Delicious dinner ideas to try this Valentine’s Day, recipes included

Click to play video 'Valentine’s Day dinner ideas with Chef Eraj on the Morning News' Valentine’s Day dinner ideas with Chef Eraj on the Morning News
Valentine’s Day dinner ideas with Chef Eraj on the Morning News – Feb 11, 2016

WINNIPEG – If you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner ideas this Valentine’s Day, we’ve got you covered.

Chef Eraj Jayawickreme from Fairmont Winnipeg joined the Morning News to discuss a simple salad, main course and dessert to make this weekend.

“Stick to the strong points of what you do really well,” Jayawickreme said. “Presentation is very important and colour is key.”

Jayawickreme suggests going to the grocery store ahead of time and preparing the dinner in advance to savour the time with your loved one.

Smoked salmon and beet salad. Courtesy Eraj Jayawickreme

Smoked salmon and beet salad


1 bunch beets (3/4 pound without greens or 1 1/4 pound with), trimmed

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1/4 cup sliced natural almonds

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz watercress

2 oz crumbled blue cheese

4oz smoked salmon

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Wrap beets in foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets and cool.
  3. While beets are roasting, cook almonds in oil in a small skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden. Cool almonds in oil (nuts will get darker as they cool). Transfer almonds with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and season with salt.
  4. Stir together shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and oil from almonds in a large bowl.
  5. Slip skins from beets and halve large beets. Cut beets into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Take ¾ of the beets and add to dressing, tossing to coat.
  6. Take the remaining ¼ of the beets and puree in a blender till smooth add water as needed to get a smooth consistency.


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  1. Put some of the puree down on the plate and arrange some of the smoked salmon in small rosettes.
  2. Arrange beets on a platter and drizzle with any dressing remaining in bowl.
  3. Top with watercress, then blue cheese.
  4. Sprinkle with almonds.
Pan-Seared Bison Tenderloin. Courtesy Eraj Jayawickreme

Pan-Seared Bison Tenderloin


2 (6 ounce) beef tenderloin fillets

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Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tbsp unsalted butter

  1. Remove the fillets from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking, allowing them to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel (this helps them get a good sear) and season amply with salt and pepper. Proteins absorb a lot of salt, so don’t be shy, give them a good coating.
  4. Heat enough canola oil to coat the bottom of a stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Since the steaks are lean, you will need the help of fat to ensure they don’t stick to the pan. You could use a nonstick if that is your only option, but you can get a hotter surface by using stainless steel.
  5. Once you see light wisps of smoke rise from the pan, place the fillets in the pan and sear 1 minute on all sides, making sure not to move the meat around too much, which prevents that delicious crust from forming.
  6. Once seared on all sides, remove pan from heat, place the butter and thyme along the edge of the pan and tilt back until the butter is melted. Using a large spoon, baste the tops of the fillets with butter. Place pan directly into the oven and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes for medium-rare, or until the internal temperature reads 120 degrees F.
  7. Let the beef rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing to ensure all the juices redistribute and you have a tender, juicy steak.

Pan seared Black Cod

2pc of 5-ounce skinless black cod fillets

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  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering.
  2. Season half of the fillets with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, skinned side up.
  3. Cook over high heat until the fillets are golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining oil and fillets. Transfer the fish to the oven and cook until just white throughout.

Wasabi pea puree


2 cups of frozen garden peas (I generally don’t promote using frozen veges, but try finding 2 cups of fresh peas)

1/2 cup of water (approx)

2 teaspoons of wasabi paste (more or less to taste)

  1. Boil water in a saucepan and throw in frozen peas for five minutes, or until the peas turn bright green. Drain the peas and add to your food processor.
  2. Pulse the peas with 1/4 of hot water, and add more until you get a thick, yet smooth consistency.
  3. One you reach the consistency you’re after add wasabi one teaspoon at a time.
  4. Adjust until you achieve the flavour that you like.
  5. Season generously with sea salt

Celery a l’Etuvee


8 stalks celery, rinsed and trimmed, leaves chopped and reserved

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2 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp olive oil

1 sprig of thyme

Pinch kosher salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup chicken stock

  1. Slice the celery into 4-inch pieces on the bias.
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a 10-inch saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Once melted, add the celery, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes until just beginning to soften slightly.
  4. Add the stock and stir to combine.
  5. Cover and reduce the heat to low.
  6. Cook until the celery is tender but not mushy, approximately 3 minutes.
  7. Take out the celery and allow to cool.
  8. Reduce the liquid until it has been reduced to a glaze.

***Note*** use the reduced glaze to warm up the celery to order.


Place puree on the plate as you like then place the meat and fish on top and aggange the celery around the plate as desired.

Dinner is served!. Shannon Cuciz/ Global News

Whipped deconstructed cheesecake mousse

Gram Cracker Crumble


6 cups crushed graham crackers

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1 cup sugar

1 1/3 cup butter, melted

  1. In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar; add butter and blend well.
  2. Press onto a parchment lined hotel pan, about 5 cm high
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
  4. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. Break apart to make a crumble

Cheesecake Mousse

One cheesecake from the store

  1. Cut off the gram cracker off the bottom of the cheese cake and discard
  2. Whip the cheesecake in a food processor till light and smooth.

Berry couli


12 ounces frozen mixed berries ( or some combination of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

1/4 cup water

4 tablespoons evaporated cane juice ( sugar)

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all but the lemon juice.
  2. Bring just to simmer and cook until berries are warm and sugar is dissolved.
  3. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  4. Strain through a fine sieve (or line coarse sieve with an old flour sack towel).
  5. Press as much through as possible, leaving only the seeds behind.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust sweetness if desired with additional sugar.
  7. Can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container.


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Place two spoons of the gram cracker crumble on a bowl and pipe some of the cheese cake mousse on top of the crumble.

Garnish with berries and berry couli.