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I don’t know about you but we don’t go out for Valentine’s Day. It just feels a bit, umm what’s the right word, forced? Surrounded by other couples all trying to be romantic by being charged for a Valentines Special menu that is typically more expensive than any other in the restaurant is not my idea of fun. We prefer to stay in on Valentine’s Day and then go out for dinner on another random night of the year that one of us books, just because.
It probably stems from our Valentine’s Days falling on days when I had the kids in the early days of our relationship (regular readers will know that I met Mr B when I had just got divorced and was a mother of three under 6) and so going out would have been hard. And as well as the expense of the meal we would have the expense of a baby sitter too, so we made the most of cooking at home and now we carry on the tradition sixteen years later.
That isn’t to say though that we don’t make dinner special on February 14th, far from it. We make sure we make an effort with the food, the table setting and the music. Meals generally in our house are eaten on our knees in front of the TV (don’t judge) so by getting out the posh cutlery and china and laying the table the evening already feels special. We find a Spotify playlist of cheesy music, and light lots of tea-lights. We have even been known to use left over red or gold crackers from Christmas (means you get a hat to wear and a surprise gift too!).
We keep the menu simple so that we don’t spend the whole time cooking, preferring instead to ensure we use the best ingredients rather than a fancy dish that has taken hours to prepare. Generally our menu consists of smoked salmon as a starter (with slices of home made whole meal bread), followed by steak and triple cooked chips and a fancy heart shaped pudding (chocolate or cake, we don’t mind which). We always make sure we get Graig Farm grass fed beef (who deliver all over the country) so we know the beef will be top quality and that we won’t be disappointed. And if it has been a particularly busy week we might even buy the pudding, remember this Valentine’s Day, shouldn’t be a competition.
Do you know how to cook steak perfectly every time, by the way?
Rare: Push the tip of your index finger against the tip of your thumb. Now with your other hand push against the base of your thumb on that fleshy bit. That is what a rare steak should feel like when you push down on it.
Medium Rare: Press the tip of your middle finger against the tip of your thumb. You will notice the area under your thumb is no longer so “squishy”, that’s how your steak should be.
Medium: Press your ring finger against your thumb. The area under your thumb will feel a bit firmer now, this is a medium steak feeling too.
Well Done: You guessed it, push your little finger against your thumb. The area under your thumb will have hardly any resistance at all. That’s a well done steak. Or as I call it “ruined”
And we always do the triple cooked chips the way Heston does them: chipped potatoes boiled for twenty minutes and then spread on a tray before being put in the freezer for an hour. Then deep fried in batches for around five minutes and put back in the freezer when cooled for another hour (in fact these stages can be done the day before if you don’t want your house to smell like a chip shop on Valentine’s Day). Then finally deep fried for another eight minutes and served sprinkled with salt.
There you have it, my recipe for Valentine’s dinner.
How about you though, do you make sure you go out, or are you happy to stay in?