Menu ideas, aphrodisiac ingredients and how to make your food look hot, hot, hot!
They say the best way to a man's heart (and let's face it a woman's too) is through his stomach but some may fear that their kitchen prowess can't be wholly relied upon. Don't worry, we've got some easy tricks and cheats to ensure you come up smelling of roses, whether your loved one delivers on a big bouquet or not...
Get the table laid in advance and ensure you've got those little extra details - napkins, candles, champagne flutes and, if you're a real old-fashioned romantic, a scattering of rose petals.
Add some sparkle
Whatever your budget, a bottle of bubbles does make an occasion feel special. Cava and Prosecco make great alternatives to Champagne and if you're not sure your selection is up to much on its own then a 'Champagne cocktail' is a great way to spruce up a cheaper bottle. Try our Rose-scented strawberry cocktail, a Raspberry Martini fizz or simply add a splash of Cassis to the bottom of the glass.
Ingredients - turn up the heat
When you're selecting your menu, think about adding some aphrodisiac ingredients, along with obvious ones like oysters, chocolate and wine, you may be surprised to know that pine nuts, fennel and vanilla reputedly boost libido.
If you're at work all day, you may be wondering how you're going to pull an impressive feast together. You could be very organised and prepare all three courses at the weekend to be reheated on the night. OR, in 9 ½ weeks style, why not buy in some luxury ingredients and create a sharing platter straight from the fridge...
Main course - sharing is caring
Last-minute plating up can result in lukewarm food and undue pressure to perform. And who wants performance anxiety on Valentine's night? Pick a sharing dish, and not only do you increase on interaction but you save on effort. Tuck into this One-pan salmon dish, ready in twenty minutes.
Ok, so that's enough sharing. Go individual for pudding and think about investing in a little schmaltzy gear. Heart-shaped dishes (you'll only need to buy two) look oh-so cute in this boozy Tiramisu. Alternatively, a heart-shaped biscuit cutter or tin can be used to great effect as in these Tia Maria & chocolate creams and Treacle tart hearts.
Especially for you
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Whether you're a pro or a novice in the kitchen, there are always way to pretty up your food, try these tips from our dinner party blog:
To starters and mains, add:
- A drizzle of olive oil or balsamic glaze
- A generous sprinkling or sprig of fresh herbs
- A handful of rocket
- A grind of black pepper
- A dollop of crème fraîche or soured cream
- Melba toast, parmesan crisps or cheese straws
To puddings, add:
- A dollop of mascarpone or extra thick double cream
- Fresh seasonal fruit eg berries, physalis, pear or apple crisps
- Use a tea strainer to sprinkle over icing sugar, cinnamon or cocoa powder
- A sprig of mint
For more cooking inspiration, check out our Valentine's Day recipe collection. And, if you've got any tips for ramping up the romance, please share...