While some may delight in an extravagant evening out at an expensive restaurant, for me, there is nothing more romantic than a luxurious home-cooked meal. This Valentine’s day I’m filling the house with beautifully scented roses, lighting some candles and cooking up a delicious meal for two. Starting off with punchy Blood Orange Moscow mules, followed by a simple crab and artichoke linguine. Then, as chocolate is synonymous with Valentine’s day, we’ll finish off with decadent chocolate swirl meringues, whipped cream and salted chocolate. Simple recipes, but sufficiently indulgent for the most romantic night of the year.
Blood Orange Moscow Mule
Blood oranges are at their zenith right now, and I couldn’t resist adding their brightly-coloured juice to one of my favourite cocktails. Traditionally Moscow mules are served in copper cups, but the colour is so vibrant, it seems a shame to hide it.
(Makes enough for one)
- Juice of 1 blood orange squeeze of lime 2 oz. vodka
- 6 oz. ginger beer
- sprig of rosemary
Pour the blood orange juice and squeeze of lime into a glass, followed by a few ice cubes. Pour over the vodka and top up with ginger beer. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and serve straight away
Crab and Artichoke Linguine
I first had a version of this in Venice, arguably the most romantic place on earth. So, it seems the perfect choice for Valentine’s. It’s a ‘throw together’ kind of pasta dish, but there’s always something a little spoiling about crab.
(Enough for two greedy people)
- A glug of olive oil
- 2 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 200g white crab meat
- 200g chargrilled artichokes
- 40ml dry white wine
- A handful of fresh tarragon
- 250g Fresh Linguine Salt and Pepper
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water according to the packs instructions. Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a frying pan, toss in in the shallots and garlic and sweat for a few minutes. Add the crab and artichokes and fry for a minute or so before pouring in the wine. Let it bubble away for a few minutes, until the wine has reduced. Remove from the heat and toss in the cooked pasta. Add a tiny bit of the pasta cooking water to loosen if necessary. Tear in the tarragon leaves, season with salt and pepper and serve straight away.
Chocolate Swirl meringues with whipped cream and salted chocolate
When it comes to making meringues, I’m seriously superstitious. I make sure the eggs are a few days old and rub half a lemon around the mixing bowl. I always start whisking the egg whites really slowly, gradually increasing the speed and I add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Who knows if any of this makes much difference to the result, but I’m not willing to risk it. I make the meringues in advance, usually leaving them in the oven (turned off) over night, and then whip the cream and melt the chocolate before serving.
(enough for two extra-large meringues)
- 2 large egg whites
- 110g caster sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted to remove any lumps
- 100mls double cream
- 50g salted chocolate (I use lindt)
To make the meringues, preheat the oven to 130C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl, and using an electric mixer, whisk until the bubbles become smaller and soft peaks begin to form. Add the salt and corn flour and whisk. Gradually add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form and the whites have become glossy. Swirl in the cocoa powder, then dollop the mixture into two swirly mounds on the baking parchment, using a fork to create wispy peaks and to swirl in a little more cocoa powder. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, after which switch the oven off and leave the meringues inside until the oven has cooled.
When you’re ready to serve. Melt the salted chocolate in a double boiler (glass bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water). Whisk the cream into soft peaks, being careful not to over whisk. Pile the cream on top of the meringue, followed by a generous drizzle of chocolate. I sometimes like to add a sprinkle of chopped nuts to add some extra crunch.