Recipe: a home-cooked meal perfect for Valentine’s

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By Themis Chryssidis and Callum Hann

This recipe is aimed fair and square at anyone who doesn’t lift their weight in the kitchen!

Sometimes the best way to show appreciation is by taking time out of your busy schedule to help out around the house or prepare a nourishing meal. It’s not actually about the food on the plate. It’s about the effort, the time and the recognition. Sometimes you don’t even need words, just a warm meal.

Valentine’s Day is about love, indulgence and appreciation. But that doesn’t mean three courses of chocolate matched to champagne – it’s about spending time with that one special person and making them feel loved and important.

Research shows that people who cook at home have a healthier diet with less sugar, salt and saturated fat and they have more intense positive feelings, and worry less compared to those who dine out more frequently.

Our oysters with gin and dill vinaigrette and our duck breast with fig, blue cheese and roasted shallots and carrots is the perfect Valentine’s Day meal: a little indulgent, something different and a meal that says, “I took the time” (without taking too much time), perfect for a weeknight treat.

So this February 14, spend the night in with a bottle of Adelaide Hills bubbles, some Coffin Bay oysters and pan roasted duck breast. Now that sounds like a perfect match to us.

Coffin Bay Oysters + Adelaide Hills Wine = perfect match

Oysters with gin and dill vinaigrette
Serves 2

Ingredients

2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped, plus extra sprigs to serve
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of a lime
1/4 cucumber, seeds removed and grated
2 tablespoons gin
1 dozen freshly shucked oysters in the half shell
1 cup rock salt, for serving
1/2 bunch dill
1 lime, halved, to serve

Method:

1. To make the vinaigrette, place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. This step can be done a day in advance, just ensure the mixture is whisked together again just before serving.

2. Spread the rock salt onto the serving plate, and arrange the oysters on top. Spoon over of the vinaigrette. Garnish with a sprig of dill and lime.

Round up the ingredients for duck, fig and pecan salad

Duck, fig and pecan salad
Serves 2

1 duck breast
1 bunch baby carrots, halved lengthways
2 shallots, quartered
1/2 small radicchio, shredded
2 cups rocket
3 figs, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
60g blue cheese (optional)
½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Basil sauce:
1 bunch basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch salt

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Place duck skin side down in a dry frying pan over medium heat with the carrots and shallots. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the duck has rendered and skin turns golden and crisp. Turn the duck and vegetables over, then transfer to the oven for 3-4 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Remove duck from the pan, allow to rest for 2-3 minutes then slice thickly.

2. Meanwhile, place all basil sauce into a small food processor and blend until smooth.

3. Combine radicchio, rocket, and figs in a large bowl with the remaining oil and vinegar. Divide between two serving plates. Add the duck, carrots and shallots. Crumble over blue cheese (if using) and pecans. Serve with the basil sauce.

PHOTO: James Knowler / JK+Crew

Themis is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and managing director of Sprout. He loves good food, great wine and sharing these with friends and family.  He is passionate about food and health and helping others to understand how these can be enjoyed together!

Callum, a cook and author, founded and operates Sprout with Themis. He draws his inspiration from the seasons and using the best possible local produce. He loves to show people how easy it can be to create quick, delicious and healthy meals.

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