Restaurants, beaches, bars, movie theatres and the like, only means two things to me on Valentine’s Day – and that is queues and no real sense of privacy. Why not spend the night in, as a couple or as a crowd, and throw a Valentine’s Day dinner party? It’s the ideal way to celebrate Saint Valentine’s conquest: to set the mood, relax and enjoy great food and company without a care in the world.
With Valentine’s Day nearly upon us, and if you’re lucky enough to have a special someone or a special group of friends to celebrate this day of love with, here’s how you can turn it into a night to remember.
We’ve compiled a three-course meal that’s chock-full of love. All the ingredients are said to serve as a natural aphrodisiac.
Starters: Happy as an Oyster
Oysters contain large amounts of zinc and omega-3, which increases the male libido, apparently. It is also said to ward off depression and anxiety.
Grilled Oysters with Fennel Butter (courtesy of allrecipes.com)
- 1 g fennel seed, ground
- 115 g butter, softened
- 5 g shallots, minced
- 5 g chopped fennel greens
- 1 g ground black pepper
- 1.5 g salt
- 12 unopened, fresh, live medium oysters
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
- In a small bowl, blend together the butter, ground fennel seeds, shallots, fennel bulb, fennel greens, pepper and salt.
- Arrange the oysters on the grill or oven rack, cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until they start hissing and begin to open.
- Using an oyster knife, pry each oyster open at the hinge, loosen the oyster and discard the flat shell. Top each oyster with 2gof the fennel butter. Return to grill and cook until butter is melted and hot.
Mains: Something to crow about
Said to be the heart of the meal, this serving consists of the four key aphrodisiac / mood enhancing ingredients: avocado, basil, asparagus and almonds.
- Almonds are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, and fibre, and are revered as being a fertility symbol.
- Avocado is rich in vitamin B6, which increases the male production hormones.
- Asparagus contains large amounts of vitamin E and serves a sex drive booster.
- Basil promotes blood circulation, releases tension and alleviates headache symptoms.
- 55 g olive oil
- 55 g balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 g fresh basil
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
- Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Mix until well combined then add the chicken breasts to it, seal and place into the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to grilling.
- Coat the grill rack with cooking spray then heat on high. Place the chicken on the grill rack and cook 4-6 minutes per side or until cooked through and the juices run clear. Let the chicken rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing and serving with a little more chopped basil sprinkled on top.
- 3 small Persian cucumbers or garden cucumbers
- cherry tomatoes
- 55 g thinly diagonally sliced green onion or thinly sliced sweet onion (or more)
- 1 avocado
- 4 g fresh lemon juice (optional, for tossing with avocado)
- 2 g balsamic vinegar (use the good stuff)
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Cut cumbers into half-moon slices
- Cut cherry tomatoes in half to make one cup.
- Diagonally slice green onion or slice onion to make 1/4 cup, or more if you like onion.
- Peel and cut up the avocado into small cubes.
- Gently toss together cucumber, tomato, onion, and avocado in glass bowl (serving bowl).
- Add a small amount of balsamic vinegar, enough to barely coat the veggies, and toss again. Season to taste with your favourite sea salt and plenty of fresh-ground black pepper
- 3 g almonds (slivered or sliced)
- 2 g cornstarch
- 115 g chicken broth
- 0.5 kg fresh asparagus, trimmed of tough ends
- 4 g lemon peel, grated
- 0.5 g pepper
- Place almonds in a medium skillet and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook over med-high heat, stirring frequently about 5 minutes till golden. Set aside, to cool.
- In a small cup, blend cornstarch into 1 tbsp chicken broth. Set aside.
- Add asparagus and remaining chicken broth to the skillet containing the almonds. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook 4 minutes.
- Remove asparagus carefully to serving plate. Cover to keep warm.
- Into the skillet, stir in cornstarch mixture, lemon peel, and pepper. Stir continuously for about 1-2 minutes till sauce is slightly thickened.
- Gently pour sauce over asparagus and garnish with additional slivered almonds and fresh lemon wedges.
Dessert: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Winston Groom, Gump and Co.
There’s no better combo than chocolate truffles and red wine – something bitter and something sweet.
- Chocolate is a natural source of serotonin – ‘nuff said. It’s yummy, too.
- Red wine – something to talk about: Italian scientists claim that a glass of red wine a day can fuel ones lust into overdrive.
Chocolate Truffles (courtesy of simplyrecipes.com)
- Basic truffle ingredients
- 230 g of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces
- 225 g heavy whipping cream
- 2 g vanilla extract
- Optional base flavourings:
- Mint leaves (1 bunch, stems removed, chopped, about 500g)
- Cinnamon and cardamom (1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods)
- Amaretto (4 g)
- Almond extract (2 g)
- Cocoa powder
- Finely chopped walnuts
- Finely chopped almonds
- In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes. If you are using one of the other recommended flavourings, stir it in with the cream (and ignore vanilla in the next step. If adding mint or other solids, after the cream simmers, remove from heat and let seep for an hour. Then strain away solids, and return the cream to a simmer and proceed with recipe.
- Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and allow standing for a few minutes then stirring until smooth. (This chocolate base is called ganache.)
- Allow to cool, and then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts and serve, or place back in the refrigerator until needed.
Last but not least, enjoy the rest of the evening with some good conversation, some mellow tunes and whatever else tickles your fancy.