Valentine’s Three Course Menu
Happy Valentine’s Day! Well, we’re nearly there anyway. All the magazines and papers are now starting to print their suggestions for the perfect Valentine’s meal so I thought I’d put in my two penn’orth, but with a slight difference!
The starter would make a fab light lunch for when your best friend comes round, the main is actually a delicious family meal, just double the quantities to make it enough for four people and the oh, so yummy pud is so easy it can be whisked up anytime you fancy a sweet treat. As a nod to Valentine I tried to include something red in every course, which is why I served the main course with red cabbage! My man wondered what was going on when I laid the table properly for a change and gave him a glass of fizz in the middle of the week, but he really enjoyed the whole meal and didn’t even mind me taking pics for this blog! So let’s get started!
Beetroot and Goats Cheese Baskets – Serves 2
You do need to start this the day before to allow time for marinating the beetroot and while you’re doing that you may as well make the little baskets too. If making them for a lunch I’d make slightly bigger baskets and just up the quantities of beetroot and goats cheese a bit. There’s no right or wrong really.
200g vacuum packed cooked and peeled beetroot, diced
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 slices white sliced bread
1 tbsp olive oil
80g crumbly goats cheese (or feta cheese)
To serve – Lemon wedges and watercress.
The day before, pop the beetroot into a small saucepan, with the redcurrant jelly and the red wine vinegar. Bring to the boil, and simmer for about 10 mins, until the beetroot is coated. Taste and adjust the amount of redcurrant jelly or vinegar if needed. Cool. Then transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge.
Cut the crusts off the bread and roll the slices out thinly. Brush two muffin tins or two ramekins with a little of the oil. Brush one side of the bread with more oil and press the slices in the tins or ramekins, oil side up, and bake at 200C, (Fan 180C) for about 10 minutes until golden. (You may need to remove the baskets from ramekins and pop them back into the oven for a few more minutes for the outsides to turn golden.) Cool the baskets on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.
Before serving take the beetroot out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Place a basket on each plate. Fill with the beetroot and a little of the juice, crumble over the goats cheese, letting it all spill out onto the plate if you have too much! Arrange the watercress and lemon wedges on the side. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and more beetroot juice. Serve straight away.
Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts – Serves 2
I have a bit of a thing about buying decent chicken! I always buy my chicken from my wonderful local farm shop; it may be a tad more expensive but the taste is far superior to your bland supermarket chicken, however free range or organic it’s supposed to be. Apparently, the farm chickens are grown at a much slower rate than the supermarket ones resulting in much more flavoursome meat. For this recipe you need chicken breasts with the skin on but when I looked in my local supermarket they only sold skinless chicken breasts, so you may have to hunt to find them. You could buy a whole chicken and remove the breasts yourself (which is what I did!) You can look up how to do it online, it’s easier than you may think. The delicious stuffing has cheese in it, but it’s there to help bind everything together and doesn’t taste overly cheesy.
90g onions, chopped
1 eating apple, cored and grated (I used a Braeburn apple and left the skin on)
25g mature grated Cheddar cheese
20g fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
Salt and pepper
2 chicken breast fillets with skin
75 ml apple juice
2 tsp cornflour
50 ml chicken stock
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
Chopped parsley for garnish
Melt half the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onion until soft. Leave to cool. Add the apple, cheese, breadcrumbs, thyme and seasoning to the onions and mix well.
Heat oven to 190C (Fan 170C)
Loosen the skin of the chicken and push the stuffing underneath, pressing and patting it into place. (I was worried the stuffing would all ooze out during cooking, but it didn’t, so just give it a good press down.) Put the chicken in a small roasting tin, dot with the remaining butter, season with a little pepper. Pour half the apple juice over and place in the oven. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes, depending on size. Check they are done by inserting a skewer; only clear juice should run out. Once cooked remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.
Blend the cornflour with 1 tbsp cold water and add to the roasting pan with the remaining apple juice, the stock and mustard. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Season if needed and pour over the chicken. Garnish with parsley.
I served this with new potatoes and red cabbage cooked with onion and garlic.
Choc’n’Nut Layered Desserts – Serves 2
This is the easiest, most yummy dessert ever, in my opinion! You do need a really good Hazelnut and Chocolate spread though for the best flavour, so I used Gü Hazelnut and Chocolate Crunchy Spread, which as an added bonus doesn’t contain palm oil unlike the usual well-known brand of chocolate spread. I served mine in wide champagne flutes but it looks just as pretty served in tumblers. You could use Greek yogurt instead of natural yogurt if you want a richer dessert.
170g natural yogurt
2 level tbsp Gü Hazelnut and Chocolate Crunchy Spread (or to taste)
About 125g berries, (I used a mix of raspberries, blueberries & strawberries)
Mint leaves for garnish
Mix the yogurt with the chocolate spread until it is thoroughly combined. Set aside two raspberries for decoration. Spoon one third of the yogurt mixture into 2 glasses. Top with some fruit (you may have to chop the strawberries if they are large), then another layer of yogurt then fruit and finishing with the yogurt mixture. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours and decorate with the mint and reserved raspberries just before serving. Delicious!
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Have fun and I’ll see you next time!