A seductive dinner for Valentine’s Day, with enough finger licking, dainty cutting and slurping to last at least one night. How you figure out your love life after that is up to you.
Starter: Mussels to Share
This recipe for mussels has become iconic. The truth is that it is really easy to prepare – all you need to do is chop away at the garlic and tomatoes, and that is it really. Do you have those pictures in mind of weeding couples twisting their arm around the other’s and drinking from their partner’s glass? Well, you can do that with the mussels. A little slurping is allowed, but not too much.
For two people you need:
1 box of black shelled mussels
A handful of garlic cloves
Big fat bits of black peppercorns
A glass of white wine
Peel and chop some garlic, roughly. Sometimes I don’t even chop it. Throw it into a hot pan with a glass of white wine, parsley and loads of pepper and salt. Throw the contents of the bag into the pan and place on high heat until the mussels are all open and the flavor has infused. Shake the pan, covering it first, so that the bits stick to the inside of the shells. Drain the wine. Serve in deep plates, with lemon wedges.
Main: Roast (Any fish that you like) fillets with a Lemon, Garlic and Parsley Crust
You can go to your local fishmonger and ask what the best fillet he can give you is. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to slurp it like spaghetti, or attack it, like meat. Eating it will actually make you look very dainty, which, if you are trying to seduce the person across the table, is usually a good idea…Prepare it from before, topping and all, leave it in the fridge, then just pop it under a hot grill for a few minutes before eating.
For two people you need:
400g of skinned white fish fillets
45g roasted and roughly ground almonds
A handful of parsley
1 clove or 1 stem of peeled local fresh garlic
Finely grated zest of ¼ lemon
Juice from the lemon
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 220 C or 425 F and season the fish with salt and pepper. Throw the almonds, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper into a food processor, adding the oil as you go to form a paste. Grease a shallow oven pan with some olive oil. Then place the fish in the pan, and spoon over the crust evenly.
Pop into the preheated oven for ten minutes just until the fish has turned white. If the topping is still pale, place it under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.
Desert: Scrumptiously Gooey Lemon Cheesecake
What a gorgeous, lovely thing this dessert is. It is worth every one of the five hundred bowls you will have to wash later. I suggest that if you actually live together, you prepare this together. Which means you will get to lick the bowls. Or each other’s fingers. Or maybe I’d better stop now…
100g ground almonds
½ teaspoon ginger, ground
15g artificial sweetener, example Splenda
525ml fresh cream
6 egg yolks
3 gelatin leaves, soaked in mineral water
300g cream cheese
200g full fat yogurt
1 ½ finely grated lemon zest
Juice of the same 1 ½ lemon
Prepare a 20cm spring form tin by lining it in wide stretch and seal.
The base: Melt the butter on a low heat, add the ground almonds and take off the heat. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and press down in a thin layer with the back of a metal spoon. You can use a potato masher too, seeing as you are not using it for mashing potatoes…place it in the fridge.
The cream: Whisk the cream until it has just formed soft peaks. Careful not to overdo it because you will have to throw it away! Place it in a bowl, and leave to one side.
The sabayon: Again, using the electronic means, whisk the egg yolks and artificial sweetener until the mixture becomes quite pale. Decant it in a bain-marie.
In simpler terms: have two inches of water in a saucepan bubbling over a low heat, place another bowl on top (careful not to let it touch the water or overheat because you’ll end up with scrambled eggs) and pour the yolk and artificial sweetener mixture into the bowl. Continue whisking by hand until the mixture is warmed through. Switch off the heat immediately.
Add the gelatin leaves and mix well so that they are incorporated. If you’re past the induction stage, you can also add a tablespoon of wine.
The wonder: In yet another bowl, place the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon juice and zest. Mix thoroughly, and then fold in the cream and the sabayon. Mix thoroughly into a light cream concoction.Take the (by now cooled and hardened) almost base from the fridge, pour in the entire mix until it’s reached the top of the tin and give the top a few swirls for that it looks pretty.
Place the tin in the fridge for as long as you can resist. The gelatin will now act on the rest of the ingredients and give the cheesecake shape, so that you can cut slices. Lick the rest of the bowl: not a single ingredient is forbidden.