Love is in the air. With February comes Valentine’s Day, where everyone (maybe some more secretly than others) love to indulge in a little romance at this time of the year.
Missed the previous article? Catch up here: The Perfect Summer Picnic
The biggest issue that we normally face is where to take that special someone, but why not shake things up on the 14th and impress your guest with a delicious home-cooked meal instead? This is what we had in mind.
First up on the menu is Fish en Papillote. It has that wow-factor that will make you look like a love machine as you show off some gastronomic flair while piercing that parcel of fish to release its unbelievable aromas. In reality, it’s really easy to make with no mess, no fuss, and very little washing up. Hake is also incredibly cheap and is full of vitamins and minerals. White fish contains Omega 3 which is an essential fatty acid that increases mental alertness, mood, reduces cholesterol and fat levels in the blood while also aiding those with blood pressure issues. - French lesson: Simply put, ‘en papillote’ translates to ’in parchment’. This means sealing your fish or chicken in a parchment paper parcel to allow all the glorious flavours to mingle while cooking.
Fish en Papillote
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cost per portion: R18 p/serving
Kilojoules p/portion: 355kJ
2 Hake fillets (75g each)
2 Baby marrows
½ Red onion
Sprig of fennel
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Cut two large hearts out of baking paper and grease with olive oil. Make a crease down the centre, so that the two halves are mirroring each other.
3. Prep: slice vegetables into batons lengthwise.
4. Slice lemons and onion into rings.
5. Brush olive oil onto hake fillets, season with salt and pepper on both sides.
6. Layer your vegetable sticks onto one half of the heart along with the onion rings.
7. Carefully place a fillet onto the vegetables and place the lemon slices on top.
8. Add a spring or two of fennel onto the two fillets and fold the other half of the heart over.
9. Crimp the edges to seal the parcel – ensure that it is sealed tightly.
10. Bake: pop into the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
11. Serve: break open each parcel at the table to release all the aromas and impress your guest.
12. Plate and enjoy.
Hint: chop and change the vegetables, fish and aromatics depending on what is available. This recipe is a quick winner and will be delicious with almost any combination. Friendly advice: if romance is what you’re after, stay away from the garlic. Though garlic is tasty, stinky breath is a mood-killer. #justsaying
While a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day may be a bit of a cliché, dark and creamy chocolate mousse definitely isn’t. We all know chocolate is the way to a woman’s heart – and whipping up a bowl of this is as easy as pie. This recipe is not only gluten-free, but high in anti-oxidants and lower in sugar than most after-dinner treats. And, here’s something to get your heart beating: dark chocolate contains flavonoids which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, thus lowering the risk of heart disease.
Easy Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berries
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cost per portion: R21 p/serving
Kilojoules p/portion: 1320kJ
150g Dark Chocolate (70%)
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
5ml vanilla essence
100ml cream, whipped
1. Prep: Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in the microwave – melt in 20 second bursts, stopping after each to stir the chocolate properly.
2. Allow to cool properly, though still in liquid form.
3. While the chocolate cools, whip up the egg whites and cream in separate bowls.
4. Once sufficiently cooled, mix the egg yolk and vanilla essence in properly.
5. Fold egg whites into chocolate mix – this will loosen up the mixture.
6. Refrigerate until 30 minutes prior to serving.
7. Serve: to re-loosen, fold whipped cream through the mixture and place in pudding bowls.
8. Top with fresh berries.
Mix it up: if you’re feeling fancy, replace the vanilla essence with coffee, liquor, rosewater or citrus juice for a flavoured mousse.
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