Believe it or not, these were precisely the words I used the night I first met my wife. All delivered in the deep, dulcet tones of Barry White. She was putty in my hands and what can I say, the rest is history.............
Actually no that's a load of rubbish. When we first met we spent most of the night sitting under a table in a dodgy nightclub in Romford because the music was too loud. It was just talk and tentative kisses to begin with. And she made me sit on my hands for at least three dates after that. The cow.
So what's the reason for the rambling, freaky naughty monologue at the start of this post? 'Been listening to a lot of early Prince lately?' I hear you ask. Well yes I have. I have been trying to get myself into the groove you see and for the last few days combinations of food and lovin' have weighed heavily on my mind. Purveyors of fine food, Forman and Field have been running a competition via their blog to see who can come up with the perfect Valentine's Day recipe using produce from their delicious looking range. And so I threw my name in the hat. Now to be totally frank here, I find the whole concept of Valentine's Day to be a commercial crock of shit. This cynicism is borne out of too many years waiting desperately and tearfully at the letterbox in my early teens. Too many nights getting shoehorned into crowded restaurants where suddenly covers leap from 30 to 100 for crappy, if not sappy overpriced meals. Oh and one day trip to Milton Keynes. Believe me, one day is too much and if you want to kill the prospect of love in it's early stages, then go on a Valentine's date to Milton Keynes. The row I had on the train back was spectacular. However, I am still a romantic at heart and also the prospect of receiving a box of goodies from Forman and Field was far too enticing. I must admit, when I opened the polystyrene container and peered in after it arrived, I certainly felt a deep thud within my chest and a rush of blood to my nether regions. But what was in it? Well there was......... cue 'Je t'aime'
Forman's Royal Fillet....... je t'aime
Garlic Marinated Anchovies......oh, oui je t'aime!
Kirkham's Lancashire Cheese.......moi non plus
Forman's Brandied Cherries......oh, mon amour
Regent's Park Honey......je vais et je viens
Plantation Cottage Tarragon Jelly......entre tes reins
Moniack Castle Horseradish Sauce......infirmière!
I would say that on the face of it, it was a fairly random selection of goods to put together but each item was very sexy nevertheless. And it wasn't clear from the rules of engagement for the competition whether we had to use all of the ingredients or whether could get away with using just some of them. But as I am not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to use them all and create a menu de l'amour for Mrs FU and I to enjoy on Saturday night which went as follows:
As anchoïade is basically pulped anchovy with garlic and vinegar, the starter didn't amount to that much work. With the flavourings already in the marinade, all I had to do was grind it down with my pestle and mortar, add some pepper and a little bit more olive oil. Along with the capers in the salad, this plate certainly had a kick and was perhaps a little too astringent as my sweating head testified but it was a fresh summery dish nonetheless. By using salmon, honey, lemon and horseradish for the main course, I was trying combine the taste senses of salt, sweet, sour and er hot (sort of bitter eh?) and they all worked really well together. The salmon alone was sublime. However, the genius of lump-free mash eluded me on this occasion despite the fact that I baked the potatoes this time rather than using boiled ones but it mattered not. The 'Luuuuurve Trifle' was the greatest success. Keeping things neat and tidy in wine glasses, I constructed a dessert using Amaretti biscuits, boozy cherries in jellied brandy and blood orange juice, custard and topped tarragon flavoured whipped cream and it was lush. Having made some enquiries on t'internet, I was pleased to discover that the subtle aniseed flavour of the tarragon does actually work in a sweet dish and married up well with the slightly almond cherries. So this will be the recipe that I shall submit for the Forman and Field challenge. The Kirkham's Lancashire cheese was supposed to be served up with some water biscuits and port but we were well sated by this point and just wanted to retire for the evening. But I did serve it up melted on heart shaped toast a la rarebit in the morning for Mrs FU though. Gerard Depardieu has nothing on me, nothing.
Overall and as a precursor to the main event in a couple of weeks time, the whole meal worked really well. Largely because of the top quality ingredients and also because it was fairly spontaneous and last minute. And that's usually when things work out best. Whenever we book ourselves up for a romantic meal these days, either at home or out at a restaurant, sans children, there is a tendency to over-egg the pudding. Especially with the old vino which leads to tiredness and sometimes a visit from Jello Biafra. But not in this case!
I hope I was suitably vague with those last couple of sentences. Ahem.So all that is left for me is to say thanks to Forman and Field for supplying the treasure trove of aphrodisiacs and good luck to the other competitors. And by good luck, I mean good luck *wink wink*.
The 'Luuuuurve Trifle'
serves 2 horny devils
for the base
4 Amaretti biscuits
for the jelly
20 boozy cherries (from Forman and Fields brandied cherries)
100 ml of the reserved brandy/cherry liquor
Juice of 2 blood oranges
Shot of cherry vodka (optional - we had some homemade stuff kicking around in the cupboard)
2 sheets of gelatine
for the custard
150 ml full fat milk
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp caster sugar
A couple of drops of vanilla essence.
1 sheet of gelatine
for the whipped cream
100 ml double cream
2 tsps tarragon jelly
Take two large wine glasses or any other suitable vessel and place 2 Amaretti biscuits in each one.
Stone and half the cherries and place in a pan along with brandy and juice from blood oranges (and optional shot of vodka) and gently warm through on the hob. Meanwhile soak two sheets of gelatine in a bowl of water and after 5 minutes take back out, squeezing off any excess water. Take pan off the heat and stir through gelatine until dissolved. Pour in the mixture up to roughly two thirds of each glass. Leave to cool and then place in the fridge for an hour or so to set.
Heat the milk in another pan, bringing slowly to boiling point, then take back off and leave to cool slightly. Beat the egg yolk in a bowl with the sugar and vanilla essence and then pour the milk onto the yolk mixture, continually stirring whilst doing do. Place the pan back on a gentle heat and stir for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain into a bowl. Again soak one sheet of gelatine in some water, squeezing off the excess and stir through custard until dissolved. Again, leave to cool and then pour onto set jelly up to about 1-2cm further up the glass. Place back in the fridge to set custard.
Just before serving combine the double cream and tarragon jelly in a bowl and whip till nice and stiff (oo-er). Pipe the cream around in a swirly pattern on top of the custard if you feel so inclined or simply spoon a splodge into each glass. Top each trifle with a whole boozy cherry.
Having seen some of the other very impressive entries that have been posted today, Can be Bribed With Food, Meemalee's Kitchen , How Not To Do A Food Blog and The Grubworm so far (I'll add the others later), I am reminded that there is in fact a Forman and Field Hamper worth 60 squid up for grabs! Doh! How could I forget?!
So in order for the chance to win a hamper of fine goodies all you have to do is leave a comment with email details on this post describing your perfect Valentines meal or recipe. The winning comment will be drawn by random and should entered by Feb 10th.