Those of you not intending on going out and spending hundreds on a meal for Valentines Day may feel that staying in and cooking for your loved one is more suitable. Saving money on Valentines Day can be done in numerous ways, but if all you care about is being with your Valentine, there is no better way to do so than with a delicious home cooked meal and bottle of wine over candlelight.
Even if you're not a big cook, these superbly simple Valentines Day meals are guaranteed to knock your loved one off their feet and make them fall in love with you all over again. While the recipes don't require the skills of a professional chef to prepare, I've chosen them because they'll definitely look and taste as though they did.
Before we dive into the recipes, whichever one you pick you'll obviously need to buy the necessary ingredients. For that reason it's worth pointing out that for any of you who regularly shop online at Woolworths, their current online voucher gives you free weekday delivery when you spend at least $100. So make sure that if you buy online from Woolies, you request that your products are delivered by Friday the 12th February at the latest.
If you prefer to shop at Coles but are yet to use their online service, then they've got a voucher for first time customers giving them $10 off online orders over $100. Woolies weren't going to be trumped by this, however, and are also offering first time customers an incentive in the form of a 10% off discount plus free delivery on orders over $100 (see the "free weekday delivery" link above for details).
Tender Citrus Roast Duck
Although preparation time for this receipt is the same as the others, it will definitely take longer than the rest as the cooking time for duck is much longer at 50 minutes. This meal serves two and when done correctly will have your other half requesting second and third servings - so scale up the quantities if necessary.
The ingredients required are as below:
- 2 duck comfit legs
- 300g slim carrots halved lengthways
- 4 garlic cloves bashed in their skins
- 1 orange, half juiced, have cut in wedges
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
- 4 tablespoon chicken stock
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 Thyme sprigs
- Mashed potatoes and watercress
After all has been bought, it’s time to begin the cooking:
1) Pre-heat the oven to 180C whilst you scrape away any excess fat that comes attached to the duck, but leave the jelly. Keep the fat aside for adding to the potatoes for extra flavour. Then put the garlic, carrots and orange wedges into a large roasting tin, followed by tossing with the oil and seasoning well. Before adding the duck, season the legs and then place on top of the bed of vegetables in the roasting tin skin-side up. Place in the centre of the oven and roast for 40 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the duck is a golden colour.
2) Pour the citrus juice, vinegar and sugar into a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then pour the liquid over the vegetables along with the jellified duck and chicken stock; also place the bay leaves and thyme sporadically around the roasting tin. Place this back into the oven for a further 10 minutes of roasting, allowing the vegetables to absorb the juices before serving with mashed potatoes and watercress.
Honey & Orange Roast Sea Bass
This meal is relatively easy to prepare. It only requires 15 minutes preparation time with a further 10 minutes of cooking time. A large enough Sea Bass will feed two but considering that you may not want to deal with bones on this occasion, choosing fillets would be my suggestion.
The ingredients you will need are as follows:
- 2 medium sea bass fillets
- Zest and juice from ½ orange
- 2 teaspoon of clear honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 250g bag ready to eat lentils
- 100g water cress
- Small bunch parsley, chopped
- Small bunch fill chopped
Once you have all of the above ingredients it’s time to begin the magic, added with a splash of love. Follow the cooking instructions below:
1) Heat the oven to 180C. On an oven tray place the two sea bass fillets skin side down on their own individual aluminium foil squares. Whilst the oven heats up, mix together the orange zest, honey, mustard and 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with some seasoning and drizzle this over the fillets.
2) Pull the sides up of the foil and twist them to stay in place and make a little parcel for each fillet. Place in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes until the fish flakes easily when pressed with a knife.
3) Heat the lentils as per the packet instructions and then mix the orange juice and remaining oil, watercress, herbs and seasoning into the lentils. Divide the lentils onto two plates creating a bed to place the sea bass on top. Drizzle the juices from the parcels onto each fillet and serve immediately.
Sticky Fig Lamb Cutlets
Another simple meal that looks and tastes great is this little beauty. Both the preparation and cooking time are 10 minutes, so it’s a quick and delicious to throw together this Sunday.
The ingredients are:
- 100g couscous
- French trimmed lean 7-rack lamb (ask butcher)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 200g bag green beans
- 4 tablespoons fig jam
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ small red onion thinly sliced
- Handful cherry tomatoes
- Zest and juice ½ lemon
- Small handful mint leaves
1) Heat a frying pan and bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Pour the couscous into a bowl and tip over 100ml of boiling water from the kettle in with it and cover with a tea towel before setting aside. To prepare the lamb, cut between the bones so you have 7 separate trimmed lamb cutlets. Then rub a little olive oil and some seasoning onto each piece. Apply the green beans to the now boiling saucepan for 4 minutes and drain.
2) Once the frying pan is hot, cook the lamb for 3 minutes each side whilst brushing the fig jam onto each piece in the process. Pour in the vinegar during the final minutes of cooking and then move the lamb onto a plate and leave to rest. Heat any remaining juices in the pan until sticky.
3) Stir the couscous with a fork to fluff it up and then add the beans, onion, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, torn mint and remaining oil before stirring again. Apply plenty of seasoning and ensure it’s mixed well. Finally divide the mixture onto 2 plates in a small mound and place the desired number of lamb cutlets leaning onto that mound. Drizzle any sticky juices over each meal and scatter any remaining mint leaves around the plate for decoration.
Seared Beef & Papaya Salad
This recipe has the most ingredients but the least amount of cooking time. Preparation time is 15 minutes but actual cooking time takes just 5 minutes. The sweet dressing and the crispy onion topping of this dish ties everything together tastefully well.
The ingredients you will require are:
- 300g sirloin beef steaks (remove fat)
- Vegetable oil for greasing
- 100g bag baby spinach leaves
- 2 ripe, firm papaya, peeled deseeded and sliced
- 1 small pack coriander
- 1 small pack mint leaves
- ½ large cucumber, sliced
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons crispy onion
The Dressing ingredients are:
- Large pinch chilli flakes
- 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 2 tablespoons tamarind puree
Now that you have all of the above ingredients, it’s time to throw all of this together.
1) Seasons the steaks well and then heat a lightly oiled frying pan or griddle. Next sear the steaks for 2 minutes each side to brown and then remove and leave aside to rest for 5 minutes. After the steak has rested, slice thinly.
2) Take all the dressing ingredients and mix them all together with 1 tablespoon of water until the sugar has dissolved. Decorate a large platter with the spinach, beef papaya, herbs, spring onions, cucumber and chilli flakes. Then pour half of the dressing over half of the salad and sprinkle on the crispy onions. Leave the remaining dressing in a small side pot and serve with the platter for personal application.
Gujarati Cabbage with Coconut (v)
This meal is an incredibly healthy, stir-fried dish that will get any vegetarian salivating. Preparation time is 10 minutes whilst actual cooking time is closer to 20 minutes. The following ingredients are enough to serve four, so if you plan on cooking this on Sunday evening (Valentines Day), your valentine will also have enough for lunch the following day...the gift that keeps on giving.
- 500g new potatoes, unpeeled & halved
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1 fresh red chilli thinly sliced
- 1 pointed sweetheart cabbage, finely shredded
- 2 tablespoon of shaved fresh coconut, toasted
- Bunch coriander roughly chopped
1) Begin by cooking the potatoes in a pan of salted boiling water for roughly 10 minutes until they are tender. Once complete, drain with a colander and return to the pan before lightly crushing the potatoes with the back of a fork, do not mash!
2) Heat your sunflower oil in a large frying pan and then toss in the dried chillies and spices. Fry for 3 minutes until the spices begin popping and the chillies darken in colour.
3) Then add to the pan the cabbage, fresh chilli and some salt for seasoning and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Pour the warm potatoes into the pan and cook for a further 3 minutes until the cabbage tenderises, but still has some crunch. Stir your lemon juice, coriander and coconut oil into the pan so the contents get a good covering and then serve warm.