As we head out of the doldrums of a quiet and staid January, no doubt many of you are looking forward to spicing things up a bit, to warm the ol' cockles and bring a bit of luuurve to proceedings. Especially with Valentines Day on the horizon. Cynical hearts will, of course, rubbish the notion of doing something romantic on a specific day of the year. The commercialism of it all, with overbooked, cramped restaurants and roses flung afar from buckets for £10 a pop, is perhaps all too much. If you truly love someone or wish to reveal your affection, then why wait for the martyrdom of two men named Val for instance? Who, in Roman times were both executed on February 14th - ten years apart, curiously - by Emperor Claudius II? Or use the festival of Lupercalia, where pagans used to get drunk, naked and whip each other in a bizarre rite of fertility around the same date?
Actually, that last option doesn't sound too bad.
But yes, Valentines Day. Simply buying a card to declare your undying passion and devotion doesn't really cut the mustard, does it. However, buying a glorious slab of aged steak and dressing it with a decadently rich and quite possibly sordid amount of butter, does.
To our minds, steak on the most 'romantic' day of the year is the cinematic equivalent of Richard Gere walking into the factory, to swoop Debra Winger off her feet in An Officer and A Gentlemen. Or like that bit of at the end of Pretty Woman, where Richard Gere climbs up a ladder to deliver roses to Julia Roberts. It is even as romantic as that scene in Sommersby, when Jodie Foster finally accepts that Richard Gere is in fact the husband she thought she lost at war. Even though he isn't
How did this become about Richard Gere all of a sudden?
The main point is, if you are planning on making a sweeping gesture this coming Valentines Day, then you would be hard pushed to beat this recipe by Richard H. Turner. As mentioned numerous times already, steak is on the agenda but for this occasion we recommend you splash out and head for Spanish shores with our Galician rib-eye, on the bone. With a deeper, intense depth of flavour - due to it's age and marbling - this beef really is rather special and seeing as you will be sharing, we suggest you opt for a 1.2kg cut. Go on, why not. The butter is equally intense but a little goes a long way. If you don't want to go down the lobster route though, then we suggest you seek out a good handful of King prawns (shell-on) or langoustines instead.
To temper the overall lavishness of this dish, Richard suggests that a simple salad and baked potatoes or chips should be served alongside. Not forgetting to mention a glass or two of red, to wash everything down and set the mood in the comfort of your kitchen or dining room at home.
That sounds better than knocking elbows down at your local trattoria and failing to making yourself heard, under the drowning noise of violins and trumpets, doesn't it?
When all you really are trying to do, is just to say those simple three words.
- Cook and peel the lobster or prawns, chop and reserve the meat.
- Place the shell and head in a pan with the butter, lemon juice, seaweed and salt.
- Simmer the butter for twenty minutes at a very gentle heat and remove from the heat and leave to infuse for forty minutes.
- Pass off the melted butter through a fine sieve, taking care to squash all the juice out of the shells and seaweed. Mix in the chopped lobster meat and allow to cool to set then roll into a sausage shape using cling film.
- Season the steak aggressively and charcoal grill to medium and rest.
- Slice and season before serving with slices of lobster butter.
But wait, it gets better.
Not only have we delivered a sumptuous steak recipe for you, Chef Turner has also come up with a twist on that old school classic - the sticky toffee pudding - to help round the evening off. The main constituents are all there. The dates, soaked till soft. The viscous and gooey sauce, made with lashings of butter and cream. And the additional blob of clotted cream on top. Which you could spend time quenelling for presentation. That might be time wasted though, as you'll probably want to get to stuck in straight away. Said the Bishop to the actress.
You will need a blowtorch though, as this is where the twist comes in. With the addition of thin slices of apple, topped with more sugar, they need to be caramelised, to impart some smoke into the mix.
A quick flash under a hot grill will work but there is nothing quite a theatrical as whipping out a plumbers torch to impress your loved one.
- Bring the water and vanilla pod and seeds to the boil in a saucepan over a high heat.
- Add the dates, cover the pan, remove it from the heat and leave the dates to soak for 1 hour.
- After the dates have soaked, preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4, and grease and flour 4 10cm ceramic ovenproof dishes.
- Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and leave to one side.
- Beat the butter and brown sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the sifted flour, then fold in the date mixture.
- Pour the batter into the dishes and smooth the surfaces. Place the dishes in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until a skewer stuck in the centre of each pudding comes out clean.
- Transfer the dishes to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
- To make the toffee sauce, put the sugar, salt, butter and cream in a saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar then pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl.
- Next peel and thinly slice the apples and fan the slices in 10cm circles on top of the puddings. Dust heavily with light Muscovado sugar and use a blowtorch to caramelise the sugar.
- Serve with the toffee sauce and a spoon of clotted cream on top.
Note: This recipe does give you four large servings, so you can freeze for another romantic occasion.