Tag Archives: love

Valentine chocolates – gifts of love and health!

Winter bloom and chocolate

Winter bloom and chocolate

Valentine day approaching and the shops are tempting us with a cornucopia of very sweet and colourful confectionary – but if you are still sticking to your healthy New Year resolutions, the choice can be quite daunting… So here I give you a more virtuous but deliciously indulgent version.

These delicate chocolate flowers are made with raw chocolate, non dairy ingredients and they are still big in flavour and satisfaction…

Ingredients list:

  • Dates, 250g
  • 100g of 100% cocoa chocolate (Check out Chocolat Rabot in Borough Market)
  • Raisins, 150g
  • Vanilla bean, 1
  • Crystalised ginger, a few pieces, but only optional!

Cut the chocolate in squares, cut up the dates.

Than put all in your best chopper (I use my Thermomix for the smoothest result) and mix at high speed for a few minutes until you get a glossy paste. DO NOT overwork it or the chocolate will melt !

Put in silicone moulds for individual chocolates (as above) or just roll bite size chunks in your palms and present them in a nice box or sachet to your Valentine with his Valentine day coffee. Garantie to score brownie points with any health-conscious foodie!

No need to be vegan either to appreciate the soft and creamy result – But take the best chocolate for the best taste, as always… My writing buddies loved them so much that I dedicate this recipe to our blue-stocking group – and their Valentines!

HAPPY VALENTINE DAY EVERYONE! This year it falls on a sunday so plan to take him to a spa, an art gallery or just a favourite place / corner of the world- like Venice?!!!

Promise Venice and chocolate this year!

One of my handprinted Valentine cards/original print.

 

Valentine sandwich cake with lemon cream and blueberries

Sponge cake with lemon butter cream and fresh berries

Sponge cake with lemon butter cream and fresh berries

For Valentine’s day, I propose to you a very British classic : two layers of sponge cake with a butter cream filling with fruit. Nothing could be more traditional but if you are not used to sandwich cakes, it is a very nice way to celebrate a very anglo-saxon day! Do not forget a nice and corny card – or a very rude and inappropriate one!- and you are set for the tackiest day in the calendar!

Joke apart, I actually quite like Valentine’s days because it is attached to fond memories and because a day celebrating Cupid is never a wasted day in my books. Tonight you should open a bottle and curl up on the sofa to watch a nice soppy rom-com like “Love Actually” or “About Time”. Something romantic and cute that will make you think that really “Love is all around”! Because it is – that bit is true! Nothing else really matters, does it?!

Anyway, back to baking:

Ingredient list for the cake:

  • 3 large eggs
  • Butter
  • Caster sugar
  • self-raising flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking powder, 1 ½ tsp

Weight the eggs and then weight a similar amount of sugar, butter and flour. Reserve.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the beaten eggs and the flour in alternance.

Mix the vanilla extract in. Beat the mix in with a whisk until light and fluffy.

Divide in two shallow tins and bake at 180° for 25 minutes.

Remove and let it cool.

Ingredients for the butter cream:

  • Butter, 100g
  • Icing sugar, 150g
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix in a blender or with a whisk. Reserve.

Spread the cream on one cake, lay blueberries on top, sandwich with the other cake and dust icing sugar to decorate – I used a paper heart as a stencil.

Crack open that bottle and curl up with your lover to enjoy this in front of that good British comedy! This is the one night of the year when I would not recommend going out unless you are truly desperate for food, or company, or both: restaurants are foul on Valentines’s day and you do not want to be compromised in such bad settings…IMG_8774 IMG_8778 IMG_8782

What is the food of love?

For your valentine today, you can whip up elaborate and sophisticated cake contraptions, spend hours turning red roses out of sugar or you can opt instead for a long bath and a DIY blow dry before turning up at the theatre doors with a simple hand drawn card!
(I let you guess what my option is.)

My, with so many personalised card offers all over the net, you can’ t even hide behind the excuse of poor drawing skills! As everybody keeps telling you: it’s the thought that counts…

In fact, go counter trend and don’t even SEND a card; better GIVE one to people you love – your sister, your son, your cat even! My Valentine does not need a card: he knows who he is!!!

Man, heart, bells - a love story in cutters

Man, heart, bells – a love story in cutters

On the first morning we shared – a Valentine’s day morning mind you -I served him heart shaped fried eggs and a couple of heart cut French toasts in my tiny Holland road kitchen. Then I took a plane… And he sent a card after me that I never got! But we got engaged 6 months later.

I don’t need to give you the recipe for heart shaped fried eggs I don’t think, or a cut out for heart-shaped toasts! I could give you a recipe for a happy marriage ( now there is an idea…) but it might take too long , and I don t like to gloat…

So… Happy valentine everyone!

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My lovers food of choice: two freshly laid eggs that were served to us at the Hibiscus on Maddox st. A real shell and inside, a reduction of mushroom topped with an “espuma” of chesnut and celeriac dusted with curry. Unforgettable.

Caribbean cooler with hibiscus flowers

Dried hibiscus flowers

Dried hibiscus flowers

A drink is in order to celebrate the half-term week-end, whether you are at home or away! And because this one is alcohol-free, the children can also enjoy…

I pinch this recipe from Henry Dimbleby, owner of the chain Leon who gave it away in the Guardian, but I have changed the quantities and his call for more sugar. It contains one unusual ingredient, Hibiscus flowers; one that I happen to buy quite often since discovering it in Egypt a few years ago. You can find dried hibiscus flowers in herbal shops, health shops and some exotic grocers. I love the tart taste of this infusion and its beautiful deep crimson colour. It is also very high in vitamin C and extremely refreshing… in the heat.

Ingredients list

  • 1.5 litre of water
  • Dried hibiscus flowers, 50g or two big handfuls
  • Fresh ginger, 1 large piece (peeled and chopped)
  • Orange, 1 zested
  • Cloves, 6
  • Soft brown sugar, 150g

Bring all the ingredients up to the boil in a deep pan and simmer for one minute.

Cover and steep overnight.

Pass through a fine sieve and taste to adjust sugar. You might want a bit more.

Chill and serve in tall glasses with ice.

We loved it and my older son might have liked it even better with a large shot of vodka, which is a very tempting option for a Friday night… A votre santé! Salud! My mum and dad always like to invoke health when drinking and for this once it is exceedingly appropriate, given the digestive ginger oils and the vitamin C content!

I raise this alcohol-free glass to my parents with whom I will be celebrating a 50th anniversary in a warmer clime tomorrow: I love you both and I am very proud of you and of what you have achieved in those well-stocked 50 years.

To my parents 50th anniversary

…for my parents 50th anniversary

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Merry Christmas to all you love and peace on Earth for mankind

Merry Christmas to all you love and peace on Earth for mankind

Mince pies for Rudolph, a dram for Father C. and a present wrapped in sugar. Hope And Love to You ALL – Hope I have forgotten nobody!