Stuck for what to do on Valentine’s Day? 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, make your own ambience, choose your own music and prepare just what you feel like eating. 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 his/her favourite food. Don’t stress if your cooking skills don’t stretch to Canard à l'Orange. Most of the time a simple dish that’s his/her favourite is going to make more of an impact than something fancy. Remember that scene in Ratatouille when the little chef wowed the hardened food critic by cooking a simple peasant meal that brought back memories of his childhood? 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?
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.
What you need to cook your meal
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.