Are you staying at home on Valentine’s Day? Quick, easy and romantic ideas for dinners and desserts

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Everyone knows that February 14 is the worst night of the year to eat out. So, enjoy staying inside and whip up a retro-inspired three-course meal that looks and tastes like you’ve gone to great lengths, but can be on the table in just over a half. -time.

Shrimp, steak, baked cheese, strawberries, and chocolate all tick the Let’s indulgence box, but these are ingredients you can pick up easily and locally.

Jenny Flynn, chef at Faithlegg House Hotel in Waterford, shared her shrimp cocktail recipe (for recipes, scroll down). She recommends cooking the shrimp raw, but if it’s too far midweek, just use cooked. Allow about 10 minutes for this one if you’re cooking the shrimp, less if you don’t.

Lilly Higgins’ baked feta is topped with floral pink peppercorns – perfect for a romantic feast, and feta, if you can get it, is so trendy. It can be a generous starter or a vegetarian main course with bread and salad on the side. It takes 20 minutes in the oven, and a few more minutes for chopping and assembly.

You’ll need to factor in the time to marinate Domini Kemp’s steak recipe, so put it in the marinade a few hours in advance and it’ll be done in minutes when you want to eat. Just take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before cooking.

If you’re cooking for a vegetarian or simply eating less meat, Donal Skehan’s Cauliflower ‘Steaks’ topped with Toasted Pine Nuts and Tapenade bring a touch of occasion to the table and can be cooked and served. in about 15 minutes.

Valentine’s Day desserts scream chocolate – or strawberries out of season. If you’re willing to skip the air miles over the berries, you can have Eton Mess Meringue, Cream and Strawberry Dessert on the table in under 10 minutes. Vanessa Greenwood’s chocolate mug cakes will go around the same time and you can enjoy them snuggled up on the sofa.

Jenny Flynn’s shrimp cocktail

10 minutes
For 2 people

Ingredients
For the Marie Rose cocktail sauce:
50 ml of mayonnaise
Lemon juice, to taste
1 touch of Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce each
Pinch of smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
A little cognac (optional)
1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon of sour cream

To serve
12 large shrimp, or more if small
Half a head of Baby Gem lettuce, grated

Method
Six large, peeled and deveined shrimp, per person, cooked in a large pot of salted boiling water and a drizzle of vinegar for about six minutes, then rinsed in cold water until cooled. Dry before use (or use chilled cooked shrimp)

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a large bowl and set aside.

Place the grated lettuce at the bottom of each serving bowl or glass, garnish with shrimp and a squeeze of lemon and drizzle generously with Marie Rose sauce. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper (and a few chopped chives if you have any).

Lilly Higgins Pink Pepper Feta

20 minutes
For four people (or two, with leftovers for lunch)

Ingredients
Olive oil
1 fennel bulb
1 large beet, cooked and peeled (usually available vacuum-packed)
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 block of feta
1 teaspoon of pink pepper
1 lemon
2 tablespoons of pecans, toasted
To serve: crusty bread and a green salad

Method
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Cut and slice the fennel bulb, set aside the green leaves that were on top. Place the fennel on a small baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a little salt and bake for 10 minutes.

Dice the cooked beetroot and dry it with paper towels. Coat the beetroot in the balsamic vinegar. Add the beetroot cubes to the fennel. Peel the skin of the lemon in long strips using a peeler, avoid the pith. Place the lemon zest on the fennel. Make a small space in the center of the same baking sheet for the feta.

Place the block of feta on top and sprinkle with pink peppercorns with a little olive oil. Return the baking sheet to the oven for another 10 minutes. When ready, the cheese should be soft and the fennel should start to caramelize around the edges. Sprinkle the platter with the reserved fennel leaves and toasted pecans. Serve immediately with bread and salad. The cheese begins to solidify again as it cools, so it is best to enjoy it straight out of the oven.

Domini Kemp marinated steak

Marinate overnight or for at least a few hours
For 2 people

Ingredients
2 steaks, any type, according to your budget and preferences
A handful of finely chopped rosemary leaves
Half a head of garlic, peeled and crushed
Half a box of anchovies
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Half a teaspoon of English mustard powder
Lots of black pepper
half a teaspoon of Demerara sugar
Quarter bottle of red wine

Method
Prepare the marinade in advance. Put the rosemary, garlic, and anchovies (including oil) in a saucepan and heat gently while you mash the anchovies with the back of a wooden spoon. Turn up the heat and let it sweat gently. Add the mustards, pepper and sugar. Mix well then pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer gently until the mixture reduces by half. It will look like a purple colored hoi sin sauce.

Let the marinade cool completely, then pour it over the beef and let it marinate for a few hours or overnight. Turn the meat every now and then while it marinates in the refrigerator, if you can.

Heat a charcoal grill or heavy frying pan and cook the meat according to the cut you use and your preferences. Let it sit for at least five to 10 minutes, then cut it on the bias, against the grain, into thin slices.

Serve with a salad.

Donal Skehan’s Cauliflower Steak

15 minutes
For 2 people

Ingredients
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cauliflower
half a jar of green or black olive tapenade
25g toasted pine nuts
50g arugula leaves
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and ground black pepper

Method
Remove and discard all the leaves from the cauliflower and carefully cut the steaks 3 cm from the head. You will end up with 2-4 steaks (use toppings for salad or soup).

Place a large skillet over high heat and add olive oil.

Sear the cauliflower in batches for 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning them when they are a rich golden color and are slightly softened. Before removing from the pan, add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with sea salt and ground black pepper.

Assemble on plates garnished with olive tapenade, pine nuts and arugula leaves.

Eton Mess

10 minutes
For 2 people

Ingredients
meringues
Whipped cream
Strawberries, sliced
Grated dark chocolate bar

Method
Crumble the meringues into the whipped cream and stir in the sliced ​​strawberries. Serve in individual glasses or in a large bowl. Grate a little dark chocolate on top and serve.

Vanessa Greenwood’s chocolate mug cakes

10 minutes
Gives 2

Ingredients
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons of self-rising flour
4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 tsp of vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of milk
1 beaten egg
To serve: whipped cream and Smarties

Method
In a bowl, combine the cocoa, self-rising flour and powdered sugar.

Add the oil, milk and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients. Stir in egg until completely combined.

Grease the insides of two medium microwave cups with a little oil and pour equal amounts of mixture into each.

Place both cups in the microwave. Microwave at 900W-1000W for about 90-100 seconds or until fully lifted to the top of the cups (it’s a good idea to set your microwave time a bit longer at the case you need to give them a few extra seconds without the microwave toggling off).

Serve immediately with whipped cream and Smarties.


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