Isabelle Aron | Contributing Writer | Saturday, 14 February 2015

Last Minute Recipes For When You've Forgotten To Organise Anything For Valentine's Day

The Debrief: fool-proof dishes to save your bacon (or facon)

Remember back in January when you were feeling all 'new year, new you' and told your boyfriend you'd take care of your V-Day plans this year? Well, it's now February - you are still very much the 'old you' and have completely forgotten all your big talk of a super romantic meal. You need to throw something together quickly.

Don't worry about presents - no one wants a homemade 'Valentines sock bunny' a la Monica in Friends. Plus you haven't got time to be faffing about with arts and crafts.

Going out for dinner is a no-no - everywhere will be booked up now and anyway, Valentines Day menus are overpriced and underwhelming. Instead, make like Nigella and whip up a slap home cooked meal (seductive spoon licking: optional).

Here are some easy, fool-proof recipes to make you look like you are actually really thoughtful and totally didn't forget at all...

The one to cook if your boyfriend is a meat obsessive
Who needs Hawksmoor? Raid the supermarket meat shelves for a homemade feast.

Starter: cold meats mezze
Ok so this is more of an assembly job but if the guy loves meat then why bother slaving over a hot stove when you can just buy a load of ham and salami and call it "charcuterie". Maybe even throw in a bowl of olives for good measure. If you want to do something a bit more fancy, you could steam some asparagus, wrap it in parma ham and bake in the oven for a few mins. But we all know that a platter of meat is obviously the best option.

Main: steak and sweet potato chips

If the theme is meat then it's gotta be steak. I'm making no claims of being any kind of meat connoisseur here but generally if you want something seriously steak-y go for rump or rib-eye, if you want something less fatty, get fillet, and if you’re pushed for cash go for minute steak - hey it might be on the thin side but it still counts.

Serve your steak with sweet potato chips and maybe a salad if you're that way inclined. You can use normal potatoes but I think sweet potatoes make a superior chip. Use one big potato or two small ones for two people. Don't worry about peeling them, because you know, it's rustic. Cut them into chip-sized pieces and drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle on some paprika if you have some kicking around. Roast for about 30-40 mins.

Dessert: Oreo truffles

These taste like a dream and are practically impossible to mess up. All you need is:
200g Oreos
100g cream cheese
200g chocolate

Put the Oreos in a sandwich bag and bash them with a rolling pin/wooden spoon/your fist - or failing that just chuck the packet around a bit until you done some damage (to the biscuits, not your kitchen). Mix the crushed Oreos with the cream cheese (sounds weird, tastes great) and roll them into balls and whack in the freezer for 10 minutes. Melt the chocolate either in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave. Once that’s ready, cover each ball in melted chocolate. Let them chill in the fridge for at least an hour before proceeding to stuff your face with their oreo goodness. Full disclaimer: this one's not going to win any prizes for its nutritional value but if that's what you're after you may want to divert your gaze below.

The one to cook if you boyfriend is on a health kick
If your boyf hasn't fallen off his New Years health kick wagon yet, then this is for you.



Starter: butternut squash soup
You can't argue with soup - it's easy to make and won't clock up too many cals for your health conscious beau. You'll need:
1 butternut squash
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
Small piece of ginger (grated)
750ml stock
Olive oil
1 onion (diced)
A pinch of chilli flakes/or half a fresh chilli (optional)

Butternut squash is a pain to chop up, especially if, like me, all your knives are shit. So just cut it in half (or be super lazy/time-efficient and buy it pre-chopped) and drizzle with oil and some salt and pepper. Roast at 180C for about 40 mins and set aside. Fry the onion in some oil, adding the garlic, ginger and chilli (if using) and cook for about 10 mins. Then scoop out the butternut squash and add it to the pot along with the stock. Blend it up and it's good to go.

Main: Salmon and roast vegetable quinoa

Two big superfood hitters and a load of veg - done and done. You’ll need:
120g quinoa
2 salmon fillets
A mix of veg - peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Chop the veg and put it on an oven tray with the garlic, some olive oil and salt and pepper. Put the salmon fillets on top with the lemon juice and cook in the oven at 180C for 20-30 mins. Boil the quinoa in water (add a stock cube if you’ve got one) and cook according to the packet. Once everything’s cooked, mix the veg and quinoa in a bowl and serve with the salmon fillets.

Dessert: Banana ice cream
Playing fast and loose with the term ice cream here as there's only one ingredient needed for this one and there's no prizes for guessing it (it's bananas). Slice two bananas and put in the freezer for about two hours. When you’re ready to serve - whizz these up in the blender. And that is literally it. Serve with some honey and berries on top if you want to up your five a day intake even more.

The one to cook if you’ve got no money
No money? No problem. Just get ready to go to town in the canned goods aisle.


Starter: Bean dip with pita chips
Pita chips are amazing on their own but I’m a firm believer that everything tastes better with a dip. For this one you’ll need:
400g can of butter beans (or similar)
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100ml plain yogurt

Ideally you want some kind of blender for this but if you don’t have one just use a potato masher and get some aggro out. Rinse and drain the beans, and blend with the other ingredients. Dip = done.

For the pita chips, cut up a couple of pita breads into triangles and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 10 mins at 180C. If your budget stretches to it/you can be arsed, you could also serve with some vegetable sticks and pretentiously call them crudites.


Main: Thai crab cakes 


These guys are ideal because they look and sound kind of fancy but are essentially just fish and potato mashed together. Go for canned crab meat which comes in at a mere £1.49 (Kingfisher Shredded Crab Meat, Tesco.) You'll need:
1 can crab meat (170g)
300g mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon thai curry paste
Flour, for dusting
Olive oil

Mash up the crab meat with a fork and add the potatoes and curry paste. Shape into four decent-sized fishcakes and dust with flour. If you have time, let them firm up in the fridge for an hour but it’s not essential. Then heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the fishcakes on each side for 3-4 mins. Serve with some salad leaves (the discount section is your friend) and if you fancy a dip to go with, mix four tablespoons of mayo with two of sweet chilli sauce. 



Dessert: fruity cheesecake
You guessed it - we're back to the tinned food aisle, this time for some fruit. Then raid the supermarket own-brand stuff for the rest of the ingredients and you're sorted. You'll need:
1 tin fruit - you could use peaches, pineapple, or fruit cocktail if you're feeling wild
125g digestive biscuits
75g butter
300g cream cheese
250ml cream
60g icing sugar

If you have a cake tin then make one big one, but if not you could improvise and make individual portions in bowls or glasses. Whatever you're using, crush the biscuits in a blender or with brute force and press into your cake tin/bowl to form a base. Mix the cream cheese and icing sugar, and in a separate bowl whip the cream and add to the mix. Chuck in your choice of fruit, spread the mixture on top of the base and whack in the fridge for a few hours.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

How To Continue All The Goodness You Did In #Veganuary On Into February

Another Super Easy, Under A Fiver Lunch Recipe To Make This Sunday

Here's Five New Healthy Foods That Actually Don't Taste Like Crap

Follow Izzy on Twitter @IzzyAron

Picture: Wendell 

Tags: Food Glorious Food, Valentines Day