Classic Champagne Cocktail
This decadent cocktail of champagne laced with cognac is perfect for special occasions. Treat yourselves this Valentine.
1 white sugar cube
2 dashes bitters
enough champagne to fill the glass
1. Place the sugar cube onto a spoon and add the bitters.
2. Drop the soaked sugar cube into a champagne flute and add the cognac.
3. Top up the glass with champagne and serve.
Oysters with Champagne Sauce
Casanova once said oysters are “a spur to the spirits and to love” – which is why you’ll swoon when you taste this decadent starter.
125ml (1/2 cup) champagne or sparkling white wine
1 French shallot (eschalot), finely chopped
125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream
freshly ground white pepper
rock salt, to serve
12 (1 dozen) natural oysters, in the half shell
chopped fresh chives, to serve
1.Place the champagne and shallot in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until reduced by half. Add the cream and season with white pepper. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until reduced by half and the sauce is thick and creamy.
2.Preheat grill on high. Scatter rock salt over the base of 2 small heatproof serving dishes. Arrange the oysters on the rock salt. Pour the cream mixture evenly among the oysters. Cook under grill for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Set aside for 2 minutes to cool slightly. Sprinkle with chives to serve.
500g cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
250g fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
6 fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Scoop out and discard pulp of cherry tomatoes. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.
2. In a food processor, combine the cream, mozzarella cheese, basil and garlic; cover and process until blended.
3. Cut a small hole in the corner of a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Fill with cheese mixture.
4. Turn tomato halves over; drizzle with vinegar. Pipe cheese mixture into tomatoes. Refrigerate until serving.
Stuffed Chicken Breast Wrapped in Bacon
This chicken recipe is easy and impressive: it’s perfect for a Valentine dinner party.
4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
4 Tbsp cranberry sauce
300g gorgonzola cheese
24 slices of bacon
Italian olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
For the Green Bean Salad
4 handfuls green beans
½ lemon, juice only
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Place each chicken breast between two pieces of cling film and, using a meat mallet, bash out the pieces until about 0.5cm thick. Remove the cling film.
3. Spread one tablespoon of cranberry sauce over each chicken breast. Place a piece of gorgonzola in the middle of each chicken breast, season and roll up the chicken to enclose the cheese.
4. Place six slices of bacon, side by side, on a chopping board. Place one chicken breast on the bacon slices and tightly wrap bacon around the chicken. Repeat with the remaining chicken and bacon slices.
5. Place the chicken breasts on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted.
6. Meanwhile, blanch the green beans for a few minutes in boiling water and then refresh in iced water.
7. Toss the beans with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8. Divide the bean salad between four plates.
9. Top with the cooked chicken and serve at once.
Beef Fillet with a Mushroom, Wine Sauce
2 fillet mignon steaks
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
15 ml olive oil
200g unsalted butter
6g finely minced fresh ginger
4g finely minced garlic
35g thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
15ml mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
55g unsalted butter
2g finely chopped garlic chives
1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
2. Season fillets to taste with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Sear steaks until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to preheated oven, and cook for about 10 minutes, or to desired doneness. When the steaks are done, set aside to rest in a warm place while finishing the sauce.
3. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and ginger, cook gently until fragrant and translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in sake and mirin; reduce by half.
4. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup of butter. Once melted, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the butter turns a dark golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in chives. Serve sauce over steaks.
Alfredo Seafood Fettuccini
225g uncooked fettuccine
1 packet Alfredo sauce mix
1 package (225g) crabmeat
170g uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 teaspoons butter
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, prepare Alfredo sauce according to package directions.
2. In a large skillet, sauté the crab, scallops and shrimp in butter for 2-3 minutes or until scallops are opaque and shrimp turn pink. Stir into Alfredo sauce. Season with garlic powder. Cook and stir for 5-6 minutes or until thickened. Drain fettuccine; top with seafood mixture.
Feta & Semi-Dried Tomato Crusted Lamb Cutlets
40g semi-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
40g feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tsp pinenuts
2 Tbsp thyme leaves
1 egg yolk
2 x 3-cutlet racks of lamb, trimmed
1 potato, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
1 carrot, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
200g piece pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
dressed salad leaves, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine semi-dried tomato, feta, breadcrumbs, pinenuts, 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, egg yolk and salt and pepper in a bowl. Using clean hands, mix until well combined. Place lamb racks on a chopping board.
2. Coat each lamb rack in breadcrumb mixture, pressing on with fingertips. Place racks, interlocking cutlet bones, in the centre of a greased roasting pan.
3. Combine potato, carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, oil, remaining thyme leaves and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Spoon vegetables around edge of roasting pan. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes for medium lamb or until cooked to your liking. Transfer lamb racks to a plate. Cover. Stand for 10 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 250°C. Roast vegetables for a further 8 minutes or until golden and crisp.
4. Cut lamb racks into cutlets. Serve with vegetables and salad leaves
Chocolate Ice Cream Truffles
Like little chocky kisses, these icy truffles are the perfect accompaniment to a romantic coffee for two.
1 x 500ml carton good-quality chocolate ice-cream
100g rich dark cooking chocolate
1. Line 2 large plates with non-stick baking paper. Place 1 plate in the freezer to chill.
2. Dip a melon baller in a bowl of hot water and use to scoop out 1 ball of ice-cream. Place on the chilled plate. Insert a toothpick into the centre of the ice-cream ball. Repeat to make 5 more ice-cream balls. Place in the freezer for 2 hours or until very firm.
3. Place the chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cook on medium/500watts/50% for 1 minute or until the chocolate and butter melt. Stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
4. Dip 1 ice-cream ball into the chocolate mixture and gently shake off excess. Place on the remaining lined plate and return immediately to the freezer. Repeat with the remaining ice-cream balls and chocolate mixture. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until very firm.
Simple but delicious. Happy Valentine’s Day!
150g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate
150g white chocolate
750g large strawberries, washed, dried
1. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Break milk chocolate into even pieces. Place into a heat-proof bowl.
2. One-third fill a saucepan with water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Place chocolate bowl over saucepan (don’t let bowl touch water). Stir with a metal spoon until smooth.
3. Dip one-third of the strawberries into chocolate. Place onto tray. Repeat with dark and white chocolate. Refrigerate until set.
Valentine Cup Cakes
Make these light-as-a-feather cupcakes with their gaudy pink decoration for someone you love.
For the cakes
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
6 passion fruit, sieved pulp only (or a small tin)
a little milk, to loosen the mixture as necessary
For the icing
500g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
2-3 drops pink liquid food colouring
hundreds and thousands
1. For the cakes, preheat the oven to 180C. Sit 12 paper cases in a muffin tray.
2. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined.
3. Fold the flour, raspberries and passion fruit pulp into the mixture until almost smooth. If the mixture looks too stiff, add a little milk, as necessary.
4. Divide the mixture among the paper cases then bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and set aside until completely cooled.
5. For the icing, using an electric whisk, cream the icing sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Whisk in the vanilla pod seeds and food colouring. Gradually whisk in enough milk to form a smooth paste.
6. Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle and pipe the icing over the cake. Sprinkle over the hundreds and thousands