Modish Living Blog

Easy ideas for setting up your Valentine's Day table

If you are staying in for dinner this Valentine's Day, chances are you might be thinking about how you can jazz up your reclaimed wood dining table to make it look a bit more special.

First of all, make sure to follow the basics of laying a dinner table to create the perfect base to build upon. If you have a table cloth on your table, make sure it drapes evenly over both sides of the table. Then, when it comes to place settings, you may need to think about what you are eating. At a minimum, make sure your placemats, or plates are not too close to the edge of the table; an inch or two into the table is perfect. And last but not least, make sure you have enough cutlery to last the entire meal plus any serving spoons you may need. This will ensure you don't need to keep running to the kitchen and you can spend more quality time with your loved one.

When it comes to decorating the table, go with a style that suits your relationship and the mood for the evening you had in mind. Flowers in beautiful glass vases are always a great option for the classic Valentine's Day meal. You could even add a couple of white sheepskin rugs draped over a reclaimed wooden bench or your dining chairs, as above, to create a luxurious yet cosy evening in, perfect for a slightly more casual evening.

Of course, you could keep it really simple. Candles will always go down well for creating a romantic feel paired with a good bottle of wine. With candles, make sure you mix heights and styles to create a finish with more depth and to ensure your table doesn't look over crowded.

This classic table style is wonderful for a low-fuss dining table if you have little time to get ready after work, yet still looks chic. Place a single red candle in the centre of your table with a small table decoration - this could even be a small box of luxurious chocolates for after dinner and you are pretty much done. If you can, get creative with your napkins and fold them into a unique shape to add a little interest.

For more inspiration, take a look at the Modish Living website.

7 Days left till valentine’s day! What will you cook?

Valentine’s day has come around again for another year and you’ve decided to cook a meal for you and your loved one yourself. Whether you’re a keen chef, or you just want to save a bit of money on what can be a pretty expensive day, we have put together a collection of the best recipes, to tantalise your taste buds and impress your partner.

Why not take a look at these tasty meals for a bit of inspiration?

Roasted shrimp pepper with creamy rice

Roasted shrimp pepper with creamy rice

This dish offers a mouthful of flavour that will truly have you coming back for more. Preheat the oven and then add a tablespoon of oil to a pan on medium heat. Add one chopped onion, till caramelised then add diced garlic. One minute later, add a cup of rice and three quarters of a cup of dry white wine. Cook until the wine has been absorbed. Add two cups of water and a dash of salt and pepper to the pan, then reduce the heat and add the lid. Leave until the water has absorbed.

Whilst all that is simmering away, cook 1lb of shrimp on a baking tray with red peppers, tomatoes, oil and salt and pepper. Roast for around 10 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through and then serve on top on top of the rice – voila!

Slow cooker red wine beef stew

Slow cook red wine beef stew

Easy, yet impressive. Throw 1/2lb of beef cut up into 2” into a bowl and add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cook the meat in a pan filled with olive oil until it has a brown crust then put the meat in the slow cooker. Add butter to the pan and scrape the bits of meat that are left on the bottom in – this adds to the flavor - and then add half a bottle of dry red wine and 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Simmer for one min then add to the slow cooker. Add 2 chopped potatoes, 3 sliced carrots, 3 diced celery sticks, 2 chopped onions, a handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes, 4 minced garlic cloves, and 1 large rosemary sprig to the slow cooker. Cook for 7 to 8 hours, while you relax and pamper yourself and remove the rosemary before serving.

 

Coconut and basil steamed mussels

Coconut and basil steamed mussels

Seafood can be a lovely treat on Valentine’s day and this dish is no exception. Add oil to your pan on medium heat, throw in a quarter of a cup of minced shallots and two teaspoons of garlic. Stir for two minutes then add one cup of light coconut milk, 2/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of chicken broth, ¼ cup basil, 1tbs fresh lime juice, 1 tsp dark brown sugar and fish sauce and ½ a tea spoon of sirracha - then let it boil. Once that’s done, simply simply add mussels to the pan for 5 mins, and throw away any unopened shells. Remove the mussels onto a plate then let the sauce simmer for a further minute, before drizzling it over the bowl.

This can be served with rice if you like, or simply on its own.

French apple tart

French apple tart

Valentine’s day is often the time to push the boat out dessert-wise, but playing it safe with an old favourite is always a better choice (we think!) This three-step recipe may take a while but we promise it’s worth it.

Step 1. Add 1 ¼ cups flour, 1tbsp sugar, ¼tsp salt, 120g cold butter, and 2tbsp of ice water into the food processor and mix together. Then slowly add one egg yolk until it resembles a dough. Roll the dough out and place it into the round baking pan, cover it in film and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Step 2. Add 3 apples cut into chunks, 2tbsp of sugar, ¼ cup apple juice, ¼ cup of water and a pinch of cinnamon along with a zest of one lemon to a pan and let boil for 10 mins. Then mash the apples with a fork and allow to cool. Spread a single layer of compote to the dough and freeze.

Step 3. Peel and core two gala apples and slice them very thinly. Place in a bowl and cover with lemon juice. Remove the tart from the freezer  and put it in the baking tray- you could a tart tray or the muffins tray to arrange the apple slices on top to look like the picture above. Sprinkle ½ tsp sugar on the top.

Bake at 200c for 15 mins then reduce the heat to 175c and cook for a further 20 mins.

Set the scene

Once you’ve picked the right recipe for you and your partner, it’s time to think about setting the right atmosphere in the dining room too. A well laid dining space can be a feast for the eyes as much as the food, and this can be achieved by choosing great music and wonderful dining furniture and accessories. There’s something so inviting about a shabby chic table, so why look at reclaimed wood dining tables or sideboards to add some great style to your dining space.  When it comes to the walls, well placed contemporary artwork or maybe even a large wall clock makes for a great talking point if the conversation runs dry – not that we think it will. You could even consider using whimsical fairy lights to set the scene around the room, offering romantic light to complement your delicious food and great company.

Whether you choose some or all of the recipes and décor tips above, or plump for something completely different, we wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day from all at Modish!

3 easy to make cocktails for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away. Going out for dinner is always an easy option, but staying in is often far more relaxing than venturing out to a busy restaurant, and it's easy to make your evening far more personal and meaningful. 

As for decorating your dining room, make a few easy changes to create the perfect atmosphere. If you have a touch of urban chic with gorgeous industrial style lighting in your living or dining room, make sure you keep the light low for a romantic evening. On an industrial dining table, add flowers and lots of candles to set the scene.

Finish your evening with one of our fantastic gift ideas for something a little different from the typical flowers, jewellery or chocolates. 

A gorgeous glass of wine is always a great accompaniment to your dinner, but why not try something a little different with one of these Valentine's Day themed cocktails:

Flirtini

The Flirtini is a fabulous sweet and fruity cocktail, best served in a martini glass with a garnish of mint or a glacé cherry.

Muddle a couple of pineapple chunks with 1 part Cointreau, or Triple Sec if you prefer, in the bottom of a mixing glass. Then add 1 part vodka and 2 parts pineapple juice. Strain and pour into a chilled glass or over ice and top up with champagne or prosecco. 

For a non-alcoholic version, substitute the alcohol for a blend of orange juice, lime juice and lemonade for a fresh and fruity drink. 

French Kiss

If you are looking for something a little creamier, French Kiss is perfect. Pour equal parts Chambourd, vodka, dark creme de cacao and cream into a cocktail shaker and shake before topping with a chocolate kiss. Alternatively, if you don't like vodka, switch for something like an Irish Cream whiskey and maybe add a little less cream. 

X's and O's

X's and O's is a great gin based drink which is light and refreshing. Place the 2 sage leaves, a dash of pear syrup, a couple of slices of pear and a handful of blueberries into a cocktail shaker and muddle to combine. Add a dash of lime juice, gin and ice and then shake before pouring into a tall glass. Garnish with a mixture of berries and enjoy.

For more inspiration, visit the Modish Living website