Putting on a culinary show for Valentine’s Day? It should be all about preparation so you can give your date your full attention through the evening. No one wants a stressed-out, sweaty Valentine’s chef, so here’s our pick of what to cook on Valentine’s Day.
Even hardcore romance deniers can’t help but feel the pull of a slightly special occasion when 14 February rolls around. But if, like me, the thought of sitting in a restaurant surrounded by gushy couples and awkward dates makes you shudder with horror, consider cooking something out of the ordinary at home.
What to cook on Valentine’s Day? The beauty of cooking a Valentine’s Day meal at home is that you can go as big and extravagant as you like or keep things simple and low-key with some Spaghetti with Truffle Pecorino, some candlesticks and a nice bottle of plonk.
No one wants a stressed-out, sweaty Valentine’s chef, so a simple starter is the way forward. For a starter that evokes romance, look to oysters – they are an aphrodisiac, after all. Try this Oysters with Tabasco and Coriander Dressing recipe, which is deceptively simple to make but, perhaps, suggests that you’ve made such an enormous effort.
And if slippery shellfish doesn’t float your boat, you can never go wrong with a dressed-up burrata. Sit the creamy cheese on tender, fresh spring leaves, perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes, crisp red onions and crunchy nuts of your choice – then drizzle the whole lot with olive oil.
Another make-ahead and swoon-worthy way to kick things off is with a simple, decadent French onion soup. This French onion soup recipe by Raymond Blanc makes for a deep, savoury French classic of caramelised Rose de Roscoff onions, floating croutons and grated Comté cheese on the top.
If you fell for one another over a shared love of the Mediterranean, keep the flame alive by bringing a platter of Fragrant Fishcake with Spring Greens and Poached Eggs to the table for the main event – accompanied by a crisp bottle of Chablis. Serve a warm baguette alongside it for dipping into the runny yolk, and imagine you’re overlooking the Italian Riviera.
For something with a bit of drama and tension to it, this tender, Slow-braised Leg of Lamb will up the ante. It combines a fine British ingredient – the tender leg of lamb – with the culinary traditions of India to recreate a classic and timeless dinner dish that is oh-so-romantic. The Aubergine Curry by Oli’s Thai is just as evocative should your date happen to be vegetarian.
For maximum points when it comes to effort, you can’t go wrong with slow-cooking something and picking ingredients you might not serve up every day. Our Food Editor’s pick is a Slow Cooked Rabbit Casserole, which is luscious, fresh and rich, just like we hope your date is.
Dessert will be your final flourish, so even if you mess up the rest, you’d better make it count. The best way to go is with something you’ve made ahead of time, so there are no awkward pauses between courses as you faff around with soufflés and chocolate fondants (this isn’t the 1970s, after all).
This Reverse Chocolate Crumble is seriously chocolatey – it’ll win over even the coldest heart. And the leftovers will serve as a reminder of a great evening that was had. In the same realm, but slightly more aesthetically on point for the occasion, is the sinfully decadent Salted Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Cheesecake – heaven.