I have a problem with leaving things until the last minute (I'm sure I'm not alone on this one). I think it must be genetic as my dad had the same problem. From what I remember, the beginning of almost every family holiday got doused in adrenaline due to the inevitable mandatory rush, whether we liked it or not, my dad would stall us. I like to imagine he did it on purpose either to wind my mum up or purely for the rush. Either way, it has been passed on to me.
This year I'm a changed man, for Valentine's Day at least. I've teamed up with the cool cats at The Idle Man who have asked me to create three dishes to cook your girlfriend for Valentine's day. As a result, I've rustled up a tried and tested, fail-proof Valentine's Day survival plan for you fellas out there hoping to impress your lady.
Nothing screams love like a vibrant cocktail of Disaronno, iced cream and pink lemonade; A play on the typical ice cream float to send your dream-boat wild, a dreamfloat if you will. Okay I'll stop. They're a treat at the best of times, but throw in a little bit of booze (or a lot) and some strawberries and you're more than likely going to be the best boyfriend EVER. EVER.
As if a pink jar of iced-cream-booze wasn't enough to crash all of Instagram's servers on Valentines day, behold the "gourmet steak sandwich". I have my friend Gus to thank for the inspiration for this one. Him and his girlfriend celebrate valentines day by making steak sandwiches and it occurred to me; they had it right all along.
If there is anything I like more than steak, it's steak in a sandwich covered in cheese and relish. You just can't go wrong. Remember, this is a Valentines day sandwich, not a Sunday morning no-food-in-the-cupboard type of sandwich, so aim to impress. For this sandwich I used two thin cut sirloin steaks, left to warm up to room temperature, rubbed in olive oil and smoked sea salt and then seared in a hot pan for no more than one minute on each side. Perfect.
If your girlfriend has a sweet tooth, then look no further. I got in touch with Iona Hart, two sisters from London who specialise in the creation of gourmet marshmallows. They were lovely enough to send over a batch for this recipe and they are absolutely delicious. I got an assortment, ranging from gingerbread, Nutella and hazelnut to Oreo flavoured marshmallows. I was tempted to go with the Nutella option, but I thought it was too soon before I open a jar of Nutella again (it's a slippery slope). Oreo took the win on this round.
I just couldn't settle for a traditional S'more, it needed something else, something bigger, something more impressive and then I realised it needs another layer. I went for a marshmallow, chocolate and strawberry three-tier combo; I didn't look back and neither will your girlfriend. If you want to get your hands on some of these lovely gourmet marshmallows in time for the big day, be sure to check out Iona Hart's website, pop down to Camden Market where you can buy them from their stall or pester them on Twitter.
So go on, cancel that expensive restaurant reservation you made months ago and get yourself into the kitchen to show off some skills on Valentine's Day this year.