Menu for two!
A lovely Valentine dinner for two! It’s not often that you get the chance to go all out and treat yourself and your partner to a truly luxurious meal. This is a extravagant menu – fresh oysters followed by steak and strawberries. There is no better excuse to spoil yourselves. Fortunately, it is so easy to prepare, cook and serve and so tempting to eat that it sets the mood for a very relaxed, romantic evening.
Warm Champagne Oysters with smoky bacon and cabbage.
Steak an poivre with sweet brandy butter, mangetout and new potatoes.
Strawberry Wine Cups with Amaretto biscuits.
Get you shopping list and time table here.
A dish of warm tender oysters nestling on a bed of smoky bacon and shredded Savoy cabbage and served with champagne sauce is an extravagance well worth savouring.
You will need
Preparation time: 40 minutes (including opening the oysters)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
For the oysters:
- 10 Rock oysters, opened and all juices saved
- 55g (2oz) butter
- 4 shallots or 1 onion, finely sliced
- 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, very finely diced
- 225g (8oz) finely shredded Savoy cabbage
For the sauce:
- 1 glass of champagne
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- Pinch of caster sugar
- 2-3 tbsp double cream
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 1-2 drops Tabasco sauce
- 25g (1oz) butter
- Salt and pepper
To start :
1 Once all the shells are opened, remove the oysters and put them in the fridge. Wash the shells and save them for serving later.
Side note: its easier to steam oysters open. Scrub the shells and wedge them into the top half of the steamer. Sit them over boiling water, cover for about 1 – 2 minutes until the shell starts to part
2 Heat 25g (1oz) butter in a frying pan, add the shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes until tender and beginning to caramelize. Season and the remove from the pan.
3 Fry the bacon for 4-5 minutes until crisp, then add to the shallots.
4 Blanch the cabbage in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain thoroughly.
5 Melt the remaining butter in a pan and fry the cabbage for 4-5 minutes to give it a golden tinge. Mix together with the shallots and bacon and season.
For the sauce:
1 Boil the champagne with the vinegar and sugar until reduced by three-quarters.
2 Add the oyster juice and cream and bring the sauce to a simmer.
3 Stir in the lemon juice and Tabasco, then whisk in the butter. Season. The sauce is now ready.
1 In a clean frying pan, warm the oysters in a little butter and season
2 Device the cabbage and bacon mixture between the cupped halves of the shells, sit the warm oysters on top and spoon some sauce over. Serve at once.
Steak au poivre
For a special occasion this classic dish will never fail to impress. A succulent steak is coated in spicy black pepper and then topped with sweet brandy butter. Served with a buttered new potatoe and crunchy mangetouts.
You will need:
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 5-10 minutes for steak
- 12-15 minutes for the potatoes
- 3-4 minutes for the mangetout
For the sweet brandy butter:
- 2 shallots, or 1 onion, finely chopped
- 50ml (2fl oz) brandy
- 4 tbsp sweet white wine, or dry white wine with a pinch of sugar
- 85g (3oz) butter, softened
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbs Dijon or English mustard
- Salt and pepper
For the steak:
- 2 x 175g (6oz) sirloin steak
- 1½ tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 15g (½oz) butter
For the mangetouts and potatoes:
- 225g (8oz) new potatoes, scrubbed
- 30g (1oz) butter
- Coarse sea salt
- 175g (6oz) mangetout, trimmed
Cook’s notes: You can make a non-alcoholic butter topping for your steak without sacrificing any of the great fast. Simply replace the brandy and wine with very finely snipped chives. Another tasty alternative to replace the brandy and wine is to add 55g (2oz) finely chopped fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice to the shallots, butter and mustard mixture.
To make the sweet brandy butter
1 Warm the shallots or onions with the brandy then increase the heat and boil until almost dry. Add the wine and boil again to reduce until almost dry. Leave to cool.
2 Once the mixture is cold, beat it into the butter with the parsley and mustard. Season, cover and refrigerate until required.
To cook the steak
1 Crush the peppercorns roughly in a pestle and mortar or place in a paper envelope, wrap in a clean tea towel and crush with a rolling pin. Shake the crushed pepper in a sieve to release the fine powder, which makes the flavour too strong.
2 Sprinkle the crushed peppercorns over each side of the steak and press them into the steak with your fingers. – be quite firm to ensure a good coating. Season with salt.
3 Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the steaks and fry for 2 minutes on each side.
4 Once the steaks are turned add the butter, which will become a good nutbrown as the steak continues to cook. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the steak is done to your liking
To cook the vegetables
1 Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
2 Drain the potatoes and add the sea salt. Shake the pan to coat them evenly.
3 Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the mangetout. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until just tender then drain.
Put the steaks on serving plates and top each one with a pat of brandy butter. Serve the new potatoes and mangetouts on the side.
Strawberry wine cups
Strawberries resting on a bed of crushed Amaretti biscuits steeped in ice-cold wine make this a gem of a desert. It will provide a light ending to a romantic meal.
You will need:
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- 225-350g (8-12oz) strawberries
- 4-6 Amaretti biscuits
- 125 ml (4fl oz) sweet dessert wine, well chilled
Cook’s notes: Amaretti biscuits are the small almound flovoured Italian ones you buy wrapped two together in tissue paper. A good quality macaroon is a suitable alternative.
1 Rinse and hull the strawberries, then halve or quarter them if large.
2 Place the Amaretti biscuits in a freezer bag, expel as much air as possible from this bag. Fold the open end over then wrap in a tea towel and crush lightly to create large crumbs.
3 Put the crumbs into the bottom of 2 large wine glasses
4 Spoon the chopped strawberries over the crushed biscuits dividing it evenly between the 2 glasses.
5 Pour the chilled dessert wine over each portion and serve immediately.
Side note: For a !ore substantial pudding, put a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream or lemon sorbet on top of the crushed biscuits. Add the strawberries and chilled wine and serve