Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A Postponed Valentine's Day Dinner

Some time last week, my husband (the darling) texted me from work to say that he had agreed to work Monday night. I replied and asked him whether he knew that said Monday night was Valentine’s night. He texted back with "I do now".  Great. So, this year Valentine’s day was postponed and as he had totally scuppered my plans (which involved cooking a three course meal from my recently acquired Milestone recipe book) I asked him to cook.

He was happy to oblige as he does enjoy a bit of cooking, he just doesn't get much chance to do any these days. So last night was our Valentine's night. I didn’t have to lift a finger.  He picked what to cook, went shopping for the ingredients, prepared everything himself and kept me nicely topped up on wine. Bliss.

I should tell you about the wine as I have discovered an easily quaffable vino at Aldi. It’s an Italian Soave. Nothing fancy, but easy going and cheap at £3.29 a bottle. I first bought some for cooking with, and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it in the glass as well as on the plate. Worth a go, especially for a mid-week meal.  

Onto the food.

Starter was Lesley Waters’ Goats’ cheese and sun-blushed tomato salad which is taken from the BBC website. This, essentially, is chargrilled goats’ cheese served on a bed of herbs with sun-dried tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  I say chargrilled, but it was more like warmed on the chargrill pan.

Gav understands my love of goat's cheese and he know that I have a favourite (Rigottes de Condrieu Goats' Cheese) so he served this up with the salad. Now this cheese is very strong and smelly. Unfortunately it was too strong for the dish and the basil and coriander flavours were completely lost. Only the sun-dried tomatoes held their own. He was disappointed; I didn’t care. We are talking about my favourite goat's cheese here and little is going to upset me when that’s on my plate. However, if you do replicate this dish, I’d advise getting a standard goats’ cheese so that the full flavours of the dish do come through.

Main course was James Martin’s Roasted Sea Bass with chorizo, red onion and cherry tomatoes.  This dish is as described with the addition of garlic, thyme and black olives.

Roasted Sea bass with chorizo, red onion and cherry tomatoes
Looking at the recipe now, I’m quite shocked that James Martin, as a Yorkshire man, suggests that one sea bass is sufficient to serve 4 people! Either that was a typo or James has a supply of some supper huge fish! Thankfully Gav was not fooled and he doubled everything in the recipe, bar the chorizo, so we had a fish each and ample roasted veg. This lovely, light dish was surprisingly filling and we didn’t touch the bread served with it, even though the starter had been light also. The fish was really moist and Gav had stuffed it with lemon thyme which worked well and probably is a better alternative to normal thyme when cooking fish. The onions were juicy and sweet and reminded me how good red onions actually are (part of my costs saving plan is to replace all red onions with white wherever I can). The olives were out of a jar so their saltiness added to the dish and the chorizo was appreciated (when isn't it?), but for the pescetarians amongst us, this can easily be omitted. I would also say that this dish would work with any white fish, including fillets, not just whole fish. Indeed, sea bass is not cheap and whole rainbow trout would be a perfect alternative.

Dessert was ready made. “Tut tut”, you may think, but no, give him a break. He did alright and it was one of my favourites; Lemon Tart. A good meal, but was it worth the wait? Yeah, delaying Valentine’s worked out quite well as I was able to celebrate a friend’s birthday on the 14th, so all was well.

What did you do for Valentine’s?  Go out, stay in?  More importantly, do you have any tips re Aldi wines to share?!

P.s. If you haven't voted in my recent poll yet, there's still time!   Please do let me know which cuisine is your favourite.


  1. Well done Gav. It's staggering that some restaurants reviewed by this blog have received less strict scrutiny that hubby!

    Anonymous Geordie Corporate Lawyer

  2. That's right. Poor Gav, blah blah!