Saturday, 14 February 2015

Valentine's day menu

How do you woo your amour on Valentine's day? Do you keep things simple and sweet with a box of chocolates, or do you go for a full Monty and cook a 3-course dinner? Or do you fancy recreating that famous food scene from Nine and a Half Weeks? You know, I have just watched it again on Youtube and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. Oldies are always goldies.
While I might be showing my age by reference to 9 and 1/2 weeks, I like to make an effort and cook a special meal on Valentine's day.

Valentine's day dinner
Valentine's day menu

If you are looking for a menu which is easy and romantic, the Italian cuisine might be a source of inspiration. The Italians certainly know how to woo their loved ones with the most tantalising recipes. Take Caprese salad, what could be simpler than slicing tomatoes, mozzarella and tearing some basil leaves? Yet it's one of the most satisfying salads.
For my starter I prepared a light Caprese with a twist, as I also added a sliced blood orange to the classic ingredients. Don't knock it off before you tried it.

Italian salad, blood orange recipe
Caprese salad with blood orange

For a Caprese salad, slice the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, as well as a blood orange. Arrange the slices so that overlap each other. Drizzle some olive oil, tear fresh basil leaves, season with a bit of pepper if you fancy.

Strawberry Spumante cocktail:
To put you in the romantic mood, how about a cocktail with fresh strawberries?
Whizz 4-5 big strawberries into a thick puree, pour 5tbsp of puree in each glass and top up with a sparkling wine. I used Rosamore Vino Spumante Rosato Brut, an Italian fresh pink sparkling wine. It is a lovely aperitif, fresh and fruity.

For a main course impress your love with a dish of duck breast served with a strawberry and blood orange salsa.
Duck with sweet and sour salsa is a winning combination.
Duck with strawberry and orange blood salsa
2 duck breasts, skin remove
1tsp grated ginger
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 garlic clove
sea salt
2tbsp olive oil

For the salsa:
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1tbsp maple syrup
a small punnet of strawberries
1 blood orange
a handful of pomegranates
1tbsp fresh thyme

First marinade two duck breasts in a mix of grated ginger (1tsp), juice and zest of 1 lime and 1 garlic clove, grated or pressed through the garlic press. Leave them in the marinade for an hour and a half or more.
Cook the breasts in the frying pan with the olive oil. I like my meat well done, so I don't give any suggestions on the time, it depends on how you like your meat.

Valentine's day recipe

Mix the balsamic vinegar with the maple syrup, zest and lime juice. Chop the strawberries and put in the bowl with the marinade. Remove the skin from the blood orange, slice it and put together with the berries. Add the pomegranate seeds and chopped thyme. Ideally the salsa should be left to infuse for a couple of hours. Give it an occasional stir.
Serve the duck breasts with the salsa spooned over.

blood orange

Chocolate for me is a final indulgence. This Nutella and whisky cake tastes divine and finishes the Valentine's day nicely.

chocolate cake
Nutella cake

Nutella cake
4 medium eggs
100g Nutella+ more for decorating
150g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
3tbsp whisky
200g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
40g ground almonds
zest of 1 blood orange (optional)
100g butter, melted
Dr Oetker Shimmer spray gold and gold pearls (optional)
30+ minutes

Beat the eggs with Nutella and caster sugar. Add the vanilla essence, whisky, flour, baking powder, ground almonds, orange zest and melted butter, mix well. Pour in a heart-shaped cake tin. Bake at 180C for 30+ minutes.
Once cool to touch, spread some Nutella with a knife and smooth the surface. If you like, add a touch of glamour with Dr Oetker shimmer spray gold and gold pears, but this is optional.

chocolate cake

If you are full, and feel a bit of slumber, perk up yourself with a nice cup of latte or cappuccino, sprinkled with cocoa.

To help me cook my Valentine's day dinner, OXO sent three kitchen gadgets of my choice to play with. I love OXO Good Grips, and use all my products from the range regularly. If you visit my kitchen, you'll see that I constantly use OXO Good Grips herb mincer, measuring cup and juicer to name but a few.

My first choice was an OXO Good Grips 3-piece Berry Bowl and Colander set. This jolly colourful set is just the right size for rinsing berries, beans and more. The set comes as a nest for compact storage, it has a non-slip bottom. The set is very easy to clean. The colander has an elevated ring along its bottom, so it also stays stable on the working surface or in the sink when you wash the berris. The holes are elongated for efficient draining. There is a lid with seals the bowl for storing the food in the fridge.

I used the set for washing the strawberries for both the salsa and cocktail and used the bowl for preparing the salsa.

OXO Good Grips Simple Mandoline Slicer is an easy-to-use kitchen gadget. I have fancied a mandoline for a long time. You choose a thickness you need for the food you selected: three slice thickness setting, julienne setting and storage setting. The stainless steel blade is angled and cuts the foods into slices with ease. You hold your piece of fruit or vegetable with a spring-loaded food holder which has a big rim to protect fingers. Textured runway prevents food from sticking.
A soft handle is comfy and soft, plus the mandoline comes with non-slip feet which keep it stable.
Once you finished the job and cleaned the mandoline, its leg folds for compact storage.
I used the mandoline for preparing the salad.

Tomatoes sliced with a mandoline
And finally OXO Good Grips Baker's Dusting Wand is a cute little kitchen gadget. It is useful for flouring the cake tin evenly, for sprinkling surfaces for rolling the dough, and of course, for adding icing sugar to your baked goodies or sprinkling cinnamon or cocoa over cappuccino. It is very light. Twist the wand open, scoop some icing sugar or cinnamon, twist to close and dust whatever you fancy.

Disclosure: I received a selection of OXO Good Grips to prepare a menu for Valentine's day.


  1. wow that looks delish!! i love the look of the Caprese salad.

    1. Thanks honey! Caprese is one of my top fave salads, easy and tasty

  2. oh wow that all looks amazing its made me hungry :)

    1. Thank you Linda! Hope you had a lovely Valentine's

  3. Your meal looks delicious and the salad looks so fresh! That slicer looks amazing too! xx

    1. Thank you Jessica! I'm very happy with the mandoline, I wanted one for ages.