Okay, so it’s been a tough January. It’s been cold, it’s been dark, nobody has wanted to go out and have fun. But have you noticed that the song thrushes have started to sing again, reminding us that spring, and of course Valentine’s Day, are just around the corner? It’s time to shrug off the winter gloom, light some candles, and prepare a romantic dinner for two.
Cooking for your lover alone gives the clearest love message imaginable across the kitchen table, and it does not have to be anything complicated. Just keep things simple and low stress, as there is nothing remotely sexy about a flustered chef and the smell of burning. Far better a simple supper for 2 followed by some unashamed binging (or snogging) on the sofa.
Crab Linguine with chilli and parsley
1 fresh dressed crab (or 100g brown crab mean and 200g white crab meat)
1 hot chilli, deseeded if you want to take some of the heat out
2 garlic cloves
A large handful of finely chopped flat-leaved parsley
A dash of white wine
Sea salt and black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the linguine. While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a pan which will be large enough to eventually hold the entire dish. Cook the chilli and garlic gently in the oil until they start to sizzle, then turn up the heat and add the white wine and simmer. Take off the heat, add the brown crab meat and mash it into the oil and wine to make a paste. Drain the pasta, and add it to the paste, off the heat, then add the white crab meat, the parsley, and season to taste. Add a few spoonfuls of reserved cooking liquid if the pasts starts to stick together, and a squeeze of lemon to give it a zesty lift.
Beef Tagliata with rocket and parmesan
Serve seared beef on a bed of rocket, dressed with parmesan: a beautiful dish which is lovely to share, with or without cutlery. Use locally sourced organic beef for a special treat: rump steak, T-bone, sirloin and skirt steak will all be delicious.
Approx. 200g meat per person
1 large bag organic rocket
Best quality olive oil
This could not be easier: season the meat with salt and pepper, and sear in a hot cast iron pan and cook to your preference (medium rare for me, please). Leave the meat to rest under some kitchen foil while you scatter your serving platter with the rocket (or other posh salad leaves like lambs lettuce and watercress). Evenly slice the beef into bite-sized pieces, and lay the slices on top of the rocket. Pour over any juices from the chopping board, then season with salt, pepper, a generous slosh of olive oil, and a good squeeze of lemon, before grating over with a decent sprinkling of parmesan.
Roast quail and harissa
2 rashers streaky bacon
½ red onion
Treat the quails to a roasting in an appropriately sized tin: stuff each with a quarter of red onion, season with salt and pepper, cover with bacon, and slosh on a dash of olive oil. Roast at 200 degrees for approx. 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave to rest under some silver foil. Meanwhile dollop 4 tablespoons of yoghurt into a bowl, add a teaspoon of harissa, and stir together. Serve with couscous and a green salad, with a big spoonful of harissa yoghurt on the side.
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