How to Fake the Perfect Valentine’s Meal

What happens when you want to create a romantic dinner to remember when you’re short on both time and culinary expertise? Here’s what to pick for a meal they’ll believe is homemade.

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How to Fake the Perfect Valentine’s Meal

What happens when you want to create a romantic dinner to remember when you’re short on both time and culinary expertise? Here’s what to pick for a meal they’ll believe is homemade.

Shop dinnerware

Starter

To Start: Perfect Pate

Simple dishes can be just as impressive, plus a cleverly presented plate can distract the eye from anything clearly pre-made.

Stick to a scrummy store-bought pate and transfer the mixture into a luxe ramekin – remember to roughen up the top with a butter knife to give the dish a rustic feel. Place onto a classic white dinner plate or try a small chopping board for something a little less formal. Thinly slice a crusty baguette or small loaf and lightly toast under the grill. Opt against a bread basket (terribly dated, don’t you know) and serve on the plate alongside the pate. Add a dash of cracked black pepper or a few perfectly placed sprigs of parsley to finish.

Main course

The Main: Something Meaty

From microwaveable risotto to quick meaty mains, supermarkets have something to please those with even the trickiest taste buds.

Remember, saving on time often requires splurging in other areas, so be prepared to invest in designer dinnerware – this gives the impression that you know what you’re doing, when you’d rather be tucking in to a trusty takeaway. If you’re opting for ‘easy cook’ meat, ditch the cheap packaging and cook in a casserole dish (if possible) or swap over just before your guest arrives. Keep the meat warm in the oven and display on a bed of pre-cooked vegetables or microwavable couscous/rice if this suits. Dishes like paella/risotto should be served in a large pan for an authentic finish.

Dessert

The Dessert: Dress to Impress

As with all store-bought dishes, presentation is key to impressing (and fooling) your loved one – this is particularly easy when it comes to pudding.

Chilled puddings like mousse and panna cotta are easy to manoeuvre from their packaging and can be dressed in a variety of ways – stick to simple, clean lines by adding your chosen dessert to a wine glass, or try a vintage-inspired teacup for a hint of kitsch. A dash of crumbled chocolate or a dusting of icing sugar will give the pudding that freshly made feel.