the cartouche and simmer until all the liquid is gone.
For the bacon jam: place the bacon, onion and garlic in a small pan. Cook over a low heat until soft. Add the other ingredients and simmer until you have a sticky, thick mixture.
For the cauliflower: mix the cauliflower pieces with the oil and paprika and place on a tray under a hot grill. Remove when golden.
To serve: warm through the fennel and bacon mixtures and place the cauliflower in a warm oven to heat through. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Add the prawns and cook on one side for one minute. Turn over. Add the scallops to the pan, giving them 45 seconds on each side. Take out the scallops and give the prawns another minute.
Spoon the fennel onto a plate, top with the prawns and scallops, put a dollop of bacon jam on each and sprinkle over the cauliflower crumb.
Duck is one of my favourite meats and a real treat. Here it’s served with a tiny shallot tartlet, burnt shallot puree, carrots vichy in a shallot vinaigrette and a crisp potato galette.
2 Gressingham duck breasts, seasoned
For the shallot tartlet: 50g puff pastry (you can freeze the rest), 1 banana shallot peeled and sliced into rings, knob butter, 1tsp oil, seasoning, 1tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2tbsp brown sugar
For the burnt shallot puree: 4 shallots, ¼ chicken stock cube, milk
For the carrots vichy: 1 large carrot peeled and cut into batons, knob butter, 100ml water, pinch sugar, pinch fresh black pepper
For the shallot vinaigrette: ½ shallot finely diced, 2tbsp oil, 1tbsp cider vinegar, pinch sugar, seasoning
For the potato galette: 1 large potato peeled and sliced into 5mm thick pieces, seasoning, 50g melted butter
For the sauce: 200ml chicken stock, 1 shot fortified wine (Madeira, masala, Port), 1tsp redcurrant sauce, seasoning, knob butter
For the galette. Boil the potato for 5 minutes. Drain then layer half of them tightly, overlapping each other on a lined tray. Brush with melted butter. Season. Repeat on top with the rest of the potatoes. Place a piece of greaseproof paper on top and weigh down with something heavy for a couple of hours.
For the shallot tartlet. Roll the pastry to 5mm thick and cut two 5cm circles out. Use a sharp knife to mark a 2cm circle in the centre of each. Melt the butter and oil in a pan and add the shallots, cook on a low heat until sticky and soft. Spoon a little into the centre of each pastry circle and bake at 200C for 15 minutes until.
For the shallot puree. Place the shallots in the oven at 200C for 30 minutes. Remove, cool then cut away roots and skin. Place in a food processor or blender with the stock cube. Blitz and add a little milk. Blitz again. Add enough milk to make a smooth, spoonable consistency. Finish with a touch of black pepper.
For the carrots and vinaigrette. Place all the carrot ingredients in a small pan. Bring to the boil, then cook on a medium heat for eight minutes with a lid on. Remove the lid and allow the steam to come away. Toss the carrots to glaze and set aside. Add the shallots for the vinaigrette to the empty carrot pan with the oil. Cook on a low heat until they soften. Add the vinegar, sugar and seasoning and stir. Dress the carrots with the mixture.
To serve. Pour a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan and get it hot. Pre-heat the oven to 220C and get a tray ready. Put your potato galette in the oven, removing the weight and top piece of greaseproof paper. Place the duck, skin down, in the pan and cook for seven minutes. Turn and seal for one minute. Place in the oven for eight minutes (rare) or 10-12 minutes (medium). While the duck and potatoes are in the oven make your sauce. Add the wine to the pan the duck was cooked in and cook on a high heat. Add the stock and redcurrant sauce. Reduce by half. Strain through a sieve then return to the pan. Add the butter and taste for seasoning.
Allow the duck to rest for five minutes. While it’s resting place the tartlets in the oven with the galettes and warm through the shallot puree and carrots on the hob
Lay the galettes on the plates, top with the duck (I carve mine into slices) and artistically arrange the carrots, tartlet and puree. Drizzle over the sauce and enjoy.
There are quite a few elements to this pudding, which is intended to be for sharing. The trio includes a passionfruit delice, rhubarb and grenadine syllabub stack and rose wine jelly. If you can find it, use the sparkling rose wine from Shawsgate Vineyard in Suffolk, currently available at East of England Co-op stores. It works beautifully in the jelly and there will be enough left for a couple of Champagne glasses each with your meal.
To cheat use a bought flan base for the delices and bought meringues for the rhubarb stacks.
Look carefully at the ingredients and don’t throw away egg whites and yolks – they are all used within the three recipes.
350ml sparkling rose wine, 3tbsp caster sugar, juice ½ lemon, 5 leaves gelatine (1 sachet of powdered)
Rhubarb and grenadine stack
For the meringue: 210g caster sugar, 4 egg whites, 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp lemon oil, 1tbsp white wine vinegar, food colouring (optional)
For the syllabub: 100g rhubarb cut into small pieces, 50ml rose wine (as used for the jelly), 4tbsp grenadine syrup (I used Monin brand), 300ml double cream, 45g sugar, juice ½ lemon, 100ml water
For the sponge: 2 eggs, 50g caster sugar, 50g self-raising flour
For the set mousse: 200ml passionfruit puree (I used Sainsbury’s passionfruit and mango coulis – there’s enough for the whole recipe in one bottle), 40g caster sugar, juice 1 lemon, 3 leaves gelatine, 4 egg yolks (saved from making the meringue) 300ml double cream, 1 egg white
For the glaze: 50ml passionfruit puree, 1tbsp caster sugar, juice ½ lemon, 2 leaves gelatine
For the rose jelly. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. Warm half the wine on the hob with the sugar and lemon juice. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the warm wine. Stir to dissolve. Allow to cool and add the rest of the wine. Stir and pour into moulds to set for at least three hours.
For the rhubarb stack. Make the meringue. Pre-heat the oven to 100C. Whisk all the meringue ingredients together until peaks form. It could take up to 10 minutes so be patient. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe onto a lined tray in 5cm circles and smaller blobs (for decoration). Bake for two hours then allow to cool.
Make the rhubarb syllabub. Place all the syllabub ingredients apart from the cream in a pan and poach the rhubarb on a medium heat until completely soft. Crush with a fork and allow to cool. Whip the cream and fold through the cooled rhubarb mix. Stack with the meringues to serve.
Make the delice. Start with the sponge base. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Whisk together all the ingredients until very thick. Pour onto a small lined baking tray and cook for seven minutes. Allow to cool. You will need some deep moulds with removable bottoms. I used small loose-based sponge cake tins. Cut out sponge to line the base of your moulds.
For the mousse filling. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes. Place the yolks in a separate bowl. Heat the passionfruit, sugar and lemon juice in a pan. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. Pour over the egg yolks and beat well with an electric whisk. Pour back into the pan and cook on a low heat, stirring constantly until it coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool. Whip the cream. Fold the passionfruit mix through. Whip the egg white and fold through the creamy mixture. Pour into your cake-lined bases and set for three hours in the fridge.
For the glaze. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes. Heat the sugar, passionfruit and lemon juice in a pan. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the pan. Stir to dissolve. Cool then pour over your delices. Allow to cool for a further two hours before carefully removing to serve.