10 top tips for a stress-free Valentine’s Day dinner

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 February 2018

Chocolate Crème Brulee for dessert

Chocolate Crème Brulee for dessert

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Lisa Bennison, a senior tutor at Bettys Cookery School, Harrogate shares her foodie advice to leave you with more time for romance.

Lisa Bennison, a senior tutor at Bettys Cookery School, HarrogateLisa Bennison, a senior tutor at Bettys Cookery School, Harrogate

1. Plan in advance. One of the most romantic things you can do is cook a meal for your loved one. It doesn’t have to be stressful; it’s all in the timing. Choose a meal that allows you to do some preparation ahead of time, so you’re not dashing between the kitchen and the table and you’ve got time to concentrate on your date.

2. Consider your guest. Make sure and check if your date has any dietary restrictions or preferences. You might like to think about the impact of certain ingredients too – it might be best to avoid too much garlic, too much chilli, or in fact too much of anything!

3. Find a suitable recipe. There are plenty online for people with all levels of cooking skill. Be realistic about what you can achieve, considering the time you will have available. Practice! This is not the time for first time recipes. Some of the best dishes are the simplest ones. Visit Bettys Cookery School website for some easy-to-follow and delicious dishes bettyscookeryschool.co.uk

4. Research your ingredients. We’re lucky in Yorkshire to be surrounded by wonderful suppliers and growers. The tastiest dishes are made with the tastiest ingredients so a little bit of research goes a long way in creating a great meal. Choose your main course first – this is your hero piece and the rest of the menu will follow.

5. Marry your flavours. Make sure you’ve devised a dish with flavours that work well together and if you’re not sure how best to marry flavours, go classical – pork with apples, beef and red wine, ham and mustard.

6. Don’t forget presentation. How will things look on the plate together? Think about textures and colours. If you have a firm potato element – say roast potatoes or chips – then serve with a soft veg like pureed spinach. Try to make sure not everything on the plate is beige!

7. Dessert doesn’t have to be difficult. Don’t put pressure on yourself for a perfectly-timed chocolate fondant pudding. Crème brulee or sorbet offer a light finish to a meal and can be made in advance.

8. Get cooking. Make sure you’ve got everything you’re going to need to hand. Carefully read the recipes all the way through and make sure you have all the right equipment. Try to keep your workspace neat and organised – it will help you feel like you’re in control. An empty dishwasher means you can clear away mess easily.

9. Create the scene. Music, candles and champagne might help to create a romantic atmosphere but the most important thing is that you’re comfortable and able to relax.

10. Enjoy yourself. If you take on board all these tips it will be hard for things to go very wrong, but don’t worry too much about sinking soufflés or soggy bottoms! This is, after all, about spending time with someone special and they’re bound to appreciate the effort you’ve made.

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