I will begin with my perfect valentine’s dinner with the starter, this is a selection of breads with a selection of dips, I like the idea of serving this on one large plate and you both eating off this, it is simple, it is tasty and all the work will be done hours before you and your valentine sit to eat.
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Clare’s Perfect Valentine’s Dinner – Selection of Homemade Breads & Dips
The three breads are a Garlic and Thyme flatbread, Dough balls and a Cheese and semi sundried Tomato loaf, the three dips are traditional hummus, green pesto and a hot and spicy red pepper tapenade.
For the Bread you need
- 500g strong white flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2x 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 300ml water (warm)
- 2 cloves of crushed Garlic
- 2tbs Chopped fresh Thyme
- 2tbs Olive Oil
- 30g of strong red cheddar cheese grated
- 30g of semi chopped sun dried tomato
For the Hummus you need
200g can chickpeas
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cloves grated garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of Salt
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
For the Green Pesto you will need
- 50g pine nuts
- large bunch of basil
- 50g parmesan
- 150ml olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
For the Tapenade you will need
1 clove of grated garlic
Juice of one lemon
3 tbsp capers chopped
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
250g roasted chopped red peppers
small bunch fresh parsley chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 hot red chilli, finely chopped
2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Bread / 1 : Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the oil and water, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead. Once the dough is satin-smooth, should take 5-6 minutes only, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
2: Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Knock back the dough, divide into three, then gently mould the dough into a ball with one 1/3rd, roll out the flat bread with another and top with crushed garlic, chopped thyme and olive oil, then add chopped cheese and sundried tomatoes and shape the final 1/3rd into a loaf. Place it on the baking sheet to prove for a further hour until doubled in size.
3: Heat oven to 220C. top the loaf with a small amount of grated cheese, Bake until golden brown, the dough balls should be done in 15-18 minutes and so will the flatbread, and the loaf should take 30-35 minutes, check that is sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
1: Drain the chickpeas and rinse, add the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, tahini, and water in a food processor, and blend to a creamy purée.
2: Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste. Turn out, I press this through a sieve to make extra smooth.
1: Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast them for a few minutes until browned and fragrant.
2: Place the parmesan in a food processor and add the basil leaves, garlic, toasted pine nuts and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend for a few seconds until it begins to come together and is smooth.
Red pepper Tapenade
1: Roast 1-2 red peppers, chop and add to a food processor, add all the other ingredients and blend until it becomes a paste, i leave the seeds in the chilli for this but if you like it a little milder then remove the seeds.
This is a lot of steps but it is all so simple, I would start with the bread and while it is having its initial proof, you have time to wash up, prepare the dips which will only love to sit in the fridge for hours so do not worry about making them too early, this requires only plating up when your valentine arrives and this is a super starter to share with your loved one <3 enjoy!