Happy Valentine’s Day

It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog this last few weeks whilst we’ve battled injury (Mr. Simply Homemade sprained his ankle, all ok now though), infections (me, dreadful throat infection and could only take a mild antibiotic because of pregnancy – kids thought it was quite funny when my voice disappeared for a few days however) , then Caoimhe got what I had, the house was so quiet when she lost her voice too! It was heart breaking too see her in such pain though and thankfully she’s better again and of course the other too kids got head colds as well.
It hasn’t been fun but the kids are now on their mid-term, everyone is well again and Valentine’s Day is this week!
Generally speaking, Valentine’s Day is not an occasion Mr. Simply Homemade & I really celebrate, we exchange cards, more for the sake of the children, and we may cook a nice breakfast, other than that it’s just another day.
However this year, with our baby due in five weeks, and following the upset this last couple of weeks, we thought it was the perfect time to cook a nice meal and spend some quality time together, it may be a while before we get to do that again…………
We decided to keep it simple so we had a delicious Fish Pie, (from Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking)  followed by Chocolate Pots (from Tana Ramsay’s I Love to Bake) and Mocha Kisses (from Rachel Allen’s Food for Living).
Fish Pie
Ingredients -Serves 4-6 (I halved the quantities to make a smaller pie)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
800g (1 ¾ lb) Skinless fillets of fish, or a mixture such as salmon, cod, whiting, hake or haddock
150ml (5fl oz) White wine
Juice of half a lemon
125g (4 ½ oz) butter, diced
Salt & Black pepper
150g (5oz Mushrooms, sliced
225ml (8fl oz) double or regular cream
1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp finely chopped mixed herbs, such as chives, parsley, tarragon or dill
1kg Mashed Potato
* Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM 4.
* Place the onion in the bottom of a large saucepan and lay the fish on top in a even layer. Pour in the wine, add the lemon juice, scatter with 100g (3 ½ oz) of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
* In the meantime, melt the remaining butter in a small frying pan and sauté the mushrooms on a gentle heat until softened, 5 or 6 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
*Carefully transfer the cooked fish using a slotted spoon, from the saucepan to an ovenproof dish, leaving the onions and cooking liquid in the pan. Add the cream to the onions and cooking liquid in the pan and continue to simmer with the lid off for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the mustard, herbs and mushrooms and check the seasoning.
* Pour the sauce over the fish and then spoon over the mashed potato, spreading with the back of a spoon or a fork.
* Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden on top. If you have prepared the pie in advance and are cooking from chilled bake for about 40 minutes instead. Serve immediately.
Chocolate Melting Pots
Ingredients Serves 4
For the Sponge Base
150g/5 ½ oz Self raising flour, sifted
4 Tbsp Cocoa Powder, sifted
50g/ 1 ¾ oz Ground Almonds
200g/7oz Caster Sugar
100g/3 ½oz Plain Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks
175ml/6fl oz Milk
50g/1 ¾ oz butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
For the Sauce
2 tbsp cocoa powder
100g/3 ½ oz dark muscovite sugar
200ml/7fl oz boiling water
* Pre heat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/GM6.
* Start with the sponge base, place all the dry ingredients, including the chocolate in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Add the milk, melted butter and egg, stir together well.
* Divide the mixture between four ramekins or other ovenproof pots or cups, filling by just over half.
* Make the sauce by mixing together the cocoa and sugar, then adding the boiling water and stirring until the sugar dissolves.
* Spoon an equal quantity of the sauce onto the sponge mixture in each pot. Place the pots in a deep roasting tin that holds them snugly and fill with hot water until it comes about halfway up the sides of the pots.
* Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190C/170CFan/GM 5 and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the sponge tops spring back to the touch. When you serve and break into the top of the chocolate you will find a gorgeous gooey, fudge sauce.
Mocha Kisses
175g/6oz self-raising flour
75g/3oz caster sugar
75g/3oz butter
2tsp instant coffee powder or granules
1tsp hot water
1 egg
For the Chocolate Icing
50g/2oz butter, softened
100g/4oz icing sugar
3tsp cocoa powder
* Preheat the oven to 180C/GM 4
* Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. In a cup or small bowl, mix the coffee with the hot water, then add the egg and whisk to break up. Add this to the food processor and process until the dough comes together.
* Dust the work surface with icing sugar and then roll out the dough until it is 5mm thick and using a heart-shaped cutter, cut out heart shapes. Place them slightly apart on two baking sheets and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly firm at the edges. Remove from the oven and carefully lift off the tray with a metal slice while they are still very hot to prevent them sticking. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
* To make the chocolate icing, in a bowl using a wooden spoon or in the food processor, mix the soft butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder until it comes together. Use the icing to sandwich the cookies together.
Store in a box for two or three days.
We really enjoyed our meal and it was lovely to sit down, relax and unwind after a hectic couple of weeks. I think it’s important to make time for each other, regardless of the day or occasion, it’s far too easy for everyday life to get in the way especially when raising a young family.
And as much as we tried for our ’quality time’,  our meal wasn’t without interruption, mainly due to the fact that the children each had their own chocolate pot to look forward to………..but hey, that’s life!
However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, I hope it’s a happy one for all of you

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