Our celebrations have looked very different this last year, and Valentine’s Day will be no different. All of us are stuck at home and have been with our partners every day and night for months, but it is still important to take the time out and make the day special. A lot of us have found that the lockdown seems just a little bit easier when you create a routine of getting dressed and ready in the mornings. The same goes for the celebrations no matter how different they might be. With restaurants closed, you might not be able to book a table at your favourite place, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot still have a romantic evening with your partner at home. So create a menu, set a special table and get dressed to the nines to make the day feel extra special this year.
For date night outfits, you of course cannot go wrong with a gorgeous colourful dress. Rixo’s new collection is filled with beautiful prints and silhouettes perfect for Valentine’s Day (and for every other day!). Or if you are going more casual opt for a lovely blue and pink printed shirt from Isabel Marant to add a pop of colour to your date night ensemble.
Anna’s Valentine’s Day Menu
Melissa Hemsley’s Fried Chermoula Cauliflower on Herby Bean Dip with Slaw
1 medium cauliflower, save the leaves (about 800g)
2 tbsp ghee or oil
sea salt and black pepper
For the chermoula spice mix:
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
chilli flakes or ¼ tsp cayenne, to taste
For the herby bean dip:
240g cooked white beans or chickpeas (1 × 400g tin, drained and rinsed)
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 big handful of a mix of fresh parsley and coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped separately
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
For the slaw:
¼ red cabbage (150g), finely shredded
1 green apple, cut into matchsticks
1 celery stick and leaves, sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp mustard
Preheat the oven to fan 220°C/Gas mark 9. Slice two 2–3cm thick steaks off the cauliflower and roughly chop the remaining cauliflower florets and the leaves, keeping them separate.
Mix together all the ingredients for the chermoula.
Put the cauliflower florets in a roasting tray with 1 tablespoon of the ghee or oil, half of the chermoula spice mix, sea salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15–20 minutes, adding the chopped cauliflower leaves halfway through and tossing everything together.
Melt the remaining ghee or oil in a large frying pan and fry the cauliflower steaks for 2 minutes on each side, then add the remaining spice mix and carefully turn again, coating the steaks in the spice. Cook for a further 2 minutes until just tender (you could now pop in the oven to keep warm).
Meanwhile, mix all the slaw ingredients together with the parsley and coriander leaves in a medium bowl and season to taste.
Blitz all the dip ingredients in a food processor with the parsley and coriander stems and taste for seasoning. Add 2–4 tablespoons cold water until nice and thick. Divide the green bean dip between the plates, drizzle with olive oil and top with the hot cauliflower steak and the florets and leaves. Serve the slaw on top or on the side.
Scallops with Pea Puree and Basil Oil
6 large dry scallops
2 C frozen peas
½ C fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp good quality olive oil/basil oil
kosher salt and cracked pepper
Steam frozen peas according to package directions. Using a high powered blender or food processor, add peas, basil leaves, garlic and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Puree until smooth. Season with S&P to taste. Can reserve a few whole peas to add to the puree once finished.
Heat a medium cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Use remaining olive oil to rub on outside of scallops. Generously season with salt and pepper. Sear each side of scallops for approximately 3 minutes, until a golden brown crust forms.
Divide pea puree between two plates. Top with seared scallops. Optional - lightly drizzle additional basil oil over the top. Serve immediately.
Donna Hay’s Sticky Miso Chicken Roasted on Broccolini
1 x uncooked sticky miso chicken
4 bunches broccolini, trimmed
60 ml mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
Sticky miso marinade:
110g white miso paste
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Marinate the sticky miso chicken until ready to cook.
Place the broccolini on a large baking tray lined with non-stick paper. In a bowl combine and mix the soy sauce and almonds. Drizzle over broccolini, then add the miso chicken and any remaining marinade.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
To serve, divide between plates.
Melissa Hemsley’s Spice Sprout and Mushroom Noodles with Five-Spice
300g Brussels sprouts and their sprout tops, the sprouts halved or quartered if large
1 tbsp oil or ghee
300g Brussel Sprouts & their sprout tops, cut sprouts in 1/2 or 1/4 if large
400g mushrooms, any type, roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated 1 fresh red chilli, seeds too, finely chopped
3/4 tsp five-spice
2 bundles of noodles
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice or vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce or extra tamari
2 tbsp black sesame seeds or chopped nuts or seeds, to serve
Fresh herbs such as coriander or mint, to serve (optional)
Chilli Garlic Sauce to serve (optional)
Fry the sprouts in oil or ghee in a wok or large deep-sided frying pan over a high heat for 4 minutes. For the first few minutes, fry them in an even layer, untouched for a minute or so, then stir or shake the pan to get to the other side. This will give you nice golden edges, which adds flavour.
Chop the mushrooms, then add them too, stir-frying for 5 minutes along with the ginger, garlic, chilli and five-spice. If you’ve got sprout tops, add them now to briefly fry.
Meanwhile, get the noodles cooking in a second saucepan following the label instructions; they should be ready once the sprouts are.
Once the sprouts are tender and the mushrooms have started to go golden and any liquid they have released has been cooked off, add the maple syrup, tamari, citrus (and fish sauce if using) to the sprouts pan and mix everything together.
Finish by adding the cooked noodles and tossing everything together for 30 seconds so the noodles pick up the flavours, adding a tiny splash of water if you need to. Serve with the sesame seeds, fresh herbs and chilli sauce (if using) on top.
Lemon Berry Yogurt Cheesecake
15g nuts, such as walnuts and cashews
100g seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
100g butter, melted
100g dates, pitted (the best ones are medjool)
100g good-quality dark chocolate, broken up into squares or chips
A pinch of sea salt (if butter is unsalted)
750g thick full-fat natural yogurt (Greek style)
200g frozen or fresh berries
Zest of 1 lemon, save some for garnishing
2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
Another 100g frozen or fresh berries
Line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with reusable baking paper.
In a large frying pan, toast the nuts and seeds for a few minutes until fragrant and golden, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Blitz the nuts and seeds in the food processor, then add the melted butter, dates and chocolate and pulse until it’s a crumbly mixture that holds together when pinched (being careful not to let it go completely smooth). Tip the base into your prepared tin and press it down firmly with the back of a spoon until even and neat on the sides. Pop in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Place all the ingredients for the filling in a food processor (no need to clean it or wipe it out) and blend for about 10 seconds until combined, but stil with a few chunks of frozen berries.
Remove the prepared base from the freezer and pour in the filling. Smooth the top out, cover with a plate and return to the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours until set. You want the cheesecake set but not completely frozen so you may need to let it sit out of the freezer for about 15-20 minutes before slicing - a knife should go through quite easily.
At some point in those 4 hours, simmer the remaining 100g berries for 5 minutes until broken down and thickened, then let cool. When you’re ready to serve, spread the cooled berries onto the top of the cheesecake and top with extra lemon zest. Enjoy straight away!
Table Setting Ideas
Setting a beautiful table is of course important to make you feel like you’re out at your favourite restaurant to celebrate. Here are some of our favourite place setting inspirations from Pinterest to help inspire your table decorations.