Home is Where the Heart Is

Valentine’s Day – a highlight in a true romantic’s calendar, but let us not forget it is also a great excuse to show friends how much we care for them. Whether it’s Valentine’s or Galentine’s you are celebrating, keep reading!

Let's be honest, Valentine’s Day comes with pressure. Pressure to find the perfect present and delight your significant other, plus get a reservation at the best restaurant - okay, strictly speaking, this last one is pre-2020 specific, I was just reminiscing for a moment!

I’m not saying I would not love to go somewhere and have a day off from cooking and washing up, leaving me to simply enjoy the food and the company. I know I am not alone in this feeling. The thrill of experiencing new restaurants, trying new dishes, people watching and, above all, ordering dishes we would not cook ourselves is sorely missed. But maybe spending Cupid’s Day at home this year will take some pressure off whilst still being just as, if not, more fun. After all, I like so many others have been finding pleasure in doing things differently the last twelve months and having a low-key celebration making it about friendship definitely has my vote.

So, although dining out at beautiful restaurants feels like a distant memory, I am determined to bring my own special touch to spending Valentine’s Day at-home this year and have planned how to re-create some of the familiarity of the dining-out experience in your home.

Sisley’s top tasty Valentines treats

All available to shop online at Elys

Make it a movie night. Pick your favourite rom-com or click flick movie, grab a blanket and indulge in a little taste of heaven. Warning: these might be too yummy to share with your loved one or bestie!

Charbonnel et Walker Pink Marc de Champagne Chocolate Truffles

Charbonnel et Walker Marc de Champagne Truffles

Champagne truffles… need I say more?

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The Chocolate Gift Company Partners in Crime Gift Tin

The Chocolate Gift Company Tin

I love this gift tin as it makes for the perfect treat for sweet tooth lovers - cute enough for your best friend’s girlie hamper and a variety of confectionery to suit the whole family. A great gift to give to share this Valentine’s Day.

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‘Best Friend’ Personalised Toblerone

Best Friend Toblerone

Toblerone is a great gift no matter what time of year, but for Valentine’s Day I’m ordering a few of these bars to be delivered to friends to show I am thinking of them whilst we’re far apart. I’m hoping it will add a little joy to their days.

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4 ways to make it feel like youre visiting a restaurant while at home

In the hunt for mood-boosting activities during lockdown and in these difficult times I have been thinking about ideas to make our Valentine’s Day meal more special and have landed on recreating the restaurant atmosphere at home. Why don’t you try some of these things too?

  1.  Don’t spend all day in the kitchen
Order food in or have something that can be prepared in advance and brought out when you’re ready to eat. To give the sense of food arriving and to not get flustered in the kitchen, this is my best tip for Valentine's Day. I will be making full use of my slow cooker to get something cooking early during the day that we can enjoy later. I’m thinking of an easy dish combining pasta and sauce which is easy to serve. This will help us have some quality time together without having to be hands-on in the kitchen right before we eat.

 

  1. Make a new dining area

As a bit of fun, we have decided to assemble a little table in the corner of a room away from the normal kitchen table to give the feeling of being awkwardly packed in, as you would be at restaurants on big holidays (the good old days!). We have also opted for a smaller table because I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like tables in restaurants are always smaller than would be useful. This is just a little bit of fun to make another event at home different from the rest of the days. I look forward to the challenge of seeing how many dishes we can cram onto the table alongside the cutlery, glassware and condiments!

  1. Mimic Restaurant Sounds

Spotify, YouTube, and a host of other places online have restaurant and café sounds that you can have playing in the background. This makes me laugh so much and I love the idea of recreating a restaurant feel at home with real sounds. From the background chitter chatter of other diners, champagne bottles popping and the guaranteed smash of a glass at another table, it’s a quirky idea and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  

  1. Dress up

I have not put on my glad rags for so long! They need an opportunity to be worn and loved again. Sorry loungewear but you need a night off. I’ve got my gorgeous big knit jumper and satin green skirt I bought in Elys before Christmas to wear. It’s comfy but also a bit sparkly and feels special. I’ve been reading fellow Elys Tastemaker and Personal Stylist Helen Canning’s post on How to Live a Stylish Lockdown Life and I loved her idea of dressing up for the Kitchen Disco. So this has inspired getting dressed up for the evening.

What’s on the menu? Onto the main event - the food

No matter if you are having a romantic Valentine’s Day with your loved one or a Zoom evening with friends, you will need a drink and something sweet to nibble – it’s simply essential. I have created an easy strawberry bite size tart which goes so well with a fruity raspberry and orange fizz. The chocolate truffle nestled in the flaky short crust pastry, pairs well with the juicy strawberry and the sharpness of the passionfruit. On reflection, they might be a little bit bigger than bite size, but I don’t think anyone will mind a slightly bigger treat!

Bite size Strawberry Chocolate Tarts

Sisley White's Bite Size Strawberry Tarts

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 packet pre rolled short crust pastry (approximately 350g)
  • A little plain flour for dusting
  • 100 grams plain chocolate
  • 50 grams milk chocolate
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 300 grams Strawberries
  • 2 passion fruits

METHOD

  1. Remove the short crust pastry from the fridge and leave to warm up to room temperature
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan
  3. On a lightly floured surface, lay out the pastry and roll to make it a little thinner
  4. Cut the pastry into squares. Aim for approximately 6cm square, but it doesn’t need to be perfect
  5. Lightly dust cupcake tins with flour and place the squares inside to make a case. Add a piece of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and a tablespoon of rice or ceramic baking beans to help the pastry keep its shape whilst it’s cooking
  6. Pop the pastry into the oven for 5 minutes, then remove the greaseproof paper and ceramic baking beans. Bake for another 5-8 minutes until golden brown
  7. Once cooked remove the pastry from the cupcake tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack
  8. Break up the chocolate and add it to a mixing bowl along with the tablespoon of butter
  9. In a pan, heat the cream on a low/medium heat until it starts to lightly bubble. Keep your eye on it
  10. Pour over the chocolate and leave to melt for a few minutes and then stir together
  11. Spoon the chocolate mix into the pastry cases and pop them into the fridge to set
  12. Once set, remove them from the fridge and store them somewhere cool
  13. When you’re ready to serve them top them with a strawberry and drizzle over a little passion fruit

    Sisley's Strawberry and Chocolate Tarts for Valentine's Day

    Raspberry Orange Fizz

    Sisley White's Raspberry Orange Fizz

    INGREDIENTS

    • 12ml Raspberry Liquor
    • 25ml triple sec
    • Fresh Raspberries
    • Prosecco or Champagne

    METHOD

    1. Pour the raspberry liquor and triple sec into the Champagne glass
    2. Add a few fresh raspberries
    3. Top up with Prosecco or Champagne

     Sisley's Raspberry Orange Fizz for Valentine's Day

    What you will need from Elys Cooking and Baking range to make these recipes

    Prestige Cupcake Baking Tray

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    Prestige Cupcake Baking Tray

    LSA Dusk Champagne Glasses - Set of Two

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     LSA Dusk Champagne Glasses

     Mary Berry Signature Serving Platter

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     Mary Berry Signature Serving Platter