Cooking your way to your loved one’s heart

As if you needed reminding it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday. To show how much you care why not put candles on the table and prepare a home-cooked meal? Here are some ideas for starters, mains and dessert.

STARTER: Pippa Middleton’s Valentine’s Day oyster recipes

ON A recent visit to Whitstable, north Kent, to visit Wheelers Oyster Bar, Pippa Middleton picked up these recipes from chef Mark Stubbs

Japanese oysters (serves 2)

This recipe brings out the natural sweetness of the oysters, and the ginger adds a lovely peppery kick.

90ml good quality mirin (rice wine)

20ml soy sauce

Few drops fresh lemon juice

6 rock oysters

10 pieces Japanese ginger, finely sliced

Mix the mirin and soy sauce together, then add lemon juice to taste and allow to infuse in the fridge for an hour.

Shuck your oysters carefully, keeping as much juice in the shell as possible.

Add a teaspoon of the mirin mixture to each oyster and finish with a slice or two of ginger.

Oysters with a Bloody Mary granita, fresh cucumber and micro celery

This makes more than you need for two, but will keep well in the freezer for a month.

9ml water

6 tbsp castor sugar

Juice of ½ lime

Juice of ½ lemon

720ml tomato juice

70ml vodka

1 tbsp Tabasco

1/2 tsp freshly grated horseradish

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Pinch celery salt

Pinch ground black pepper

Pinch smoked paprika

6–12 oysters (or as many as you fancy)

To garnish

Small piece of cucumber, peeled, cored and diced very finely

Few strands micro celery

Place water and sugar in a pan, bring to the boil and dissolve the sugar completely. Allow to cool.

Add the lime and lemon juice, then the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly, pour onto a freezing cold metal tray and place in the freezer.

As the granita freezes, keep breaking it up with a fork to produce ice crystals.

Shuck the oysters and turn them over in their shells, being careful not to lose too much juice.

Now add the diced cucumber, then finish with the granita, and top with a few micro celery leaves. Serve immediately.

MAIN: Thai beef salad


Main ingredient: Beef

Type of dish: Asian

Course: Dinner

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 2

This Asian salad is delicious, quick, and relatively cheap.


1 large piece rump steak (or half a kilo of mince if you’re stretched)

Salad veggies (you can use a bag of ready-mixed, plus what you have in the fridge)

About 1/3cup toasted seeds or peanuts


1/3cup olive oil

2–3 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp honey, or golden syrup, or soft brown sugar

1 dessertspoon fish sauce

1/3cup good soy sauce

1/3cup lemon or lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp chilli flakes (adjust to taste)

1. Assemble salad ingredients in a bowl.

2. Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside.

3. Panfry the steak (or mince) to your taste, and slice in strips.

4. Add to salad ingredients, add dressing, toss and serve.

To make this recipe go further, boil the kettle and cook some noodles while the meat is cooking. Add to the whole salad and toss, or serve the salad on top of the noodles.


Main ingredient: Eggs

Type of dish: Pudding

Course: Dessert

Cooking time: two hours

Serves: 6–8 (half the ingredients for that intimate dinner for two)

Special options: Gluten-free

A meal should never just be about the main course. Dessert, and the classic pavlova no less, needs its time in the sun.

Pavlova has a certain mystery – the light crust, the mouth-cloying centre, the potential toppings, and the idea that, in a way, It’s like eating clouds.

As far as desserts go, this one is completely irresistible, floating on a serving dish, bulging with glistening fruit, and oozing some get-me-a-plate-immediately bourbon caramel.


Pavlova 10 egg whites

525g castor sugar

3 tsp cornflour

3 tsp white vinegar

2 tsp vanilla extract

4–6 ripe peaches halved, pitted

melted butter for brushing

Vanilla cream

1L pouring cream

2 tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Salted bourbon caramel

½ cup castor sugar

½ cup brown sugar

dollop of butter

½ cup cream

2 tbsp good quality bourbon

Generous pinch sea salt flakes


1. Preheat oven to 200°C.

2. Whisk egg whites and pinch of salt in an electric mixer on medium speed and beat until soft peaks form (two minutes). Add one-third of sugar and whisk to combine, then gradually add remaining sugar and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form (2–3 minutes).

3. Fold through cornflour, vinegar and vanilla, then form into a 24cm-diameter round with edges slightly higher than centre on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

4. Reduce oven to 160°C and bake pavlova until lightly browned on the outside and cooked on the inside (35–40 minutes), turn oven off and stand in oven for 10 minutes, then remove and cool to room temperature (One hour).

5. For vanilla cream, whisk cream, sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks in a bowl.

6. For the bourbon caramel add the sugars and a dollop of butter to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a rapid simmer and swirl until the sugars have dissolved. Without stirring let simmer until the colour changes to a nutty brown, about five minutes.

7. Remove from the heat and add the bourbon and cream, stirring quickly as the mixture will bubble. Add a generous pinch of sea salt flakes, or to taste, and set aside until serving.

8. Just before serving, pre-heat a grill over high heat until smoking. Brush cut-side of peaches with melted butter and grill, turning once, until golden (1–2 minutes each side). Allow to cool.

9. While the peaches are cooling, place the pavlova on a serving plate. Spoon the vanilla cream into the centre of the pavlova.

10. Heap the grilled peaches over the vanilla cream and drizzle over the bourbon caramel.

11. Serve immediately. © The Telegraph, NZ Stuff

Cooking your  way to your loved one’s heart

As if you needed reminding it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday. To show how much you care why not put candles on the table and prepare a home-cooked meal? Here are some ideas for starters, mains and dessert

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