You can feel it in the air, right? The nausea, the panic, and the feeling that you’re going to end up with a bunch of roses shoved up your… Well don’t stress too much. To save the day from ruin, we thought up some suggestions in advance to make sure your Valentine’s Day goes smoothly.

Food and drink

Breakfast

If you fancy surprising that special someone with breakfast in bed, how about blueberry French toast? Easier than it sounds, all you need is one egg, beaten, plus two slices of bread and a punnet of blueberries. Coat one slice of bread in the beaten egg until both sides are evenly covered, then top with blueberries. Use the rest of the beaten egg for the second slice, sandwich together, and fry in a hot pan for a couple of minutes on either side. Dust with icing sugar and serve with a chilled glass of orange juice.

Dinner

Starter

Roasted Asparagus Spears

Easy, but it looks and tastes posh. Just drizzle the asparagus with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the over on a baking tray at gas mark 5 for ten minutes. Voila.

Main

Meatballs in tomato sauce

Ah, Italy. A country of romance, si? And homemade meatballs are a lot more impressive than your bog-standard spag bol. To make the meatballs you need 500g of minced beef or vegetarian equivalent, a slice of white bread, one egg, olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Tear the bread into tiny pieces, beat the egg, and mix in with the mince before adding the herbs.

Using your hands, squish together until the mince is formed into one big ball, then drizzle olive oil over it and make sure it’s rubbed in. Next, halve the meat into two and roll into balls, then again, until you have 18 small meatballs. Fry these in a shallow pan for 10-15 minutes, splitting a few in half to make sure they’re not pink in the middle.

For the tomato sauce, you need a small carton of tomato pesata, garlic, onions, oregano, three large tomatoes, one chilli, and salt and pepper. Gently fry the garlic and onions for 4-5 minutes, add the tomatoes for another 2 minutes, then pour in the pesata. Add oregano and a generous amount of pepper- then simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve with spiral, penne or spaghetti pasta with the meatballs covered in the sauce. Bellissima!

Dessert

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees

Light, zesty and refreshing. For the pastry, use 250g of plain flour, 175g of butter, 20g of unrefined sugar, one egg, and a very small splash of water. For the filling, you need 4 eggs, 100g unrefined sugar, 150ml double cream, and the juice and zest of four lemons.

Cut the butter into small cubes then rub this and the flour together to form what look like very fine breadcrumbs, making sure there aren’t any lumps.

Mix in the sugar, add the egg and water and mix with your fingers to form a dough ball. If the dough is too sticky, just add a little more flour. Put the pastry on to a cool, floured work surface, knead lightly until the dough is smooth, then wrap in cling-film and put in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

For the filling, put the lemon zest, juice, sugar, eggs and double cream into a measuring jug and whisk until pale and creamy. Roll out the chilled pastry, dust with flour and roll out before lining a circular pastry tin. Pour in the filling then place in the oven (being careful not to spill the ingredients everywhere) then cook for 40 minutes or until the filling has set. Leave to cool for an hour, then serve with crème fraiche or dust with icing sugar.

Music

Unless you’re both hardcore Pantera fans, you’ll be looking for something a bit more romantic this evening, yes? Probably your best option is classical/instrumental, so you avoid any disastrous moments involving Taylor Swift. Check out the Italian Ludovico Einaudi (Divenire) for beautiful, simple violin and piano, and Yann Tiersen (Amelie soundtrack) for whimsical, sweetly melancholic French instrumentals.

Failing that, go for the classics, and we’re not talking about Phil Collins. Frank Sinatra, Peggy LeeDean Martin, Bill Evans, and Nina Simone are all winners. If you have Spotify, the editor has a “Sophisticated Dining” playlist (no joke), that is proven to create a fun, relaxed and potentially romantic mood during dinner.

Film

Rom-coms aren’t a necessity, believe it or not, but try and avoid anything with too many explosions. We hate to plug the French again, but they really are fantastic for romance, especially in film. Amelie’s a bit of a cliché in French cinema, but great if you haven’t seen it before. Maybe also try A Very Long Engagement from the same director and with Audrey Tatou in the lead role again, or Priceless for something a bit more light-hearted.

Not a fan of subtitles? Try Starter for Ten with James McAvoy (honest), or Paris When it Sizzles for Audrey Hepburn in one of her wackier roles. Little Miss Sunshine is a cult classic and pretty much romance-free, but still one you can curl up on the sofa to.

So there you have it. Whatever you choose to do, whether you’re with someone special or just chilling out with friends, enjoy the day!

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