A couple of years ago I wrote a column about making a fabulous Valentine's Day dinner at home; it proved to be a big hit, so I thought I'd give it another go.
Great restaurant meals are pretty expensive these days, and none of us wants to drink and drive, so having your special dinner at home means that you can save money and also have wine with your meal without worrying. And if the amazing meal leads to romance . . . (I'll let your imagination fill in the blanks).
Start your meal off with some easy canapés of lightly toasted baguette slices topped with goat cheese and red pepper jelly, olive tapenade or fig jam (and a glass of Champagne, of course). Some buttered, fresh green beans or asparagus would go well with the lamb and potatoes. Happy Valentine's Day to all you romantics out there.
HERB ROASTED LAMB CHOPS
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided use Four 1¼-inch thick loin lamb chops
Mix the first four ingredients together with one tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium bowl; lightly crush the herbs with the back of a spoon. Add the lamb and turn to coat with the oil mixture. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to one hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the lamb and cook until browned, about three minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until lamb reaches desired doneness, about 15 minutes for medium.
Transfer lamb to a platter; tent with foil and let rest for five minutes. Reserve accumulated juices on platter to serve over mashed potatoes. Makes two servings.
Boursin Mashed Potatoes
1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about three large)
½ tsp salt
½ of a 5.2-oz package of herb and garlic soft cheese
light cream and 1 1 ?3 cup Tbsp soft butter, mixed together and heated in the microwave
2 tsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Peel potatoes and cut into one-inch chunks. Put into a large saucepan; cover with water and stir in the one-half teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover saucepan and simmer until potatoes are very tender.
Drain the potatoes thoroughly and return them to the pan; add the remaining ingredients and mash until very smooth (you may want to add a bit more cream to get to desired consistency). Makes two servings.
Cheesecake Fruit Tart
You can use whatever fruit appeals to you to top the tart (kiwi, blackberries, mango, pineapple).
One refrigerated pie crust (half a package), room temperature
1 tsp all-purpose flour
One 250-gr package cream cheese, room temperature
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp Amaretto or Grand Marnier liqueur
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 cups halved, hulled fresh strawberries
1 ?3 cup seedless strawberry or raspberry jam or jelly
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Unroll the pie crust onto work surface; rub crust with flour. Arrange the crust floured side down in a nine-inch diameter tart pan with a removable bottom. Fold excess pastry in, forming double-thick sides. Bake until brown, about 10 to 15 minutes (crust may crack a bit). Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, liqueur and vanilla extract in a large bowl until well blended and smooth. Spread the mixture onto the cooled crust. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour. (Can be prepared to this point one day ahead; cover and keep refrigerated.)
Mound the blueberries in the centre of the tart; arrange the sliced strawberries in a ring around the blueberries and the raspberries in a ring around the outer edge. Stir the jam or jelly in a small saucepan over low heat until melted.
Brush the glaze over the fruit topping. Serve tart immediately or refrigerate for up to two hours. Before serving, remove tart from pan by placing a bowl about one inch smaller in diameter than the tart pan on the counter; place the pan on top of the bowl and allow ring of tart pan to drop off. Makes eight servings.
Angela Shellard is a self-professed foodie. She has done informal catering for sports and business functions and enjoys entertaining family and friends at home. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.