India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Wine & Dine
February 26, 2014

Cooking Up a Romance

Text by Sonal Ved. Photographs by Poulomi Dey

So you have found the right one and cannot wait to announce how you feel. But words alone won’t get you anywhere. To make your Valentine’s Day special, put together a romantic meal for your beloved.

  • Roasted Beet Orange and Arugula Salad
    Roasted beet orange and arugula salad
  • Dark chocolate fondant
    Dark chocolate fondant
  • Whole wheat pasta with fresh pesto
    Whole wheat pasta with fresh pesto

ROASTED BEET, ORANGE AND ARUGULA SALAD
Ingredients: Large beet, 1; Oranges, 2; Olive oil, 1 tbsp; Vinegar, 1 tbsp; Dijon mustard, 1 tsp; Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste; Arugula, 2 bunches; Goat cheese (crumbled), 150 gms.

Method: Wrap the beet tightly in an aluminum foil and bake it for 45-50 minutes at 450 degree Celsius. Once done, peel the skin and cut into wedges. Now tear the orange and separately squeeze out orange juice from each of its segments. To this, add oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and whisk well. Drizzle this dressing on arugula leaves and sprinkle some goat cheese on top. Serve immediately.

SIMPLE TO LOVE
We know you are no Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay, carelessly tossing pots and pans in the air. Therefore Nachiket Shetye, owner of 36 Oak and Barley suggests you keep it terribly simple when it comes to cooking for your ‘Valentine’. The owner of Kemp’s Corner’s charming restaurant recommends quick-fix salads, mains and desserts that take minimal time in the kitchen. His Valentine’s Day menu comprises a four-course menu. “For starters or salads keep the individual components ready and leave the finishing touches for the last minute,” says Shetye. He thinks this trick retains the freshness, flavour and crunch of the mezzes. To pad up your meal, go for easy-to-do mains that can be worked upon in advance. “Like healthy whole wheat pasta with fresh pesto sauce. Here, you can make the pesto beforehand and simply toss it when ready to serve. Similarly, if you like meats, cook up a fish since it takes just a few minutes to be done,” he says. For the last course , desserts that simply need to be assembled are your best bet. “Go for easy-to-make desserts that need a few ingredients but have a complex dimension. Take for instance strawberries stuffed with cheesecake,” he concludes.

PAN SEARED KINGFISH WITH BUTTER BEANS
Ingredients: King fish, 120 gms; Butter beans, 100 gms; Carrot, 20 gms; Onion, 20 gms; Celery, 20 gms; Fish stock, 2 cups; Seasoning; Clams, 50 gms; Micro-greens for garnish, 1 bunch; Juice of lemon, 1.

Method: Soak butter beans in cold water overnight. Peel the onions, cut them in half, then into thick cubes. Warm a little olive oil in a deep pan, add the onions then cook over a moderate heat until pale gold and starting to soften. Scrub the celery and carrots, roughly chop, and then add to the onions. Tip in the rinsed beans and two cups of stock. Season with salt and black pepper then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer the beans for 30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and luscious. Boil and clean the clams. Set them aside. Set a large heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat and pour in the olive oil. Season the kingfish with salt and white pepper. Arrange the Kingfish in the hot oil and sear for two minutes. Turn over and cook for three minutes on the reverse side until cooked medium well. Toss the clams into the pan and add some. Transfer the beans into a bowl and place kingfish over it. Garnish with some micro-greens and drizzle lemon juice.

NUTRITIOUS BONDS
Women and their weight woes go hand-in-hand. To be her real knight in shining armour, chef and owner Nico Goghavala from Nico Bombay knows exactly how to woo his lady love and wife, ex-supermodel Kamal Siddhu. He says, “Don’t fall into the low-fat or low-carb trap, instead plate up a meal using organic produce, whole grain ingredients and wholesome veggies.”

Nico recommends a healthy dose of salad that is made using fresh farm produce. According to him, healthy food extends to food that is good to look at and wholesome to eat. “Take for example a pizza bursting with vegetables or meats. Most people think pizza is unhealthy because of the cheese, but that’s a myth. Gorgeous farm-fresh cheese is an amazing source of protein and calcium,” says the 34-year-old chef. “For the main course, grilled fish or duck are safe options. Considering that both won’t add to the waistline.”

To wind up a health feast, Nico doesn’t do away with desserts. He says, “Don’t indulge, but small bites of a dark chocolate fondant, for instance, can be good for you since chocolate is rich in antioxidants. Similarly, sharing a rich bowl of real cream with berries is romantic and healthy.”

DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE
Ingredients for the sponge: Butter, 62 gms; Castor sugar, 45 gms; Dark chocolate, 85 gms; Flour, 13 gms; Eggs, 2.

Ingredients for the mousse: Dark chocolate, 375 gms; Butter, 30 gms; Eggs, 4; Castor sugar, 40 gms; Heavy cream, 200 ml.

Method: To make the sponge, melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler. Beat eggs and castor sugar in a separate bowl until fluffy. Add this to the cooled chocolate mix and add flour. Pour the mixture in a cake tin and bake it in the oven at 160 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool the sponge and keep aside.

Method for mousse: Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler and keep aside. Separate egg whites from yolk and beat the whites until soft peaks appear. Gradually, add sugar to this and keep aside. Once the chocolate is cooled, add egg yolks to it and mix together. Add heavy cream and the egg white mixture and gently fold all the elements together. Slather this mousse on the cake and serve with fresh strawberries.

FRUITS OF PASSION
There are foods that sharpen memory, boost energy, fight fat and then there are those that have a much more meaningful purpose – like getting you in the mood for some loving. For nothing says Valentine’s Day better than cooking with romance-inducing ingredients – aphrodisiacs.

According to Chef Xavier Fernandes from Salt Water Café, ingredients such as mushroom, dark chocolate, avocados, saffron and asparagus have immense aphrodisiacal properties. These when eaten, have a natural ability to get the libido kicking and awakening passion.

“For a DIY Valentine’s Day menu, I highly recommended cooking dishes that have a pre-dominant influence of these ingredients,” says the 34-year-old chef. He suggests that you begin the meal with a potent mushroom or asparagus soup, followed by an avocado salad or sushi. For the main course, instead of cooking something snooze-worthy, go for tantalising saffron-hinted pasta or a spicy lamb rack ending on a bitter-sweet note of dark chocolate or a banana split.

At Fernandes’ Churchgate-based eatery he concocts a host of aphrodisiacal eats such as green asparagus soup, tenderloin carpaccio and grilled salmon amongst healthy salads and sandwiches.

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