So, regardless of gender, if there’s someone special you’ve got your heart set on impressing, read on for a foolproof guide to the perfect romantic Valentine’s Day meal. Plus, I’ve been a bit cheeky and made sure that these three courses are packed full of aphrodisiacs, meaning you don’t need to sweat over how you’re going to charm your date into accepting the offer of a nightcap. Don’t worry - you can thank me tomorrow morning…
Stuffed blue cheese figs wrapped in Parma ham
Apart from being ridiculously rich and tasty (and one of your five a day), crops of figs are said to have been celebrated by ancient Greeks in a frenzied copulation ritual, thus earning their status in the 21st century as an aphrodisiac.
It’s also a good idea to serve them on a bed of rocket – as well as prettying up the plate, rocket’s strong peppery flavour helps to stimulate your taste buds and make your mouth more sensitive.
4 whole figs
4 slices Parma ham
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
2. Slice the figs into four pieces, making sure not to cut all the way through, so that they can be opened up.
3. Stuff the figs with the chopped up gorgonzola, then wrap with a slice of Parma ham
4. Place on a baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and gooey
5. On a plate, place some rocket leaves and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, then place the figs on top
(Truffle) mushroom and asparagus risotto
Said to arouse the body with its earthy aroma (plus the fact that they’re bloody hard to come by), ancient lovers were supposedly guilty of gorging themselves to the point of bursting with truffles during their wedding feast, to prepare them for their wedding night celebrations. However, due to truffles being insanely expensive any wild mushrooms will have to do.
Asparagus is also celebrated for getting the juices flowing – 19th century bridegrooms used to be given at least three doses of the stuff before their wedding night, believing that they couldn’t possibly perform satisfactorily without it.
150g risotto rice
250ml white wine
750ml vegetable stock
200g asparagus, cooked
200g wild mushrooms
Zest of 1 lemon
Parmesan cheese, to serve
Salt and pepper, to season
1. Preheat the oven to 200degrees.
2. Chop off the ends of the asparagus and put in a baking tray, covering with liberal amounts of olive oil and salt and pepper.
3. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, and then take out and leave to cool, and chop into small bite-size pieces.
4. In a pan fry off the chopped onion, then add the mushrooms and cook until browned.
5. Add the risotto rice, the zest of 1 lemon, and the chopped up roasted asparagus, and allow to cook for a few minutes.
6. Add the wine and vegetable stock, making sure all the rice is covered with liquid. Once the liquid starts to boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is no longer hard.
7. Season with salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Decadent chocolate cake with a fresh raspberry filling and chocolate ganache
Aside from the fact that the effort of preparing a homemade cake screams “I love you”, it’s not surprising that chocolate is said to lead to friskiness – no wonder it’s so bad for you. Containing both sedatives to lower inhibitions and stimulants to increase – er – activity, chocolate is so well suited to seduction that it was actually banned from several ancient monasteries.
As if this wasn’t enough to handle, strawberries are known as the symbol of passion in the fruit-and-veg world, as well as being high in Vitamin C which is proven to treat impotence.
For the cake:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
175g plain flour
3 tbsp best cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
For the filling:
125ml double cream
For the icing:
150ml double cream
150g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
125g raspberries (to decorate)
1. Preheat the oven to 170degrees and grease the cake tins
2. Heat the butter and milk in a pan and add the vanilla
3. Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and frothy, then mix in the milk and butter
4. Slowly fold in the sifted flour, along with the cocoa and baking powder, until all incorporated
5. Pour into the two tins and bake for about 15-20 minutes until firm and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool
6. To make the raspberry cream filling, whip the cream until thick (but not too stiff) and add the raspberries, then mash with a fork until a beautiful marbled pink colour, and use to sandwich the two cakes together
7. For the ganache icing, melt the cream, broken up chocolate and golden syrup in a pan, then whisk until completely liquid and smooth
8. Pour over the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides, then decorate as you wish with the raspberries
So go on, why not give it a try?