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Valentine’s Day – A Menu for Romance (or just another excuse for a delicious dinner)

Some #Recipe Favourites for a Simple Dinner

Valentine’s day is fast approaching and we thought we’d share our idea of a perfect menu for a romantic dinner. The beauty about these dishes is that they are almost completely do-ahead so the focus can be more on romancing and less on the kitchen.

These recipes come from ‘Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food the stories the sisterhood’ and have proven so popular since the book’s release. This amazing succulent well-flavoured lamb came to us from Railea Don, the classic and lovely chocolate mousse from Nicky Sepel and the simple butter biscuits (cookies) from Jacqui Israel.

Slow-roasted fragrant spring lamb with pomegranate

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons sea salt
olive oil
1 lamb shoulder on the bone, about 1.5 – 2 kg (3 1/2 – 4 1/2 lbs)
250 ml (1 cup) water
1⁄3 bunch mint, leaves only
1/2 spanish (red) onions, finely sliced into rings (optional)
1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed
harissa, to serve
1 lemon, quartered

Start this recipe the day before. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and sea salt together. Rub the olive oil into the lamb, then rub the ground spices into the meat. Place the lamb in a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 140°C/280°F. Remove the lamb from the bag and place into a baking dish. Add the water, cover tightly with foil and roast for 2 hours. Reduce the oven to 110°C and cook for a further 5 hours, removing the foil for the last hour of roasting to crisp the outer skin. Check the lamb at intervals during cooking time to ensure the dish is not completely dry.

Remove from the oven and allow the lamb to cool slightly, then tear the meat in large shards from the bone and spread evenly over a serving platter. Strew with torn mint leaves, onion rings and pomegranate seeds. Serve with the harissa and lemon quarters on the side.
Serve with steamed couscous and a rocket salad, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, on the side.
Serves 2 – 4

 Chocolate mousse

100 g best-quality dark chocolate (maximum 70% cocoa), chopped
4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
grated chocolate, for decoration

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes, or until just warm to the touch. It is important to take the time to allow it to cool properly. If it is too hot the egg yolks will cook, if it is too cold the mixture will seize.

While the chocolate is cooling, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork. Stir one spoonful of melted chocolate into the egg yolks (not the other way around or it will seize) and beat until completely blended. Continue to add the chocolate to the egg yolks, a spoonful at a time, stirring after each addition, until all the chocolate has been beaten into the yolks.

Using a metal spoon, carefully and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until it is incorporated. Fold through the vanilla if desired. Pour into a glass bowl or individual serving glasses and decorate with grated chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

Serves 2 – 4

chocolate mousse

Nana Phyllis’ biscuits

60 g (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature, chopped
125 g (scant 1 cup) self-raising flour
45 g (1 1/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
1 egg
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
extra flour, for rolling
extra white sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 180°C/250°F. Line one baking tray.
Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, then egg and vanilla and combine well to make a soft dough.
Place on a floured surface and roll out thinly (1–2 mm),flouring the rolling pin as necessary. Cut out the biscuits with a round (or heart-shaped!)cookie cutter or small glass. Place the biscuits on the prepared trays and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 10–12 minutes until just starting to brown. Cool a little on the trays, then transfer to a wire rack.

Makes 30 biscuits

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3 Responses to Valentine’s Day – A Menu for Romance (or just another excuse for a delicious dinner)

  1. Melissa Bujtor February 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    ANYTHING laced with chocolate gets my vote on Valentines Day!

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