Firstly, remember, Valentine’s day cannot be done by halves. Find yourself a decent, clean table-cloth and spread it so the central crease is in the middle. Place the salt and pepper over this, and how about a small flower in a vase or candles in a strong base?
You need two decent sized, clean plates and clean, well-polished cutlery. You can even check the table is stable and the chairs and floor are clean. These things matter, trust me.
So, onwards and upwards. You need:
- One hour’s cooking time.
- One punnet of closed cap mushrooms, chopped and diced.
- Vegetarian stock cubes (I recommend Knorr)
- risotto rice
- Two sticks of celery and a large white onion
- One large free range egg
- Three sticks of asparagus
- One teaspoon of Pesto
- Vinegar, and seasonings.
- To start with, take a deep, thick based pan and put on to heat. Add a very small amount of oil.
- Dice the onion thinly, along with the celery and the mushrooms.
- Fry the onions and celery first, until the onions are brown and the celery is soft. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry. You may wish to add half a cup of water to give a little steam.
- Boil a pint and a half of water, place into a jug with two stock cubes. Stir them and break them down with a spoon. Add to the pan and allow to simmer. If it starts to boil, reduce heat immediately and keep stirring.
- Now add a cup and a half of Risotto rice. It might not look much at first but it expands quickly. It also absorbs a lot of the juice. If the Risotto looks a little claggy, add a few drops of water. But it will need to be firm. Stir in a teaspoon of Pesto and green herbs, such as oregano, if you like
- Boil a second pan of water, add a little salt and place three sticks of asparagus in it. Cook them until they are just a little soft. When they are nice and soft, dry them off. First, cut off the woody ends. Then cut the stalks in half. Place to one side, somewhere warm. Take the boiling water off the heat.
- Using the same water and pan, add 50 ml of vinegar and carefully break an egg into the centre of the pan. Stir very carefully so the egg poaches. You know it is poached when it is firm, but not hard. When it is done, place it on saucer and dry very carefully with a paper towel. Just dab it.
- Take the plate and warm it slightly. Place a wide cookie cutter or collar in the centre of the plate. Carefully ladle the risotto into the middle of the collar and spread it down with a spoon so that it completely fills the space. Place the base ends of the asparagus stalks in a triangle shape around the risotto and remove the collar. Carefully, using a spoon, place the poached egg on the flat top of the risotto. Top this with half a twist of black pepper. Finally take the top ends of the asparagus and prop them up against the risotto at an angle. (If this does not work, just lay them down flat)