By-line: It’s February 14th, and that means it’s time to impress. Elaine Lavery shows you how

It’s Valentines Day, and you have forgotten to make a reservation at a fancy restaurant for yourself and your other half. Or maybe you don’t believe in all that Valentine’s Day smush? If there’s a girl in your life, she might act like she’s not into it, but she probably is. Last year a friend of mine got a text from her relatively new boyfriend that simply read: ‘Happy Gayday’. People have varied feelings about Valentine’s Day, but this is definitely not the way to acknowledge it. Maybe you are forever desperately single and looking for a date. Most people are so flattered to be asked out on a date that they will not say no – so go for it today! It might be a pity date, but it’s a start.

If you fall under any of the above categories, I have a simple way to get you through the mind-wrecker of occasions that is Valentine’s Day. The French Classic, Sole Meunière. It’s simple and affordable (substitute sole for a similar flat white fish if you are really broke), and if you get it right it might just be a very happy Valentine’s Day.


2 tbsp plain flour
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 sole fillets, skin removed (preferably Dover sole)
50g butter
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Sift the flour onto a plate and season to taste. Pat the fish fillets dry with kitchen paper and dredge them in the flour, until lightly coated on both sides.
2. Spread half of the butter over the top of each coated fillet.
3. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and place the sole fillets, buttered sides down, into the pan. Gently fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Carefully turn over the fillets and fry for a further 2-3 minutes on the other side, until golden brown and cooked through.
5. Transfer each fillet to two warm serving plates.
6. Add the remaining butter to the pan the fish was cooked in and increase the heat to high. When the butter is foaming, add the parsley and lemon juice and stir for 10-15 seconds.
7. Serve the lemon butter sauce spooned over the sole immediately. Boiled potatoes and a selection of steamed fresh vegetables, such as carrots or French beans are a perfect accompaniment.

P.S. This is also perfect for a Valentine’s Day for one.