I think that my best bit of cooking on Valentines day was possibly the piece of toast with “I Love You” stamped on that I brought to Mr Memoirs of an Amateur Cook (or Mr MAC as he will now be known!) in bed at 7:30am! Unfortunately the meal I planned for that evening was not as quick or succesful as my toast making.
Starter: Asparagus wrapped in Parma ham with parmesan shavings and a balsamic syrup
Main: Winter salad with chorizo and poached egg
Dessert: Individual vanilla baked cheesecakes with butterscotch sauce
As I had some time on my hands, I thought I would go to the effort of making a three course meal that Mr MAC would enjoy, using a few of the recipes and techniques I learnt on my recent cookery course along the way.
The starter was so-so; some of the asparagus spears were undercooked and the Parma ham was a little too salty for my liking. Still, Mr MAC seemed to enjoy it and it wasn’t a complete disaster!
By the time the main came round I’d already had one glass of champagne so things weren’t going so swimmingly! I had gone to the effort (not a massive effort I will admit!) to making my own croutons. Unfortunately, despite being next to the dressing I had made and other ingredients for the salad, these were forgotten and were instead given to my other half at the end of the meal as an extra course! Despite using the newly taught technique of poaching eggs in cling film this went disastrously wrong – the eggs were somehow overcooked and undercooked at the same time!! Again, my very tolerant dining companion seemed to enjoy the second course however, I thought the chorizo was a bit overcooked and overpowering.
The dessert was a lot more of a success but I cannot take credit for the recipe – it comes from wwww.exclusivelyfood.com and is really rather clever! I am always attempting to balance my love of food with being ‘healthy’ so I thought it more sensible to make individual cheesecakes so that we wouldn’t have a lot of ‘naughty’ (read calorific!) food left over. This recipe makes wonderfully small cheesecakes by baking them in cupcake trays and papers! Genius.
Individual Baked Vanilla Cheesecakes
150g light digestive biscuits
250g cream cheese
75g caster sugar
Half tbsp lemon juice
100ml double cream
Tsp vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases
Crush the biscuits in a food processor and add the butter until combined. Divide the biscuit mixture evenly amongst the cupcake cases and press down with the back of a teaspoon until smooth.
Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat until combined.
Add the lemon juice, cream and vanilla essence to the mixture and beat until combined. Divide amongst the cupcake cases.
Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before transferring to the fridge.
To serve, remove the cupcake cases.
I changed the recipe a bit by adding the vanilla essence and reducing the amount of lemon juice as I have made Mr MAC a baked vanilla cheesecake before and he said it tasted more like a lemon cheesecake than vanilla! A great, simple recipe though as the cheesecakes turned out wonderfully creamy and the recipe is very easy on the hands by making good use of the food processor. My only criticism would be that the cheesecakes are perhaps a little bit too small but that is probably better for my waistline!!
I served the cheesecake on a pool of butterscotch sauce I had made earlier, a dollop of fromage frais and a sprig of mint on top and dusted with icing sugar. I think this was the best part of the meal for both of us!
The desert was followed, of course, by the added course of croutons in a bowl and homemade chocolates I had received from Neil that morning.
Overall, the food may not have been as perfect as I’d have hoped but the most important thing was spending some quality time and a lovely evening in with my boyfriend and that can be done any night of the week, not just on Valentines day.