I am not really one to go over the top for Valentines… in fact I find the whole thing so cringy! I have nothing against it, I’m just really not that kind of person! However, I do think it would be a shame to do nothing at all, seeing as I am in a relationship. I would never choose to go out or do anything over the top, which is why I opted to go for the romantic meal in choice of blog post when deciding to collaborate with my two favourite blogging girls. I have loved collaborating with these girls over the past few years, and we all knew that Valentines would be a great opportunity to do another. We all decided on a different aspect of Valentines to cover and the way in which we could celebrate. Therefore, Lily chose to do discuss a Valentines meal out, where to go and the best places for this time of year and Charlotte went for a more adventurous approach. To read their posts, click the links below and it will take you straight to their websites!
Whether you choose to celebrate Valentines or not, every couple is different and there are lots of ways you can celebrate that is very much catered to you and your relationship.
Blogging is something which is thought of as being very out there and mainly written and shared by people who want to share their whole lives with the world. Whether this be the case or not for me, it is much more in terms of fashion and food. My love life is something I have always chosen to keep very private. This hasn’t been an active decision; I just purely never think to share it. This approach to my relationship isn’t just in terms of the blog, it is also in the real world. I am not one for PDA or very big gestures of love! Hence, why a romantic night in is the perfect way to celebrate, not just for me, but for us as a couple. So how do we celebrate?
Let’s be honest, after having been together for a long time now, we have got pretty good at chilled nights in. In fact, that is an under statement, we are VERY good! So for me, Valentines is about just doing something a little extra to make it special and a more significant night of the year. Valentines usually always falls on a week day, so it isn’t the same as a big holiday in the year when you have all day to prepare or even a week of celebrations. It usually has to come together pretty quickly, and usually when you really can’t actually be bothered. Who really has the energy to prepare a three course candle lit dinner after a day at work? In order to make an effort and enjoy the evening, my main aim is to always ensure that we spend the time actually talking to each other and enjoying each others company. We spend so many evenings sat on the sofa, eating in front of the TV and separately staring into our phones as a means of relaxation. So for me, Valentines Day is about reconnecting again and enjoying each others company. Having an evening where we can look back a week later and just think to ourselves, what a lovely evening that was.
In order to have the perfect, special evening, I like to be organised with the food. I am a huge foodie, which is no secret here on the blog, and really do go a bit over the top for occasions such as this. I have come up with a two course meal plan, which is great for the perfect chilled night in, even if you have been at work all day. These dishes are both things that I regularly cook, even if it is just for me, and I think they really do signify just a little but more of a special meal. It obviously is also something that I would genuinely cook for my boyfriend and I, as it is the kind of food which we both love to eat.
To begin with, we usually would just have some cheese, specifically camembert with a few cheddars whilst waiting for me to cook the dinner. This meal is relatively stress free, however I am very good at taking my time when cooking, just because that is me as a person. I think for Valentines this is quite nice, as it means we can cook together, enjoy a glass of wine and spend some time talking before eating straight away. The meal plan I have decided to share, and the one which I will probably produce again for this Valentines is my favourite Duck dish, with my special half roasted potatoes, broccoli and homemade sticky cherry sauce. This dish is an absolute winner in my eyes – it is so delicious and surprisingly simple to make. It is all in the organisational skills! To finish, I decided to share a recipe for my winter pavlova, as it is incredibly easy to make and beyond delicious to eat. Pavlova really is my favourite dessert in the whole world!
Duck with Half Roasted Potatoes & Cherry Sauce
This Duck dish is perfect for Valentines, because even though it looks very technical, it is so easy to produce. The only part which is slightly more complicated is the sauce, however if you give yourself the time to produce it, it is going to be perfect. Before doing anything when you get home, get the sauce started so that it can bubble away whilst you prepare the rest of the food.
For the sauce, you will need:
12 Cherries // 50g Caster Sugar // 3tbsp Red Wine Vinegar // 400ml Chicken Stock // 175ml Glass Red Wine // 1tsp Redcurrant Jam
For the dish you will need:
2 Duck Breasts // 2 Baking Potatoes // Olive Oil // Seasoning // Vegetables of Choice
In a saucepan, on a medium heat, add the sugar and red wine vinegar. Whisk together until a thick caramel has formed. This can take around ten minutes. Once thick and bubbling, add the red wine and chicken stock. Mix again and add the cherries. Keep on a medium heat and let the sauce reduce by two thirds. This is the stage that can take quite a long time. Once it has reduced, add the jam and remove from the heat. The sauce should be glossy and thick in texture. It isn’t the kind of sauce where you pour it like gravy, it is more to add a drizzle over the Duck for a sharp punch of flavour.
Whilst the sauce is reducing, you can prepare the potatoes and duck. Pre-heat the oven to 210 degrees (190 fan). Cut the potatoes in half, and add simple slits in a criss cross pattern with a small knife. Pat dry with a piece of kitchen towel to remove the excess starch. Place on a baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and add some salt. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Twenty minutes before the potatoes are ready, prepare the duck. Slit the skin of the duck and rub salt into it for extra flavour. In a frying pan heat, a little oil on a medium heat. Once very hot, add the duck skin side down. Press down occasionally to crisp up the skin. It should only be cooking in the oil for around seven minutes. Once done, transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven with the potatoes for around 15 minutes. Hopefully, the potatoes and duck should be done at the same time. Whilst waiting for the duck to cook, you can cook your vegetables. Everything should be cooked at around the same time, including the cherry sauce. Serve as you wish.
Dessert should be very easy, as the difficult part needs to be done the night before. This is the meringue nest for the pavlova. I always land up making these at around 10pm at night, as it needs to cool in the oven overnight. This means all you have to do at the meal is simply assemble the pavlova.
For the Pavlova, you will need:
3 Large Egg Whites // 175g Caster Sugar // 1 Small Pack Blackberries // 1 Small Pack Blueberries // 1 Cup Caster Sugar // 1 Cup Cold Water // 600ml Double Cream
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan). The meringue and the berries need to be cooked the night before, or if you are lucky enough to have the day off, that morning. Start with the berries. In a saucepan on a medium heat, add all the berries, sugar (1 cup) and water. Let this bubble away for around two hours, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick.
To make the meringue, in a large mixing bowl using an electric whisk, whisk up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Try your best not to over whisk them, as they will collapse. Then, add the sugar two tablespoons at a time and whisk until the whole meringue mixture has come together. On a baking tray, line with baking paper ready for the meringue. Add the meringue in a circular shape leaving a whole in the middle. Then, add a little meringue to the middle, in just a think layer. Using a skewer or fork, make little twists in the meringue to form a pretty shape. Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 160 straight away (140 fan). Cook for one hour and do not open the oven door. Once the hour is up, turn the oven off and leave the meringue in there until completely cold (overnight). Before going to bed, turn off the heat for the berries and cover with foil. It should resemble the texture of a slightly thin jam.
When it comes to serving your pavlova, all you need to do is whip up some cream and place on top of the meringue, leaving a slight dip in the middle. To finish, add the berry compote made the night before and for extra garnish a few flaked almonds. Enjoy!
To complete my romantic night in, I think the best way forward is always several episodes of a good box set and perhaps even finishing the bottle of wine! After all the food, it is the only logical way forward!
To read my fellow bloggers Valentines posts, check out their blogs below!
Happy Valentines my lovely followers!