Friday 13 December 2019

Catherine Fulvio's top tips to create the perfect Valentine's meal at home

Catherine Fulvio from Ballyknocken Cookery School has devised the perfect romantic Valentine's meal to serve next weekend

Prawn and scallop skewers with chorizo lemon drizzle on a potato tower
Prawn and scallop skewers with chorizo lemon drizzle on a potato tower
Catherine Fulvio

It comes as no surprise really that I am a big believer of staying at home and cooking a cosy meal on Valentine's Day. This year it falls on a Sunday allowing lots of time for a romantic walk followed by an intimate meal for two.

Every year here at Ballyknocken, couples enjoy an escape from day-to-day routine with a romantic weekend break enjoying the great outdoors and good food. Some also sign up for cookery classes together - that's romance! This year, why not create that special romantic meal in the comfort of your own home? I suggest getting ahead with an intimate table setting done in the morning and then follow these delicious recipes, a lot of which can be prepped in advance.

Why not enjoy some fruits of the sea? I've chosen prawns and scallops with chorizo for extra flavour, which I think is a real "treat" dish - the kind we usually only order when dining out. For dessert I've created a wonderfully gooey chocolate mousse cake topped with raspberries and edible flowers - as pleasing to the palate as they are to the eye. Buon appetito!

This dish has all the qualities of a restaurant main course but is surprisingly easy to prepare at home. The drizzle, tomato sauce and the skewers can all be prepared in advance, to make it easy on the evening.

Prawn and scallop skewers with chorizo lemon drizzle on a potato tower

Makes 4 skewers

You will need

For the tower 3 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Rapeseed oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400g diced tinned tomatoes

3 small sprigs rosemary

½ tsp honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

For the drizzle: 50g chorizo, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 lemon, juice and zest

2 tsp dill, chopped

For the skewers:

8 scallops

8 to 10 bay leaves (optional)

16 raw prawns

1 lemon, sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, to garnish

Dill sprigs, to garnish

4 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour


Begin by soaking the skewers in water. To prepare the potatoes, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Place the potato slices on a roasting tray, drizzle with oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss well. Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and cooked on both sides.

Heat a saucepan with a little oil, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes. Add the rosemary, honey, salt and freshly ground black pepper and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the balsamic vinegar and check the seasoning.

To make the drizzle, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the diced chorizo and sauté until most of the oil is extracted and the chorizo is crispy. Spoon the oil off, leaving a little in the pan, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and zest and the rapeseed oil. Stir in the dill and set aside.

To assemble the skewers, thread the scallops, bay leaves, prawns and lemon slices on to the soaked skewers.

Heat a chargrill pan over a medium heat and brush the skewers with oil. Chargrill for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until the prawns and scallops are cooked, drizzle sauce over the top and season with freshly ground black pepper. To serve, layer up the potatoes and tomato sauce and arrange the skewers on the top. Spoon over more drizzle, garnish with dill and serve with lemon wedges.

Tip: You will have some tomato sauce mixture left over, so enjoy it the following day with some fresh pasta and crumbled feta cheese.

Individual chocolate and raspberry mousse cakes

Moreish! That’s the only description that this dessert needs. The raspberries sink a little to form a sharp fruity layer surrounded by rich, gooey chocolate mousse. Heaven on a plate…

Makes 2 small cakes, or you may want to share

You will need

4 tbsp ground almonds

70g chocolate drops

50g butter, plus extra melted to grease tin

1 tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)

2 eggs

3 tbsp golden caster sugar

100g raspberries, divide into half

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Edible flowers, to garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. 

Line the bases of 2 x 8cm mini springform tins with parchment and brush the sides with melted butter and dust with ground almonds.

Place the chocolate drops and butter into a bain marie (ceramic bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) and leave to melt. Remove from the heat to cool slightly. Add the Grand Marnier if you are using it.

Place the eggs and sugar into a bowl and using an electric mixer, whisk for about 3 to 4 minutes until pale and light.

Fold the melted chocolate mix and ground almonds into the egg mixture and then pour half the mixture into the 2 prepared springform tins. Sprinkle over half the raspberries and then fill with the rest of the mixture and spread evenly.  

Bake for about 16 to 18 minutes until almost set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tins before removing. The top will be uneven and the cakes will sink a little. Using a knife loosen the edges of the mousse cakes and unclip the tins. Slide onto serving plates.   

Dust with cocoa powder and decorate with the rest of the raspberries and edible flowers.

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