Donal Skehan’s Valentine’s Day Menu
Donal Skehan is an Irish food writer, food photographer and television presenter living in Los Angeles, USA. Inspired by a family of passionate food lovers, cooking and eating hearty home cooked food has always been a way of life. Donal shares his passion for great food with audiences across social media, his TV shows, books and website, DonalSkehan.com.
Our friend Donal has kindly shared four of his delicious recipes with us, to help you create the perfect Valentine’s night in!
A simple method for cooking shellfish that can be adapted using whatever variation of the below ingredients you wish.
- 250g/9oz live mussels (about a handful)
- 4 tbsps butter, softened
- 6 tbsps olive oil
- A few fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 6 crab claws
- 4 scallops
- 250g/9oz clams (about a handful)
- 6 large raw prawns, unpeeled
- Sea salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Fresh parsley, to serve
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ Gas Mark 6. Place the mussels in a sink filled with cold water and scrub away any dirt or beards. Discard any mussels which are open at this point.
- Place the butter, olive oil, thyme, garlic and chilli on a plate and mash together with the back of a fork.
- Arrange the mussels and the rest of the shellfish on a large baking tray and coat with the butter mix as well as you can. Sprinkle with a little salt and lemon juice.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until all the shellfish is cooked. Discard any mussels that are still closed. Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Steak & Chips with Béarnaise Sauce
This classic recipe is one of my absolute favourites when I want to treat myself. If you ask me, this is the perfect way to cook a steak but everyone has their own preference when it comes to how they like it done. Choose the best steaks you can afford and try and make sure that they have been aged. It makes all the difference.
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 700g potatoes peeled and cut into thick chips
- 4 x 300g sirloin steaks, about 2.5cm thick
For the béarnaise sauce:
- 325g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp dry white wine
- 1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- Pinch of ground white pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- Fresh watercress sprigs, to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. In a roasting tin, add the potatoes and sunflower oil and mix well. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and pop in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes. Turn the chips halfway through the cooking time.
- Heat a large griddle pan over a high heat and massage the steaks with a little oil, then season with pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes on either side for medium rare. Remove from the pan and place on a plate. Season with salt and put under foil to rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the béarnaise sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan or in the microwave. Combine the wine, vinegar and half of the tarragon in a saucepan with the shallot and pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce until about one tablespoon of liquid remains. Strain into a liquidizer or mini blender, pushing down the tarragon leaves to extract the liquid.
- Add two teaspoons of warm water to the liquidizer together with the egg yolk and turn on the machine. Pour the hot butter into a jug and start to pour the butter very slowly on to the egg yolk mixture. As the sauce emulsifies, increase the butter flow to a thin steady stream. As the Béarnaise sauce thickens, you will notice a change in the sound of the machine. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more warm water or lemon juice to taste. Add the remaining tarragon leaves, the parsley and cayenne pepper and blend briefly. Season with salt. Keep warm in a bowl or jug set in a pan of hot but not boiling water.
- Put the rested steaks on warm plates and arrange some of the chips to the side. Garnish with the watercress sprigs and put a small dish on the warm béarnaise sauce on each one to serve.
Salted Caramel Peanut Mud Pie
This recipe is rich, sweet and darkly delicious! If you like your sweet treats gooey and chocolatey, then this is the bake for you. A rich chocolate pudding oozing with a layer of salted caramel and a crunchy topping of peanut brittle – what more could you ask for? This recipe comes from my book HomeCooked.
For the peanut brittle:
- 250g caster sugar
- 75g salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- For the salted caramel:
- 150g caster sugar
- 100ml double cream
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 75g butter, diced
For the mud pie:
- 225g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
- 125g butter, diced
- 175g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g ground almonds
- 6 large eggs, separated
- Large baking sheet
- Heavy based saucepan
- Pestle and mortar
- 20cm diameter spring-form tin
- Large heatproof bowl
- Medium saucepan
- Stand alone mixer (or use an electric hand-held mixer in a bowl)
- Wire cooling rack
- Cake stand with lip
- To make the peanut brittle, grease a large baking sheet with a little oil. Combine the sugar with 120ml of water in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat slightly and allow the mixture to simmer steadily for about 15 minutes, without stirring, until a golden caramel forms.
- Swirl the pan to encourage the sugar to caramelise. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the peanuts. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and allow to set for 30 minutes. Break up the brittle and bash in a pestle and mortar to a rough crumb. Wash and dry the saucepan ready for the salted caramel.
TOP TIP – If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, pop the brittle into a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin.
- To make the salted caramel, this time combine the sugar with 50ml of water in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat slightly and cook the caramel as for the peanut brittle, making sure not to disturb it until the caramel has formed.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream and salt and mix through. Don’t panic when it bubbles and spits, return the pan to a low heat and the sugar crystals will re-melt. Add the butter and mix through to form a smooth caramel.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a 20cm diameter spring-form tin with baking parchment. For the mud pie, melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and mix in the sugar, vanilla extract and ground almonds with a spatula. Stir through the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing after each addition, until you have a thick batter.
- Put the egg whites in a standing food mixer (or use an electric hand-held mixer in a bowl) and whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the egg whites to the chocolate batter and fold through gently until just combined.
- Pour two-thirds of the chocolate batter into the prepared cake tin. Using a spoon, pour over the caramel in an even layer, then cover with the remaining batter and place the tin in the oven to bake for about 35 minutes until it is firm but with a slight wobble.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to sit on a wire rack to cool in its tin. Carefully remove the mud pie from the tin and transfer it to a cake stand with a lip to catch the caramel as it oozes out while still a little warm. Sprinkle with the peanut brittle and serve in generous slices.
Iced Fire Ginger Cocktail
This is a fantastic little fiery cocktail perfect for outdoor slurping in the summer but is great all year long! Feel free to play around with the balance of flavours here, adding more ginger if you prefer a numbing heat, or more mint if you require a cooler menthol taste!
Makes enough syrup for 8 cocktails:
- 200g caster sugar
- 200ml water
- 100g of peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 20g fresh mint leaves
- Dissolve the caster sugar and water together in a pot over a low heat. Add the chopped ginger and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir through the fresh mint and allow to cool.
- Set aside to steep for at least 2 hours. Strain off the ginger mint syrup and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Serve over crushed ice with a sliver of stem ginger, 1 part whiskey and 2 parts ginger mint syrup.