Food of love - impressive but easy Valentine's dinner

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Don't spend up big in a restaurant this Valentine's Day. 

Impress your loved one with these recipes that look and taste incredible but are simple to make.


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Green bean, fig and feta salad

400g green beans, trimmed
4 dried figs, thinly sliced
½ bunch mint, leaves picked
120g Persian feta in oil, drained
2 tbs sunflower seeds, toasted

Mignonette dressing
1 eschalot, finely chopped
¼ cup Champagne or sparkling white wine
¼ cup apple cider vinegar

For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Set aside until needed.

Blanch the beans in a large pan of boiling salted water for 3 minutes or until tender. Drain and place in a bowl of iced water until cool, then drain again and pat dry with paper towel.

Thinly slice beans lengthways.

To serve, place beans on a platter, top with fig, mint leaves and feta. Drizzle with dressing and scatter over sunflower seeds.


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Porchetta salmon with sauce vierge

1.2kg salmon fillet (skin on), pin-boned
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted, crushed
2 tbs chopped fennel or dill fronds
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp rosemary leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)

Sauce vierge
2 tbs chardonnay or white wine vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
250g punnet grape tomatoes, quartered
1 bunch chives, thinly sliced
1 bunch tarragon, leaves picked
½ bunch dill, fronds picked
¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped

 

For the sauce vierge, whisk vinegar and oil in a bowl and season. Add the tomato and herbs, and stir to combine. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Remove salmon from fridge 30 minutes before cooking and place, skin-side down, on a foil-lined baking tray. Combine the fennel seeds, herbs, garlic, oil, chilli, if using, and ½ tsp each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Brush over salmon. Roast for 15 minutes for medium or until cooked to your liking. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes.

Transfer salmon, skin-side down, to a platter and spoon over sauce vierge.


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Recipe Source:  delicious.com.au

Mille-feuille with roast strawberries and mascarpone

2 x 375g frozen Butter Puff Pastry sheets, thawed
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
1kg mascarpone
2 vanilla beans
2 x 250g punnets strawberries, hulled, larger ones halved

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Cut each pastry sheet into 10 rectangles and arrange in a single layer on trays. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and place another tray over the top to weigh down the pastry while cooking. Bake, swapping trays halfway, for 35-40 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep oven on.

Meanwhile, place 200g caster sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to 120°C on a sugar thermometer.

Whisk eggs in a stand mixer until thick and pale. With the motor running, gradually pour hot sugar syrup into egg mixture in a thin, steady stream. Continue whisking for 10 minutes or until mixture is completely cooled and glossy.

Whisk eggs in a stand mixer until thick and pale. With the motor running, gradually pour hot sugar syrup into egg mixture in a thin, steady stream. Continue whisking for 10 minutes or until mixture is completely cooled and glossy.

Meanwhile, place strawberries on a baking paper-lined baking tray and sprinkle over remaining 50g sugar. Split remaining vanilla bean and scrape the seeds. Add the pod, scraped seeds and reserved vanilla pod to the strawberries, and toss to combine. Roast strawberries for 15 minutes or until softened and syrupy. Cool completely.

When ready to serve, place mascarpone mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Place half the pastry rectangles on serving dishes and pipe a layer of mascarpone over the top in small mounds. Add a few strawberries and syrup, then top with another sheet of pastry and repeat with mascarpone mixture and strawberries. Serve immediately.


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