Food & Drink
by Aspect County

A Table for Two: Valentine’s Recipes for the Perfect Night In

Whether you’re a seasoned cook, or just starting out, plan your Valentine’s Day meal in dishes that are truly sensational but not too taxing. These stunning recipe ideas for two use finest quality ingredients, with straightforward steps that will leave you cool, elegant and ready to enjoy the rest of your evening

Scallops with Thai-style herb sauce
Fresh scallops really are the hero of this simple starter, which will awaken your palate with its vibrant flavours.

200g roe-on scallops

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• Sunflower or ground nut oil

For the herb sauce
1 small bunch of coriander, leaves picked

1 small bunch of mint, leaves picked

1/2 a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated

1/2 garlic clove, crushed

1 spring onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 lime, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

1 Heat the grill to medium-high. Put three scallops into each heatproof serving dish, sprinkle with chilli, season and drizzle with a little oil.

2 Place the scallops under the grill for 5 – 10 minutes until lightly charred.

3 Put all of the herb sauce ingredients into a food processor, along with 2 – 3 tablespoons of water, and blitz together.

4 Using a pair of oven gloves, carefully lift the scallop dishes from under the grill. Spoon over the herb sauce and serve immediately.

Pan seared ribeye steak with Béarnaise sauce
A tender steak is the way to the heart, and the aniseed notes of this velvety Béarnaise sauce will give you a Valentine’s meal to remember.

21 day matured Scotch ribeye steak, (2227g)

1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil

• Knob of unsalted butter

For the Béarnaise sauce
60ml dry white wine

60ml white wine vinegar

50g finely chopped shallots

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided

3 large egg yolks

115g unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 At least an hour before you begin, remove the steaks from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.

2 Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.

3 Place a heavy-based frying pan or griddle pan over a high heat and add a good glug of oil. Season the steaks liberally with flaky sea salt.

4 When the oil is hot, add the steaks carefully to the pan and cook for 21/2 minutes, or until beautifully golden on the underside, then add the butter.

5 Turn the steaks over and baste the steak with the butter and once golden on the underside, place in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes.

6 Remove the steaks from the pan and allow to rest in a warm place for five minutes.

7 Meanwhile, make the Béarnaise sauce. This can be made 20 minutes ahead and kept in a bowl, covered, over hot water off the heat.

8 Boil the wine, vinegar, shallots, and a tablespoon of the tarragon in a small, heavy saucepan until the liquid is reduced to two tablespoons, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve set into a medium metal bowl, pressing on and then discarding the shallots and herbs.

9 Whisk the egg yolks into the vinegar mixture, then set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, whisking constantly, until the yolks have thickened slightly. Note that the eggs in this sauce will not be fully cooked. To make sure the eggs don’t scramble, make sure the heat is gentle and keep the mixture moving.

10 Next, whisk in the butter, a piece at a time, adding each piece before the previous piece has melted completely. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice, the remaining tablespoon of tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or adjust the seasoning to taste.

11 Finally, season the rested steaks and serve with the Béarnaise sauce and your choice of side dishes.

Chocolate brownies with salted caramel
If you’re a chocolate lover you’ll need no invitation to dive straight into this sweet, salty and gooey piece of heaven.

200g cookies and cream milk chocolate, chopped

60g unsalted butter

90g brown sugar

60ml single cream

3 eggs

35g plain flour

For the salted caramel sauce
200g granulated sugar

90g salted butter, room temperature cut up into 6 pieces

120ml double cream, at room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

1 Preheat the oven to 150°C/140°C fan/300°F/gas mark 2.

2 Lightly grease 2 x 10cm round springform cake tins, and line them with non-stick baking paper.

3 Place the chocolate, butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth.

4 Place the eggs and flour in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Whisk in the chocolate mixture until combined.

5 Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for around 25 minutes. When it’s cooked a skewer will come out clean.

6 To make the salted caramel sauce, heat the granulated sugar in a medium heavy-duty saucepan over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat-resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-coloured liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.

7 Once the sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter and mix until melted and combined. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.

8 If you notice the butter separating or if the sugar clumps up, remove from the heat and vigorously whisk to combine it again. If you’re nervous about splattering, wear kitchen gloves. Keep whisking until the butter and sugar comes back together. It might take several minutes but it will return eventually – just keep whisking. When it’s combined again, return to the heat.

9 After the butter has melted and combined with the caramelised sugar, cook for two minutes without stirring.

10 Next stir in 60ml double cream very slowly. Since the double cream is colder than the hot caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble when added. After all the double cream has been added, stop stirring and allow to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.

11 Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool down slightly before using the sauce. The caramel will thicken as it cools.

12 Serve the brownies with the salted caramel sauce and a good quality vanilla ice cream or a generous swirl of fresh double cream.

Make your Valentine’s Day meal easier to arrange with the help of 44 Foods. Get the main ingredients you’ll need to whip up a romantic dinner to remember delivered direct to your door.