This is Fork & Twist’s romantic two course valentines day meal for two. It’s a luxurious main and dessert fit for the occasion that’s intended to truly wow your other half and minimise as much work as possible.
The main course is a Lobster linguini with a champagne cream sauce topped with parmesan and fresh herbs. The dessert is a rich and creamy chocolate mousse with grated chocolate and frozen raspberry pellets.
This page consists of two parts – the Lobster Tips and Recipe and the Chocolate Mousse tips and recipe. The Lobster comes first with the tips and recipe in the first half of this post, and the chocolate mousse comes second at the bottom end of this post. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with us.
The Lobster Linguini - Top Tips
Here are our tips to ensure you cook the best linguini possible and minimise the work on the night.
- Prepare the lobsters in advance – If frozen defrost overnight the night before. In the morning you can prepare the lobster as detailed in the recipe below and the place back in the fridge covered up until you begin cooking. Just remember to take them out roughly 10 minutes before due to cook so they can come up to temperature a little otherwise you’ll have to adjust the cooking time.
- Leave the butter out for a couple hours – Seems simple, but imagine trying to smother the lobster in soft garlic butter with hard butter. This is when you panic and microwave it, only to turn it to liquid. Preparation is key. Plus butter can live outside of the fridge with no issues.
- Prepare all the ingredients before cooking – Allocate at least 20 minutes to allow yourself to chop the vegetables and herbs, grate the cheese and measure out the liquids. Its so important this is done first so you’re ready to cook. This is how to prevent mistakes.
- Cook the Lobster less than you think – Nobody wants overcooked Lobster, equally as much as no one wants undercooked lobster. Diced lobster in the pan with butter will literally take no more than two minutes until just cooked. In the oven, at 200C with a fan, the lobster tails will take around 7-8 minutes. As a guide, it’s perfect at around 50-53C, or until just no longer translucent.
- Use good stock – We are trying to impress here. Ditch the stock cube or stock pot, and buy or make real stock. At the very least go to the gravy isle and get an off the shelf ready made 500ml chicken stock. It’s ten times better than the cubes.
- Layer the sauce to gain flavour – This sauce is all about layers, and each layer is important to getting a luxurious restaurant quality sauce.
- Cook the diced Lobster in the pan first. This adds the lobster flavour to the butter/oil the shallots will be cooked in.
- Sweat the shallot and garlic until soft, but do not brown (this adds bitterness).
- Reduce the champagne down until barely any liquid left, if should have a syrup like consistency. This adds much needed acidity to the sauce.
- Reduce the chicken stock down with the leftover lobster shells until the liquid has reduced by at least 3/4, or until thick and syrup like. If you dip a spoon into the sauce and run your finger over the back of the spoon there should be a large line through it that remains even after 5-10 seconds (this is called napping). The reduced stock and shell will add body and depth of flavour to the sauce as well as a lobster punch.
- Simmer the cream for at least 5 minutes. If you don’t do this the cream will have a milky lactose note which we want to remove. Also, the more you simmer the thicker the sauce, so simmer until you have the right consistency.
- Finish with fresh herbs (Tarragon is essential) and parmesan to round off the sauce perfectly.
- Don’t forget the pasta – It’s easy to forget when you have the baked lobster and pan going on. The rule of thumb is, first get a large pot of boiling water on the hob bubbling away when you start cooking the diced lobster. When we’re ready to bake the lobster (see step 8) This is when we salt the water an immediately add the linguini. This should take around 10-12 minutes, so set a timer on your phone or oven.
- Bake the Lobster at the right time – So, you’ve prepared the Lobster in the morning and you’ve now taken it out as you’ve starting chopping and preparing the ingredients. All that’s needed is to smother in garlic butter and bake. Smother in butter as part of the prep before we get cooking. All that is needed to do now is to bake the Lobster as soon as we add Chicken Stock to the pan. This should line up about right when we are finishing off the sauce – remember to time the lobster on the oven or your phone. See point 4 to know when it’s cooked.
Champagne Lobster Linguini
- Large Sauce Pan / Pasta Pan
- Large non-stick frying pan
- Wooden Spoon
- Meat / Fish chopping board
- 4 Lobster Tails defrost if frozen
- 200 g Linguini buy rough surfaced pasta
- 250 ml Champagne can substitute for Prosecco
- 500 ml Chicken stock try to avoid stock cubes and buy real stock
- 2 Small Shallots
- 2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Small Bunch Fresh Parsely, stalks removed
- 1 Small Bunch Fresh Tarragon, stalks removed essential
- 1 Small Bunch Fresh Chive
- 150 ml Double Cream
- 20 g Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
- 1 Clove Garlic for the garlic butter
- 30 g Unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for cooking.
- Begin by preparing the lobster. Separate two of the biggest and best looking tails and place on the chopping board - These are for baking.
- Using scissors, cut down the top of the shell until you reach the end - save a little bit of shell intact at the end. NOTE - you will cut into the meat slightly but that's good.
- Using scissors, snip the underside of the shell to crack the carapace. NOTE - this will help remove the meat from the shell.
- First, remove the vein running down the back of the lobster. Then carefully detach the meat from the inside of the shell and pull the tail meat over the top of the shell keeping the end part inside the tail/shell. Lay the meat on top of the shell.
- With the remaining two tails, use scissors to completely remove the shell. Also remove the vein running down the back of the meat. Cut the meat into small bite sized chunks. This will be going in the pasta sauce.NOTE - save the shell, as this will be used in cooking the sauce.
- Finely diced the shallots, 2 garlic cloves and fresh herbs. Set aside in separate bowls/dishes.
- Measure out the cream, the wine and the chicken stock.
- Grate the parmesan
- Mix the room temperature butter with one clove of garlic that has been minced/finely chopped.Smoother this butter over the two Lobster tails prepared for baking.
Cooking the dish
- Get an oven pre-heated to 200C.Get a frying pan on a medium heat and add some butter to the pan - add a little cap of oil as well to prevent the butter from buring.Add some boiled kettle water to a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add the diced lobster to the pan. Cook this for roughly 1-2 minutes until JUST cooked. They can even be slightly raw here as it will be added back to the sauce. Remove from the pan and put into a cold bowl.NOTE - we don't want to overcook these at all. They are cooked once no longer translucent.
- Turn down the heat to medium low and In the same pan (do not clean it) add the shallots and cook for about 2 mins. Stir well.NOTE - Do not brown them. Top up with more butter if needed.
- After 2 mins add the 2 finely chopped garlic cloves. Stir well for about one minute.
- Once the shallots and garlic are softened but not browned, add the champagne and turn the heat up to high. Reduce this down until most of the liquid has evaporated and becomes syrupy.At the same time, add salt to the boiling water, stir, and then add the linguini. Cook the linguini for roughly 10-12 minutes until aldente. Drain and reserve two ladles of salty pasta water.
- Add the chicken stock to the pan and the left over lobster tail shell. Reduce the stock down by about 3/4. NOTE - it's important to reduce this down for 1. To get a thicker sauce and 2. To get a more flavoursome sauce. NOTE 2 - taste it here, make sure it's quite intense.
- When the chicken stock is reducing now is the time bake the two lobster tails. Add them to the middle shelf of the oven and cook for around 7-8 minutes. Make sure they are fully cooked through before serving.NOTE - ovens vary, so keep an eye on yours. they are cooked when no longer translucent. You can probe the meat if you have one, if it's around 50-53C it's going to be perfect.
- Add the cream to the reduced champagne and chicken stock as well as the diced lobster we cooked earlier. Add 50% of the parmesan and 75% of the fresh herbs. Stir well to combine and cook the cream on a low heat (so the cream is just about bubbling) for about 5 minutes to cook away that milky cream taste. This will also finish off the lobster gently.By now the baked lobster tails should be cooked. Remove from the oven and place on a trivet/heat proof mat.
- Add the cooked linguini to the cream sauce in the pan. Stir well to combine and cook for a further minute or so on a low heat.
- Serve in deep dish pasta bowls.
- Use a ladle to twirl the pasta into a little nest and place delicately in the bowl.
- Using some tongs or a spoon, evenly distribute the lobster pieces onto each pasta nest. Spoon over some remaining sauce from the pan too.
- Add one baked lobster tail on top of the pasta nest.
- Sprinkle with more cheese and the last of the herbs.
- Serve at a candle lit dinner table with fresh red roses and a bottle of champagne/prosecco.
- Preparation is key to success. Prepare, measure and chop everything before you start cooking.
- Lobster tails can be tricky. Use the scissors to cut open the shell from the top first and then the bottom. Just make sure you're delicate with them and leave enough shell at the end to ensure the tail remains attached to the shell.
- Four Lobster tails are optional - you can opt of baking the tails altogether and just have the diced lobster. In fact you could dice up 4 lobster tails to make life even easier.
- Lobster can be substituted for good Tiger Prawns. Simply bake half of them in butter them same way we have the lobster. The other half remove the shell and head and cook at the beginning like we did the diced lobster.
- The sauce is all about layers - softening of the shallots and garlic, reducing the champagne, reducing the chicken stock with lobster shell, simmering the cream and finishing with herbs and cheese. When are these layers are nailed perfectly, this dish will be fantastic!
- Try and make an effort on the table setting - buy some cheap red roses for the table, pick off the leaves and one a little centre piece. Your other half will love it.
The Chocolate Mousse - Top Tips
Here are your tips to make the most velvety, luxurious Chocolate Mousse possible whilst minimising stress and work in the kitchen on the night.
- Make this in advance – This can be made the night before or in the morning, which leaves only the serving to finish on the evening of valentines day. Talk about stress free!
- Buy the best chocolate you can find – The quality of chocolate is critical here as it is the main flavour of the dessert. Buy bad tasting, poor quality chocolate and the dessert will end up tasting bad. The benchmark chocolate is Lindt 70% dark chocolate, preferably the 70% cooking chocolate by Lindt. The absolute best you could use is couverture chocolate – more on this another day.
- Melt the chocolate slowly – Ditch the microwave completely, it’s a very quick way to melt chocolate, but it’s not the best way. The best way is to use a bain marie – a glass bowl over a small sauce pan filled 1/3 full of simmering water. In this instance the water needs to only be warm, warm enough so you can put your hand in it and warm enough to melt chocolate. Add broken up chocolate to the glass bowl set over the warm water and cover with a tea towl, then leave for 20 or so minutes until completely melted.
- Make a perfect meringue – A meringue is whipped egg whites combined with sugar. To whip the egg whites is easiest with an electric mixer, even easier with a kitchen aid style stand mixer (it will be done in a few minutes). First off, whip the egg whites until thick , airy and form stiff white peaks. To know when it’s perfect, tip the bowl upside down slowly – if the egg whites start to slide out they are not done. If the egg whites stay in the same position and stick to the bowl even if it’s upside down, they’re done. Then mix in the sugar one tablespoon at a time on a slower mixer setting. The meringue mix now should have a more glossy shine to it, and be slightly thicker.
- Combine the Chocolate Ganache and Meringue slowly by folding – pay attention as this is another critical element, a make or break for the dessert. The only way to combine the meringue and the chocolate ganache is to fold it in half of the mixture at a time. Watch the video to see the technique in action, but a fold can be described like this – run the spoon 1/2 way around the bowl, under the mixture and then bring the mixture back over the top of itself to 12 O’Clock and repeat. It will take a little time, but be patient and don’t rush it and you’ll be fine.
- Serve in long stemmed glasses for a luxury touch – A long stemmed glass, as pictured in this post, or a martini style glass would add that perfect finishing touch for this dessert. It is a special day after all.
- Top with acidic fruit for balance and colour – Frozen raspberry pellets add texture (crunch and a sorbet style frozen texture), acidity (balances the rich chocolate) and a different temperature (it will be colder than the mousse, and add’s another layer to the dessert).
Follow these top tips and we guarantee you will have the lightest, most velvety chocolate mousse to serve to your loved one on Valentines day.
Valentines Velvety Chocolate Mousse
- Mixing Bowl x2
- Mixer/Hand Mixer/Whisk (electirc is best)
- Rubber spatula
- Wooden Spoon
- Small saucepan
- 120 g Best quality 70% Dark Chocolate, broken into small pieces Lindt cooking chocolate is excellent
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 4 Egg Whites
- 60 ml Double Cream
- 40 g Caster Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 6 Raspberries, frozen
- Fill the saucepan 1/3 full of water and put on a high heat until around 50C (so you can still touch the water, but it's very warm) and take off the heat and put on a trivet/heat proof mat.
- Put a glass mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, but so it's not touching the water, add the broken up chocolate to the bowl and cover over with a tea towel. Let this melt slowly for about 20 minutes, or until fully melted.
- Whilst the chocolate is melting, separate the egg yolks and whites into different dishes. Whisk the egg yolks up until combined.
- Make a meringue to fold into the chocolate ganache. Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form.TOP TIP - The whites are done when you remove the whisk from the whites and peaks remain. If you can tip the bowl upsidedown without the whites sliding out or falling out they are done. Try not to over whisk.
- Start whisking again and slowly add the sugar one tablespoon at a time making sure the sugar is combined before adding the next spoonfull. DO this until the sugar has all been combined.
- Heat the double cream in a small saucepan until warm, but not simmering.
- When the chocolate has fully melted with no hard lumps, stir in the egg yolks until combined. Then stir in the warm double cream until fully combined - make sure the ganache is smooth. NOTE - it will thicken when the cream and eggs are added, this is normal.
- Fold the meringue mixture into the ganache mixture half at a time.Take half the meringue and fold through the ganache slowly and carefully - try to keep the air in the meringue, it's imperitive this is achieved to keep the mousse light and airy.
- Once the first half of the meringue has been combined, start folding the last half carefully and slowly.
- Once all the meringue has been combined, add to serving glasses.
- Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for around 6 hours at least. TOP TIP - Best if done overnight or first thing in the morning.
- Remove from the fridge and remove the clingfilm.
- Bash the forzen raspberries into pellets and place on top of the mousses.
- Using the back of a knife scrap some chocolate to create shavings. Place the shavings on top of the raspberry pellets
- Top with more reaspberry pellets and serve immediately.
- Make these well in advance, the night before is a stress reliever, but it will also work if you do them first them in the morning at say 9pm.
- Melting the chocolate slowly retains the chocolatey-ness, and completely prevents any sort of overcooking or burning. It's fool proof.
- Making a meringue is easier than you think. It's all about whisking the egg white enough so they form stiff white peaks and can hang upside down without slipping out the bowl. Then whisk in sugar one spoon at a time. Do this and your meringue will be perfect. Also, an electric whisk will be so much easier.
- Fold the meringue into the chocolate ganache slowly. By folding, see our video in this blog post, it requires a simple but effective technique to retain as much air in the mixture as possible. This is vital to the quality and lightness of the mousse.
- When in the fridge make sure it's covered well. Chocolate can take on the smells of its surroundings, so wrap the cling film tightly.
- Don't forget the raspberries, they add some acidity to balance the richness of the chocolate.
How To Set a Romantic Table - Tips
Here are some top tips on how o create the perfect table setting on Valentines Day:
- Thick white table cloth – it will feel just like you’re at a restaurant.
- Place Mats – Contrasting colour place mats will help add variety and also protect the white table cloth.
- Use the good bowls, plates and glasses – grab some deep, wide, white pasta bowls for this occasion. They’re about £5 each and can get them from most supermarkets these days. We got ours from Sainsburys and Waitrose (not sponsored), both were the same price. Glasses, totally your call, but some good crystal champagne glasses and port glasses (for the Chocolate Mousse) really add that luxury touch.
- Candles – a romantic dinner is not complete with out a couple of candles to set the mood. In fact have two or three and turn down the main lights to really set it off – this is what the restaurants do.
- Red Roses – Buy a cheap bunch of red roses from the supermarket, at the time of writing they are £5.50 for a bunch of 8 small ones. Pick the leaves off one Rose and scatter across the table and place 5 into a small vase or brandy glass as the table centre piece, and lay the finally two horizontally along the top of each place mat.
Step By Step Video Guide
See our comprehensive video below showing you the detailed steps for the Lobster Linguini and the Chocolate Mousse as well as how to set a romantic dinner table.