This Valentines Day why not plan a delicious meal for your loved one?

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day and if you’re a cynic it marks a time for the big conglomerates to get you to part with some cash between Christmas and Mother’s Day.
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If you’re a romantic it’s the perfect time to let your loved one know how they feel. One of the best things to do is plan a meal for them.

Oysters are synonymous with Valentine’s Day. They represent luxury and sharing at this amorous time of year. If you go to a good fishmonger they’ll open the oysters for you. If you fancy having a go yourself you’ll need to buy an oyster knife and look up on YouTube to know exactly where to insert it and open the mollusc. Be careful though – I’ve seen the most experienced of chefs give themselves an injury. To eat them raw add a squeeze of lemon and a drop or two of Tabasco sauce. The French make a mignonette dressing of finely chopped shallot and vinegar that really cuts through their richness. Another more crowd pleasing way of enjoying them is to cook them. You could dip them in flour, egg and breadcrumb and fry or I’ve included a recipe for oyster vol au vent. It was one I recreated for a Burns Night banquet that was aired on BBC Northern Ireland recently from a menu that was cooked in 1859 to mark the bard’s hundredth birthday. Brioche buns are filled with a cooked mixture of oysters, wine, cream and herbs. There’s a bit of effort but it’s well worth it. Oysters and Champagne are natural partners. You could splash out on a bottle of bubbly or alternatively try making some gorse champagne. The canary yellow, coconut scented flowers are ready for picking now. There’s a saying that “when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season”.

So it’s very appropriate for this time of year. It takes about a week so won’t be ready for Tuesday but it’ll be ahead of you.

Marveilleux are essentially a meringue sandwich that’s covered with sweetened cream. It translates as marvellous and they really are. Here they’re filled with a raspberry cream and topped with grated chocolate. The perfect Valentine’s Day treat.