All of these dishes below are either quick to cook or can be prepared in advance and finished at the last minute. Feel free not to tell your loved one how easy it was, and if cooking for just two, do remember to add one of our Wine Preservers to the list of ingredients!
Potted goose with toasted sourdough bread and little gherkins
Matched wine: dryish Alsace gewurztraminer
This makes enough for four generous starter portions, so plenty more to enjoy some other time. Finely shred 450g cooked goose. Add a pinch each of powdered mace and ginger and some finely chopped thyme. Season well with salt and pepper. Stir in 300g softened goose fat. Pack into a bowl and chill until required. Spread thinly on hot brown toast and serve as a canapé.
Flash-fried scallops with pancetta and winter leaves
Matched wine: white Burgundy or albariño
For two people, allow six medium scallops with corals. Separate and clean the scallops and the corals, pricking the latter with a fork to prevent splitting. Dry thoroughly on kitchen paper. In a frying pan, fry four thin slices of pancetta until crisp and drain on kitchen paper. Season the corals and add to the hot bacon fat in the pan. Cook for a minute or so, then flip over and add the scallops, which should also need no more than a minute a side.
Arrange on a plate with the pancetta on top and a crown of lightly-dressed spinach leaves. Deglaze the pan with a little wine vinegar and drizzle the juices around the plate.
Beef Fillet with Mushroom Gratin
Matched wine: push the boat out with an Haut-Médoc
Fry a finely chopped shallot and a crushed garlic clove in 1tbs oil for about 3 minutes, until soft. Add 1tbs more oil and fry 100g mixed wild and chestnut mushrooms, stirring frequently for about 7 minutes until browned. Add 2 tbsp white wine and let it evaoprate. The mixture should be dry so drain before seasoning well, and mixing in 1tsp each finely chopped parsley and chives. Whip 2tbs double cream until just stiff and fold into the mixture. Cover and chill.
Shape a 400g piece of trimmed beef fillet into a neat roll and tie with string. Brush with a tablespoon of oil, season and sear all over in a preheated non-stick pan. Cook for 10-17 minutes (rare– well-done), rolling it around the pan. Cool, cling-wrap and chill. On the night, preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. Remove the beef from the fridge, unwrap and cut into two equal portions. Lay in a greased gratin dish, season again, and top with the mushroom sauce.
Finish with a little grated Parmesan. Reheat for 12 minutes until bubbling and golden. Serve with a salad, dressed with truffle oil.
This is a Gordon Ramsay recipe from The Times Magazine, in which he writes every Saturday.
Ripe Brie, or Camembert with Medjool Dates and Walnut Bread
Matched wine: a fruity young right-bank claret or Beaujolais
The biggest challenge is to capture a perfectly ripe cheese, such is our national obsession with long shelf lives. Once that is done, all that remains is to bring it room temperature and make it look pretty.
Janet Wynne Evans
Recipes originally appeared in Wine Without Fuss case notes 2008