Valentine’s Day is not, ahem, very celebrated in this household. By Z, anyway. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want a little treat, so I usually go ahead and plan something small but nice. This year, it was a meal where I actually expended some effort in planning and cooking, which, okay, did include one crying child but that is hard to avoid sometimes. When the kids are older I’m going to do what my parents used to do: gave us KD at five then told us to go to bed, while they enjoyed a nice quiet evening downstairs together, without us. Makes sense to me!
I found some super delicious dishes that made this one special. Both of these will be repeats, as they are easy to accomplish and so tasty. They look pretty good, too.
Dijon Parmesan Rack of Lamb
I find rack of lamb a great fancy meal because it never fails to impress – it looks great and like you might have worked really hard on it, even though nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, these are really easy, almost fool-proof, as long as you don’t overcook.
1 lamb rack, about 8 ribs
4 tsp fresh grated Parmesan
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or tarragon (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tbsp finely chopped pine nuts
salt and pepper
1 tbsp Dijon
chopped fresh mint (optional)
Preheat oven to 230C (450F). Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Rinse lamb and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, stir Parmesan with thyme, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Place lamb on foil, fat side up. Spread fat side with Dijon. Sprinkle thyme mixture overtop and gently press in.
Roast 20-30 mins, depending on size of rack, for medium rare (meat thermometre at centre reads 60C/140F). Let stand 5 minutes. Slice into chops and sprinkle with mint.
This was melt-in-your-mouth, lamb lollipops that were just stripped clean. Even X couldn’t get enough of them. Served with steamed green beans and Greek-style roast potatoes, it was about as romantic as our little family was going to get.
Chocolate Pots de Creme
These desserts are so attractive and so decadent. I found they were pretty even with the sweating going on around the glass – not quite sure how to avoid that yet. Decadent yes, I would say almost too decadent. While this recipe is for two, next time I would make it for four, as this was really too much. And yet … both Z and I were incapable of stopping (the chocolate comes out after X has gone to bed, because otherwise he would eat all of it – and then never sleep). Another really easy recipe with stunning results – I would make this for a dinner party as eye-candy dessert. The cardamon also adds just a slight hint of some exotic taste, so while it doesn’t have to be added, I really recommend it.
3 squares bittersweet chocolate (3 oz or 85 grams)
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of cardamon
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp grated orange peel (optional)
In a saucepan, whisk icing sugar with cocoa and flour. Slowly whisk in milk until evenly mixed. Place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate, vanilla and cardamon. Stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Spoon into four glasses, dessert dishes or coffee cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, for at least three hours and up to three days (preferably overnight at least).
Just before serving, place cream and icing sugar in small bowl and use electric mixer to beat on high until soft peaks form. Stir in peel if using. Dollop over cold chocolate and serve.