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How to keep romance alive? With surprise cooking nights

Sun, 6 February, 2022

Valentine’s Day is coming up and what you really want is some pointers on how to make a date night feel special. Going out on Valentine’s Night is severely not recommended. You’ll have to have booked weeks in advance or everywhere is sold out and, reservation or not, it’s going to be rubbish. They’ll fob you off with an oyster, a steak in chocolate sauce and a heart-shaped dessert, all of it overpriced; none of it up to scratch.

Definitely, the thing to do on Valentine’s Day is to stay in and have a special dinner à deux. If you cook together and enjoy it, even if the results aren’t terribly cheffy, that’s brilliant. I’m supplying ideas and recipes below.

But you could also try a different scenario. Speaking from experience, I believe special surprise dinner nights that the Weather Man and I often have are something that keeps the love alive and us interested.

How does it work? Surprise Nights are about either of you preparing a surprise dinner for both. It must be at least two-course, with matching wines or cocktails. The menu should be kept secret from the other party, starting from the shopping done on the sly and ending with being led blindfolded (almost) to the table and presented with the food.

You can keep guessing and try to identify what is cooking from the scents coming from the kitchen, but only find out what’s on the menu when sitting down at the table. When we do this, I don’t often manage to make a good guess! And of course, we take turns as it’s not just a Valentine thing.

You might think I always have an upper hand since I cook and write about food for a living but it’s not entirely true: the Weather Man is actually a very good cook. He sometimes inspires me by cooking an interesting recipe I’ll later put a spin on and create my version from. And I am invariably very flattered if he chooses to cook one of my own.

I recommend it wholeheartedly! Now then, some ideas are on order. For starters, I suggest baked figs with blue cheese, figs being a well-known aphrodisiac but also because it’s a gorgeous and easy dish. For something more involved and vegetarian, how about spinach and mozzarella balls? If you want to up your ante, consider negimaki veal or arancini balls. But there’s also smoked salmon and melon, simple but none the less delicious.

The main course for meat-eaters is traditionally beef in some shape and form, from a simple (but perfect) fillet steak to roasted fillet of beef stuffed with porcini mushrooms. But for an easy-impressive idea you couldn’t beat burger wellington: a good burger patty, some puff pastry, and it looks like fine dining. And there’s also a vegetarian wellington recipe, with celeriac.

If it’s to be a fish course, consider steamed salmon (easy), grilled Dover sole (luxurious) or halibut with braised leeks (both). The fish could be served with courgette ribbon salad and the beef with fried mushrooms.

And then dessert: favourite flavour ice cream is always a good idea, perhaps sprinkled with chocolate shavings. Valentine mini heart cake is another option and then there are mini pavlovas or the full works: raspberry meringue roulade if you want to blow their mind.

More to inspire you in the Valentine’s Day section and I hope you both have a wonderful day!

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About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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