Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
This Valentine's day menu will certainly inspire your romantic side as all of the food is based on French cuisine.
From hors d'oeuvres to petit fours, and everything in between, I've got all you need for the perfect evening.
Choose from my make ahead, simple, frugal and sophisticated recipes, to find the right menu for you.
So, if you can't get out for a Valentine's dinner, make a delicious meal at home for your loved ones or simply treat yourself.
Why you will love these recipes
I've picked a selection of recipes to inspire you, whether you are just looking for a French recipe or something special.
All of the recipes have step by step instructions and explanations so the dish comes out right first time.
Choose from these types or mix and match!
- Make ahead recipes that are great for preparing and storing in the fridge or freezer, for stress free entertaining.
- Simple recipes that require little skill, but are still delicious.
- Frugal recipes that won't break the bank, but still taste luxurious.
- Sophisticated recipes, that require a little more effort, but are so impressive.
Hors d'oeuvres are little hot or cold morsels to be enjoyed with drinks before you sit down for the meal. The British borrowed this idea from the French, perhaps serving food with drinks to soak up the alcohol to stop people getting too inebriated before the main event!
Don't confuse this with an amuse bouche, which is a free offering at a restaurant to tempt the palette, and designed to be eaten in just one or two bites.
Serve these canapés with Champagne or cocktails. A great frugal sparkling substitute is Crémant. It is made in a similar way to Champagne, but at a much more affordable price. It's one of my favourites that I discovered living in France and most people cannot tell the difference.
- Make ahead, Frugal and Simple Smoked Salmon Canapés - you can make the croustades, or little baked bread baskets, in advance for pennies, then add the filling at the last minute. You don't need much salmon at all and they are still delicious!
- Make ahead and Frugal Ham and Cheese Palmiers , or elephant's ears, are made with ready made puff pastry, and can be warmed just before serving or just eaten cold. There are so many flavour combinations to try and they always disappear fast.
Entrée, Starter or appetizer
The British call it a starter and the US call it an appetizer, but in France it is an entrée.
The most romantic French aphrodisiac is, of course, oysters , which are very simple to serve, but take a little practise to open without spilling out their delicious juices.
Try one of these.
- Make ahead and Simple Duck Terrine looks complicated, but is just assembly before it goes in the oven. Pair it with a great chutney and hunks of bread.
- Frugal, Make ahead Chicken Liver Parfait is a favourite of my husband. You can make this a few days in advance and the flavour will be even better.
- Simple, Make ahead Salmon Timbales combine the flavours of salmon and avocado in an elegant tower. This is one of my favourites!
- Simple, Make ahead and Frugal Lobster Bisque costs nothing to make as it just uses leftover shells, including crab and prawn. This classic creamy French soup, with a kick of cayenne, is light and decadent at the same time.
Fish is very popular in France, especially shellfish. If you are looking to prolong a romantic evening, a light fish course is a must on your Valentine's day menu!
- Sophisticated Seared Scallops on Pea Purée is something you might find on a restaurant menu, but is perfectly achievable at home. My husband normally makes the purée and I sear the scallops. I do occasionally let him in the kitchen if we are cooking together!
- Simple Monkfish with Chorizo is really easy and ready in just 15 minutes from start to finish. Try it with prawns or shrimp too.
There's nothing like making a meal to show how much you love someone and the following main course recipes are perfect for this.
- Simple Coq au Vin, or chicken in red wine, can be simmering away in the oven while you enjoy your starter. The ingredients are readily available and it's so good, you could just serve it on its own with hunks of bread to mop up all the delicious sauce.
- Simple and Make ahead Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Pork Fillet is easy to assemble and leave in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Stuffed with sausage, apple and porcini mushrooms, this is an elegant main course.
- Frugal and Simple Chicken with Tarragon and Juniper Berries uses humble and economical chicken thighs but this dish is packed with flavours.
- Simple and make ahead Duck Confit with Redcurrant Sauce can be made a few days ahead and just reheated on the day. Juicy meat and crisp skin that is simply irresistable!
Make life easier and just pick one potato side dish and one other vegetable that you can steam. There are so many great French potato dishes, but here are some that are perfect for a special evening.
- Frugal, Simple and Make ahead, these Duchess Potatoes are a must try. Creamy mashed potatoes, enriched with egg and cheese is piped or piled onto a baking sheet and baked until golden. But, you can freeze these in advance and just bake from frozen.
- Sophisticated, Simple, Make ahead and Frugal, Scalloped Potatoes Pavé have it all. Layers of potatoes are baked in stock, then pressed and refrigerated overnight. When you are ready to cook just slice into portions, drench with butter and bake.
- Simple and Frugal Fondant Potatoes are so easy. The potatoes are poached in stock then fried in butter for a meltingly soft inside and deliciously crispy outside.
In France the cheese course comes before dessert, but despite having lived in France, it has to come after for me. Besides, dessert is probably the pinnacle of any Valentine's day menu. If you eat nothing else, it has to be dessert!
I like to pick recipes that you can serve in individual portions for elegance.
- Frugal and Make ahead Chocolate Mousse is top of my list. Rich, decadent and fluffy, this dessert only has 2 ingredients and there's no fiddling with gelatine or cream. Pop it in the fridge and just bring it out when you are ready to eat.
- Sophisticated and Make ahead Baileys Sabayon is another light and fluffy dessert with just 3 ingredients. It is perfect after a lot of rich courses.
- Make ahead Crème Brûlée is a French classic that is a favourite in our house. It has to be that crack, as the spoon breaks the crisp topping, before reaching the creamy depths of the silky smooth custard that makes this such a great dessert.
- Make ahead and Sophisticated Salted Caramel Mille Feuilles or Napoleans, take some time to make, but it's worth it for the crisp puff pastry layers nestled between a deliciously light salted caramel custard. You don't have to make the pastry either!
If you think you may have room after all those dishes, how about serving Make ahead and Sophisticated Nutella Macarons with coffee? These little meringue treats are quite light and crisp and very moreish. You could even give them as a Valentine gift.
I really hope that you find something you would love to make on this French inspired Valentine's day menu, so let me know what you think in the comments or you can post a picture and tag me on Twitter @chezlereve, Instagram @chezlerevefrancais, or Facebook @chezlerevefrancais.
Of course, if you love entertaining all year round, take a look at the French Dinner party Menu.
Easy 2 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse
Here's the Chocolate Mousse recipe so you can see how easy it is.
- 4 eggs separated
- 110 g plain chocolate/semi sweet up to 75% cocoa solids
- Put the yolks in a large glass bowl and stir to combine.
- Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave at 50% power in 30 second bursts and allow to cool slightly.
- Whip the egg whites to medium peaks.
- Stir the melted chocolate into the egg yolks and combine.
- Use a metal spoon to fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
- Divide the mixture between 4 serving dishes.
- Chill for two hours or overnight.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article.