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Article: Ten Delicious Meal Ideas for Valentine's Day

Ten Delicious Meal Ideas for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love and friendship, and what better way to do this than by sharing a home-cooked meal? Whether you're a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, crafting a culinary delight can speak volumes about your affection. In this blog, we'll explore a selection of five delicious main courses and five delectable sweets that will be sure to tantalise your taste buds and set the mood for an unforgettable Valentine's Day celebration!

Delicious Meal Ideas for Valentines Day

Main Courses

Beef Wellington

For many discerning foodies, beef wellington is an all-time favourite and it’s not hard to see why. This culinary masterpiece combines the tender richness of beef fillet with the earthy flavours of mushroom duxelles (mushrooms sautéed with onions, shallots, garlic and parsley), all enveloped in a flaky puff pastry. The result is an elegant, harmonious blend of wonderful textures and flavours.

The story goes that the dish was created in celebration of the Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley) after his victory against Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. A most interesting way of being immortalised! 

Cooking the dish is not overly complex – just make sure you have high-quality ingredients and a fair amount of patience! The abridged version of the recipe is to sear the beef fillet, prepare the mushroom duxelles, spread a layer of pâté or prosciutto on a sheet of puff pastry, add the mushroom duxelles, and then encase the beef fillet. Seal the pastry, brush it with an egg, bake to perfection …

If your taste buds are tingling, we recommend you head over to the Gordon Ramsay website, which has amazing facts about this iconic dish, e.g., worldwide, 2.5 wellingtons are sold every minute, and five tons of garlic and 53 miles of pastry are used every year! More importantly, there’s a masterclass review with hints that will make you an expert in no time!

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

Credit: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants

Lobster Thermidor

Staying with the traditional and luxuriously rich, lobster thermidor is a seafood dish that indulges the palate with succulent lobster meat enveloped in a creamy brandy-infused sauce, crowned with a gratin of breadcrumbs and cheese.

And, while its origins are rather vague, it’s possible that Napoleon was involved again! Some say that the dish was created especially for him and that he named it after the month of Thermidor (the name given during the French Revolution to the 11th month of the year in the Republican calendar), during which it was first served to him. Others say the delicacy was first made in a restaurant called Chez Marie and was named after a controversial play about the French Revolution. In either case, lobster thermidor has deeply French origins, which is a big plus in our book!

This is a great dish for special occasions (think Valentine’s Day) and a specialty of many seafood restaurants. If you’re ready to try it at home, you’ll find a great video recipe guide by Chef Jean-Pierre at this link

Lobster Thermidor

Lobster Thermidor

Credit: All Recipes

Duck à l'Orange

Another French dish, we hear you say! Well, yes, and totally justifiable – France is the country of love and romance, after all! 

Duck à l'orange (ahem, canard à l'orange) harmoniously marries the succulence of duck breast with the bright, zesty flavours of orange sauce. It's a delicate mix of savoury and sweet on the palate, which has long held its own as a traditional favourite. 

Julia Child’s recipe is a treat, as is the simpler adaptation by Hunt Gather Cook. Ingredients include: a duck, navel oranges, duck stock, red wine vinegar, seasoning sugar, arrowroot, port, orange liqueur, orange bitters and softened butter. To begin, you score the duck breast skin and sear it until it's crisp and golden. Then prepare the orange sauce using freshly squeezed orange juice, sugar and stock. Simmer the sauce until it reduces to a glossy consistency, strain to remove any solids. Serve the sliced duck breast with the vibrant orange sauce drizzled generously over the top. Garnish with orange zest and fresh herbs for a pop of colour and flavour.

Duck à l'Orange

Duck à l'Orange

Credit: Hunt Gather Cook

Roast Rack of Lamb

A roast rack of lamb, encrusted with aromatic rosemary and garlic – yum! This lavish main course, which celebrates the tender succulence of premium lamb cuts, is sure to impress that special someone on Valentine’s Day!

Roast lamb, in its many varieties, also carries with it a rich culinary history that spans centuries. Its consumption dates back to ancient civilizations, where it held a special place in grand feasts and celebrations. Lamb was prized for its tender meat and the distinctive flavours that could be imparted through the use of herbs and spices.

Rosemary, a key ingredient in many lamb recipes, also boasts an illustrious history. Ancient Greeks and Romans revered this herb, believing it to symbolise memory, friendship and love. How fitting is that for Valentine’s Day! It was also used extensively in both cooking and medicine, reflecting its versatility and importance.

To prepare this delectable dish, begin by selecting a premium rack of lamb, preferably one with eight ribs. Season it generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Next, finely mince fresh rosemary leaves and garlic cloves to create a fragrant herb and garlic paste. Massage this paste over the lamb, allowing the flavours to infuse the meat. Sear the lamb in a hot skillet, creating a crust on all sides to seal in its natural juices. Transfer it to the oven, and roast to your desired level of doneness. For a perfect medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 54-57°C. Allow the lamb to rest for a few minutes before slicing it into individual chops.

Serve the rack of lamb with a rich red wine reduction sauce, roasted vegetables or creamy mashed potatoes. The result is a dish that not only pays tribute to centuries of culinary tradition but also offers a tantalising experience that is sure to kindle the flames of love on any romantic occasion. 

And if you’d like to follow an expert recipe, Jamie Oliver’s roast rack of lamb with crushed potatoes is highly recommended. Plus, it’s ready in just over an hour. 

Roast Rack of Lamb

Roast Rack of Lamb

Credit: Jamie Oliver

Homemade Sushi

Making your own sushi is a delightful, interactive experience, just perfect for this special day of love and romance. It allows you to customise sushi rolls with your preferred ingredients, from fresh fish to avocado and cucumber, and provides an ideal vegetarian option. The star of the show is the vinegared sushi rice, which serves as the perfect canvas.

Originating in Southeast Asia, sushi has a rich and fascinating past that dates back centuries. The term "sushi" itself refers to a preservation technique where fish is fermented with rice and salt. This method allowed fish to be preserved for extended periods, making it a valuable source of sustenance. 

The modern form of sushi, known as "nigiri sushi," began to take shape in Japan during the Edo period (17th to 19th century). During this time, street vendors and food stalls popularised sushi as a quick and delicious snack. However, it wasn't until the late 19th century that sushi underwent a transformation with the introduction of vinegared rice. This development revolutionised sushi, making it the delectable dish we know today.

To make the most of your sushi-making adventure, you’ll need to first prepare the sushi rice (short-grain Japanese rice). This involves a number of steps and is much more fun à deux. Next, lay out a sheet of nori (seaweed), and gently spread a thin, even layer of seasoned rice across it, leaving a small border at the top to seal the roll. Now comes the super fun part—arranging your choice of fillings. Popular options include fresh salmon, tuna, cucumber, avocado and, for a satisfying crunch, tempura shrimp. Basically, whatever suits your preferences and excites your taste buds!

Using a bamboo mat, carefully roll the nori and fillings into a compact cylinder. Wet the exposed border of nori slightly to seal the roll. With a sharp knife, slice the sushi roll into bite-sized pieces, creating artful bites that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.

For this dish, following a master chef is a good idea, particularly if you’re a novice like me. Head over to Iron Chef Morimoto’s video for some added entertainment!

Homemade Sushi

Homemade Sushi

Credit: All Recipes

Sweets

Tiramisu

Tiramisu is a beloved Italian dessert known for its layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, creamy mascarpone cheese mixture and a final dusting of cocoa powder. (If you’re not a coffee lover, you might still enjoy it, but check that your friend or partner feels the same way!)

The origins of this delicious sweet can be traced back to the region of Veneto in Northern Italy, specifically in the vibrant city of Treviso. While its precise inception remains shrouded in mystery, it's believed that it originated in 1800 as “tireme su” (Treviso dialect) and was modified to tiramisu in the 20th century. It’s also thought that tiramisu was created by an astute brothel madam as an aphrodisiac for her clients (no comment!).

In any case, the literal translation of tiramisu is "pick me up" or "lift me up," which aptly reflects the dessert's ability to elevate the spirits with its indulgent flavours. Its popularity soared in the 1960s and 70s when it became a staple in Italian restaurants and homes. And now over to you!

To craft your own tiramisu, start by preparing the coffee-soaked ladyfingers (you can make your own … if you’re keen enough!). Dip ladyfinger cookies briefly into a mixture of espresso and coffee liqueur, ensuring they absorb the rich coffee infusion without becoming overly soggy. Layer the soaked ladyfingers with a mixture of mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, sugar, and a hint of coffee liqueur. Repeat the layers and finish with a generous dusting of cocoa powder. Allow your tiramisu to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours, then garnish each portion with chocolate shavings or a few espresso beans. There might well be leftovers, although they probably won’t last long!

The Great Italian Chefs website has a recipe with a real “wow” factor that will make it a sure favourite!

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Credit: Great Italian Chefs

Crème Brûlée

This one is included with a nod to Bonbon Fusion founder, Nick McLean, who is quite the whizz at making this irresistible dessert. (Must be the scientist in him and his skill with the kitchen torch!) 

Often described as the epitome of French decadence, the crème brûlée boasts a history that spans centuries. The dessert's name itself is derived from the French words "crème" (cream) and "brûlée" (burnt), a reference to the caramelised sugar topping that adorns the creamy custard underneath.

Its roots can be traced back to medieval Europe, where custard-based dishes similar to today's crème brûlée were savoured by European aristocracy. The earliest known recipe for the dish dates back to 1691 in a French cookbook titled "Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois" by François Massialot. However, it wasn't until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that crème brûlée gained widespread popularity, particularly in France.

The charm of the dish lies in its simplicity, yet it demands precise execution to achieve the perfect contrast between the silky custard and the crisp, caramelised sugar topping. As Chef Jean-Pierre explains, it’s the perfect dessert for romantic occasions, over which Valentine’s Day reigns supreme! Try his “most romantic” version of the recipe here.

The basic outline of the recipe is to make the custard (slowly, carefully), bake the custard in ramekin dishes, and torch the top to caramelise. Two tips from chef Nick: don’t skimp on the vanilla bean in the custard, and relax and take your time for the best results!

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée

Credit: Live Well Bake Often

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

The molten chocolate lava cake has an irresistible blend of warm, gooey chocolate at its core and a tender outer crust. It’s a celebration of contrasting textures and temperatures, which flows like a river of indulgence when you cut into it. Personally, I’ve loved this dish since we had the “self-saucing” forerunner version of it as children (albeit from a packet mix!). 

Making a more recent appearance than the previous two options, the lava cake can be traced back to a culinary movement known as "molten cakes", which gained popularity in the late 20th century. The concept of a warm, liquid-centred cake was introduced by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a renowned French chef. In the 1980s, while working at his restaurant in New York City, he accidentally undercooked a chocolate cake but served it anyway. To his surprise, the result was a sensation—a cake with a decadently molten centre! This serendipitous creation eventually evolved into the molten chocolate lava cake we know and love today.

To make your own entails preparing a rich chocolate batter and baking individual cakes in ramekins until the outer edges are set, but the centres remain molten. Serve the cakes immediately for a warm and delicious treat! And to enhance the presentation, dust the plates with powdered sugar or cocoa powder and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Chef Billy Parisi provides an excellent recipe and video guide for this dessert favourite. His opening words are: “You want to impress someone and make a dessert? This lava cake is exactly what you should be making!” What a perfect fit for Valentine’s Day!

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Credit: Chef Billy Parisi

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake, with its simplicity and vibrant flavours, carries a heritage that spans centuries, reflecting the evolution of both strawberries and biscuits in culinary history. Its roots can be traced back to the early colonial days in the United States when European settlers were introduced to the native North American strawberry.

The word "shortcake" itself dates back to the 15th century, signifying a cake that is crumbly or "short," due to its high-fat content. It wasn't until the 19th century, however, that strawberries began to be commonly paired with biscuits, creating the dessert we know today.

The dessert became particularly popular in the mid-19th century when the cultivation of strawberries expanded, making them more readily available. During this time, the dessert was often enjoyed at social gatherings and was embraced as a symbol of Summer and abundance – making it so fitting for Valentine’s Day!

When it comes to crafting your own homemade dish, you have a choice to bake sweet biscuits from scratch or opt for the convenience of shop-bought biscuits. Both routes lead to a delectable dessert (and what’s wrong with a little help from the neighbourhood deli!)

Begin by selecting the ripest, juiciest strawberries you can find. Slice them and gently toss them with a hint of sugar to coax out their natural sweetness and create a luscious strawberry sauce. Next, whip fresh cream until it reaches stiff peaks, adding just the right amount of sweetness to suit your taste. Then comes the assembling of this masterpiece: place a sweet biscuit as your base and layer it with a generous serving of the prepared strawberries and a dollop of the whipped cream. Repeat this process, creating a tower of flavour and texture, which you can crown with a fresh, whole strawberry or drizzle with a bit more of the sweet strawberry sauce. Divine!

For the full recipe with classic homemade shortbread, head over to All Recipes for Chef John’s easy-to-follow guide. 

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Credit: Sally’s Baking Recipes

Chocolate Mousse

For the day of love and romance, how could we not include homemade chocolate mousse? It’s a great testament to the enchanting allure of chocolate and has such a silken, cloud-like texture that seems to melt upon contact with the palate. 

Not surprisingly, it’s been around for a long time, dating back to the 18th century when chocolate was first introduced to Europe. Although chocolate was at first predominantly consumed as a beverage, it didn't take long for the concept of a chocolate-based dessert to emerge. The term "mousse," derived from the French word for "foam," perfectly encapsulates the dessert's characteristic lightness and airiness. Early iterations of the dish were dense and custard-like, often incorporating ingredients like eggs and sugar. These versions laid the foundation for the modern mousse we adore today.

A transformation of the dish occurred in the 19th century, when French chefs like Auguste Escoffier started making significant contributions to the dessert. Escoffier's approach involved combining melted chocolate with whipped cream and beaten egg whites. By the 20th century, chocolate mousse had gained international acclaim, and it became a hallmark of fine dining establishments worldwide. Culinary icons like Julia Child further popularised this sumptuous dessert in the United States, elevating it to classic status.

When making your own, be sure to opt for premium-quality dark chocolate. Start by gently melting the chocolate, allowing it to cool to a slightly warm temperature. Meanwhile, separate egg yolks from their whites. Combine the melted chocolate with the egg yolks, whisking until the mixture achieves a smooth consistency. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form glossy, stiff peaks. The artistry of chocolate mousse lies in the delicate folding of these whipped egg whites into the chocolate-yolk blend. 

Chill the mousse for several hours and, when it's time to serve up this Valentine delight, portion the mousse into individual serving glasses or ramekins, add a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a sprinkle of grated chocolate, and voilà! 

To become a mousse-making expert, Michel Roux Jr’s master class is not to be missed! 

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Credit: Flavor the Moments

So, this Valentine's Day, why not enrich your celebration with a carefully crafted menu of a delicious main course and delectable sweet? Whether you choose to impress your fellow diner with a classic like beef wellington, a succulent rack of lamb, or a contemporary delight like the raspberry and white chocolate mousse cake, the effort and care you put into your meal will be worth every minute! So, set the scene with candles, lay out some lovely tableware, and make this a Valentine's Day to remember!

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