Valentines Day Dinner Date

With Valentines Day only a couple of weeks away, it's time to start prepping gifts, days out and if you aren't dining out, an incredible meal to wow your loved one. It is said that food is the way to a mans (or woman's) heart, so a tasty valentines feast is sure to make your loved one smile. This collection of three recipes are relatively easy, but still very impressive. They have short prep and cooking times so you can spend more time cuddled up on the sofa than hunched over the hob.

To begin: Buttery Chilli Prawns 

image This dish is great for sharing, and when served with warm, crusty bread, it's the ideal to cosy up with.

  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeds left in and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 12-20 large raw king prawns with shells
  • juice 1 lemon, plus a few slices for a finger bowl
  • ½ x small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  • small loaf crusty bread, warmed to serve

1.Melt the butter and oil together in a frying pan. Add the garlic, chilli and paprika, then fry for 1-2 mins until starting to turn golden. Turn up the heat, throw in the prawns and fry for a few mins, stirring, until all the prawns turn pink. Take off the heat, season and stir in the lemon juice and parsley.

2. Add some lemon slices to a finger bowl of warm water, grab a bowl for the shells, then dig straight in with your fingers and chunks of crusty bread.

Followed by: Rib-eye steaks with chilli butter & homemade chips image_1 There is nothing simpler, or tastier, than steak and chips. If chilli isn't your thing, or if you fancy a change, swap it for your favourite herbs.

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 50g butter, softened, plus a little extra
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • juice and zest ½ lemon
  • olive oil
  • 2 x 200g rib-eye steaks, seasoned
  • 2 handfuls mixed salad leaves

For the chips:

  • 450g floury potatoes, cut into chunky chips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

1. To make the chilli butter, mash the parsley into the butter with the chilli, a squeeze of lemon juice, the zest and some seasoning. Put into a little pot or dish and chill until firm.

2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. For the chips, toss all the ingredients on a baking tray, then season. Roast for 35-45 mins until golden and crisp.

3. Heat a good glug of oil in a frying pan. Add the extra butter and the seasoned steaks, fry for 2-4 mins on each side, then transfer to plates. Toss the leaves with olive oil and lemon juice. Divide between the plates, add the chips and top each steak with a piece of chilli butter.

And to finish: Salted caramel chocolate pots image_2 Small, sweet and utterly irresistible; these chocolate pots can be prepared in advance and are sure to go down a treat.

  • 4 tbsp dulce de leche or canned caramel (we used Carnation)
  • ½ tsp sea salt, plus extra to serve
  • 85g each good quality milk and dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 1-2 long, thin, plain grissini
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 100ml double cream, at room temperature
  • 50ml milk

1. Mix the caramel with the salt, divide between 2 small glasses and chill.

2. Melt the chocolates together in a glass bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Snap the grissini into short lengths, then dip each end into the chocolate to coat a little. Sit on a wire rack for the chocolate to drip and set a little, then dip the chocolate ends into the sugar to coat. Sit in an airtight container lined with baking parchment and chill to set until ready to serve.

3. Stir the double cream and milk into the remaining melted chocolate until smooth, then scrape into a jug. Slowly pour on top of the caramel, around the edges first. Chill the pots for at least 2 hrs, or up to 24 hrs.

4.  To serve, scatter a little more sea salt on top of each pot, then add one or two sugar-tipped grissini.

Contributor: Sarah Stothard