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Don't spend Valentine's Day slaving away in the kitchen. With this foolproof prep-ahead menu, you can tuck into a gourmet romantic supper without doing much on the day

 

The drink: Raspberry prosecco cocktail

Keep a bag of frozen raspberries in the freezer, ready to use instead of ice cubes in these fruity Valentine's cocktails.

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The starter: Smoked salmon with dill and fennel pickle

Make the pickle for this delectable sharing platter up to two hours ahead, so all the flavours from the dill, pink peppercorns and fennel have time to infuse. It's then a five-minute job to assemble the dish: stir fragrant orange zest through crème fraîche, spread on to a platter and top with ribbons of smoked salmon. Sprinkle over the pickle and serve.

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The main course: Slow-cook beef and red wine ragù

Let lean casserole beef, porcini mushrooms and fruity red wine simmer away in the slow cooker, while you frolick around town with your Valentine. Come home to a rich and flavoursome ragù, ready to serve over fresh pappardelle pasta. Yum.

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The dessert: Ginger and rhubarb fool

Make your rhubarb coulis for these fancy fools the night before, by roasting rhubarb, honey and orange juice together, then leaving to cool. Keep covered in the fridge until you need it, ready to ripple through creamy Greek yogurt for a light and refreshing dessert.

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The grand finale: Handmade chocolate truffles

Flavour these truffles with your Valentine's favourite liqueur and nibble over coffee. Yep, they're a labour of love to make, but they keep well in an airtight container so you can make them in advance. This recipe makes 30, so you can even get away with snaffling a few yourself. Well deserved, no doubt.