14:10 | Posted by Nim Headland | Category , ,

Valentines Recipes

Here I am again!
Lets jump straight in shall we? Here's the recipes from the Valentines menu I cooked for Steviant. Three in one! It had to be tasty and a bit different to normal Valentines fayre. Steak and chocolate fondant is all very well, but feels a bit unimaginative. I wanted it to have a bit of a seasonal nod, hence the chicory and mussels, both at their best in February. Hopefully you will forgive my slight aberration from the seasonal with the strawberries, but they were only a garnish anyway. It's a nice menu I think, because none of the dishes require loads of stress. It's all cooked à la minute but won't keep you away from your guests for great long stretches, and these dishes are truly easy, but it feels like a special meal. If you do your prep early, you can really relax and enjoy the cooking as well as the company.

So to start I made a warm brie, chicory and bacon salad. This is a proper manly salad. I mean, how can you go wrong with those ingredients? It's super tasty and chicory is a lovely leaf that stands up to being served with warm ingredients and isn't overpowered by the other strong flavours here. They don't seem to compete, it just works well. It's a recipe from Good Food and I think it's a fab starter.

Ingredients: (Makes enough for a starter for 4)

2 heads of chicory. I used the white type because I thought the pink with the bacon would be a bit loud!
6 rashers streaky bacon
100g brie (chill it for 30 mins to make it easier to slice)
1-2 tbsp Cider vinegar
3 tbsp Olive Oil
S&P for seasoning.
Chives (optional)

Right, do your prep first. Wack the grill up and make your dressing. Whisk 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar with the olive oil, and taste it. It should taste almost a bit too vinegary, you will probably need the other tbsp but use your instinct. Season carefully, remembering to go easy on the salt because there's going to be bacon in this salad.

By now your grill should be up to heat, so pop the bacon under and leave to go really crispy. While this is happening you can prepare the chicory by separating the leaves. 3 or 5 big ones per person is about right, depending on appetites. Cut the brie into little bites.

When the bacon is properly crisp, let it cool down a bit and then use your hands to crumble it. Keep it warm.

When you're ready to eat, dress the chicory and bacon bits by popping them in a bowl and drizzling the dressing from a height a tablespoon at a time. Then get involved; dress the leaves with your hands by turning them over in the dressing and making sure each leaf is coated. Lay 3 or five chicory leaves onto each small plate and sprinkle over some of the crumbled bacon. Then dot some brie over and finish with finely chopped chives, if you like.

Rick Stein's moules marinières don't need any introduction. How can something with so few ingredients be this good?

Ingredients: (for 4)

1.75kg/4lb mussels
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
15g/½oz butter
a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaves
100ml/3½fl oz dry white wine or cider
120ml/4fl oz double cream
handful of parsley leaves, coarsley chopped
crusty bread, to serve

And what to do, as written by the man himself.

Wash the mussels under plenty of cold, running water. Discard any open ones that won't close when lightly squeezed.
Pull out the tough, fibrous beards protruding from between the tightly closed shells and then knock off any barnacles with a large knife. Give the mussels another quick rinse to remove any little pieces of shell.

Soften the garlic and shallots in the butter with the bouquet garni, in a large pan big enough to take all the mussels - it should only be half full. (Note from me:you can prepare up to this point before you sit down for your starter, then finish the mussels just when you are ready to eat them.)

Add the mussels and wine or cider, turn up the heat, then cover and steam them open in their own juices for 3-4 minutes. Give the pan a good shake every now and then.

Remove the bouquet garni, add the cream and chopped parsley and remove from the heat.

Spoon into four large warmed bowls and serve with lots of crusty bread.

Delish. Remember finger bowls and a massive bowl in the middle of the table for shells. Oh and don't salt the mussels, they release just enough salt water during cooking to season the dish perfectly. How awesome is that? Taste for pepper though, you might want some.

For pudding I did a version of Mark Hix's frozen blueberries in a white chocolate sauce from one of the Ivy's menus. I've given the recipe for that here recently so go and have a look:

Frozen Blueberries in White Chocolate Sauce

The only difference here was that I used frozen blackcurrents as I've run out of blueberries. It was nice, they were sharp enough to cut through the sauce. I decorated these with pretty halved choccies that I got for my birthday.

So there you go. Simple! Enjoy. I won't leave it so long next time.


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