Romantic Valentine’s Dinner Recipe

February 14, 2014

Posted by

Are you looking for the perfect Valentine’s treat that won’t break the bank? How about a special home-cooked meal with a little bit of help from one of Northern Ireland’s top chefs. Try out our special menu this Valentine’s from James Street South. Using local produce, this yummy menu is sure to impress your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

Valentines is an excuse to lavish treats on those we love and chef Niall McKenna, who is behind some of Belfast’s most loved eateries – James Street South, The Bar + Grill and Hadskis, certainly loves his locally sourced seasonal produce.

So if you chose not to go out tonight, or couldn’t get that sought after reservation, you can be truly romantic at home with some simple cooking and a good bottle of wine. So, follow these recipes from Niall to sweeten up your Valentine.



 Oyster Gratin 

Crab and Chilli Linguine 

Salt Carmel and Chocolate Tart

 STARTER – Oyster gratin (serves 2)

Buy your oysters from your local fishmonger or pop into St George’s Market today and you will be able to pick these up. For two people 6-8 would suffice.

To open the oyster lay it between a folded cloth on a flat surface with the flatter part of the shell on top, hold tightly. With an oyster knife or small sharp knife place the point into the hinge of the shell and wiggle to prise open. Slice the muscle detaching the oyster from the shell and place the juice to the side in a bowl. Wash shells vigorously and run oyster under cold water.


Ingredients for the gratin mix:

  • 225g butter
  • 2 tbsp malt or white wine vinegar
  • 6 white peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt
  • Good pinch of paprika
  • 20g dill (remove stalk, finely chopped)
  • Whipped cream
  • 50g guyure cheese (finely grated)



Melt the butter in the pan; leave it to cool slightly, if it’s too hot the sauce will curdle. Don’t use the solids which form at the bottom of the pan, these can be discarded, only use the clarified butter.

Boil the vinegar with the peppercorns, add in oyster juice and reduce by half. Add the cold
water to cool and drain through a sieve. Then add the egg yolks and whisk together.

Next, place the bowl over a pot of hot water and whisk to smooth ribbon texture, once
reached this stage remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk, slowly adding
the warm clarified butter. When all the butter is added and whisked-in the sauce should
be a thick consistency which can now be seasoned with salt, paprika and chopped dill.

Place the oyster back in its shell cover with the mix; add in one teaspoon of whipped cream and handful of grated cheese. Place under grill until golden brown and serve.


MAIN – Crab and Chilli Linguine (serves 1)


  • Pasta
  • v 500g ‘00’ Flour
  • v 3 whole eggs
  • v 6 egg yolks
  • v 2 tsp olive oil
  • v 2 tsp milk
  • v 1 pinch saffron
  • v 2g salt

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 2 chillis
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablesp white wine vinegar
  • 200ml cream
  • 100g white crab meat
  • 100g parmesan
  • Lemon


Sieve flour and salt onto a clean work surface. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl. Make a well
in the middle of the flour and slowly knead in wet ingredients until smooth and pliable. Rest
in fridge for 1 hour. Roll out on a pasta machine until you reach number 1 setting.

For the crab and chilli, wash, slice and deseed the chilli and finely chop. Place in pan with oil
and fry, finely chop the garlic and add. Add in the white wine and white wine vinegar and reduce
by half. Add cream and crab meat and mix with the pasta and stir together. Add in the parmesan
and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Chef Niall McKenna’s tip:

“I always make my pasta by hand, especially when making tortellini, as the dough is much more pliable.”

DESSERT – Salt Carmel and Chocolate Tart

Ingredients for the Salt Carmel:

•             22g glucose

•             135g sugar

•             75g cream

•             Half tsp rock salt

•             12g diced butter



Bring sugar and glucose to a dark caramel, whisk in cream and salt then whisk in the butter.


Ingredients for the Chocolate Ganache:

•             225g chocolate

•             250g cream

•             Half tsp honey



Bring cream to the boil and add in the chocolate and honey. Then mix this into the caramel
and strain.

Pour 1 tbsp of caramel into each pastry case then mix with the chocolate. When the caramel
has set pour in the mixed caramel and chocolate ganache on top and leave to set.


Ingredients for the Espresso Ice-cream

•             55o ml milk

•             550 ml cream

•             287 g  caster

•             287 g egg yolk

•             2 shots of espresso



Bring to the boil milk and cream and half the sugar. Whisk the sugar and yolks together, then pour in the boiling milk mix onto the egg and sugar, pour back into a clean pan and stir with a wooden spoon to 83 degrees c, pour in the espresso and strain.

Leave to cool and then churn

If you’re looking for some more romantic inspiration you’ll find lots of suggestions & special places to visit this Valentine’s day here:


When it comes to walking, there are few who love it more than man’s best friend. With its wide open spaces, excellent walking options...

Read More »

Now that the sun has finally arrived, we’ve put together our top 11 things to do on a sunny day in Northern Ireland...

Read More »

We all know that Northern Ireland's fertile landscapes provide us with all sorts of delicious food and drink. But what's even better is that...

Read More »

Leave a comment

Thanks! your comment is currently being moderated.