IF you’ve left it too late to book in somewhere for Valentine’s Day – or if you are looking to impress with your culinary skills, this couple of classics should tick all the boxes; just add a bottle of your "fizz of choice" and await the applause (hopefully, two lots of applause).

The pairing of sorrel with salmon works very nicely as the acidity of the fresh sorrel cuts through the slight fattiness of the fish. If you can get your hands on some, the rich taste of wild salmon is far superior to the farmed version, and crayfish tails are fairly readily available these days, although scallops or langoustine tails can also be substituted, as can basil or spinach if sorrel isn’t to your liking, or your loved one’s, of course.

Another great match is the zingy lemon tart with a fruity red berry sauce. It’s slightly more technical, but worth all the effort, which you would hope could earn massive brownie points.

Good luck to all you "old romantics".

Confit of Wild Salmon with Garden ‘French’ Sorrel Velouté, Crayfish Tails (serves two)


2, 150-200g suprêmes of wild salmon

30ml rapeseed oil

2 sprigs of thyme

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 star anise

3 black peppercorns

For the Velouté

70ml vermouth

250ml fish stock

150ml whipping cream

White pepper and salt

200g sorrel, finely diced

6 crayfish tails, lightly cooked


In a shallow-sided pan or tray, warm the oil along with the thyme, garlic, star anise and peppercorns to 110°C, then add the salmon suprêmes and poach for 10 to 12 minutes.

While these are cooking, heat up a saucepan, then pour in the vermouth and fish stock, and reduce by a half. Add the cream and reduce down again to a coating consistency. Check seasoning and keep warm.

Remove the salmon from the tray and place on some kitchen paper to drain. Keep warm.

Heat up the sauce and drop in the crayfish and chopped sorrel. Spoon onto warmed plates, with the crayfish at triangular points, and place the salmon in the centre. Peel back half of the salmon skin and garnish with a few of the aromats. Serve immediately.

Fresh Lemon Tart with Sauce of Berries (1 x deep 8cm tart case – serves two)


Lemon Tart

3 eggs

85ml cream

2 lemons, juiced and zested

135g sugar

Sweet Pastry

125g plain flour

50g caster sugar

50g chilled butter

Pinch of salt

Half an egg

Sauce of Berries

150g raspberries

50g blackberries

Juice of ½ lemon

70ml stock syrup

(made from 150g caster sugar, 100ml cold water and 15g liquid glucose)


First make the sauce of berries. Make the stock syrup by mixing together the syrup ingredients, slowly bringing to the boil and simmering for two minutes. Skim off any impurities, sieve and allow to cool. Then add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender, blitz together for about one minute, pass through a sieve to remove seeds and use as required.

To make the pastry; sieve the dry ingredients and the rub the butter into it until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and work it into the dough until soft and pliable, add a little water if necessary. Roll the pastry out to about 2½ mm thick. Roll gently around your rolling pin and roll back out into a greased tart case (either one 15cm or two individual). Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Work the dough into the case making sure that all the inside pastry is pushed into all the curves. Double bake the dough at 120°C starting by placing some parchment into the pastry case and filling with baking beans. Bake until the edges are starting to colour very slightly (approximately 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and remove the beans and parchment. The tart case should then go back into the oven for about 15 minutes until the base of the pastry is cooked lightly and dried out. When it comes out, brush the case with a little egg white to prevent any leakage.

Meanwhile, place all the filling ingredients into a large mixing bowl and blitz with a hand-held blender. Allow to settle. Skim off aerated bubbles or lightly blow torch to "pop", and remove. Strain through a fine sieve.

Fill the cooked pastry case with the mixture and bake in the oven at 90°C/Gas Mark 1/2 for one hour and 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. To serve, sprinkle with caster sugar and use a blow torch or grill to caramelise until golden brown. Serve with the sauce.