Speedy Suppers: Baked cheese with honey and thyme
Personally, I prefer to get given flowers on a random rainy Tuesday rather than via the structured and organised romance of Valentine's Day.
In saying that, February 14 doesn't go by unnoticed in my house, where we celebrate through cooking.
Whether it's breakfast in bed (I like to cut slices of toast into heart shapes, just for the craic) or a cosy dinner in front of the fire, one can't grumble too much about a day that encourages people to be especially sweet to the ones they love.
If you're flying solo on Valentine's Day, our beautiful duck salad recipe is easily halved and makes a truly beautiful treat for one.
As for the baked cheese, well, who wants to share a delicious wheel of cheese anyway?
Ummera Smoked Silver Hill Duck is, in my opinion, one of the best culinary collaborations in the country. Some of the Silver Hill ducks reared in Co Monaghan are sent down to the Ummera Smokehouse in Co Cork, and the result is a duck breast that is smoky, silky and tender, ready to be sliced to add a touch of luxury to your dinner. You'll find it in all good specialist food stores and you can find out more at www.ummera.com.
1 Ummera Smoked Silver Hill duck breast
Mixed green leaves (enough for 2 people)
Half a pomegranate
50g of feta cheese
2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 Thinly slice the smoked duck breast.
2 Divide your green leaves between two bowls.
3 Crumble the feta cheese over the top of the two salads.
4 Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. The juice stains quite ferociously so handle them with care. Scatter the pomegranate seeds over the salads.
5 Lay the duck breast on top of the salads. If you can't find smoked duck, this also works beautifully with slices of fresh duck breast, simply pan fried.
6 Drizzle with the thick pomegranate molasses, before drizzling with a touch of olive oil. Then just sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy.
Baked Cheese with Honey & Thyme
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
You can pick up a wheel of your favourite Camembert for this, but if you're trying to keep it Irish, try Tipperary's Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese (www.cooleeney.com). This is a wonderful treat to curl up in front of the fire with. Totally indulgent without any of the fuss.
1 wheel of Camembert-style cheese
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 tablespoon of honey honey
A chunk of crusty bread
1 Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/180°C/gas mark 6.
2 Take the cheese out of its wooden box. Remove the packaging and return the wheel to the bottom half of its wooden box. Carefully remove part of the top rind of the cheese - this will help the cheese melt. If your cheese doesn't come with its own wooden box, just place it on a piece of baking paper on a baking tray and then into the oven.
3 Bake the cheese in the oven for 15 minutes, or until it is gooey and well melted.
4 Remove the cheese from the oven. Pick a few leaves from a sprig of thyme and scatter over the cheese. Drizzle with honey.
5 Serve hot, with plenty of crusty bread on the side for dipping into the cheese.