A Valentine’s Menu The Portuguese Way

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Valentines Menu

This Valentine’s Day, whether spending it with your sweetheart, entire family, friends or your parents, love is the only ingredient required.

Starter:

Portuguese Cupped Oysters

Cupped Oysters
Cupped Oysters

Oysters are considered a powerful aphrodisiac, which makes them especially appropriate for Valentine’s Day.

INGREDIENTS

    • 12 Portuguese cupped oysters

SAUCE:

    • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
    • red Thai chillies, seeded and roughly chopped
    • 3 tsp sugar
    • 60ml nuoc mam (fish sauce)
    • 10 fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
    • juice from 1 lime

FOR SERVING

  • crushed ice
  • lemon or lime wedges

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the sauce: combine all the ingredients except the mint in a bowl. Leave to mature for 1-2 hours or overnight in the fridge. Just before serving, stir in the mint leaves. Fill an oyster plateau or a large deep dish with crushed ice To open the oysters: Find a durable, thick cloth and fold it over several times to create a square; this will steady the oysters as you shuck them and also protect your hand. Using the towel as a mitt, hold the oyster firmly on a flat surface. Insert the tip of your oyster knife between the shell halves, and work it around 1 side to the other as you pry it open. Use the knife to cut the muscles away from the top, flat shell, bend the shell back, and discard it. Run the knife underneath the oyster to detach it completely, but leave it in its shell (take care not to cut the meat itself). Remove any pieces of shell in the oysters.

Final preparations
Arrange the oysters on top of the crushed ice, garnish with lemon or lime wedges and serve the sauce in a small bowl on the side.

Main:

Veal Escalope with Madeira Sauce, Asparagus and Chorizo

Veal and Madeira Sauce
Veal and Madeira Sauce

The Madeira sauce and the chorizo add Portuguese flavours to this dish. The sauce takes a little time but is well worth the effort.

INGREDIENTS

    • 2x150g veal escalope
    • 100g Portuguese chorizo, diced
    • 100g green asparagus, hard ends removed
    • lemon
    • 2 tbsp olive oil

SAUCE

  • 200ml veal stock
  • red onion, diced
  • small carrot, diced
  • 10 fresh rosemary leaves
  • bay leaf
  • 1 pinch thyme
  • 500ml Portuguese red wine
  • 50ml sweet Madeira wine
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tsp corn starch, dissolved in a little wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the sauce: In a saucepan, brown the vegetables in the olive oil until golden. Add the sugar and continue to roast until the sugar caramelizes, add 4 dl of the red wine and the spices, boil on high heat until the red wine has evaporated. Add the veal stock and continue to boil until most of the stock has evaporated, add the remaining red wine and the Madeira wine, cook for a couple of minutes and then strain through a fine sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to get out as much as possible of the sauce. Return to the boil, season with salt and pepper. The sauce should be thick enough but if not, add cornstarch a little bit at a time until you get the desired thickness. To make the asparagus: Cut the asparagus lengthwise. Fry the diced chorizo on low heat until crispy and transfer to a paper cloth to drain. Heat a sauteuse with 1 tbsp of olive oil, sauté the asparagus until they start to colour, add 2 tbsp of water and the juice from 1/2 lemon and season with salt and pepper. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the asparagus starts to fry again. Add the chorizo, toss and keep it warm on the side. Heat a grill pan until very hot and season the veal with salt and pepper. Place the meat in the pan and grill for 1 minute, rotate the meat 45° and grill for another minute or until the juices start to surface. Turn the meat and repeat.

Final preparations
Arrange the meat on the plate, drizzle a little sauce around and place a bunch of asparagus in top. Serve immediately.

 DESSERT:

Meringue Hearts with Vanilla Pears, Passion fruit and Raspberry Coulis

Meringue Hearts
Meringue Hearts

This is a beautiful mix of textures that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

INGREDIENTS

For the meringue

    • 2 egg whites
    • 100ml caster sugar
    • 5 drops lemon juice

For the Pears

    • 2 Williams pears, peeled and cored
    • vanilla bean
    • 50ml sugar

For the raspberry coulis

    • 50g frozen raspberries, defrosted
    • 2 tbsp sugar

For garnish

  • passion fruits
  • 100ml whipping cream, beaten

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the vanilla pears: Cut the pears in half and place in a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the pears, together with the pod. Add the sugar and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the pears are soft. Leave to cool in the syrup. The pears will aftercook, so take care not to overcook. To make the raspberry coulis: Put the raspberries and the sugar in a blender and mix until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. To make the meringue: Make sure you have an absolutely clean metal or glass bowl – any traces of fat or egg yolk will ruin the meringue. Separate the eggs, making sure no egg yolk gets into the whites. If it does, you have to start over. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs together with the lemon juice until peaks form when you lift the beaters. Continue beating while adding the sugar a little at a time. When all the sugar has been added, continue beating until creamy and stiff. Transfer the egg whites to a piping bag and squeeze out two heart-shaped meringues on a piece of greased and floured greaseproof paper.

Cooking with regular oven
Bake at 90°C for 180 minutes

Final preparations
Place the meringue hearts on 2 plates and spread out the cream in the centre. Slice the pears lengthwise, thinly, and arrange on top of the cream. Spoon the passion fruit over the pears. Make drops of raspberry coulis around the plate and pull the base of a matchstick through the drops to draw small hearts.

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