I hate it with a passion.
I swear this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m currently single (yes, boys, form an orderly queue), but with the fact that I’m baffled by the concept that you should do something special with a loved one only once a year.
And don’t get me started on the cheap cuddly toys, the plastic hearts, the bad set menus… Bleurgh!
You can ask the ex (let’s call him “BlondeBoy”): I was never one for V-Day. 3 years together and the only attempt he ever made was on our first Valentine’s together. He got the picture pretty quickly.
To be fair to him it was all very cute: we had been together for only a week and we were butt-ass poor uni students and he just turned up to pick me up at work with a rose. It wasn’t one of the cheap ones from the old gipsy man selling them on the pavement outside the bistrot either!
But that’s all I remember about it… We probably proceeded to join our friends at the pub and spent our money on cheap beer and wine and tequila shots.
Bless young love.
But, yeah, we never really made an effort to go out of our way on V-Day or spend the money we had on over-priced bad restaurant food. We spent a lot of time cooking together, though, but not just on “that day”.
We just shared a great love of food and cooking and treated ourselves to home cooked meals that were far above the average of the usual student fare.
Of course we had a lot of the old Zinger Tower meals, he introduced me to bubble & squeak from a tin and we feasted on baked beans with tinned sausages, but we also had the decency of preparing nice things for each other - Pasta with octopus and red wine springs to mind.
So when the good folk from Forman & Field got in touch to ask me if I wanted to take part in their Forman’s Love Cook Off I had to think about it – What could I bring to the table that wouldn’t fall into the usual February clichés that I hate so much?
Here’s the thing: when BlondeBoy and I broke up I was a little lost.
After 3 years of being in a relationship in which 95% of what I did involved my other half I didn’t know what to do with myself. We had spent so much time together and I just wasn’t used to being alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t depressed crying in bed for weeks: I just really didn’t know anymore what to do as a single girl.
But that changed pretty quickly and I started cooking for myself. A lot. And that did the trick.
I now look forward to evenings home alone when I can spend hours in the kitchen preparing a slap-up, 3-course meal all for myself.
I like cooking for friends and family too, but the meals I cook for myself always seem to taste better. An indulgence that I’m realising more and more people are taking up.
And so my “Love Meal” is not a V-Day one and I haven’t cooked it for another half.
It’s a Love Meal from me to me, because, you know, I deserve one.
I really enjoy nibbling and having a glass of wine whilst I cook so the marinated anchovies with garlic I found in my mystery box where just the thing I needed – Plump, flavoursome and fresh.
Aperitivo bliss at its best.
I then swiftly moved on to a savoury “crostata” of tarragon jelly topped with slices of the most amazingly delicate Royal fillet smoked salmon I have ever tried.
The pastry was a savoury adaptation of Italian "pasta frolla" - All lemony and peppery.
To give it a little colour I added a baby spinach salad to the side with Dijon and shallots dressing.
My main was made of slow roasted pork belly with a white wine and horseradish gravy unceremoniously plonked over a bed of “risi e bisi” that enjoyed the addition of shredded little gem lettuce because I like green and, well, lettuce made my risotto look greener and more fun.
And last, but not lease dessert: ricotta whipped with Regents Park honey and cream, topped with warm brandied cherries and a balsamic reduction.
Not too shabby for a “I love me meal”, eh?!
And the best part is that now I get to give you all the chance to make a “love meal” too – Leave a comment by 8th February on what your favourite recipe or menu would be to show some love (whether it is just to yourself, your other half or a good friend) and you will be entered in a draw to win a hamper full of Forman & Field goodies.
Not too shabby either and I won’t even judge you if you choose to use it on “That Day”
P.S. All detailed recipes are available upon request - I figured that writing them all down in the one post would have caused everyone narcolepsy!
P.P.S BlondeBoy is off to Argentina on Thursday to teach English - Good luck and be good! *waves handkerchief*
Labels: anchovies, apple, cherries, cream, crostata, forman and field, honey, jelly, pork, rice, ricotta, risotto, salmon, tarragon