Start the day out with a heartfelt breakfast served in bed. One of our favourite love-themed breakfasts is the good old-fashioned egg in a hole. If you are not familiar with this ingenious brekkie mash up, all it entails is cutting a hole in a slice of toast in which to cook your egg! Upscale this simple dish for Valentine's Day by using a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Or take it the extra mile by adding rosa tomatoes, portabello mushrooms, pecorino cheese and a few basil leaves to the dish. You can pick up these authentic Italian ingredients from Super Sconto in Orange Grove. This Mediterranean deli stocks everything from dry pastas, to tomato sauces and fine cheeses.
Slice one panini length ways. Place on a greased baking tray.
Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the middle of the open panini down. Make sure the indent is big enough to crack one large egg into. Try making a heart shaped indent if you feel confident enough.
Crack one large egg into each of the open paninis. Season the egg with salt, pepper and a touch of paprika.
Decorate the crust around the egg with baby tomatoes (halved or quartered), slice portabello mushrooms and grated pecorino cheese.
Bake the paninis in the oven at 200°C for 10 - 15 minutes.
Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Get yourself a set of heart-shaped cookie cutters from Mr Price Home.
Lunch Time Love
We are slowly reaching the last quarter of summer. This probably means that you and your significant other have had it up to your ears with green salads, fruit bowls and healthy eating plans. Spice things up a bit on the day of love by serving up a refreshing tomato soup with a kick of chilli. It can be served lukewarm or pipping hot with a melty three-cheese rye bread sarmie. The soup does take some time to prepare though, so it's best to do it the day before.
Finely dice one red onion, a stalk of celery and two cloves of garlic. Grate one large carrot.
Heat oil in a deep pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until translucent. Throw in the carrot and garlic and let simmer until soft.
Season the vegetable base with salt, pepper, oregano and a pinch of dried chilli flakes.
Add two cans of whole plum tomatoes to the pan. Use a fork to mash the tomatoes. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes on a low to medium heat.
Prepare a cube of chicken or vegetable stock in boiling water. Add a cup of the stock to the pan (you can add more if you prefer a thinner soup).
Let the soup cook for another 20 - 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Take the pan off the heat and transfer the soup to a cool pot or jug. Let the soup cool completely.
Blits the soup in a blender until smooth. Reheat on the stove if you desire. Sprinkle a few more chilli flakes over the heated soup to serve.
Dinner For Two
If you are lucky enough to be seeing your partner for a romantic Valentine's dinner date, go all out for them. For meat lovers, we recommend a classic roast beef with crispy baby potatoes and balsamic glazed asparagus stalks. Alternatively, whip up a vegetarian pasta dish for your veggie-mad Valentine. Our favourite is a spinach and ricotta lasagne served with a glass of chilled white wine. Although this dish is quite labour intensive, it is well worth it in the end. Your partner is sure to appreciate the labour of love, too. To save on time, buy pre-cooked imported Italian lasagna sheets from the Cremalat cheese factory in Edenvale. They also stock over 80 different gourmet cheeses, so you have no excuse not to create the cheesiest lasagna ever made.
Steam a large serving of spinach over boiling water for 2 - 5 minutes, or until just wilted. (The spinach will shrink drastically when cooked, so always go for a more is more approach.)
Once the spinach has cooled, mix together with 400g ricotta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the bechamel sauce and tomato sauce. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Layer the lasagna in a baking dish. Start with a layer of spinach and ricotta mix, adding a layer of tomato sauce and then sheets of pre-cooked lasagna. Top with bechamel sauce. Continue layering until the dish is filled almost to the brim. Grate mozzarella or Parmesan cheese over the top of the lasagna to bake.
Bake for at least 45 minutes.
For The Sweet Tooth
Everyone deserves a little something sweet on Valentine's Day. Even if you aren't Next Great Baker material, you can whip up a delicious treat for you and your partner to share. Try your hand at stained glass jam filled biscuits to score extra points on the day. They are deceptively easy to make and are well worth the effort. Serve them straight from the oven with a sweet cup of tea. And you can make use of your heart-shaped cookie cutters once again!
Cream together 1 1/3cups softened butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
In a separate bowl, stir together 4 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder. Add half to wet mixture, blend well and then add the other half.
Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 190C°. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out thinly. Cut out two large hearts. In the centre of one large heart, cut out a smaller heart. Transfer one whole large heart and large heart with centre removed to a lined baking sheet. Continue until no dough is left.
Bake each batch for 7-11 minutes (timing will vary depending on how large your cookies are). Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool fully.
After cookies have cooled, spread strawberry jam on the large, whole heart.
Top with a cut-out cookie. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
For Those Who Lack Culinary Skills
We know that not everyone is blessed with talent in the kitchen. So, why not book yourself and your partner a cooking class? That way, not only do you learn a new skill set, but you get to spend quality time doing something fun and adventurous with your sweetheart. Check out these awesome cooking classes in the city.
Alternatively, you can go the DIY route and teach yourself to cook in the run-up to Valentine's Day. While you may not master the technique of flambe or bake the perfect croissant by then, you can surely impress your significant other by poaching them an early morning egg.