A well-done romantic meal says so much about the person behind the apron - that you're practical (you can chop veg without losing fingers) and organised (it's all ready and hot at the same time) yet creative (not a baked bean in sight).
It goes without saying that something which involves the words "pierce film lid" and a microwave won't do.
Pan-fried scallops with a celeriac and apple remoulade with a smoked salmon salad
• 6 king scallops and a knob of butter
• For the remoulade:
• 1 apple
• 1 anchovie
• 8 baby capers
• 1 whole lemon, juiced
• 1 tbsp crème fraiche
• 1 tbsp mayonnaise
• 1 tsp fresh chopped chives
• salt and pepper
For the salad
• Handful of red chard and rocket
• 1 tsp of fresh washed, chopped parsley
• 1 tbsp of sunflower seeds toasted
• tsp of olive oil
• Handful of chopped cucumber, deseeded
• 1 thin slice of smoked salmon, cut into thin slices
• 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 leaf of chopped dill
Grab a peeler and peel the skin off the celeriac. Grate the celeriac with a fine grater. Peel the skin off the apple and grate into the celeriac. Squeeze the whole lemon into the mix, watching out for the pips. This will stop the mix turning brown. Chop the anchovies, capers and chives and add this to the mix along with the crème fraiche, and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and put this in the fridge until later.
Meanwhile, toast the sunflower seeds in a frying pan with a touch of olive oil until they are lightly brown. Take off the heat and set aside. Once cool add to the chopped parsley and smoked salmon. Give the lettuce leaves a good wash and add to the salmon and put this in the fridge.
Now let's put the dish together. Put the oil in a frying pan and wait until hot. Season the scallops and add to the pan and cook for two-three minutes, turn over and add a knob of butter and cook for another two minutes then they will be ready. Dress the salad and add a touch of salt and pepper. Place the salad in the centre of the plate, add three tbsps of the remoulade round the salad and add the scallops on top of the remoulade.
Strawberry, raspberry and chocolate brûlé
• 250ml double cream
• 1 vanilla pod, slit in half vertically and scrape out the seeds
• 2 strawberries
• 4 raspberries
• 10 chocolate drops
• 20g caster sugar, and extra for the brûlé topping
• 3 egg yolks
• 2 shallow brûlé dishes
Preheat the oven to 175C. Chop the strawberries in half and put in the brûlé dishes along with the raspberries and chocolate drops. Put the cream in a small saucepan along with the vanilla seeds and pod. Separate the eggs, retaining the egg yokes in a bowl and add the sugar. Whisk this until thick and creamy. Bring the cream to the boil and add this to the egg mixture. Leave the mixture to rest and scrape off the froth. Add the froth-free mixture to the brûlé dishes and put them in a deep roasting tray. Add 400ml of hot water to the roasting tray, and make sure no water goes near the brûlés. This stops the eggs from scrambling. Put in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until they are set. You can test by tapping the side of the tray and there should be a little wobble in the mixture. Remove from the oven and leave the brûlés to cool. Once cool, sprinkle a little caster sugar over the brûlés and either using a cooks' blowtorch or a medium-heated grill until the tops are golden brown.