I've never been accused of being romantic, nor have I been described as a volatile and reckless person, however I do enjoy a bit of romance, special food (obviously) and hard as it might be to believe I do experience a variety of emotions. It is just that they don't necessarily always manifest in facial expressions or expletives. But I digress. What I do find hard to swallow is paying double for roses, fighting for restaurant bookings, being over charged for mediocre churned out food made from sub standard ingredients that the chef has sourced based on price and then being accosted by a swarm of single red rose sellers, often with raggedy small teddy bears in tow, who seem to think that between appealing to your sense of charity or desire to please your date, you will be forced to purchase their valentine delights. Wow I need to calm down lest I ruin my carefully crafted reputation that has taken so long to create.
In order to reduce the stress felt by many of my fellow humans at this time of year, whether you are a man or a woman just wanting a special evening on Valentines day, I have put together a simple menu of delicious treats which I plan to serve to Commander J. It is Banting friendly and requires no special skills, equipment or knowledge. You will have to do some food shopping and this is where you should not skimp. The recipes are brief and please adjust where you see fit.
Take a piece of Bresaola, inside place a dollop of soft cheese (goat or cream), add a drop of truffle oil and fold up like a wonton. Top with a chive or two and eat!
Buy the best smoked salmon or trout you can afford. Mix a teaspoon soy sauce, half a teaspoon wasabi and half a teaspoon minced ginger. Pour over the salmon, season with pepper and a good olive oil.
Bring a small pot with 2 cups water, 1 clove garlic and 100ml white wine vinegar to the boil. Add a teaspoon salt and a 250g punned of portabellini mushrooms. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat and cool slightly. Drain off the liquids and pour over some olive oil and a sprinkle of dried organum. Mom I think this might be your green bowl that I borrowed. Please don't get mad when you see this pic.
If you have ever made ghee, you will be familiar with the foam that is removed during the clarification process. Don't throw this away as it makes a delicious foam for asparagus and steak. However for the purposes of this simple dinner butter is perfectly acceptable. Once you have finished your mushrooms above, place them into a serving bowl and return the same pot to the heat. Nobody likes a sink full of pots and pans especially on V day so reuse wherever possible. Add your asparagus and fry in a good dollop of butter. Once they are just cooked squeeze over half a lime, grind some pepper and if not using salted butter add a sprinkle of maldon.
Ok so this one took a bit more planning. It is actually tuna that I “cured” with a bit of salt, lime juice and chilli, wrapped in cling film for 3 days and then thinly sliced. If you want to make this tonight you still can as it is delicious after an hour of curing. Try to find a nice log of tuna rather than a steak. I went to Ocean Jewels in Woodstock for this piece and the best part is Julie will cut you the piece that you want. Freezing the tuna for 30 mins before you slice it also makes it easier to cut thinly. On top is some store bought guacamole as I can't bear to buy avos from Spain even if I could afford to.
In keeping with my simple nature and intelligence I cut these tomatoes in half, added the best olive oil and tore some strips of basil. Salt is a must and that's it. If you store the tomatoes out of the fridge they have that summer sun ripe flavour that reminds one of Naples but they do need to be eaten faster this way.
In addition to the above I bought some oysters from Wild Peacock (they will open them for you) and also put a slab of feta cheese drizzled with olive oil to go with the tomatoes.
You can prepare a lot in advance and it is all served cold which means no running back and forth to the kitchen and ruining that romantic moment.
Happy Valentines day!
(Apologies to the chefs who take pride in their craft. The ones who source the best and insist on it from their suppliers and staff. You know who you are, I know who you are and for those who don't – they are the ones with restaurants full of locals all year round.)