Planning on proposing this leap year?

Since we’re in a leap year and it’s approaching the 29th February, the day when traditionally it’s the woman’s turn to do the proposing, we thought we’d use the opportunity to give anyone (of any gender) who’s planning to propose to their loved one a hand with planning a romantic meal.

With the exception of the soup these recipes all use ingredients which can be found in the shop, and as you can see look ever so appetising served in Margaret Glackin’s beautiful ceramics. Plus while you’re in the shop you can buy everything else you might need, including the jewellery.

To start: Ireshopeburn Chestnut Soup (serves 6, so if you’re cooking for 2 you can enjoy the next day as well!)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
7oz celeriac, chopped
1lb fresh chestnuts (see below for preparation)
2 pints vegetable stock
1 stick cinnamon 
1 small potato, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 110g pack blue stilton, crumbled
flat leaf parsley to garnish

Chestnuts: choose heavy, hard, shiny brown ones. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Cut a cross shape in each chestnut, lay them on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, removing when the skins start to curl around the cut. Peel while still warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook onion, carrot and celeraic over a medium heat for 5 minutes. 
Add chestnuts, stock, cinnamon and potato. 
Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 mins until the vegetables are tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and leave to cool slightly before blending until smooth.
Reheat then serve topped with crumbled stilton and parsley leaves.

Main course: Thai Chicken Skewers

To finish: chocolate mousse (serves 4)

100g / 3 1/2oz Guppy’s plain chocolate, broken in to pieces
250ml / 8fl oz soya cream, plus extra to serve
1tbsp brandy, rum, Amaretto or Cointreau
A few toasted flaked almonds to decorate

Place the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (the bowl should not be in the water) and leave for a few minuted until the chocolate has melted. 
Add the soya cream and alcohol to the chocolate, then whisk until the mixture has cooled and thickened a little.
Pour the mousse in to 4 serving dishes and chill overnight, until it is lightly set. Top each serving with a spoonful of soya cream and a toasted almonds.

If you’ve not left enough time for a dish that requires an overnight chill, this delicious Jamie Oliver ice-cream dusting can be made in minutes: just put 3 tbsp coffee beans, 80g hazelnuts and an 80g pot of Guppy’s cocoa nibs in a blender and blitz, then serve over ice-cream.