Valentine's Menu for 2

Enjoy the perfect AGA steak, a choice of peppercorn or chimichurri sauce, baked flat mushrooms with puy lentils, spinach and cherry tomatoes and paprika roasted potatoes. Followed by a simple make-ahead dessert of panna cotta with raspberry coulis. Recipes courtesy of AGA Demonstrator Naomi Hansell. 

the perfect AGA steak served with potatoes
panna cotta

2 x steaks of your choice - rump and sirloin are popular and delicious as well as rib eye. A little marbling of fat through the steak is good to make the steak juicy to eat. Fillet is generally cut thicker and is very lean and more expensive. Bring the steak to room temperature before cooking.

Creamy Pepper Sauce

1 tbsp peppercorns - a mix of white, green and black is good

30g butter

1 large shallot or half a small onion, peeled and finely diced

4 tbsps brandy (about 60ml)

150g beef or vegetable stock

1/2 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 1/2 tbsp water

4 tbsp cream (double, whipping or single)

A good pinch or two of salt

Chimichurri Sauce (v, vg)

15g white wine or cider vinegar

40g extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1/4 green chilli, deseeded, finely sliced or 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

1/2 bunch fresh coriander, approx 20g

A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley

1 tsp fresh thyme or oregano leaves

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms with Puy Lentils, Spinach and Tomatoes (v,vg)

For 4 medium flat mushrooms or 2/3 large ones

4 medium or 2/3 large flat mushrooms

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, approx 80g

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

80g cooked Puy lentils

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few sprigs of thyme or oregano

Notes on ingredients
Puy lentils can be purchased ready cooked in vacuum packed pouches. These can be reheated n the simmering oven for 15 mins or for this recipe just used direct from the pouch. Leftover lentils can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. 30g dry lentils will weigh approx 80g when cooked. Black beluga lentils are smaller and darker in colour than Puy lentils and are also excellent to use in this recipe.

Smoked Paprika Parmentier Potatoes

300g white potatoes, washed and cubed (2cm cubes)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp smoked mild paprika

1/s tsp salt

Simple Vanilla Pannacotta with Raspberry Coulis

200ml cream - whipping, single, double all work well

20g caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 of a small sheet of gelatine (just cut to size with scissors)

150 - 200g raspberries - frozen are ideal (defrost them in the warming oven for 30 mins if necessary).

1 tbsp sugar

Dietary alternatives
Use agar agar flakes or powder instead of gelatine for a vegetarian dessert. Follow the packet instructions to set 200ml of liquid. Substitute the cream with coconut milk for a plant based panna cotta.

Steak

1. Oil and season both sides of the steak lightly before placing in the pan. Use a non-stick or cast iron pan or griddle and heat this well before adding the steak, either on the boiling plate or in the roasting oven.

2. Cook the steak in the hot pan on the boiling plate without moving. Allow 2 mins each side for a 1 - 2 cms thick steak for medium rare, 3 mins each side for medium and 4/5 mins each side for very well done. If using a chargrill, rotate the steak by 90 degrees after a minute to give criss-cross chargrill marks. Alternatively, cook the steaks in an ovenproof pan or one with a removable handle on the boiling plate for the first side, turn them over then transfer the pan to the floor of the roasting oven to cook the second side.

Fillet steaks will take longer to cook as they are usually cut much thicker. Remove from the pan, seasoning with salt if not already done so. Rest on a warm plate for
5 mins, in the warming oven if you have one.

Creamy Pepper Sauce 

1. You will need a small pan. The AGA sauce pot (1.6l) is ideal. Crush the peppercorns or grind the pepper and set aside.

2. Saute the shallot or onion in a small pan on the simmering plate for 5 mins until softened but not browned. Add the brandy, transfer to the boiling plate and bubble to reduce for 2 mins. Add the stock and bubble again to reduce for 2 - 3 mins. Remove from the heat for a minute or two.

3. Add the cornflour and water mixture then return to the boiling plate to boil and thicken. Move to the simmering plate and add the cream and crushed peppercorns and salt. Simmer for a few minutes until smooth. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt until it's really delicious. It will be very peppery on its own but delicious when served with a steak.

This sauce is ideal to make in advance, keep chilled in the fridge for up to 48 hours and freezes well. Reheat gently on the simmering plate as necessary.

Chimichurri Sauce (v, vg)

A tangy Argentina sauce traditionally served with steak or roasted mushrooms. Omit the garlic if you like.

1. Put the vinegar, oil, crushed garlic and salt into a jug, bowl or a glass jar, whisk or shake together.

2. Add the herbs and chillis and whisk, stir or shake. Taste and add a little more salt, if needed, to make it delicious. It will taste quite powerful on its own but will mellow when left to stand for a while and is delicious served with a steak or some Puy lentil stuffed mushrooms, for example.

Keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Not suitable for freezing.

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms with Puy Lentils, Spinach and Tomatoes (v,vg)

These mushrooms are delicious alongside a juicy steak as well as one their own as a main dish. Serve with a tangy herb dressing or a sauce such as Chimichurri.

1. First place the cherry tomatoes on a small roasting tray, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with a pinch or two each of sugar and salt.

2. Cook in the roasting oven on the 3rd set of runners for just 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wilt the spinach by placing in a small dry pan and heating on the simmering plate for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. When the spinach is wilted, add the cooked lentils and stir well. Fold in the cherry tomatoes and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. (Keep the roasting tray to cook the mushrooms in). Add the thyme or oregano if using, then taste and season with a little salt and pepper if needed.

4. Prepare the mushrooms by peeling or just wiping the outside. Remove the stalks (they can be very finely sliced and added to the spinach mixture). Divide the mixture between the mushrooms, piling it on top and firming down a little. At this point the filled mushrooms can be chilled for up to 24 hours.

5. Cook the mushrooms in the roasting oven, on the 2nd set of runners, for 10 minutes (15 minutes for large mushrooms).

Serve warm.

Smoked Paprika Parmentier Potatoes

You will need a baking tray - the half sized AGA enamelled baking tray is ideal. A full sized baking tray, either the hard anodised or enamelled finish, is useful for making larger quantities of dishes like this.

1. Put the oil in a large bowl along with the smoked paprika and salt. Add the cubed potatoes and mix well to coat.

2. Spread out the potatoes on a baking tray and cook in the roasting oven, on the 2nd or 3rd set of runners for 30 - 45 mins.

3. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot.

To prepare in advance - cook the potatoes completely as above and allow to cool. Store in the fridge or freezer and reheat in the roasting oven for 5 mins from chilled or 10 mins from frozen.

Simple Vanilla Pannacotta with Raspberry Coulis

You will need a small pan to use for both the panna cotta and the raspberry coulis. The AGA Sauce Pot (1.6l) is ideal.

1. Heat the cream and sugar in a small pan on the simmering plate for 5 mins until almost boiling, remove from the heat to cool a little. Meanwhile, put the gelatine leaf into a small bowl of cold water and set aside to soften for a few minutes.

2. Remove from the water, squeeze out the excess water and add to the cream. Stir well.

3. Pour into either two pretty glasses or small dishes, or into 2 pudding moulds 100ml capacity if you plan to turn the pannacotta out to serve. Chill in the fridge until set, at least 6 hours or overnight.

4. To make the coulis, push the raspberries through a sieve into a small pan to remove the seeds. Add the sugar and heat on the simmering plate for 5 mins to reduce and thicken a little. Chill until needed. Store in the fridge to up to 4 days. Freezes well.

5. To serve, simply removed from the fridge and pour enough coulis on the top of the panna cotta so that it covers the whole area. Alternatively, to turn out, briefly and carefully dip the panna cotta dish into hot water so that releases, place a plate on top the turn over to turn out. Serve with the raspberry coulis poured over or around the plate. Delicious finished with a little shortbread biscuit.

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