Eggs benedict and florentine
Beet cured salmon
Garlic and cream pasta
Oxtail and celeriac gratin
Just when the dreary doldrums of the new year seem to have truly settled in, Valentines baby!
The monochromatic winter needs a splashing of colour and candy to elate and give hope. A bright pink strawberry white chocolate truffle, A bouquet of brightly bunched lilies, orchids or daisies. Even the bold brazenly bearing red shirts with collars and cuffs can be found brunching in our little room.
We the chefs are a trusting people of tried and true. A Valentines brunch is a wonderful opportunity to put in the time and effort. It could not be simpler to impress and try something new or technical, as if all goes wrong you have a story for this time next year (or a reason to put the feet up and force reciprocation!).
The eggs of benedict or florentine must be my immediate go to (as it is for every customer on this day I can assure you). Many a simple element that takes time and care but when combined is the longest lasting triumph of an old French classic. Many have been and gone but this one dish (and its horrifying variations) have become a staple on every menu.
My recipe leans on browned butter not clarified and a reduction of peppercorns and vinegar as the lemon availability is mightily sad (as I said blankets of snow and ice everywhere here). I will include the English muffin recipe also as I am sure many more of us would appreciate a freezer lined with light fluffy pockets of happiness.
At the restaurant this is the only time we can afford a salmon or two and take the hit ourselves. It is a time for love after all. This year we will be curing with beet for the bright hue and dusky earthiness it gives. Rye gives it the traditional base and beets both pickled and sauced give us the splashes of colour and candy I adore.
A Valentines dinner should consist of ignoring the supermarket promos altogether. Our local placed a rather sad looking lobster tail in a packet with a meagre fillet of beef at a hideously marked up number (but they did include two Lindor truffles!). A feast that has travelled over five thousand frozen kilometres only to be trashed in a kitchen by a nervous young lovestruck thing.
Please, for the love of whomever shares a space in this world with you, have a conversation. Find out the desert island dish of that person and have a go. Dinner can absolutely consist of just a tiramisu. Garlic and cream pasta kisses into the night are the finest thing from a happy partner.
If you must go above and beyond then I will share my dish from this year. Locally inspired and wonderfully simple. Braised oxtail cooked slowly overnight in a big old cast iron skillet. Twenty four hours later, pressed and topped with grated celeriac, gouda and an unhealthy amount of butter and breadcrumbs to finish baking. It is winter food and it is simple as I do not have the time to carve out anything for extravagant for my mistreated partner (they know the calendar occasions are my high tide time at work)!
If the tiramisu recipe is not for you then try the link below for some artificial sweets for the sticky messes of people they deserve!