Tag Archives: recipe

Spring Day feast

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Happy Spring Day to those in the southern hemisphere! Sorry my northern friends, I¬†don’t mean to rub it in that your warm weather is slowly seeping southwards ūüėČ

But winter isn’t over for us¬†yet ‚Äď it was absolutely freezing icy cold this morning. When we went to church we¬†joined huddles¬†of hunched-over¬†people¬†wrapped in¬†thick coats and jerseys. Even the heartiest singing didn’t warm us up today!

Thankfully, though, Jozi is usually sunny even when it’s cold, so as I write here this afternoon I have warm bright sunshine flooding my desk… and cheerfully¬†highlighting all the dust I haven’t got around to cleaning… Meh.

Anyway, enough of that. What I’m really here to write about is the delightful Spring Day feast I made for Ninja and my parents today. My folks were originally coming over to meet their new ‘grandrats’, but since that’s been delayed we just turned it into a celebration of the first day of spring.

Spring Day 2013

Spring Day 2013

For the decor I chose mismatched and cheerful colours, using what I had around the house instead of spending extra on new fancy stuff. For example, I had these bright orange paper cups in the cupboard, so I just prettied them up with spring-themed flower stickers.

For Marzipan

For Marzipan

I used my multicoloured bamboo placemats and colourful serviettes left over from my first special dinner. Ninja had also bought these cool 3D/holographic bookmarks for each of us, so we gave my mom the horsey one and my dad the eagly one (oops, couldn’t resist inventing a word there).

For Daz

For Daz

I also snipped a few sprigs off a jasmine bush to use as our centrepiece. I so enjoy the scent of those flowers: it always tells me my favourite season has arrived at last.

Jasmine

Jasmine

And now for the best part: the food ūüėÄ I made us a three-course meal as follows:

Spring Day menu

Spring Day menu

In case you can’t see the¬†text on the¬†pic, our starters were those mini pizza mushrooms that I first made for this dinner and then again for this dinner. I also recently hosted my in-laws for lunch and made it for them too. In fact,¬†I could quite easily make that starter for every fancy dinner for as long as I live, and never tire of it. Those ‘shrooms¬†are just so darn delicious!!!

The main course was ham and spring onion clafoutis with roasted cherry tomatoes and avocado with basil pesto mayo. This is where I had the most fun, since I love experimenting with new dishes and flavours. (I’m determined not to lose that interest even though I no longer have as much spare time for experimenting as I had before…).

I’d never made a clafoutis (say: ‘klafootee’)¬†before, but I based my recipe on this one and simply substituted ham and spring onions for the basil and tomatoes. I also used four¬†small ramekins rather than one big dish.¬†It’s such a simple and easy recipe, and my family enjoyed it (though we all added some extra salt, without which it would have¬†tasted far too mild and milky).

Tomatoes ready for the oven

Tomatoes ready for the oven

The roasted cherry tomatoes are an idea shared with me by my best friend. She first made it for me with pasta and wilted spinach (oh, how well¬†we ate that day!), but the tomatoes work perfectly on their own too. Simply wash them, pop them in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with whatever herbs and spices you like (I used origanum, pepper, chives¬†and salt). Then bake them for 30 minutes at 180 ¬įC ‚Äď which was ideal in this case because that’s the same as for¬†the clafoutis, so I baked them together.

Savoury clafoutis with roasted tomatoes and avo with basil pesto mayo

Savoury clafoutis with roasted tomatoes and avo with basil pesto mayo

As you can see from the pic above, the poor clafoutis had no patience with me fussing with the photography… it started to deflate almost as soon as I took it from the oven ūüėõ Still delicious though.

The basil pesto mayo was also a hit (with everyone except my plain-eating husband, hehe). Since I enjoy basil but can’t eat the garlic they usually put in commercial pestos, I decided to make my own pesto. As a replacement for the pine nuts used in standard pestos, I added a few spoons of ground almonds. Hmmm. Didn’t¬†do much for me.¬†Then I simply mixed up low-fat mayo and milk, and¬†stirred tiny shreds of fresh¬†basil into the mix. Yum! A perfect complement to the plain avocado, with none of the disadvantages (for me at least) of using garlic.

And the dessert of fresh strawberries and hot marshmallow sauce? That’ll be my next post ūüôā

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Sugar-free gluten-free coconut crumpets

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This 21-day sugar detox has been a surprising experience so far. Until I began this detox, I had no idea such a thing as coconut flour even existed!

Crumpets/pancakes made with coconut flour

Crumpets/pancakes made with coconut flour

Of course once I discovered it, I immediately wanted to try making my favourite food with coconut flour :mrgreen: As you know by now, my favourite food is crepes (called pancakes here in South Africa), with crumpets (called pancakes overseas) following a close second.

The various recipes I browsed through seemed to suggest that crepes would be a bit tricky (though not impossible) to get right with coconut flour, so I decided to try out a recipe for crumpets/pancakes instead. I came across this recipe, which seemed simple and used ingredients I had on hand.

I adapted it a little because I can’t have honey or other sweeteners¬†while I’m¬†on the 21DSD¬†detox, so this is what I used:

Ingredients

4 whole eggs

1/4 C coconut flour (finely sifted to remove all clumps)

1/4 C plain full-cream yoghurt

1 t vanilla essence

1 t mixed spice

Butter/oil/coconut oil for frying

Coconut flour pancakes

Ingredients

Most of the info I read about coconut flour referred to how quickly it absorbs liquids. Since I didn’t want these crumpets to soak up too much butter, I only used a little butter¬†and fried the pancakes¬†in a non-stick pan. It was perfectly easy:

Method

1. Mix all ingredients to make a batter.

2. Fry spoonfuls in a little oil/butter on a medium to high heat.

Fry crumpets in coconut oil, vegetable oil or butter

Fry crumpets in coconut oil, vegetable oil or butter

3. Carefully flip over when the bottom has cooked and bubbles start to form around the top edges.

4. Once golden brown and cooked through, remove from pan and drain (if needed).

Make sure both sides are golden brown

Make sure both sides are golden brown

5. Serve with your toppings of choice.

Coconut flour pancakes with green apple and pecan nuts

Coconut flour pancakes with green apple and pecan nuts

These turned out pleasantly delicious, but I did miss the sweetness I’m used to. To pep up these healthy crumpets, I enjoyed them with my daily allowance of one green apple, as well as some pecan nuts and desiccated coconut.

Not a bad way to make it through another sugarless day ūüėČ

Crunchy oat and cereal bars

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Remember how my first attempt at making cereal bars turned out? Well, if at first you don’t succeed… right? ūüôā

I was determined to figure out a good recipe for homemade bars that ticked the following boxes:

  • They had to be egg-free, because I need them to keep well (unfridged) for a whole week
  • They had to be easy to vary, because I just don’t do monotony :mrgreen:
  • They had to dry into a hard, crunchy¬†form ‚Äď and stay that way
  • They had to be as healthy as possible
  • And of course, they had to taste great

Cereal bars

Here’s the first¬†recipe I came up with after trying to balance the wet and dry ingredients so the bars wouldn’t fall apart:

Ingredients

2 C cereal (I used¬†Kellogg’s rice-and-wheat cereal flakes¬†that I crushed a little)

1 C puffed brown rice

1 C desiccated coconut

1/4 C syrup

1/4 C peanut butter

1/4 C honey

1 t vanilla essence

40 g butter

Method

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Step 1

2. Melt together the syrup, peanut butter, honey, butter and vanilla essence.

Step 2

3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well.

4. Press the mixture into a lined baking tray.

Step 4

Step 4

5. Bake at 190 ¬įC for 15‚Äď20 minutes, until golden and toasty.

6. Carefully cut into slices as soon as they’re out the oven, then leave to cool completely.

Step 6

Step 6

Note: Don’t be like me, thinking you can squeeze in a game (or three) of Plants vs Zombies while these bake! Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Mine were a teensy bit too toasted, though still edible.

Crunchy cereal bars

Crunchy cereal bars

Verdict

  • These weren’t bad for¬†a¬†thumb-sucked recipe, but they were a bit too peanut buttery for my liking.
  • They held together very well and stayed crunchy all week (I wrapped them individually in clingwrap and stored them in an airtight biscuit tin).
  • This recipe would really benefit from using rice paper to line the baking tray. I had a tough time getting the bars off the baking paper and vice versa.
  • The wet ingredient mix was just a tiny bit short, so at the last moment of mixing I had to add a further blob of melted butter so that all the wet and dry ingredients would form a proper mixture.

Healthy lunchbox snacks

After we’d eaten up that first batch, I made the recipe again for the next week, but with the following tweaks:

Ingredients

1 C puffed brown rice

1 C cereal

1 C rolled oats

3/4 C desiccated coconut

1/4 C filled with pumpkin seeds, flax seeds (linseeds) and sesame seeds

1/4 C syrup

1/8 C honey

1/8 C peanut butter

1 t vanilla essence

50 g butter

1 small carob chunk

Method

The method is the same as above, except that I melted a carob chunk with the rest of the wet ingredients.

Verdict

These refinements to the recipe made it even better. I preferred the bars with less peanut butter, and the carob added a pleasant chocolatey flavour. The bars were slightly soft though, so I’m thinking of reducing the butter to 40 g next time so that the bars aren’t too moist. They lasted well for a whole week, although by Friday they were starting to feel a bit soft.

I’ll keep tweaking an experimenting until I find the perfect concoction! ūüôā

Banana bread / banana muffins recipe

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I know¬†there are a million gazillion banana bread and banana muffin recipes on the net, but permit me to add just one more ūüėČ Everyone needs a go-to banana bread recipe for when those lovely yellow fruit go ripe before you can eat them all.

I’ve been trying to bake a few homemade treats for Ninja’s and my work lunchboxes, and¬†these banana muffins, made from my mom’s banana bread recipe, worked wonderfully. They lasted a whole week (due to rationing and self-control ‚Äď not because we didn’t want to eat them all in one go!) and kept well in an airtight tin.

Banana muffins

Banana muffins

Ingredients

125 g butter

3/4 C sugar

2 eggs

4 ripe bananas

2 C flour

1/4 t salt

2 t baking powder

1/4 t bicarb

1/2 C milk

1/2 t vanilla essence

1/2¬†C pecan nuts, chopped (I didn’t have any though, so I just left these out)

 

Method

1. Grease and line a loaf tin, or line a muffin tray with muffin papers.

2. Cream butter and sugar.

3. Add eggs, beating thoroughly after each.

4. Mash bananas and add.

5. Sift in flour, salt and baking powder.

6. Mix bicarb with a little of the milk and add.

7. Gradually add rest of milk and vanilla essence.

8. Fold in nuts (if using) and pour into loaf tin or into muffin papers.

9. Bake at 180 ¬įC for 1 hour or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Yum!

Yum!

Because they’re made from a bread recipe, these muffins do take a while to bake… but the results are fantastic:¬†a crispy golden-brown crust with a soft cakey centre. Mmmmm ūüôā

Mixed blessings

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Wow, it’s an utterly freezing cold grey day in Jo’burg today. Biting wind, gusts of rain and sombre grey clouds blanketing the skies. It’s the perfect weather to attempt to bake some bread, based on this great recipe… but unfortunately it didn’t turn out so well.

Sob! I have visions of myself being the ultimate housewife, whipping up a¬†steaming pot of soup and a freshly baked bread on icy days like this… but the reality is that we’ll be ordering in for dinner because I’ve run out of both¬†ingredients and chutzpah now. Bleh. ūüôĄ

The bread (or edible parts thereof) actually tasted¬†delicious, so¬†my mess isn’t meant to reflect poorly¬†on the recipe at all. I’m sure¬†in more skilled hands it would have come out flawlessly. In my case¬†I had to add some¬†extra water because for some reason my dough was far¬†too dry… and then¬†‚Ästbecause my oven is a¬†temperamental old thing ‚ÄstI had to bake the bread for half an hour longer than the recipe suggested… and even then, only¬†one third of the loaf was edible: the rest was doughy mush. As if that wasn’t saddening enough, I took lovely photos throughout… which I have just accidentally¬†shift+deleted ūüė¶

Not. My. Day.

Anyway, so darling hubby is out¬†rescuing me by getting us takeaways. And while I wait for the meal that someone else¬†will mercifully prepare for me, I thought I’d¬†blog about¬†a mixed blessing that’s recently come my way.

I’ve been offered a temp position at my previous company, to work in-house for three months, from early¬†May to early Aug. There are both pros and cons to accepting an offer like this. The main con¬†is that it will take me away from my home duties, which means Ninja and I will have to multitask like crazy again to keep things running smoothly with working, shopping and housework. The other thing that makes it not so great is that if today’s weather is a foretaste of how our winter is going to be, it’ll be very tough to get used to¬†leaving early… or even getting out of bed!

But those are not impossible or unbearable obstacles, I know. I guess I’ve just settled into my homely comfort zone so well, it will seem odd to go back to what I left behind. On the plus side, however, I have¬†several motivating factors ‚Ästone of which is¬†money. And not just money¬†for money’s sake. But money for my dream camera! :mrgreen:

Ninja and I have budgeted that after all our expenses are covered, this work opportunity should allow me to put aside a substantial sum towards getting my first DSLR and related kit. That alone makes all the disadvantages of working outside the home fade away ūüôā

To keep myself motivated through the winter (the time of year I’m most likely to feel a bit gloomy), I created a poster of two goals I hope to reach after this season of working is over. I’ve stuck it up in a prominent spot and hope it will help me to stay focused on what I want to achieve through this busy season.¬†The main goal is my camera and the second goal is staying fit and training for my first 5km run, which takes place in October.

Poster of goals

Poster of goals

On the left of the poster you can see health-related pics, such as orange juice to remind me to boost my immune system through the winter months. The rest of the poster is devoted to my dream cam (the Nikon D7100, which I plan to post about separately) and miscellaneous photography gear.

But now you’ll have to excuse me.

My¬†chicken-pine-salad wrap has just¬†arrived ūüėČ

Light chocolate cake

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Despite my sweet tooth, I’m not actually a big fan of chocolate. Or of cake.

That is, except for my mom’s decadent chocolate cake with coffee icing.

Our wedding cake, baked by my mom

As you can see, she baked¬†these¬†for our wedding. (I’ll have to explain about¬†the wheat ears another time…!)

I always¬†start to¬†crave this cake¬†when the weather turns cold as it has this past week,¬†and baking 5 cakes is¬†Goal #22 on my list. So I decided to start off my first cake with our family’s favourite recipe.

I would have followed¬†my mom’s¬†recipe exactly if I’d had all the ingredients, but as it turned out my ‘lite’¬†version was delicious in its own right.

 

So here’s her recipe first:

Ingredients for chocolate cake

¬ľ C cocoa

1 C boiling water

4 large eggs, separated

1¬Ĺ C brown sugar, firmly pressed into cup

¬Ĺ C oil

1 t vanilla essence

250 g flour

1 T baking powder

2 ml salt

Method for chocolate cake

  1. Grease and line two cake tins.
  2. Mix cocoa and water. Leave to cool.
  3. In processor, beat egg yolks until light. Gradually add sugar.
  4. Add cocoa, oil and vanilla essence.
  5. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and gradually add to mix.
  6. Beat egg whites until fluffy. Blend in with a metal spoon.
  7. Bake at 180 ¬įC for ¬Ī35 min or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely before icing with coffee icing.

 

Ingredients for coffee icing

75 g butter, softened

250 g icing sugar, sifted

1 egg, separated

1 T cocoa

2 T strong coffee

¬Ĺ t vanilla essence

Method for coffee icing

  1. Blend butter and icing sugar.
  2. Dissolve cocoa in coffee. Add vanilla.
  3. Add egg yolk to butter and icing sugar.
  4. Add cocoa mix.
  5. Stiffly beat egg white and fold into mix.
  6. Ice cooled cake and decorate as desired.

 

This makes for a rich and dreamy cake that’s¬†perfectly complemented by the unforgettable flavour of the coffee icing.

Even so, I’m glad I risked making my version with the limited ingredients I had, because it made for a light and fluffy, not-too-sweet cake that I’d happily make again. Here’s my revised list of ingredients:

Ingredients for light chocolate cake

1/8¬†C cocoa (I halved the cocoa because I’m not such a chocoholic)

1 C boiling water

3 large eggs, separated (I only had 3 eggs)

1 C brown sugar, firmly pressed into cup (I only had 1 C brown sugar)

¬Ĺ C oil

1 t vanilla essence

250 g flour

1 T baking powder

2 ml salt

 

For the icing recipe I had to¬†exclude the cocoa, coffee¬†and egg.¬†Anyway, I made one small square cake and a few cupcakes with the mix. Next time I think¬†I’ll skip the cupcakes and make a bigger cake.

Freshly baked cake filling the kitchen with a choc aroma

Freshly baked cake filling the kitchen with a choc aroma

I was itching to use my new cake-icing set…

Cake-icing set

Cake-icing set

…but since it was late and I was tired,¬†I ended up turning my first cake into something of a cakewreck! (Plus the pictures are all blurry hand-held night shots, sorry guys.)

First cake(wreck)!

First cake(wreck)!

How not to decorate a cake: write ‘Yum’ on top¬†in¬†suspicious brown goo…! ūüėÄ Haha, it really cracks me up! ūüėõ

At least the cupcakes looked a bit more presentable:

Butter icing

Butter icing

The icing was fun to work with,¬†even though¬†butter icing always seems a bit rich to me. I usually pick/smear/scoop off the butter icing on other people’s cakes as it is (am I the only one?). So I didn’t overdo it this time around.

Anyway, the flavour of the cake¬†was spot on. Even Ninja enjoyed it,¬†since it wasn’t sickly sweet or so chocolatey that it resulted in headaches.

‘Yum’ indeed

And the whole experiment reminded me not to take myself so seriously in the kitchen, because baking is supposed to be fun.

Of course we all want our goodies to look lovely, but sometimes it’s¬†much better¬†to¬†play around, doodle icing all over and lick the batter from the bowl ūüėČ

Vintage housewife in a pickle

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The vintage housewife’s schedule was no doubt much fuller than mine.¬†Back in the day, people used to make a lot of¬†food themselves, rather than just grabbing a bottle, can, box or packet from the shelves. Since the start of¬†my foray into housewifedom I’ve been meaning to attempt to replace some of our store-bought favourites with homemade versions of my own. First up: pickled beetroot.

I found this recipe online; it seemed easy and came highly recommended (don’t you just love the internet?). I bought some trays of baby beetroot on special, so I had about 16 small beetroot instead of the 4 large ones that the recipe calls for. I managed to make one-and-a-half jars with that, and the pickling liquid was just enough.

Once the beetroot was cooked, I had great fun rubbing off the skins.¬†The recipe says you can use a¬†knife, but I’ve always enjoyed playing with my food ūüėȬ†In the process, I managed to get bright pink juice on just about everything, from my counter and splashback to the floor,¬†my arms and my¬†clothes. My hands looked delightful afterwards too:

In the pink

In the pink

Luckily a bit of soapy water and lemon juice took care of the beetroot juice with ease (though to be a true vintage housewife, I suppose I should have used vinegar and bicarb ‚Äď the miracle cleaner of the ’50s).

I sterilised the jars by rinsing them with vinegar and then¬†using very hot water to wash them out.¬†Here’s my sliced beetroot ready to be pickled. The pattern of those¬†growth rings is so pretty, isn’t it?

Beetroot

Beetroot

And here’s the final product. Sorry for the amateurish blurry shot; I was in a hurry last night.

Beetroot in a pickle

Beetroot in a pickle

Unfortunately it will take a few weeks for the flavour to develop, so I can’t give you a verdict on this yet. But the recipe was very easy to follow and is worth a try for that alone. I’m keen to see if this could be the start of a whole range of homemade treats.

It’s funny how we’ve raced ahead in our technological era to invent as many time-saving devices and processes as we can, only to discover that we may have lost something special along the way. I enjoy working with fresh food; if¬†I had my own garden I’d be trying out all sorts of homegrown goodies. It’s enjoyable¬†being involved in each¬†part of the pickling process.¬†The smell of the raw beetroot reminds me of that wonderful smell of wet soil after fresh rains.¬†I like the process of cooking the rough, hard bulbs into tender pink veggies with soft skin that slips off easily. I also prefer knowing what goes into my food; no weird preservatives¬†or unhealthy colourants and flavourings.

I’d like to do this more regularly¬†for Ninja and I. We’re a long way away from the healthy diet I’d ultimately like¬†us to live on, but it’s a journey of change, and¬†I’m enjoying each step along the way.

Valentine’s mousse-and-custard trifle dessert

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If you hadn’t noticed by now, you’ll soon realise that I’m a sucker for desserts. They knock me down and tie me up every time I plan a special dinner! Although I’m not a big fan of chocolate (too much dairy and my throat reacts badly), I couldn’t pass up a chocolatey, decadent dessert to end off our special romantic dinner.

Armed with some Woolies duo white-and-dark choc mousse, Woolies mini chocolate cake slices and some homemade custard, I made this terrific trifle:

Here are all the ingredients together:

First I crumbled the mini cake slices (sans icing)¬†into the bottom of each bowl…

Then I added 125 ml milk to each batch of the mousse powder and whipped them up…

I layered each of these with the homemade custard, to form a classic layered trifle. On top of the final mousse layer I poured custard into a heart-shaped cookie cutter (which I should have done later once the mousse was set, but oh well!).

And I finished off the decoration with silver dragees (which I should have added just before serving, because they ‘melted’ into the dessert since I made it the day before and kept it overnight in the fridge).

A little messy (read ‘authentically homemade’)¬†but¬†the effect was worth it! Delicious, and the perfect end to our dinner¬†ūüôā

Tempura hake nuggets, mini baked potatoes and a veggie trio

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Instead of the same ol’ chicken drumsticks I’ve made for previous dinners, for the Valentine’s dinner I chose a fish recipe instead. After much deliberation I decided on hake nuggets in crispy¬†tempura batter. I didn’t want a thick batter such as the one usually made with egg and flour, so I used self-raising flour and soda water instead.

After browsing various websites I learnt the following basics of tempura:

  • everything, even the flour, should be well chilled before coating and frying
  • the oil must be very hot and deep enough to cover the fish
  • fish must be defrosted before use (you can do this in a bowl of water)
  • expect a mess!

Here’s my batter, made of 1 cup self-raising flour and 400 ml chilled soda water:

I first dusted the thawed fish pieces with self-raising flour. When the oil was ready, I mixed up the batter and dipped the fish into it, immediately transferring the nuggets to the sizzling oil.

I was anxious to get all the pieces in the pot while the batter was still bubbly, so I ended up with a batter-and-oil-splotched kitchen within minutes. Thankfully my dear friend was standing by to help me mop up some of the mess! Anwyay, I fried all of the pieces at once, and drained them thoroughly on absorbent paper before serving them (on kitchen paper) with the rest of the main meal:

To make the tangy mayo, I¬†thinned lite mayo with a little milk, then added paprika, salt and dried¬†herbs to taste. (You could¬†easily¬†make endless variations on this, with hotsauce and other flavours.) The tempura batter absorbed a lot of oil, so it was good that we only had a few pieces each ‚Äď that way it wasn’t too rich. The mayo was a great addition because the batter had no salt in it, but I’m sure salting the fish once fried¬†and adding a squeeze of lemon juice would be just as fantastic.

The baked potatoes were also lovely and oh-so-easy to make. Wash and dry potatoes of a similar size. Rub them all over with butter (this makes the skin crispy; if you want soft skin, rub them with oil). Then sprinkle with salt and bake at 190 ¬įC for 1 hour, turning once after the first¬†30 minutes.

I chose a ‘red’ veggie trio to stick with the Valentine’s theme of red and white. I sliced up some purple carrots, dished up some pickled beetroot, and put together some cute tomato hearts. The tomato hearts were a lucky find from¬†The Inspiration Room on Facebook. Perfect for V-Day ūüôā

Hosting a Valentine’s dinner

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Ninja and I don’t usually fuss over Valentine’s. In fact, I’ve only received one V-Day gift from my man in all the years I’ve known him: to celebrate our very first Valentine’s together in our first year of dating. I was warned then not to expect a repeat performance, ever. I don’t mind so much, really, because Ninja shows me he loves me in¬†dozens of¬†non-clich√©d, non-commercialised ways every¬†day ūüôā

But this year I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s with our closest friends, and use it as an excuse to cross off Goal #35 on my 101 things¬†in 1001 days list. I suppose I’ve technically met Goal #35 ‚Äď Host a dinner party ‚Äď several times already (such as here and here), but I hadn’t cooked for¬†four guests yet (the max our little dining table can accommodate!). So Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to spoil my friends, complete a goal,¬†give a nod to the clich√©s and push my hostessing skills even further.

I’m pleased to say the evening was a great success ūüôā¬†Take a look at the mouthwatering¬†menu:

You might recognise the starters from the 7-course dinner I made for our anniversary last year. Once¬†the stuffed ‘pizza mushrooms’ were served, we all gobbled them up so quickly (gobbling doesn’t really suit a fancy dinner, I know, but that’s exactly¬†what we did) that I forgot to take a pic. Anyway, you can see the recipe and the results here¬†if you missed it the first time.

I also forgot to take a pic of the first part of the dessert: mixed berries with white chocolate shavings. I’m sure you can imagine it for yourself, though… the berries¬†I used were fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. If there weren’t so many other creamy items on the menu (mayo, sour cream, mousse etc), I would’ve melted the white choc and added a little cream and vanilla essence to pour over the¬†berries instead.¬†Yum!

I’ll post separately about the main meal and the mousse part of the dessert. As you’ll see, this wasn’t a particularly healthy dinner, but who wants skinny-this and low-fat-that on a romantic evening? Not I! ūüėČ