I don’t do Valentine’s Day. I do, in fact, happen to think it’s the least romantic day of the year.
And it’s not because I’ve never received a card at Valentine’s – let alone anything else. Ever. Even before I decided I didn’t like the Hallmark sentimentality I wasn’t the girl who is sent flowers or cards at Valentine’s – although when I was younger, I desperately wanted to be that girl. Cue sad violin music.
I remember clearly the Valentine’s Day before the man who would become my husband and I started dating. We were friends and colleagues at that point and he received flowers from a soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. He was mortified. I’m still not sure whether it was the surprise (he doesn’t like surprises), the fact that she’d blown that much money, or that girls aren’t supposed to buy guys flowers. Whatever. He hated it and they split very soon after. I think they were probably already in the process of splitting – hence the flowers.
By the time the next Valentine’s Day came about we’d been together for about 8 months. He asked whether I wanted to do anything, and copped the (first of many over the years) soapbox stance about how the food is worse on Valentine’s Day, the price of everything goes up, and how there’s no romance or spontaneity in being told that on this day you should show your partner that you love her/him.
To me, it’s like New Year’s Eve: when you’re told that you have to party and have a good time because it’s New Year’s Eve. Yeah and nah.
Now before you go and assume that I’m not romantic, that’s absolutely not the case. I absolutely believe in romance – I have to: I’m in the business of writing happy endings. Nor is it the case that hubby doesn’t do the occasional flower thing – usually when I least expect it, and most need it. Like the time when I went in for some nasty girly surgery and he brought me two bunches of flowers: herbs for his wife, and daisies for his love. Awwwww.
So when I say I don’t do Valentine’s Day, what I really mean is I don’t do all the cards, flowers, expensive set menu brouhaha of it.
But, when you’ve been together for a long time days like Valentine’s and anniversaries are reminders that every so often your relationship needs to be put front and centre. In the whirl of work, bills, mortgages, homework, and family stuff, sometimes you need a reminder about why you’re together, and Valentine’s Day is good for that. It’s about the sentiment, not the expenditure.
We don’t share cards. But we do usually share a nice meal at home. On the menu this year was potted crab on sourdough with radishes, followed by iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce. (We were going to have Normandy Chicken with Cider Sauce as a main, but both decided we didn’t need it so had it Wednesday night instead. And, spoiler alert, it was sooooo good.)
Both were easy to prepare – I put the potted crab together at lunchtime and the dessert was done while I was on the phone with my sister hearing about her recent tramp of Queen Charlotte’s Track in NZ which was, thankfully, completed before the cyclone hit early this week.
The recipe for the berries is one I’ve been meaning to make for ages, but neither of us is usually a fan of white chocolate so I haven’t. Anyways, it’s by English chef, Mark Hix, and was originally on the menu when he worked at the posh London restaurant Le Caprice. It’s so simple and works so well – the tartness of the berries is the perfect partner for the white chocolate. And when the hot sauce hits the ice-cold berries, well, that’s when the magic happens.
What you need…
- 150g fresh shop-bought crab meat
- 2 tbsp crème fraîche
- a few sprigs of soft herbs such as tarragon, parsley, chervil or dill, finely chopped
- zest of ½ lemon
- nutmeg, for grating
- 75g butter
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- toasted sourdough and radishes, to serve
What you do with it…
Stir together the crabmeat and crème fraîche in a mixing bowl. Add most of the herbs, the lemon zest, grate in a little nutmeg and stir together. Season to taste and spoon it into a serving bowl, smoothing the top so you have a flat surface. I used a wide-ish ramekin.
Melt the butter in a small pan, bring it to a boil, and immediately take it off the heat. Leave it be for 10 minutes – to give it time to separate. Carefully spoon the clarified butter over the top – you won’t need all of it – and discard the solids.
Sprinkle over the rest of the herbs, a pinch of cayenne pepper and some seasoning. Leave to one side to cool and then pop into the fridge for a few hours.
Serve with the toasted sourdough and some crisp, peppery radishes.
Scandinavian Iced Berries with Hot White Chocolate Sauce
What you need…
- 150g best-quality white chocolate, buttons or bars, chopped into pieces
- 150g double cream
- 200-250g small frozen mixed berries – I used mostly blueberries. Just make sure they’re all a similar size.
What you do with it…
Put the chocolate and cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water for 20-30 minutes, stirring every so often. This can be done while you are eating your starters or mains. When the sauce is hot, cover it with cling film or a disc of baking paper and turn the heat off.
Five minutes before serving, put the berries on dessert plates and leave them at room temperature to lose a little of their chill.
When you’re ready to serve, pour the hot chocolate sauce generously over the berries. It doesn’t look like much, but it tastes amazing.
We have never really “celebrated” Valentine’s Day either – we figured we should be saying & demonstrating “I Love You” every day anyways.
The potted crab looks so delicious!
We dlm’t celebrate Valentine’s Day either, though we do use it for going out for dinner near to the date. I agree with Ju-Lyn that the potted crab looks quite wonderful
Totally with you on the not celebrating Valentines- we try to make sure we appreciate each other every day not when some arbitrary marketing company says we should. Your meal looks amazing – I’m particularly intrigued by the desert. I do love fruit!
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I’ve read about that dessert but it really was a revelation.