Why not make your own meal and enjoy the day your way?
There are lots of reasons to stay at home and cook this Valentine’s Day. You can avoid crowded restaurants, choose your own music and eat whatever you want! So let’s get inspired to cook up a storm – home cooked meals are always better anyway.
Tips and tricks on what to make for Valentine’s Day
Make their favourite food. Don’t stress if your cooking skills don’t stretch to Canard à l'Orange. Most of the time a simple favourite is going to make more of an impact than something fancy. If you've seen Ratatouille, you'll remember when the little chef wowed the hardened food critic by cooking a simple peasant meal? Channel Ratatouille and remember that sometimes simple is best.
The ingredients you use are the most important part. Use fresh and seasonal ingredients for a meal that is sure to be a success. Head to the market and pick the best produce on offer.
Put effort into the presentation. You eat with your eyes first. Present your meal on nice plates, think about the colours and get creative with the forms. Heart shaped cake, anyone?
6 Top Valentine’s Day recipes
Green pea and mint dip
- 3 cups frozen green peas
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoons tahini
- Coarse salt and pepper
- Cook peas in salted boiling water until tender, 1 minute. Transfer to an ice-water bath; drain.
- Pulse peas in a food processor with mint, lemon zest and juice, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil and tahini.
- Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with oil.
Zucchini, Haloumi and Herb Tarts
- 1/2 bunch each chives, dill and mint
- 450g firm ricotta (see note)
- 4 eggs
- 80g (1 cup) grated parmesan
- 2 zucchinis
- 2 tablespoons pepitas (green pumpkin seeds - see note)
- 100g haloumi
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, to brush
- 8 sheets filo pastry
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup rocket
- Place a heavy-based oven tray in oven and preheat to 190C. Process herbs in a food processor until roughly chopped. Remove 2 tablespoons herbs and reserve. Add ricotta, 3 eggs and half the parmesan to remaining herbs in food processor. Season with salt and pepper, then process until just combined.
- Thinly slice zucchinis, then place in a bowl with pepitas and remaining 1 egg and parmesan. Season. Toss to combine. Cut haloumi into 1cm pieces and reserve.
- Grease an 18cm x 28cm slice pan and line base and sides with baking paper. Brush 1 filo sheet lightly with extra oil, then place another sheet on top. Repeat brushing and layering with oil and remaining filo. Cut filo stack in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thirds to form 6 rectangles.
- Divide ricotta mixture among filo rectangles, spooning into centres. Place tarts in 2 rows of 3 in prepared pan, lifting sides of filo upright around ricotta mixture. Top ricotta mixture with zucchini mixture, then scatter over reserved haloumi. Place pan on tray and bake for 20 minutes or until filo is golden and filling is set (cover with baking paper if over-browning).
- Whisk oil and lemon juice in a bowl, then season. Add rocket and reserved herbs, then gently toss to combine.
- Divide tarts among plates, then top with salad to serve.
For the main course:
- 6 free-range chicken legs, cut into thigh and drumstick
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium brown onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- 400g can whole tomatoes, chopped with juices
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- ½ cup black olives
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium to high heat. Add onions, garlic and sea salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft. Remove onions from the pan, add the chicken and fry, turning pieces to brown evenly.
- Put the onions back in, add wine and cook until wine reduces to a couple of tablespoons.
- Add tomatoes with their juice, chicken stock, olives, bay leaf and rosemary. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
- The chicken should be cooked but not falling off the bone and the sauce should have thickened. Check the seasoning, add a good grind of pepper and fold the vinegar through. Place three chicken pieces on each of the four white plates, sprinkle with parsley and serve with soft polenta.
For something sweet:
Chocolate pistachio fudge
- 350 g dark chocolate at least 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
- 397 g can of condensed milk
- 30 g butter
- 150 g unsalted pistachios with shells removed
- Place the chopped chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt into a heavy-based pan over a low heat and stir until melted and well combined.
- Place the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into some large and some small pieces.
- Add the nuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.
- Pour the mixture into a 23cm square tray, smoothing the top with a wet palette knife.
- Let the fudge cool, then refrigerate until set.
- Cut into small pieces approximately 3cm x 2cm(1¼in x ¾in).Cutting 7 x 7 lines in the tin to give 64 pieces best achieves this.
- Once cut, the fudge can be kept in the freezer - there's no need to thaw, just eat straight away.
Chicken Milanese (Italian chicken schnitzel)
- 500g chicken breast
- 3-4 eggs
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups of breadcrumbs
- 1/4 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
- 80 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
- Good olive oil for frying
- Salt to taste
- Cut your chicken into very thin fillets
- Whisk egg in a big dish. Add crushed garlic and chicken fillets. Allow chicken to sit in egg and garlic for 30 minutes.
- Add breadcrumbs, parsley and cheese together in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Evenly crumb and coat each chicken fillet with the breadcrumb mixture. If crumbs do not stick properly, dip the chicken back in the egg mixture and try again.
- Heat on medium heat a pan filled 2cm deep with olive oil. Add chicken two to three pieces at a time depending on the size of the pan. Chicken is done when the crumbs are golden brown
Steak and Guinness pie
- 500g stewing steak, chopped in bite size pieces
- 1 big can Guinness (440 mL)
- 1 beef stock cube
- 4 heaped spoons of flour
- 4 celery sticks
- 3 carrots
- 1 brown onion
- Handful of fresh rosemary leaves
- Handful of fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tins of tomatoes
- 2 sheets of puff pastry
- Mix steak and flour. Add salt and pepper to season. Add to a large heated pot with a drizzle of oil.
- Once steak is brown add onions. Stir for 2 minutes. The add diced celery and carrot.
- When veggies have softened slightly, add Guinness, tomatoes, stock cube, rosemary, thyme.
- Once mixture has come to the boil, cover with lid. Turn head to medium-low and cook for 1 -2 hours. 1 hour is enough for tender meat but if you have the 2 hours, you'll get a better result.
- Line a pie or casserole dish with a sheet of pastry. Add half the beef mixture. Add another sheet of pastry over the top. Pinch the edges of the pastry together and fold any excess over the top of the pie lid. You can add an egg wash to this to make the pastry brown more evenly.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes in an oven set to 180 degree Celsius. Pie is done when the pastry looks golden brown.
Other Valentine's Day Recipes to try
- Taste - Baked chicken with caramelised figs
- Donna Hay - Coconut yoghurt and passion-fruit brulee tarts
- Nigella Lawson - Linguine with chilli, crab and watercress
- Womans Day - Red wine beef ragu
- Taste - Pumpkin, thyme and caramelised onion pizzas
- Nigella Lawson - Lamb cutlets with chilli and black olives
- Donna Hay - Chewy salted caramels
What you need to cook your meal
Basics to Brilliance
5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food
How to be A Domestic Goddess
The Book Depository
Super Food Family Classics
Donna Hay The New Easy Cookbook
At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking
Chocolate Making Workshop
Jamie's 15-Minute Meals
The Book Depository
DIY Fresh Cheese Kit
Waterford Marquis Brady Glassware
The Complete Asian Cookbook (New Edition)
Mug Cakes: 40 Speedy Cakes to Make in a Microwave
The Book Depository
Gordon Ramsay Ultimate Fit Food
The Book Depository
Best retailers for romantic Valentine’s Day meals
Zanui - Create your own aesthetic.
Zanui is an online homewares and lifestyle store that provides stylish, designer furniture, homewares and decoration.
Groupon - Grab a groupon coupon and enjoy access to great deals.
Groupon is a popular deal-of-the-day website that promises its subscribers huge discounts on goods, services and activities and a nudge in the right direction.
Booktopia - A utopia for bookworms.
Booktopia is an Australian online bookstore that ships nationwide and stocks a huge range of titles.