This Third Century Roman Saint can strike terror into a man’s heart, causing sweaty palms right to the build-up of the 14th of February.
The wonderfully wise poet Maya Angelou said it perfectly: “Eating is so intimate. It’s so sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.”
We’ll equip you with a shopping list, menu plan and tips on how to plate like a Masterchef. You want to make a meal that is light but sufficiently decadent; a trio of dishes that isn’t going to keep you away from your date for hours. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but so does staring into one another’s eyes.
Before we get stuck in, here are some tips for the big night – from a woman!
- Lay off the cologne – let your hard work in the kitchen perfume the air!
- Your planning WILL pay off! She is going to be so blown away by all your efforts, that you can afford to stay calm and roll with the punches.
- Not many women can resist the iridescent fizz of a flute of bubbly. We love the Boschendal Brut Rose for its crisp red berry notes and pale pink hues.
- Everyone feels better in the forgiving glow of candlelight.
Right, let’s get stuck in.
- 300g tub of cooked beetroot pieces (cheat and buy from the salad isle)
- 1 tub of micro leaves (buy pre-washed either micro herbs or lettuce)
- 1 tub of Greek Feta
- 1 bunch of fresh mint
- A handful of pistachio nuts (shelled, if you can’t find these roasted almonds or hazelnuts are also good for crunch)
- 1 bunch of radishes (most green grocers and stores have baby sweet radishes)
- Olive oil for dressing
- Black pepper and Balsamic vinegar to serve
- Chop the beetroot into fine dice and toss in olive oil
- Slice a few radishes as thin as possible
- Slice the Feta into strips, thin but not breaking apart
- Roughly chop the pistachios
This is a very simple dish celebrating flavours so take the time to have fun and plate it beautifully.
- Use a striking plate: white, black or marble.
- Add the white Feta first
- Lay it flat on the plate in an interesting pattern and tumble the diced beetroot over next.
- Take some of the thin radish slices and stand them up between the beetroot cubes.
- Scatter some of the pistachios and micro leafs over next
- Serve with a twist of pepper and a drizzle of the best Balsamic vinegar you can lay your hands on.
Prep all your salad ingredients beforehand so that once your date is seated all you have to do is worry about plating.
- 2 generous fillets of salmon
- 1 packet of pre-prepared Zucchini noodles
- Limes (if you can’t find limes, lemons will do)
- 1 tub of Creme Fraiche
- 1 tub baby tomatoes (Rosa tomatoes have good flavour, experiment with the yellow and green varieties) finely chopped
- 1 tub freshly chopped ginger
- 1 tub of freshly chopped chilli (these cheats save you time)
- You will need black pepper, salt and mint to serve
- Heat a drizzle of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat
- Add the Zucchini noodles, the ginger & chilli and sauté for 2 minutes
- Remove from heat and set aside, drizzle the juice of a 1/4 lemon and stir through the chopped tomatoes
- Season with another drizzle of good olive oil, pepper and salt.
- Rub the fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
- When your date is ready and seated, sear the salmon for 1.5 to 2 minutes on each side or until it has turned a beautiful pale pink over a medium to high heat in a non-stick pan
- While you are plating the noodles and salmon, cut a lemon or lime in half & sprinkle with sugar before placing cut side down into the pan you used for the salmon to caramelise for 1 minute.
- Keep it simple with this dish, a neat generous pile of Zucchini noodles
- Place the fish next to this on the plate
- Add the lime wedge and a dollop of Creme Fraiche onto the fish
- Serve at the table with salt and a crack of black pepper to taste
This is a super-quick main to prepare if all your elements are ready. So seat your date with a glass of bubbly or a crisp white wine and pour it fresh. This is not a dish that can sit.
This show-stopping dessert is actually the ultimate cheat. A transformation of pantry ingredients into decadence.
Ingredients for the mousse
- 1 cup (250ml) cream
- 1 cup (250ml) condensed mild
- 2 tablespoons granadilla coulis (the tinned pulp or fresh granadillas also work)
Ingredients for the chocolate soil
- 2 cups of chocolate biscuits
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- You will need fresh granadillas for garnish and 2 for serving cups
Method – the mousse
- Whip the cream until soft peaks (you should be able to pull your whisk out and momentarily stay peaked)
- Add the condensed milk and whip until the mixture has a lovely mousse consistency, but be careful not to overheat and curdle the cream
- Gently fold through the granadilla
- Set aside in the fridge
Method – the soil
- In a blender or using a rolling pin blend the biscuits until you have a fine crumb
- Mix in the melted butter adding slowly until the mixture has the consistency of moist soil
- Have your 2 granadillas halved and the pulp scooped out
- Spoon in the mousse into “cups” and be generous to create height
- Plate with an extra half of fresh granadilla and drizzle over some of the scooped out pulp from the cups
- Serve the chocolate soil on the side as a decadent sprinkle to the refreshing mousse
Your cream and condensed milk should be icy cold before whipping.