Mr Cooper, who has worked at the Bingham for five years, has devised a special three course menu giving culinary creatives the chance to dazzle their date this Thursday.
To start, we are making a crab risotto with lime and fresh coriander, duck for the main course will be accompanied by caramelised fig, celeriac puree, and a vanilla sauce, while a buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb and a mini doughnut will finish off the meal.
“You’ll have to spend at least an afternoon on it,” says Mr Cooper as he adds rice to a pan for the risotto starter, “but it’s all in the preparation really.”
He uses crab and adds fresh coriander and lime. “Something sharp will cut through it nicely - use lots of aromatics and citrus flavours,” says Mr Cooper.
“Portion sizes have a lot to do with it, you can have very rich food but in small portions,” he says, as he scoops the mixture into small bowls and decorates with fresh coriander and fresh lime. “You don’t want a big load of food.”
Presentation, as one may gather, is also a must, and the chef uses a cloth to wipe any spillage from the bowl.
For the main, Shay pan fries duck, and he gives some top tips on how to cook it to perfection. “If you put a pan on top of it then it doesn’t lose its shape – it stops it from curling up.”
The fillet of duck is sliced and presented on the plate, but Mr Cooper says romantics do not have to strictly follow his menu if they want to wow their partner.
He says: “There are ways to sex up a menu without being too obvious. You can always sex it up with a little bit of fruit. Fruit is a classic combination to go with duck anyway. Other good ones are passion fruit, oysters – keep it vibrant and colourful.”
For the dessert Mr Cooper makes a light panna cotta, accompanied by a mini doughnut.
Foods to perhaps steer clear of would be heavy foods such mash potato, although they are OK in very small portions, Mr Cooper says. He explains: “It is important to keep the food light and elegant and attractive.”
The main thing is to relax and keep it simple. He says: “Don’t overcomplicate it – you don’t want it to be a stressful evening, that’s the last thing you want.”
Dorset Crab Risotto, fresh coriander and lime
50g finely chopped shallot
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
10ml Pomace olive oil
200g carnaroli risotto rice
400ml Shellfish stock
75g fresh white crab meat
20g Brown crab meat
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs
50g parmesan cheese
50g unsalted butter
4 Lime segments cut in to small dice
Corriander cress or fresh coriander leafs
Gently sweat the garlic and shallots with pomace oil in a large heavy based pan until they are tender and translucent, add the rice and continue to stir until the rice is warm and coated in oil. Add 100ml of warm vegetable stock and cook out until completely absorbed by the rice. Repeat again with more stock until rice is completely cooked again yet retains a bite, add the crab, herbs, parmesan and butter and continue to stir until completely emulsified. Divide the risotto between two bowls then garnish with coriander cress and fresh lime pieces.
Telmara farm duck, caramelised fig, celeriac puree, vanilla sauce
1 Telmara farm duck crown
2 ripe figs
75ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
100g hispi cabbage
For the sauce
500ml dark chicken stock
50ml apple juice
1 vanilla pod
Season the duck crown, put in a cold frying pan and gently crisp up the skin on a low temperature – this should be done slowly over a period of 20-30 minutes
In the mean time grate the celeriac and place in a pan with milk, bring to the boil, them simmer for approximately. 25 minutes or until the celeriac is very tender and breaks apart between your fingers, remove the celeriac from the milk and place in a blender with the double cream, blend until smooth.
For the sauce; reduce the chicken stock by 75 per cent and add the port, Madeira and apple juice and reduce further until you have approximately 100ml of liquid, scrape the vanilla pod and add the reduction, then whilst the reduction is still hot whisk in the butter one cube at a time, until completely emulsified and silky smooth. Add seasoning to taste.
To glaze the fig, cut in half and toss in caster sugar and bake in the oven for 2 minutes.
Once the duck is nice and golden brown and the skin is crispy, remove the breast from the crown and place in preheated oven at 200°C for 3 minutes or until the breast is cook throughout but still retains a nice pink colour.
Blanch the cabbage leaves in hot salted water, until tender. Remove from water and toss in 10g butter and season.
Allow the duck to rest for 3 minutes, then carve into nice slices and arrange attractively on your plates, place a spoonful of puree next to the duck and arrange the cabbage and fig alongside it, spoon the sauce over the duck breast and serve immediately
Buttermilk panna cotta, rhubarb and doughnut
250ml Single Cream
75g Double Cream
1.5 leaf Gelatine
300ml vegetable oil for frying
100g caster sugar for dusting
200g chopped rhubarb
For the doughnut; mix the yeast, milk and sugar together. Place flour, salt, butter and egg in mixed with dough hook. Begin to mix at a low speed, slowly add the milk mix and mix thoroughly. Leave to stand at room temperature until doubled in size.
Once doubled in size weigh out 30g pieces of dough and roll into tight balls, leave to prove again.
For the rhubarb; Bring the sugar, rhubarb and water to the boil, cook until soft, transfer to a blender, puree till smooth, place in the fridge to chill
To make the panna cotta; Place the gelatine in cold water to soften, mix the single cream, double cream, sugar and buttermilk together, bring to the boil, whisk in the softened gelatine.
Place two tablespoons of rhubarb puree in the bottom of each glass, then pour over the panna cotta mix, place in the fridge to set.
Warm the oil to 150°C and fry the doughnut one by one until golden brown, remove from fryer and toss in caster sugar.
Once the panna cotta is set, place the glass on a serving plate, alongside the doughnut and serve.