If you are not joining the packed out restaurants for Valentine’s Day this year, you could go one better and make the night special with this easy-yet-amazing gourmet dinner menu.
Sometimes the extra effort shows your partner or crush how much you care about them, much more than simply picking a restaurant and flipping the bill. These dishes are almost foolproof – we wouldn’t wasn’t you to take any chances on this occasion. Let’s start with the appetiser:
Pre-dinner: Champagne and Oysters
- One bottle of the best champagne you can afford, chilled
- A dozen freshly shucked oysters
Nothing sets the mood like bubbles and oysters. It instantly transports you to a higher dimension (or perhaps that’s just the champagne?). You can serve the oysters natural with some lemon or whisk up a quick vinaigrette of apple cider vinegar, tabasco and extra virgin olive oil.
Dinner: Crispy Skin Salmon with Pan Fried Potatoes and Asparagus
- 2 skin on salmon fillets
- 2 large potatoes, sliced in 5mm discs (skin on or off your choice)
- 6 fresh asparagus spears
- Good quality unsalted butter
- Blanche the sliced potatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes until almost cooked then rinse in cold water to stop them cooking and set aside
- Next, score the skin of the salmon to prevent it curling when you are cooking it. Run your knife down into the skin every 5mm or so along the length of the fillet. Season the skin generously with salt.
- Heat 2 pans, one large to fry the potatoes and one medium to cook the salmon (make sure the salmon pan is able to go into the oven too)
- Now pre-heat the oven to 180ºC
- For the potato pan, add in 75gms of butter and wait until it is melted and beginning to bubble. Add the potatoes and try and arrange them so all the pieces are face down.
- For the salmon pan, wait until it the pan is hot (a couple of minutes) but not super hot. Splash in some olive oil and lay the salmon skin side down. Ideally there is little sizzle as the pan and salmon come up to a higher temperature together. This will caramelise the skin beautifully and not over cook the fish.
- Once the skin is caramelised and crisp (about 5 minutes) place the pan in the oven. If you flip the fish and cook it in the pan it will cause the salmon to dry out. Also it messes with your timing. Much easier to have he cooking finish in the oven, that way it can stay warm while you do the rest. Leave it in the oven for 5 or 6 minutes to finish cooking, then turn the oven off.
- Meanwhile, boil some water in a small pot and blanch your asparagus. They should be still firm to the touch (less than 5 minutes – should match up with your salmon cooking time!)
- If everything is working to plan all your ingredients will be ready simultaneously! Plate up the crispy potatoes (golden buttery side up) in the centre of the plate, lay the salmon skin side up on top and serve the asparagus on the side. If the potatoes needs more time frying you can keep the salmon warming in the oven and the asparagus can sit waiting for a good several minutes without losing any quality.
Sauce accompaniment is your choice - the easiest is to buy a good quality tartare and spoon some on the side or place on the table.
Dessert: Naughty Chocolate Mouse
You should do this the day before as it needs to set and chill in the fridge for a few hours.
- 300 gm dark bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa) - grated
- 2 eggs
- 5 egg yolks
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 350ml pouring cream
- Splash of Cognac or Cointreu or Creme de Menthe (this is the naughty bit – optional of course)
- Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of boiling water
- Combine sugar and 60ml water in a saucepan on low, stir to dissolve sugar then increase heat to edium and cook for 5 minutes making a syrup
- Whisk eggs together either by hand (hard!) or with an electric mixer until liquid
- Keep whisking and slowly add syrup to the eggs and gently Add chocolate whisk until back to room temperature (10 mins)
- Add chocolate to your mixture and gently stir to combine (be careful, you want to keep the air in the mixture you created via whisking)
- Whisk cream in a bowl until soft peaks form
- Combine cream with chocolate mixture and splash of your liqueur of choice and again gently stir to combine
- Transfer to small bowls, martini glasses or water glasses and refrigerate fro at least 3 hours before serving.
Truly a meal to remember!