By Darina Allen
HOW about doing something different for Valentine’s night? Why not hold a dinner party for friends and partners and put love on the menu?
Of course, you could just book a table for two in a favourite restaurant, but is it not tempting to get away from the hustle and bustle? Why not plan a delicious dinner away from canoodling couples. Choose food that is special but can be prepared ahead.
The first course could be a plate of mezze or an anti-pasta, a collection of delicious bites to nibble with a glass of bubbly. Light the fire and set the table beautifully, with pretty glasses and crockery.
Lots of candles and twinkling night lights, arranged in a circle or diamond on the table, look great.
Little posies of snowdrops, violets and crocuses are full of the promise of a new season, but its hard to beat some blowsy red roses for Valentine’s Day. If you’d rather not be predictable and arrange them in a vase, scatter the petals over the table.
The main course needs to be trouble-free so how about pork with rosemary and tomatoes. If you’d rather have chicken, it can be substituted for pork in this recipe. Rice, noodles or a big bowl of fluffy mash could be served alongside with a good green salad with a dressing of balsamic vinegar or verjuice and olive oil.
For dessert, try a tart with the new season’s rhubarb, or a comforting bread and butter pudding with a heart-shaped sparkler on top. An oozing chocolate fondant is naughty but oh so nice. Alternatively, you could make a little fruit fool - serve it with a few boudoir biscuits for dunking.
If you don’t want to have a chocolate pudding, a few handmade chocolates would be delicious or pick up a heart-shaped Tête-de-Moine cheese.
Don’t forget to whip up a little loaf of bread so the aromas are wafting through the house.