By Hugo Brown
It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, love is in the air and “Durham Give A Rose” is busy preparing for the most hyped day in the romantic calendar.
However, what is love without good food? Although the naysayers will grumpily moan about how the whole thing commercialises love and affection, at Barking Baking we are firm believers in Valentine’s Day! A good homemade meal is definitely the way to anyone’s heart.
Here is a great three-course meal plan to get you going; why don’t you treat your Valentine (or yourself…) to a scrumptious repast? You could surprise them with a magnificent meal, or equally invite them around and do it together for a bit of Barking Baking Bonding…
Starter – Salad Niçoise
This is a classic; it is healthy and delicious. It is very easy to do and quick to assemble.
- Salad stuff (Sainsbury’s call it “italian style peppery salad”; can also get it from Tesco)
- 4 eggs
- 4 tomatoes
- Two tins of tuna in olive oil
- A tin of anchovies
- Dressing – in ratio of 1 tbs balsamic vinegar to 2 tbs olive oil (do to taste)
Boil the eggs for 6 minutes and leave to cool (if you leave it late, run cold water over them).
Chuck the salad in a bowl. Cut 4 large tomatoes into eighths and pop them in.
Open the tins of tuna and drain the olive oil away. Break it up and put on top. Mix everything up.
Now crack open the anchovies (love them so add loads) and grate flakes of cheese in (just cut the cheese into chunks if you do not have a grater).
Cut the eggs in half and add to the salad. Pour over the dressing and add the olives. Boom. Done.
The trick with this one is to make sure everything is mixed together and that you add enough dressing to make it nice and moist.
Serve with ciabatta bread or just eat on its own.
The Main – Salmon Wellington
This really is gorgeous. Looks and tastes fantastic. Very stylish; this one has the “wow” factor.
- 2 large cucumbers
- 3 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of clear honey
- 30g of dill (be generous)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 6 small fillets of salmon (Nigel Slater has no skin on his but I left it on and it still tasted great so I wouldn’t bother)
- Ready roll puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half. Now cut down the middle and scoop the seeds out with a spoon then chop them up into smallish chunks. Pop in a bowl.
Add the mustard, honey, dill and white wine vinegar and mix well. Season.
Flour a baking tray (only a little bit) and lay the pastry out. Pop three of the fillets in the middle of the pastry. Cover with half of the cucumber salsa (try and get a bit of liquid in so it is nice and moist).
Now put the rest of the fish on top. Add a little more salt and pepper. Keep the rest of the salsa to eat when it is cooked.
Fold the pastry over the fish, but leave a gap at the top to peek through at the fish. Paint the top with a beaten egg.
Cook for 35 mins at about 190. It should go a beautiful golden colour.
Pudding – Chocolate Heaven Pudding
This takes some preparation, which is good in that you can have it sorted before he/she gets there (no potential disasters in the kitchen!). You will need a quiche/tart dish (without a hole in the bottom). Oh, and it’s amazing.
- 400g milk chocolate
- 2oz butter (about 65g)
- 310g chocolate digestive biscuits
- 285 ml double cream
- 1 Flake
Smash up the biscuits by putting them in a bag and then either hitting them with a rolling pin or jumping on them.
Melt the butter in a pan and pour on the crushed biscuit. Stir until all soaked in. Make a round base in your quiche/tart dish. Press it down with the back of a spoon so that it binds together (ie. forms a solid-ish base).
Melt the chocolate (does not have to be cooking chocolate, I used dairy milk) over a bain marie (basically just boil some water, pop a bowl over the top like a lid and chuck the chocolate in it). Whisk the cream a little bit (it should still be runny but just thickening) and pour in with the chocolate. Stir until it has combined.
Put the chocolate in the fridge for about 20 minutes (or freezer for about 10) and then pour over the base.
Pop it in the fridge for a good couple of hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle a flake over the top. FAB.
Photography and Illustration: Hugo Brown