Chef David O'Day dishes up some advice for lovers hoping to cook up a storm

GOURMET STYLING: Albury TAFE chef David O'Day has offered a few words of advice for those cooking for their beloved on Valentine's Day. Picture: CHRIS YOUNG
GOURMET STYLING: Albury TAFE chef David O'Day has offered a few words of advice for those cooking for their beloved on Valentine's Day. Picture: CHRIS YOUNG

Duck salad on rocket and green beans with sesame and red wine dressing

IT'D be fair to day David O’Day spends more than his fair share of time in the kitchen.

When he's not teaching countless hospitality students at Albury TAFE, he's in his kitchen at home, whipping up family dinners that would be the envy of the neighbourhood on a nightly basis.

So how does he approach a day like Valentine's Day – flowers, or a home cooked meal?

“Food is a very passionate thing, and I'm very passionate about food, but that sort of thing is every day for me,” he said.

“My family eat like that seven days a week, I do most of the cooking at home.

“I'd actually be quite happy to go out, hand over my credit card and let someone else to the work.”

For someone who spends the majority of their hours slicing and dicing, that's probably fair enough.

For those looking to do something a little bit more special for their partners though, Mr O'Day did have a few words of advice on how to make a memorable meal.

Top of his list?

Don't think it has to be too elaborate.

“For other, cooking can be a bit more intimate,” he said.

“Anyone can buy flowers (although I usually do that too), but cooking can be something very personal.

“I’d say do your homework, keep to within your skills.

“You want it to be special, you don't want to go all out and have it be a complete disaster.

“Do something you feel comfortable with, something that’s too technical can go wring easily.

“Maybe try a practice run beforehand as well.” 

TAFE NSW floristry teacher Collette Rixon though, is firm in her belief that flowers, not food, is the way to win the affections of your beloved – but you have to do it right.

“Flowers may not last forever but the gesture behind giving flowers is everlasting,” Ms Rixon said.

“I’m very passionate about flowers and whether it’s a single rose or a whole bunch, it’s still the single most powerful way to express your love on Valentine’s Day.

“Everyone knows that traditionally, a red rose is the lover’s rose, but few men know what message other colours could be sending.”

“It’s best to steer away from the yellow rose – the friendship rose – unless you want the flowers potentially thrown back in your face.

“Pink (love), orange (passion and enthusiasm), red tulips and white lilies (devotion) are better options.”

If you'd like to be our next Casual Cook, email your recipe to chris.young@fairfaxmedia.com.au!

INGREDIENTS

1 duck breast

Five spice, Sea salt

1 potato

¼ Spanish onion

80g green beans

¼ bunch rocket

Sesame seeds

(Dressing)

Sesame seeds

5g sugar

30ml red wine

10ml raspberry vinegar

20ml olive oil

METHOD

Prepare the duck breast and rub the skin with mixture of five spice and salt.

Dice the potato, then place the duck skin side down in a cold pan. Place on the heat and crisp up. Blanch potatoes and place them next to the duck in the pan.

Turn the duck and potatoes, then finish in oven and 180 degrees for 10 minutes.

Remove and rest, then fry the onion until soft.

Blanch beans and clean rocket. 

Place potatoes on plate, dress beans and rocket, top with sliced duck breast.

For dressing, boil sugar and wine, reduce to syrup. Add half the vinegar, cool then add the rest.