A romantic dinner doesn’t mean you have to spend hours preparing the food and here are a few really great ideas for Valentines day from 2011 and a few 2012 additions.
2012 Valentines day recipe ideas
Valentines day Breakfast Flapjacks or the French Toast (I know the recipe says fathers day, but it’s a winner recipe)
Tuna with Mango Salsa takes just minutes and is really fantastic for those wanting a lighter meal.
Chicken Cacciatore is always a good one for special occasions.
Greek lamb Shanks – These do need time but is a very simple dish to put together. Serve it with some vegetables, Cauliflower with Leeks and bacon or the Mediterranean Vegetable salad
2011 Valentines day recipe ideas
Easy smoked salmon and shrimp pasta
Lemon and Ginger Chicken
Lamb Rogan Josh (This takes a while but is worth every minute if you are a curry person)
You just gotta love Valentines day. For me Valentines day is all about the dessert, something you can share that just rounds of the evening so here are a few ideas.
There are few who can resist a great dessert, so blow your lover away with a meal to remember.
Give them a try, you will love them.
Pears in Maple syrup is very simple and tastes phenomenal.
Meringues or the Eton Mess
Warm cherries with cinnamon and ice cream
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Happy Valentines day to you all.
Mixed mince meat loaf
The mixture of pork and beef with a hint of sage in this meatloaf recipe is something quite marvelous. I am a big fan of meatloaf, it’s cheap, makes a great easy dinner and is fantastic on sandwiches. It’s really important to use extra lean mince especially with the pork and to keep it nice and moist either put a bowl of water in the oven when cooking it or put the loaf tin in a roasting pan with some water in it.
What you need
1 small onion grated
1 medium carrot grated
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage (or 1 heaped teaspoon dry sage)
300g lean pork mince
200g lean beef mince
1/2 cup breadcrumds
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon English mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Prepare a baking tray or small loaf tin(17cmx11cmx8cm) by smearing it with a little oil and heat your oven to 180 Celsius.
In a pan on a medium heat add the onion and carrot and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes until it begins to soften, add the garlic and cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so for another 3 or 4 minutes.
Now add the sage and give it a good mix through and then remove from the pan and place into a large mixing bowl.
Add the pork mince, beef mince, breadcrumbs, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and the mustard if you decide to use it. Now get you hands in there and mix it well to evenly distribute all of the vegetables. Give it a light seasoning with a bit of salt and black pepper and then a final mix.
If you are using a baking tray, place it into the center of the tray and form into a loaf shape or place into your loaf tin and pack it down quite well.
Place in the oven with an oven proof bowl containing about 500ml water.
Bake at 180 Celsius for 45 minutes until the loaf is firm. If you are serving it hot, allow it to cool slightly for about 5-10 minutes before turning out and slicing.
Serve with peas and mash or any of your favourite vegetables.
Here is a more traditional meatloaf recipe with tomato sauce topping.
Toad in the hole
Don’t let the few ingredients fool you on this Toad in the hole recipe, it is fantastic. The batter will rise and rise and you will be tempted to open the oven, but resist and you will be rewarded with a puffed up Yorkshire pud that is hard to beat. If the areas below the sausages are a little wet don’t fret, this is exactly what you are meant to have. (for 3-4 people)
What you need
6-8 pork/beef sausages
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
225g plain flour (it is important to measure it)
4 large eggs
250ml full cream milk
Heat your oven to 200 Celsius while you prepare, it is very important to place the dish in a hot oven.
You can use a metal roasting pan or an oven proof dish for this recipe that should be something close to 30cm x 20cm and have sides at least 7cm high.
Add the oil to your dish or pan and arrange the sausages in the base, place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes to cook the sausages while you prepare the Yorkshire pudding recipe. I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to get good quality sausages, some sausages have way too much fat in them and shrink down to these little tiddlers.
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, 3/4 of the milk and eggs, whisk it to a smooth consistency and then add the last of the milk in 2 portions mixing well between each addition. You will have a nice smooth, quite runny consistency. Season with a little salt and white pepper, give it a final whisk and transfer to a jug.
Take the sausage out of the oven and with tongs or a fork, move them around a bit so that none of the sausages are stuck to the bottom and try to leave equal spaces between the sausages. Now slowly pour the mixture in between the sausages so that they are almost covered.
Return to the oven for about 40 minutes and watch the Yorkshire pudding rise. It will rise above the edge of the dish. Check after 35 minutes or so to ensure that it does not burn. The Yorkshire pud should be a deep brown. puffed up and the sausages should be partly visible.
Serve straight away with a nice gravy. There is no reason why you could not use chicken sausages if you are averse to meat!
Cauliflower on it’s own is not one of my favourite vegetables but this recipe makes Cauliflower an entire meal or a side vegetable dish that tastes fantastic and will feature on my plates with steaks, chicken and roasts regularly from now on. It’s very easy to make not for weight watchers but well worth it. This makes enough for 6-8 people as a vegetable side dish perfect for Sunday Roasts or a whole meal for 4 as a weekday quick meal. It will keep in the fridge for a few days so go for it, make a full portion.
What you need
1 large cauliflower
2 leeks thinly sliced
1 250g packet bacon
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
500ml cheese sauce (bought is also okay
3 or 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
handfull of grated cheddar cheese
Break the cauliflower into florets and steam or boil for about 10 minutes until tender but still with a little crunch.
While that is going on, fry your bacon and then add the finely sliced leeks, cook for a minute or two until the leeks have softened, add the mustard and give it a quick mix, remove and set aside.
Place the cooked cauliflower into an oven dish, sprinkle over most of the bacon and leek mixture and then give it a turn to mix in the bacon and leeks. Sprinkle the remainder of leek and bacon mix over the top.
If you are making your cheese sauce start now.
Pour the cheese sauce over the top and then mix together the breadcrumbs and olive oil in a separate bowl, mix, add the grated cheese, mix, sprinkle over the top.
Bake in a 200 Celsius oven for 15 minutes. Thats it, a delicious vegetable dish.
If you like the sound of this recipe, try the baked potato recipe and be sure to read the comments for tips on getting crisp skins.
Chicken potato salad
It is so hot right now that a great salad that has all the makings of a roast is just what I need. Try this Chicken and baby potato salad with peas and greens, it is really fantastic and depending on how you feel, you can have the chicken and potatoes warm or cold. Try it tonight, your family will love it. (4 people as a main meal)
What you need
500g baby potatoes boiled and halved
4 chicken breasts roasted/grilled/poached your choice (I like to roast them in the oven with a little salt and pepper on the bone and leave the skin on)
250g frozen peas thawed in boiling water
Leafy Greens like rocket, pea shoots, flat leaf parsley, leafy lettuce, not iceberg.
75ml olive oil
2 teaspoons mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
Cook your chicken however you choose and then shred it. If you have roasted it with the skin, remove the skin and chop it into thin slivers then shred the chicken. Add to a large bowl.
In a large pan with a generous amount of olive oil and a blob of butter on a medium heat, add you halved baby potatoes and cook them until they are browned nicely. Drain on a paper towl and add to the chicken.
Now add the peas and most of the greens that have been ripped into smaller pieces. Leave a few large pieces of salad greens to put on the bottom of the plate.
In a separate bowl add all of the dressing ingredients and whick thoroughly. Pour over the chicken mixture and toss to coat everything in the salad. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
place one or two of the larger leafy greens on the plate and then pile up a generous amount of the salad. Serve as is or with a piece of crusty warm Ciabatta bread.
It’s a really easy and tasty summer meal. Next time I will add a few baby beetroot that have been halved on the top or a few snap peas for some extra depth.
Don’t forget to try this amazing Bunch recipe, its become one of my favourites.
When you have had a busy weekend with friends and family and have all sorts of leftovers, or if you just want something a little different for breakfast or brunch, try this fantastic recipe. It is full of flavour, is inexpensive and can easily be adapted to what you have in the fridge. The only thing I will recommend that yoyu make sure you add is some fresh basil. If you don;t have fresh basil, go out to PnP or a nursery and get yourself a basil plant, they grow like weeds and you will always have fresh basil for those simple pasta dishes which are brilliant after the punishing your credit card took over December or for end of month tasty meals. This serves 4 quite easily and will keep in the fridge for a few days.
What you need
1 x tin butter beans (400g)
Palm of fresh basil ripped (about 10 leaves)
1 x vegetable stock cube (chicken is also fine)
400g cooked potatoes (use leftover potatoes if you have or just boil up a few)
200g cherry tomatoes
1/3 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
150g green beans chopped
6 – 8 pork/beef sausages cooked and sliced
Salt and pepper
oil for frying
Eggs (however many you like per person)
Drain the liquid off the butter beans and place in a bowl. Give them a light crush with a fork, you are after a broken bean not a mash.
Add most of the basil leaves by ripping them up fairly small and dropping them into the bowl. Now take the stock cube and crumble it into the bowl.
If you are using the chili flakes, add them now and then add the potatoes, green beans cherry tomatoes. (Your patoates should also be quite rustic looking, cut into bite size bits or baby potatoes that have been crushed)
Now add the sliced sausages and give them all a good mix to combine all of the flavours. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat some oil in a large non stick frying pan and cook on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes giving it a mix occasionally until you get a nice little crust forming.
Give each person a generous portion and top with one or two eggs and a few bits of ripped basil.
A really nice variation is to use left over pumpkin or butternut to the mixture.
This is a fantastic breakfast or a hearty home style meal that you can serve with a little salad on the side.
Ice Cream Christmas dessert
Ice Cream is basically frozen custard and this ice cream christmas cake recipe is a perfect Christmas dessert for hot December Holidays. Give it a try, it is unlike anything you have had before.
What you need
50g dried cranberries or cherries
2 tots brandy
2 tots cointreau or rum
4 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
500ml Custard (Woolies custard is excellent for this), chilled
50g macadamia nuts
Amaretti biscuits/biscotti to serve
Decide whether you want to make a dome or a loaf ice cream cake and choose a bowl accordingly. A glass bowl that takes about 2 liters is perfect.
Add the raisins, sultanas and cherries to the bowl, toss in the brandy and the rum, give it a mix and set aside for a few hours. Anything over 2 hours is great.
Now add the macadamia nuts, cinnamon and icing sugar and give it a good stir. If you notice a fair amount of liquid in the bottom of the dowl, drain it off.
Now add the custard and stir again. Tap the bowl on the counter to even out the top and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove from the freezer, whick with a fork and then back into the freezer until you are ready to serve.
Slice or scoop and serve with a biscotti or amaretti biscuit on the side.
Don’t forget the rest of the Christmas recipes
Ginger Ale Chicken Casserole
Chicken in Ginger Ale has got to be the easiest, tastiest way to serve chicken pieces that is seriously delicious. The best thing about it is that you can make this for 2 people or 200 people without any problem and everyone will love it. This is the perfect holiday recipe. The sauce thicken up beautifully and over a nice pile of rice and a salad, there is no easier way to produce a delicious meal for the masses. (4 -6 people)
What you need
8- 10 chicken portions thighs, legs and breasts skin on
1 packet instant brown onion soup
1 packet instant mushroom soup
1 liter Ginger Ale
Heat your oven to 130 Celsius
Take a large casserole dish that you can place a single layer of chicken pieces to cover the bottom or use more than one oven dish.
Mix together the soup powders and coat eack piece of chicken in a fine coating of the mixture, shake off the excess and the lay skin side up into the casserole dish.
Pour 3/4 of the Ginger Ale into the casserole and then pour the remaing Ginger Ale into whatever is left of the soup powders, give it a mix and then pour over the top of the chicken.
Cover your casserole and pop into the oven for 3 hours. If you don’t have a casserole dish with a lid, cover with foil.
That is that, a delicious meal without any fuss. Serve with rice and salad.
You can fancy it up a bit by adding a few mushrooms 1/2 way through the cooking process or mix in a tablespoon of apricot jam with the ginger ale and soup mix for those who like it a little sweeter.
On a side note, for those of you who make beer can roast chicken, try it with Coke or Ginger Ale for a change!
Fresh biscuits are such great things to have around the house and this basic biscuit recipe is the perfect recipe to get you going. The bottom of the recipe gives you a few ideas of how to make different flavours and style biscuits from the same recipe. They are so simple to make and from start to finish take about 25 minutes, then 15 or so minutes of baking and you are done. makes about 30 biscuits
What you need
125g butter at room temperature cubed
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup custard powder
First put your shelf in the middle of the oven, heat to 210 Celsius and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
In a large bowl add the butter and the caster sugar. Beat with an electric beater for about 3 minutes until the mixture is pale and smooth and the sugar almost completely dissolved.
Now add the milk and vanilla essence and beat for another minute or so to combine well.
Now add the flour and custard powder and with a spatula or knife use a cutting motion while you rotate the bowl to combine all of the ingredients into a soft dough. Don’t be tempted to beat, your biscuits will come out tough you want all of the dry ingredients to be incorporated but not over mixed!
Now take teaspoon size portions and roll into balls in your palm, place them on the baking trays with about 5cm between each one. flatten lightly your finger and then press lightly with a fork. Now each biscuit is about 5cm in diameter and ready for the oven.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, checking to see that they are lightly golden. If they are very pale leave them for another 3 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to partially cool on the tray (10 minutes), then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Thats that 30 beautiful morsels.
Variations: Nut biscuits, Mix 1/2 cup finely chopped pecan nuts or walnuts into the mixture before you add the flour and then place a nut on each biscuit before going into the oven.
Orange biscuits: Leave out the vanilla and add 2 teaspoons of orange rind to the mixture. You can make a simple lemon icing by combining 2 cups icing sugar with 20g soft butter and tablespoon orange juice and mixing it together. If you want lemon biscuits, do the same with lemon.
Cherry tops: cut a glace cherry into quarters and pop a piece on top of each one beofre going into the oven. Check the Cookie recipes section for more great cookie recipes.
Smoked snoek pate
Snoek pate is really a favourite of mine that I make whenever I am in the Cape. This is a really easy smoked fish pate recipe that works well with smoked trout or snoek. Don’t confuse smoked snoek with the dried and smoked version, you want a freshly smoked snoek that still has some moisture in it, it is not a stiff pate but an easy spreading pate.
What you need
250g smoke fish
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons full fat double cream
Ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Remove the skin and flake the fish making sure there are no bones.
Add the fish and the butter to a blender and give it a quick blitz until combined and fairly smooth.
Now add the olive oil and lemon juice and blitz again for a few seconds to combine, it should be light and creamy at this stage.
Add the cream and give it another qfew seconds of blitzing to combine. Taste and season with cayenne pepper and black pepper. You may also want to add a little more lemon juice.
Place in a bowl, chill and serve with fresh finely chopped chives or parsley and crisp toast, brown bread or pita bread. Yuuuummmmy.
Alternatives: To make something really fancy, make the pate with smoked trout and then line little domes with smoked salmon (rub the inside of the dome with a little oil first), fill with the pate and pop into the fridge to set for a few hours, then turn them out. Simple and decadent.