With just days left till Valentine's Day, some of you have already sorted the menu if you're the organised type, or are still unsure what you might be cooking if you're more spontaneous.
As my husband is going abroad on Sunday, we'll have our "Valentine's" dinner on Saturday. We don't do big gestures, no surprise meals out or weekends in Paris. What, with two kids, and one being special needs, anything extra has to be organised and planned in advance. We have agreed long time ago not to buy any themed gifts, as neither of us is particularly excited about the heart-shaped merchandise.
But to mark the occasion, I will cook a meal for my husband. I also got him a gift, won't say what it is, just in case he might read my blog. On a different topic, yesterday Eddie and I were browsing a party costumes' online shop and came across the so called bum shorts (literally shorts with a see-through plastic bum on them). Eddie thought they were hilarious and insisted that I should buy them for Papa. Needless to say, this is not my idea of a Valentine's gift (but I did have a chuckle, more at Eddie's uproarious laughter).
Years ago, when we lived in the States, I discovered a recipe for a camembert baked in pastry. If I'm not mistaken it was printed on a croissant pastry tube. I have tried baking cheese in a variety of pastries - short crust, puff and croissant, and they all work.
The recipe, or recipe suggestion, couldn't be simpler.
Get a round camembert, a good apricot jam, a handful of flaked apricots and ready-made pastry, like JusRol. Unroll the pastry, place the cheese on top and cut out a bigger circle.
Top up the cheese with 2tbsp of apricot jam and sprinkle the almonds. I have also added a bit of Parisian spice, but this is optional. Spice Parisienne from Seasoned Pioneers is also known as Epices-Fines - a mix of peppercorns, nutmeg, paprika, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, basil, savoury and bay leaves.
Cut out a smaller circle from the pastry and place over the cheese. Wrap it round the cheese, smooth the edges and smear a bit of butter over the pastry or brush with a beaten egg yolk, or even milk.
Place the wrapped cheese in a tray and then in an oven preheated to 180C.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
Once cooked, don't cut it immediately, or the melted cheese will flow out, leaving the pastry shell (been there, done that). Let it sit under a clean towel for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
It will make a lovely starter for 4 people, or eat it as a main for 2, served with a salad.
In this recipe I used an apricot jam from Duerr's. It is a lush amber-coloured jam, sweet and aromatic. Made with ripe apricots, it is like an essence of summer. I do love a good apricot jam. It always reminds me of my aunt's orchard, and her pantry laden with jars upon jars of jam. She made a wonderful apricot jam.
So, if you're still looking for ideas of what to cook for Valentine's day, this recipe might just fit the bill.
Every time I serve it when we have guests, everybody loves it. And as I said, it couldn't be easier to make it.