Valentines Day: Cardamon & Forced Rhubarb Panna Cotta
I want to make it clear from the outset that I don’t have a problem with Valentines Day. I think it is rather lovely to have a whole day dedicated to the one you love, I just think that modern day commercialism has gone a step too far for a day that has stemmed from the feast of a Catholic martyr who was tortured to death. So, when Borough Market asked me to put together their Valentines Day menu this year, I decided to go for something that looks impressive but is actually really simple for a kitchen table supper. This way, your Valentines evening can be about enjoying each others company without all the superfluous hearts and flowers.
To start, I’ve created a really simple version of classic Portuguese Clams. Something you can share and eat with your fingers. A good glass of chilled fizz would pair perfectly, along with a good few hunks of crusty bread. Bonus points if you bake your own. Set candles on the table to make things a bit more romantic, and you can even make your own finger bowls to clean off after all the shellfish. In two small dishes, cut a few slices of the lemon you’ll have leftover from making the clams, and top it off just before you eat with boiling water. It will be at the right temperature for a finger bowl once you’ve made it though your mountain of clams and mopped up all the delicious cooking liquor. Proper linen napkins are also a must.
To finish off, I’ve made a pair of striking, make ahead desserts, inspired by the Forced Rhubarb & Cardamom Breakfast Compote with Greek Yogurt I made during forced rhubarb season last year. This time I’ve infused the cardamom into a snowy white panna cotta (this pudding is seasonal in more ways than one!) and topped it off with a gorgeously bright pink forced rhubarb compote, made with just a little sugar and naval orange juice.
To read my full Valentines Day column, packed with entertaining tips, a few more thoughts on the holiday, photos of and the recipe for my Portuguese Clams, and of course the recipe and directions for these Valentines panna cottas, head over to the Borough Market blog.