Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we’re sure there are lots of excited guests, hungry to see what special menu you’re going to put together. It may not be the most favoured ‘holiday’ of the year but it’s still one that’s celebrated by many, and is sure to boost your sales. If you do it right…
We’d recommend curating a menu, this could be themed by cuisine: Italian, Indian, British, French etc. Or, it could be a fusion of dishes, sharing plates and platters… It is the day of love after all, and people are quite happy to share. For top tips on how to get the most out of Valentine’s Day, take a look at our previous article, “how to create a unique valentines day offering”. And for some recipe inspiration, keep reading…
We’d suggest putting together a set menu of 2-3 courses. This could also include a free drink to start, or even a bottle of wine. It’s up to you. Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean all the food has to be pink and in the shape of love hearts, although a little wouldn’t go amiss. Instead, it’s about delicious, tasty dishes that they enjoy while spending some relaxing time together. Here are a few of our favourites:
WHIPPED GOATS CHEESE WITH FIGS, HONEY AND PISTACHIOS ON SOURDOUGH
Simple but effective. You could plate this two ways: spread the whipped goats cheese on a plate (in a fancy swoosh), top with sliced figs, toasted pistachios and a drizzle of honey, and serve with bread – like toasted sourdough or crostini. Or, top your toast with the whipped cheese, and the rest of the ingredients.
BEETROOT CURED SALMON WITH BEETROOT HORSERADISH HUMMUS, AND TOASTED RYE BREAD
If you haven’t made beetroot cured salmon before, there’s a great recipe on BBC Good Food, otherwise, you can buy this pre-made. Serve this with a spicy beetroot horseradish hummus, which we have the exclusive recipe for below. A pickled cucumber salad also works well, which you can make with cider vinegar, sugar, cucumber, and mustard seeds.
- 200g cooked beetroot
- 1 x 240g tin of chickpeas
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of half a lemon
- 5 heaped tsps creamed horseradish (start with just 4 if you don’t like it with too much of a kick) or fresh if you can get your hands on it. Grate and add to taste
- 4 x pinches of salt
- If you’re using raw beetroot, peel and dice into equal pieces, then boil in water until soft, drain and let cool
- Boil the chickpeas in their liquid for just a couple of minutes, then drain and (when cool enough) remove the shells – not vital but a game changer for a smoother texture
- Before you put everything in the food processor, it’s a good idea to squeeze and excess water out of the beetroot but putting it between a towel/kitchen roll and squeezing out as much liquid as possible
- Into the blender, add your deshelled chickpeas, the cooked beetroot, 1 clove of garlic, the lemon juice and horseradish, and blend well
- Once well combined, taste and season
- Blend once more and when you have a smooth and silky consistency, then decant into a bowl and enjoy – this will keep in the fridge for a week
The Main Course:
An Italian classic that looks impressive, tastes amazing but is actually very simple to make. The sauce is made by combining butter, parmesan or pecorino, pasta water, and lots of black pepper. And that’s it. The trick is to use fresh, Italian ingredients. There’s a great recipe, if you don’t already have a tried and tested one.
SHARING STEAK AND ALL THE SIDES
Call it basic, but people do love a good steak dinner. Done well, it trumps most dishes. Especially when it’s served with some delicious sides. Depending what steak you use, will depend how it’s cooked. For a T-Bone for example (a great sharing steak), we recommend doing a reverse sear, getting it charred in a super hot pan with butter, fresh herbs, pepper and flakey salt, and then cooking it in an oven on a medium heat – the length of time will depend on how well done you like it.
For your sides how about: creamed spinach (a little nutmeg is a nice touch), fries with truffle oil and parmesan, polenta chips with thyme and parmesan, roasted butternut squash with sweet peppadews and feta, griddled courgette with preserved lemon and fresh mint, fine green beans or stem broccoli, with garlic and butter, mac and cheese, honey glazed roasted carrots, and fire roasted sweet potato and pumpkin. And don’t forget the sauces: Béarnaise, peppercorn, garlic butter, truffle butter, and chimichurri.
The dessert is where we can have some fun, playing around with the colours of love, even adding in some heart-shaped fruits and chocolates. Cheesecake is a great dessert to get creative with, and ideal when you’re accommodating a lot of people. A few favourite flavour combinations are white chocolate and raspberry, vanilla with balsamic strawberries, and salted caramel. You could cut the fruit into heart shapes, adding little touches like chocolate curls, chocolate hearts, and heart-shaped swirls on the plates. Or you could even serve the cheesecake in individual heart shapes… to be shared.
Call it predictable but a chocolate fondant is a winning dessert on Valentine’s Day – and a hit with the ladies. Always. As long as you can master that perfect oozing middle, you’re onto a standout, crowd-pleasing pud. Here’s our faultless recipe:
Ingredients: serves 4
- 25g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 175g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- 75g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 25g plain flour
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
4 x 160ml ramekins are required for this recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6, and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up (if cooking immediately)
- Grease your ramekins
- Break up the chocolate and soften in a bain marie, until just melted
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time
- Stir in the flour until just combined, then gently mix in the melted chocolate. (The mixture should thicken quite a bit at this point)
- Add the vanilla and a pinch of sea salt
- Divide between the moulds and place on the preheated baking tray (if cooking immediately)
- Bake just before serving for 8 minutes.
- Serve with ice cream, fresh mint, and berries.