Happy Valentines Day to all you lovers out there. I thought it would be fun to show you what my Valentines menu will be for today. Yes, I do like to spoil my honey on this special day of the year. There are those who would rather be taken out for a meal, but I am not one of them. Nothing beats anything I can cook for myself, seriously. I am not being bold in saying that. I am not able to afford to go to a really good restaurant, so I make do at home and in all truth we have a much nicer meal than we could buy out. We would rather spend any extra cash on going to a film or something like that.
So here you go . . . my Valentines Menu for February 14th, 2014.
Breakfast will be Sweetheart's French Vanilla Eggy Bread. Heart shaped French Toast, served with crisp bacon and real Maple syrup. I don't think he will complain!
*Sweetheart's French Vanilla Eggy Bread*
This is a real favourite for kids and lovers and friends . . . You can leave the slices of bread whole if you wish, but I like to cut out heart shapes for special loved ones. Served in bed on a tray it's a really wonderful way to show someone that you truly care.
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla paste
8 slices of good quality firm white bread
a couple of knobs of unsalted butter as needed
Icing sugar to dust
Syrup to serve
Beat the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla paste together in a large shallow bowl. If you are cutting the bread into shapes do it now.
Heat a large skillet with a heavy bottom over medium high heat. Add a knob of butter and let it melt until it begins to foam. Then reduce the heat to medium. You do not want the butter to burn.
Dip the slices or pieces of bread into the egg mixture coating both sides, and allowing it to soak in a bit. (Not too much or it will be hard to lift without tearing) Place the soaked bread into the heated skillet. Cook until golden brown on each side, only turning once. Remove and keep warm on a plate in a slow oven until you are finished browning each piece.
Serve hot on heated plates with a light dusting of icing sugar and some syrup on the side for pouring. A few rashers of streaky bacon are also good "go withs".
It will probably be near noon by the time he finishes this so I doubt I will make him any lunch, but I will have something on hand that he can use to hold away the hunger pangs until dinner is served. I think some of these tasty Ginger Scones will go down a real treat. I know that they are a particular favourite with him, and with me as they are quick and easy to make, and we both love ginger.
*Gingerbread Scones with a Lemon Glaze*
Makes about 16
Delicious scones, with a tender crumb, and a bit of a snap! The raisins are optional. So is the chopped candied ginger on top. Fabulous!
1 ounce butter, softened
55g of soft light brown sugar (1/4 cup, firmly packed)
1 large free range egg yolk
375g self raising flour (2 1/2 cups)
3 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
250ml of buttermilk (1 cup)
2 TBS treacle or golden syrup (can use molasses)
a handful of raisins (optional)
Additional buttermilk for tops
For the Lemon Glaze:
160g icing sugar, sifted (1 cup)
1/2 ounce of butter, melted
1 TBS fresh lemon juice (more if needed)
To decorate some chopped candied ginger or lemon zest(optional)
Preheat the oven to 220*C.425*F/ gas mark 7. Butter a 9 inch square cake tin. Set aside.
Cream together the butter, brown sugar and egg yolk until light and fluffy, in a large bowl. Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix together the buttermilk and the syrup. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed ,mixture along with the buttermilk mixture. Use a knife to cut the buttermilk mixture through the flour to make a soft and sticky dough. (If using raisins add them now.) Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Pat out into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut with a sharp round 2 inch cutter, tapping straight down and up. Place the rounds into the baking pan, just barely touching. Gently knead the scraps and repeat until all are used. Brush the scones with some additonal buttermilk.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Whisk together the ingredients for the lemon glaze until you have a smooth drizzable icing. You may need more lemon juice to give you the right consistency. Spoon this glaze over the warm scones and decorate the tops with some candied ginger or lemon zest.
These scones are best made on the day of serving, although they can be frozen for up to 3 months, unglazed. Thaw in an oven, wrapped in foil, before glazing.
A romantic Dinner for Two in the early evening prior to show time. These are my picks for the main and for dessert. Since the main is a couple of nice steaks, I will be serving some salad and a baked potato on the side. But first up a delicious soup . . .
This cauliflower soup is a real favourite of the Toddsters. The simple garnish of sauteed mushrooms and chopped chives makes it look really elegant.
*Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Sauteed Mushrooms*
A deliciously rich and creamy soup topped with a beautiful garnish of sliced mushrooms sauteed until golden brown.
1 large cauliflower, about 3 pounds, trimmed and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
fine seasalt and ground white pepper
2 TBS butter
4 TBS olive oil
1 1/4 litre of chicken stock (5 cups)
600ml of full fat milk (2 1/2 cups)
142ml carton of double cream (a very generous 1/2 cup)
250g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (about 1 pound)
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 TBS chopped fresh chives
Heat the butter and half of the oil in a large saucepan. Add the cauliflower, potato and onions. Stir to coat then reduce the heat to low and cover. Allow to sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes or so to prevent them from catching and colouring. Pour in the stock and bring it up to the boil. Add the milk and gently return to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for a firtjer 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. Add the cream. Blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper. Keep warm.
Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet, until very hot. Add the mushrooms and flash fry until golden brown. Season with some salt and black pepper to taste.
Ladle the hot soup into heated soup bowls. Top each with some of the fried mushrooms and a sprinkle of chives. Delicious!
I will cook my steaks according to my most excellent instructions which you can find here. This is what works for me. We like our steaks medium rare. I think it is a sin to cook any steak worth grilling to well done. In my honest opinion . . . you are ruining it,but to each their own.
I love this stilton butter on steaks. It's simple to make and yet it melts over the steaks in a delicious sauce that everyone loves. Steak and stilton are a marriage made in heaven to be sure . . .
Makes 8 servings
This is excellent shaped into logs, chilled and then sliced and serve atop hot grilled steaks!
3 1/2 ounces butter (scant 1/2 cup) at room temp
6 ounces Stilton cheese (11 1/2 TBS), at room temp
4 TBS finely chopped flat leaf parsley
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (can use less if you prefer not so strong a flavour)
coarse sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients with the exception of the seasoning into a bowl and mash together until well combined. I like to use a fork for this. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shape into a log and wrap in wax paper or plastic cling film, twisting the ends to secure. Chill for at least an hour before use. Can also be frozen. Because of the fresh parsley and garlic you cannot keep this much longer than a few days. Alternately you can use freeze dried parsley and leave out the garlic.
The Toddster is a great lover of old fashioned puddings. He's not one to drool over a stylish pannacotta or chocolate mousse! He hates chocolate desserts. I always cave quite happily to his desires though, as I love a good old fashioned pudding as well. In this case a delicious Gingered Raspberry and Pear Cobbler. Served up with lashings of custard . . . it's Valentines, why not splurge! (Note, you can easily cut the recipe in half)
*Gingered Raspberry & Pear Cobbler*
A delicious combination that will have them coming back for seconds!
1 TBS butter to butter the pan
For the filling:
95g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
2 TBS plus 1 tsp cornflour
pinch of fine seasalt
4 large pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 pound fresh or frozen raspberries (2 cups)
1 TBS cold butter, cut into small bits
For the topping:
245g of plain flour (1 3/4 cup)
4 TBS granulated sugar, divided
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine seasalt
10 TBS cold butter, cut into small bits (5 ounces)
2 ounces candied ginger, chopped (1/3 cup)
165ml plus 1 TBS cold buttermilk, divided (5.5 fluid ounces plus 1 TBS)
Pouring Cream, Custard or Vanilla Bean Ice cream
First make the topping. Whisk the flour, 3 TBS of the sugar, the baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Add the butter, and toss to eavenly coat. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until you get crumbs the size of peas. Stir in the candied ginger, then pour in the 5.5 fluid ounces of buttermilk, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The dough should be crumbly with visible pieces of butter. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Butter a 9 inch deep dish pie pan. Set aside.
Rub the sugar, cornflour and salt (for the filling) together in a large bowl. Add the pears and lemon juice. Toss until evenly coated. Gently fold in the raspberries. Transfer to the prepared pan. Dot with the 1 TBS of butter.
Turn the dough for the topping out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press together into a 9 inch circle. Place carefully on top of the fruit. Brush with the 1 TBS of buttermilk and sprinkle with the remaining 1 TBS of sugar.
Bake in the bottom third of the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the juices are bubbly and thick. Allow to cool for half an hour before serving. Serve with pouring cream, custard or ice cream. Delicious!
I think that after all that spoiling, the Toddster will be a very happy man and in all truth, when he's happy I am happy too!
Happy Valentines Day to you all!