What do you like to do on Valentine’s Day? Do you prefer to go out to a restaurant or stay in? Or do you think the whole idea is just too commercialised and steer clear altogether? I have to say, while I love eating in restaurants, I am not a big fan of going out on Valentine’s Day. It sounds like a nice idea, but the reality is always a disappointment. Restaurants typically rearrange their dining areas into tables of two and all too often put on a rather overpriced and clichéd menu. Woe betide you if you don’t like smoked salmon, steak or heart shaped puddings. And that whole tables of two thing makes for a really odd atmosphere. It can all feel rather awkward. My preference these days is to stay in on Valentine’s Day and make us a nice romantic meal at home instead. Or sometimes I even let my husband cook (though this is rare 🙂 )
But the problem is, most people don’t want to spend all Valentine’s Day evening cooking and really don’t want to spend the rest of the evening washing up. The whole point of having dinner together is to, well have dinner together, not spend all evening in the kitchen.
So, what’s the solution? Well, hubby and I have had quite a few date nights in over the years (the joys of having small children!) and so I’ve come up with a few nifty solutions to ensure you maximise your together eating dinner time and minimise your in the kitchen cooking and washing up time…the trick to The Perfect Easy Peasy Valentine’s Day Menu is to start backwards…
The Perfect Easy Peasy Valentine’s Day Pudding
The trick with a Valentine’s Day pudding is to make something that can be made ahead: hours or even days ahead. I like to make either a tart or a cake that can be made way in advance and stored in the fridge or in a tin until it’s needed. For me my perfect valentines dessert would be Raspberry Bakewell Tart. It looks pretty enough for a special dinner, but can be made in the morning or the day before and happily sit at room temperature until it’s needed. Serve with a blob of cream and a handful of fresh raspberries and maybe a glass of sweet wine if you are feeling decadent…
The Perfect Easy Peasy Valentine’s Day Main Course
Pudding made, you can turn your thoughts to main courses…And again my tip would be to make something that can be made ahead of time. A hearty stew or casserole would fit the bill nicely. Something like my Beef Bourguignon or Moroccan Lamb Stew: a dish that can be popped in the oven a few hours ahead of time and left to do its thing. Alternatively, both of these dishes can be made a day ahead and popped in the fridge overnight, then reheated just before you want to eat them. Just pop them in a pan on the stove, add a splash of water and heat on a medium heat until piping hot. To make life simple for yourself, I would suggest serving your stew or casserole with some crusty French bread, though both recipes have other alternatives if you are not a big fan of bread. Check out the individual recipes for wine suggestions too.
The Perfect Easy Peasy Valentine’s Day Starter
So your pudding is made and ready, your main course is chuntering away in the oven, and crucially all the washing up is done already, so all you have to do is put together a starter. My tip here is not to do this ahead of time, but rather make a simple starter that can be put together in a few minutes, just before you want it. My favourite Easy Peasy, but still impressive, starter is Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad. It takes less than 10 minutes to put together, is very pretty and most importantly, tastes fabulous. It is totally delicious with a glass of viognier…or why not push the boat out and buy a bottle of something fizzy to go with your starter. Prosecco would work well here.
Whatever you plan to do on Valentine’s Day, I hope you have fun, your food is delicious and your washing up is minimal. 🙂