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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I am sure, that just like me, you struggle with what to get your partner every year! I get bored with buying the usual socks, chocolates, wine or flowers. This year, I am going to do something different and cook my husband a feast for Valentine’s Day, cutting out the hassle of finding a babysitter or eating at a full, busy and noisy restaurant which can kill the romance mood.
You can find lots of Valentine’s Day dinner recipes; however our favourite is steak, chips and béarnaise sauce. It is very simple to make but hard to get everything perfect so practice beforehand to make sure it is right. Béarnaise sauce can be a bit fiddly especially if you have not made it before. My husband’s favourite is prawns; however I am not really a fan. For a seafood starter which we will both like, we enjoy scallops served simply in the shell and a dipping sauce or scallops served with pancetta and peas.
For pudding, the tradition seems to be chocolate so a chocolate fondant would be lovely. Impressive to look at but can be hard to get right so for something less stressful, how about a big slab of chocolate brownie to share between two. If you want to avoid chocolate altogether, how about a refreshing lemon tart or a crème brulee. Whatever you cook this Valentines, cook it with love and your effort will show on the plate when you give it to your loved one.
If you are still looking for a Valentine’s gift for your loved one and they like unusual flavour combinations, then they may like Hotel Chocolat Open Your Heart To Me. It is a 40% milk chocolate heart with a hollowed out centre containing truffles. Some of the truffle flavours are strawberry with black pepper, caramel with chilli and vanilla.
I was very impressed with chocolate heart. It was very creamy and delicious. I thought that the truffles were very rich and overpowering for my taste buds. The black pepper was slightly too strong for the strawberry and the chilli knocked out the caramel flavour. My favourite was the plain and simple vanilla truffle. I think this product is a very good idea. It is a nice treat having extra chocolate inside the heart, however I think the truffles need more work to make the flavours more discreet or just more simpler flavours altogether. I am not a chocolate connoisseur though and as the product is sold out on their website, it is obviously very popular. If you have brought this for your loved one or receive one yourself, please let me know what you think about it.
Many thanks to Beth at Jam and Cream PR and Hotel Chocolat for sending me the product to review
I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Lovetubs Hamper is comment number 38, Valerie McCarthy. Valerie, I have sent you an email with what to do next. Thank you all very much for taking part. It is greatly appreciated.
I will be back with another post tomorrow. Hope you are all well. I am off for a bath and an early night!
Valentines Day is only around the corner and with that in mind, Lovetubs are calling for lovers to feel the love and share the love! You can show your loved one your sweeter side this Valentine’s Day by treating him or her to a lovetub – or even show yourself that little bit of love! lovetub is a warm, rich, melt-in-your-mouth pudding which can be found in the dessert chiller in selected Sainsbury’s stores!
Available in both Sticky Toffee Pudding and Chocolate Pudding flavours, lovetub can be microwaved to lip-smacking perfection in just 30 seconds, and eaten straight from the tub. Usually priced at only £1.29, it’s a Valentine’s treat that’s easy on the pocket!
To celebrate the release of Lovetubs, they are going to giveaway 15,000 100g puddings between the 1st and 7th February on their Facebook page. Why not share the offer with your friends or loved one and ‘feel the love, share the love’.
Lovetub Hamper Giveaway
To make Valentines Day go with even more of a bang, you can win an hamper for you and your loved one and have it delivered in time for Valentines Day. You can win:
- Moet Chandon Champagne
- Hotel Chocolat Chocolates
- a £10 M&S food voucher
- Teddy Bear
- and lovetub samples
To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by 5pm GMT on Monday 7th February telling me what would be your ideal Valentines Day treat (keep it clean please! – this is a family blog)
This giveaway has now closed. Thank you to everyone for taking part
Good luck and I hope you all get spoilt on Valentines Day!
Giveaway Terms and Conditions
- Only 1 entry per person
- The competition will close at 5pm on Monday 7th February 2012 GMT
- The winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted via email as soon as possible after the competition has closed.
- The competition is open to UK residents only
- The prize will be delivered by Lovetubs once the winner’s contact details are confirmed, hopefully in time for Valentines Day.
- Any questions or queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of weeks ago, I took part in Forman and Field’s Valentine’s Cook Off, where fellow bloggers and I were each sent a hamper of mystery ingredients and asked to create a Valentine’s Day menu with it. To spread the love around, each blogger who took part was given a Forman and Field hamper (worth up to £60) to giveaway to a lucky reader in time for Valentine’s Day.
Well, I am very pleased to announce that a winner has been chosen from all the valid entries using Random.org (to be classed as a valid entry, your comment needed to say something about your ideal Valentine’s food or menu) and the winner is Karolina from Senses In The Kitchen. Congratulations Karolina! Please email me your address, telephone number and whether you would like your hamper before or after Valentine’s day to email@example.com asap please. Thanks to everyone who took part. I loved hearing about your ideal Valentine’s meal.
I will be back at the weekend with another video post: my first live solo cookery demonstration for Go Green Week!
Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us and with love in the air, it’s time to start thinking what you will cook for your loved one this year. I had to think about a bit earlier this time, as last week on Twitter, I saw that Forman and Field (@FormanandField) were after bloggers to take part in a Valentine’s Cook Off (#Formanslovecookoff) using a mystery box of food items that they would provide. This sounded like my kind of challenge so I signed up, along with Dan, The Grubworm, Carla, Meemalee, Food Urchin and Pavel.
The mystery box soon arrived and it contained:
A bit of a strange mix, I am sure you will agree. It took a few days of thinking but I managed to come up with a Valentine’s menu that I thought was simple to do and showed the amazing produce off at its best. To be completely and utterly truthful, I dislike anchovies with a passion, however I was determined to use everything that came in the box, so I thought that as the anchovies had garlic in them, I would make a foccacia as it is easy and a bit more upmarket then a pizza, where you usually find anchovies. For my main, I simply griddled the salmon as it was too good to do anything else with, and served it with dauphinoise potatoes, with a generous grating of Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese on top and green beans, with both the tarragon jelly and horseradish on the side. For pudding, I made a chocolate pot with brandied cherries and honey biscuits. The pictures of my dishes and full recipes are below.
Stuart and I really enjoyed the meal. The Royal Fillet was the best salmon I have ever tasted and the honey was delicious. I am now addicted to brandied cherries as well. My big jar will not last very long! One minor downside is that the foccacia did not really work. It was simply too fishy and overpowering. I have included the recipe here so that someone who likes anchovies can have a go and see if they can make it better than I did.
To be in a a chance of receiving a box of goodies from Forman and Field (worth £60) like I did, all you need to do is a leave a comment on this post, with your ideal Valentine’s recipe or menu and a box could be on its way to you and your loved one, in time for the big day itself. Please leave an email or twitter name so that you can be contacted if you win. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and you have until the 10th February to enter. My recipes are below. Please check out my competitors and see what they did with the mystery ingredients and check back soon to see if I won the Cook Off. Don’t forget, all the other competitors also have a hamper to give-away so why don’t you leave a comment on their blogs too!
All Serves Two
Anchovy and Garlic Foccacia
- 200g strong white bread flour, and more for dusting
- 1 packet of dried yeast
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 125ml warmish water
- 6 anchovy fillets, chopped up into small bits and some oil out the container they were in
- Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the olive oil and water and mix with your hand until its forms a sticky ball of dough.
- Put some flour on your work surface, and knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and springy. Put in a oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel, cling film or even in a bin bag and leave in a warm place for an hour.
- After an hour has passed, knock back the dough and place in an oiled tin or tray and spread the dough out until it covers the bottom. leave it covered for another half an hour in a warm place.
- After half an hour, uncover it and spread out the chopped up anchovies and oil all over the top of the foccacia. Put in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) and let it cook for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and enjoy.
Griddled Salmon with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Green Beans
- 1 Royal Fillet, chopped up into two portions
- 3 large or 6 small Maris Piper Potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
- 100ml double cream
- 300ml whole milk
- 1/2 onion, peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Salt and white pepper
- Generous handful of Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese, grated
- 1 packet of green beans, cooked according to the packet instructions
- Horseradish sauce and tarragon jelly, to serve
- In a saucepan, put the potatoes, cream, milk, 1/2 an onion, salt and pepper and allow simmer gently until the potatoes are nearly cooked through.
- Remove the onion from the potatoes and place everything else in a lasagne type dish and put the grated cheese on top. Put in an preheated oven (180 degrees C) and allow to cook until slightly golden and bubbling.
- Meanwhile, preheat up a griddle pan and cook the salmon on both sides, until slightly charred and warmed through.
- Serve the salmon with the Dauphinoise Potatoes and green beans, with a spoonful each of horseradish and tarragon jelly on the side. Enjoy
Chocolate Pots with Honey Biscuits and Brandied Cherries
Ingredients for Chocolate Pots
- 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped up
- 140ml double cream
- 35g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 6 pitted brandied cherries and 4 whole, for the top
Ingredients for Honey Biscuits (Makes 12-14)
- 2 heaped table spoons Regents Park Honey
- 2 table spoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
- 175g plain flour
- 75g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter
- (For the Chocolate Pots) Gently warm the cream and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar the melted.
- In a bowl, put the chocolate, 1 egg yolk and vanilla extract. Pour over the cream and sugar mixture and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Pop 3 pitted cherries into the bottom of each ramekin and pour the chocolate mixture on top. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- (For the Honey Biscuits) Put the honey and milk in a saucepan and allow to warm through. Add in the Bicarbonate of Soda and stir until frothy. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the flour and frothy mixture and mix until combined.
- Roll and shape a knob of the biscuit mixture and flatten onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Do not make them too big as they will spread during cooking.
- Bake in a preheated 2o0 degrees C oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving with the chocolate pots and brandied cherries.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone. I hope that the day has treated you kindly and you are or are going to be wined and dined by your loved one. Stuart and I had our Valentine’s meal on Friday night at Wong’s in Birmingham, our favourite Chinese restaurant. Today we are just taking it easy and I am making a curry for dinner later. However, this morning I have been in kitchen making Valentine’s cupcakes while listening to Terry Wogan’s new weekend show on Radio 2.
There are a couple of reasons why I made these cupcakes. One is that @EnglishMum on Twitter is hosting a competition on her blog for the best Valentine cupcake and I have decided to enter. My second reason is that, in a few weeks time, I am going to a wedding cupcake making course run by Kiss Me Cupcakes in West Bromwich and I wanted to get some sort of baseline for my cupcake making ability before the day. Finally, my friends Louise (from Cirencester Cupcakes) and Caroline, who very kindly gave me the recipe that you see below have both inspired me to have a go at making cupcakes. Having a go at making cupcakes also formed part of my foodie New Year resolutions.
Ultra Simple Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Fair Cake and given to me by Caroline. Original recipe is here)
- 200g unsalted butter
- 240g self raising flour
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 220g caster sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 150C Fan or 160C otherwise.
- Ensure that the butter is very soft. You can either leave the butter out of the fridge overnight, or zap it 20 seconds at a time in a microwave. The butter should be as soft as possible without melting.
- Put all measured ingredients in a kitchen mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until light and fluffy. If you do not have a kitchen mixer, put all measured ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon, briskly, until your arms ache. Around one minute.
- Don’t mix it for more than a minute or so. Then you will be in trouble and there will
- be a slight risk of the cupcakes baking into tough little rebels. The consistency of the mixture
- should be a bit like heavy custard and it should plop nicely from a spoon. This mixture is enough for about 24 cupcakes, depending on the size of your cupcake liners. Fill cupcake liners between ½ and ¾ the way up. Fill ½ way up to get an even flat shape, fill ¾ way up to get a nice dome shape. Use a muffin pan, otherwise the liners spread into ghastly shapes.
- Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven, but check after 15 by inserting a little cocktail stick. If there is anything stuck to the stick, then bake for the full 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for around 5 minutes and then take them out carefully and allow to cool outside the pan. Let cupcakes cool completely before icing.
Vanilla Buttercream Icing (From Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas)
Ingredients (enough for about 20 cupcakes)
- 110g unsalted butter
- 60ml semi skimmed milk
- 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
- 500g icing sugar, shifted
- Food colouring (optional)
- In a mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth. This can take a few minutes.
- Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. Then add food colouring drop by drop until you reach the desired shade.
- Spread the icing onto the cupcakes using a palette knife and decorate as desired.
Overall, I think the cupcakes were a great success. They are very easy to make. I think my decorating skills need improving though!
Hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day.