Quick Love Feast

2010-02-13 13:33

Everyone agrees that Valentine’s Day is commercial nonsense created

by retailers to sell more chocolates, roses and teddies clutching hearts. That

is until their boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or lover fails to make a gesture,

buy a gift or cook up a storm.

If you have woken up this morning in a cold sweat because you

thought your wife meant it when she said, “Don’t buy me anything for Valentine’s

Day, it’s silly,” then read on.

First, stall, explain that there aren’t any roses because there’s

something better coming later.

Second, give her/him your credit card and tell her/him to buy a

nice dress/shirt for the romantic dinner she/he will be attending later.

Third, follow the instructions below for a fool-proof three-course

dinner for two that gives the impression of much forward planning but requires

only a quick forage in your local store and pantry, an hour for preparation and

the ability to follow instructions.

It’s also kind to your pocket, which will

balance out the Prada dress/shirt she/he has just bought because you were stupid

(read guilty) enough to hand over your plastic.

The Recipes


4 slices of bread, crusts removed or a ciabatta roll sliced in half


3 super ripe tomatoes, preferably large plum ones.

A handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped but reserve two

good looking sprigs for garnishing.

1 clove of garlic, halved.

Olive oil

Salt and pepper for seasoning


Dice the tomatoes, mix with the finely chopped basil coat in olive

oil and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Turn on the grill.

Drizzle the slices of bread with olive oil and rub with the clove

of garlic, place under the hot grill till golden and crispy. This is quick so

don’t wander off.

Just before you are ready to serve your starters heap the tomato

mixture onto each piece of bread and garnish with the set aside sprigs of basil.

Lamb Cutlets, Blue-Cheese Mash, and Asparagus Spears with Chilli-Mint Garnish


4 Lamb cutlets

Finely chopped rosemary

1 garlic clove

4 mashing potatoes

2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese

1 generous slug of milk

1 knob of butter

16 asparagus spears

1 fresh red chilli

1 handful of fresh mint

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


For the lamb:

Put the finely chopped rosemary and garlic clove in a pestle and

mortar, drizzle a little olive oil over them, season with salt and pepper and

mash together. Rub the lamb cutlets with the mixture and set aside.

Put the grill on high and cook the cutlets for 5 minutes a side, or

longer if you don’t like them pink.

For the mash:

Boil the potatoes in a generous amount of salted water until


Drain off the water, add a knob of butter and a slug of milk,

return to the heat and mash till smooth.

Take the mash off the heat and stir through the 2 tablespoons of

blue cheese.

For the asparagus:

Wash the spears carefully and steam or boil them for 2 to 3

minutes. Don’t take your eyes off these as they go from bright green and crispy

to floppy and khaki in seconds.

Drain off the water and test the stems for the naturally snapping

point and remove the woody stalks. Toss the tips in a little butter and keep


For the chilli and mint garnish:

Chop up the red chilli, seeds in for the brave, seeds out for

everyone else. Finely chop the mint and blend the two together with a little

olive oil, salt and pepper.

Mango fool

2 ripe mangoes, thinly sliced

Greek style full fat yogurt

2 tablespoons of brown sugar


Lay the slices of mangoes in a round glass dish, slightly

overlapping. Spoon over as much yogurt as need to cover in a layer about 2 cms

high. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top and refrigerate until dessert


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