Fancy cooking something French and really special? Try this iconic French dish of beef, stewed with lovely vegetables and herbs in wine which are then strained off, reduced and thickened to create a densely flavoured, smooth and silky sauce. Yes, if you’re feeling lazy, you could technically skip the sauce straining steps, but then it would just end up being a lovely stew, not a true boeuf Bourguignon! I personally think the extra step makes all the difference!
Ingredients (4 people)
200g bacon, solid chunk cut into lardons
800g braising steak, cut into cubes
2 tbsp flour
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
12 shallots, peeled and sliced
3 cups red wine (ideally Bordeaux)
2-3 cups beef stock (enough to cover)
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, mashed
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
200g mushroom, quartered
50g unsalted butter
salt & fresh ground pepper
Potatoes, roasted or mashed (to serve)
Crusty bread (to serve)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan, sauté the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned and set aside on a plate.
2. Coat the pieces of beef in flour, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in the bacon fat and olive oil. Set aside with the bacon. Again, in the same oil/fat, sauté the shallots, garlic and the carrot until softened. Set aside with the meat.
3. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, pour it into an oven-proof casserole along with the meat, lardons, shallots, garlic, carrots and add enough stock to almost cover the mix. Stir in the tomato paste and add the parsley, sage and half the thyme. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove, cover and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 120 degrees and simmer slowly for 3 hours to 4 hours, or until a fork pierces the meat easily.
4. In the meantime, start preparing the mushrooms. Heat a spoonful of butter and a spoonful of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. As soon as the foam begins, add the mushrooms and a sprig of thyme, season with salt and pepper, toss and sauté for about five minutes until brown and set aside until ready to use. You may also want to start preparing the side of potato at this stage.
5. When the stew meat is tender, remove all solids from the sauce by draining through a sieve set over a saucepan. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole, discarding the bits of carrot, shallots and herbs which remain in the sieve.
6. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two. You should be left with about 2-3 cups of rich, dark sauce, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thin, stir in a spoonful of flour and boil it down to reduce to the right thickness. If it’s too thick, add a bit of stock.Taste for seasoning before serving.
7. Pour the sauce over the side and garnish with fresh parsley to serve.
If serving later, simply allow the casserole to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. Place over medium heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally stirring the meat with the sauce.
This Donna Hay inspired pudding looks absolutely gorgeous, yet it’s so easy to make you will really struggle to mess it up! ;0) The only trick is to start on the jelly early to give it enough time to set.
Ingredients: (4 serves)
1 raspberry jelly sachet
100g fresh raspberries
4 macarons (store bought)
1 cup (250ml) thickened cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
Coconut flakes to serve (optional)
1. Make the raspberry jelly according to the packet’s instructions. Arrange 4-5 raspberries in the bottom of each of the 4 serving glasses and pour over the raspberry jelly. Place in the fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.
2. To assemble, place a macaron in each glass on the jelly. Whisk the thickened cream with the sugar and vanilla until it holds peaks and layer over the macaron. Top up with a couple of fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of coconut flakes. You’re done!
Ice-cream hidden in a crispy choux pastry ball, covered in chocolate sauce. Can you think of anything better, seriously?
25g unsalted butter
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup flour
1 pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1.Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Bring butter, water and 1 pinch of salt to boil, stirring well until the butter is melted.
2. Pour the flour all at once in the butter mixture and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined and until it forms a ball. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
3. Whisk in the eggs, but one at a time until well combined.
4. Cover a large tray with baking paper. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag and pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray. If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a ziplock bag and cut off the corner.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden. Try not to open the oven until it’s cooked or your pastry may run rise as desired.
6. Remove from oven and turn the oven off. Using a skewer or a small knife, prick each profiterole once and return the to the oven for 15 minutes to dry out.
7. To prepare the sauce, break the chocolate into rough pieces and melt it in a pan. Pour the cream in and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and fully combined. Remove from the heat, add a pinch of salt, a splash of cognac if you wish and mix well.
8. To assemble the profiteroles, halve each choux horizontally, fill with a ball of ice-cream. Place 3 on each plate, over some whipped cream and drizzle generously with chocolate sauce.
The same choux pastry recipe can be used for eclairs.
These rich and chewy double chocolate cookies will satisfy any chocolate craving…although you may have to satisfy them more and more frequently…oh, well – we all know chocolate makes us happy!
Ingredients: (makes 16)
125g dark chocolate, melted
50g cocoa, sieved
1 cup flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g soft butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
100g macadamia nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl – whisk the butter and once combined, mix in the melted chocolate, vanilla extract and egg.
3. Whisk in the flour mix and finish with the macadamia nuts.
4. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper. Shape 16 equal-sized cookies and place on the tray, roughly 5 cm apart from each other as they will expand with the cooking. Bake for 20 minutes or until set.
5. Leave to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to harden.
These are absolutely delicious served with vanilla or coconut ice-cream! You can also freeze individual portions of the dough, ready to be baked as soon as the next craving hits you! Naughty…:-)
Filet is the most tender of all the types of steak and is also lean and healthy. It is often also the most expensive cut available, so you want to make sure you cook it to perfection! While searing is a good way to cook a filet, finishing it in the oven helps it cook more evenly. The garlic & parsley butter is a simple but elegant way to add an extra touch of je ne sais quoi!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 parsley bunch, finely chopped
100g butter, cubed
4 x 150g marbled fillet steaks
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. To make the parsley butter, mix the parsley, garlic, and salt together, add the cubed butter to the parsley-garlic mixture.
2. Place the mixture into a plastic wrap, roll it tight and refrigerate.
3. Heat a frying pan on medium/high heat, season your steaks and grill for 2 minute on each side to seal the juices in.
4. Transfer to a hot baking tray and finish it in the oven for 5-6 minutes for medium rare.
5. Remove from the oven, place on a rack and cover with foil and leave in a warm place for up to 10 minutes. Serve it with a slice of garlic and parsley butter on top a side of Dauphinoise Potato Gratin. Click here for the recipe!
Any leftover butter can be held for at least a week in the refrigerator, or frozen for several weeks. It’s delicious with grilled prawns, pasta or crusty bread!
Re-cap: Top 5 secrets for the perfect steak:
1. Prepare it
Allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking.
Brush your steak lightly with some olive oil, rather than the pan
2. Let it sizzle
The pan should be hot enough so that the steak sizzles as it first hits the heat.
3. Turn it once
Only flip the steak once to keep it tender.
4. Shorter on the other side
It won’t take as much to cook evenly through.
5. Let it rest
To seal in the flavour and juices, it’s very important to let the meat rest for a few minutes after cooking
Homemade ice cream is a great treat to make because it can last in the freezer for a while, can be enjoyed on it’s own or can be the final touch of any other dessert! This recipe is a quick and easy way to make icecream from scratch, without using an ice cream maker!
1 cup white sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups canned coconut milk
1 bounty bar, chopped finely
50g shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla flavouring
chocolate shavings to serve (optional)
1. Beat the eggs and whisk in the sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Pour the mixture into a bain marie bowl and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened and creamy. Place in the refrigerator to cool.
3. Use an electric blender to whisk the cream until very thick. Transfer into a large mixing bowl and fold in coconut milk and shredded coconut. Once combined, stir in the egg/sugar mixture, vanilla flavour and bounty bar bits.
4. Place in the freezer and allow to set for at least 8-10 hours. Serve with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and chocolate shavings. To make the chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler, hold the bar of chocolate in one hand and scrape the peeler across the edge of the chocolate block. You can also serve it with our Nibblish ultimate brownie!
4. Place in the freezer and allow to set for at least 8-10 hours. Serve with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and chocolate shavings.
To make the chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler, hold the bar of chocolate in one hand and scrape the peeler across the edge of the chocolate block. You can also serve it with our Nibblish ultimate brownie!
Chocolate brownie has to be the quickest way to a man’s heart…try it! Make sure you follow the right portions and cooking time for a perfect, lovely and moist result!
300g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
1.5 cup sour cream
1 cup macadamia, coarsely chopped
50g chocolate to melt as topping (optional)
1. Grease the baking tray with a little bit of butter and sprinkle with flour to make it non stick. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees. Melt chocolate with butter on low heat, add a pinch of salt and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2. Add brown sugar and mix together.
3. Whisk in the eggs.
4. Mix in the sifted flour.
5. Finish by adding the sour cream and nuts.
Serve warm with ice-cream, custard or cream! You can also add walnuts or peanuts to the macadamia for a nuttier version!
Here is a lovely way to kick off or extend the Valentine’s celebrations with an unexpected love packed breakfast!
Because of its association with new life, eggs were considered the ultimate symbol of fertility among most ancient nations. Nutmeg was highly prized by Chinese women as an aphrodisiac. A light sprinkling of the spice can help spice up your evening. The scent and flavour of vanilla is believed to increase lust. Click here to see full recipe
Romantic presentation tip: Top it up with a cute heart shaped piece of watermelon!
When planning a romantic dinner, it’s easy to think of soft music, candlelight and sexy outfit and overlook the importance of romantic aphrodisiac foods! Packed with ingredients popular for their aphrodisiac virtues, this menu will not only be delicious but will also help heat things up and make your night super special! A little bit of creativity with the presentation can also make a big difference and show your loved one how much you care!
Velvety Duck Liver parfait
Duck Liver parfait is the perfect starter to share with your lover. It’s rich, smooth and decadent. Its buttery texture is sure to put you in an indulgent mood. Click here for the full recipe
Romantic presentation tip: replace the sage leaves with heart shaped pieces of red chili!
Pumpkin & Coriander Soup
While pumpkin is most typically associated with lanterns and Halloween, it is historically an aphrodisiac and research shows a scientific connection between pumpkin and seduction! In Ayurveda, coriander is an aphrodisiac, digestive, tonic and coolant. Click here for the full recipe
Romantic presentation tip: serve the pumpkin soup in it’s own skin! To do so, roast the pumpkin before spooning the flesh out and making the soup !
Chocolate contains the “feel good” serotonin and a “love” stimulant called phenyl ethylamine, similar to endorphins that give us a natural high. Caffeine is a famous stimulant for both body and mind, great in preparation for an “all-nighter”! Click here for the full recipe
Romantic presentation tip: use wiped cream to write a romantic message or draw a heart on the plate!
Prepare both the Parfait and Tiramisu the day before and get the soup started early to leave you time to chill and get ready for a great night! Here you go, enjoy…and of course, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Duck Liver parfait is really economical and easy to make, but it tastes luxurious and looks really fancy too. My French compatriotes would probably hate me for saying that, but I see it a little bit like a Green peace foie gras – similar in taste and texture but without the arrogance, cost or cruelty! You can also make it up to 48h ahead and save it in the fridge as an early start of a fancy meal. You can also double the measures and serve it as the master piece for a party.
Ingredients (serves 4 people)
400-500g fresh duck liver, fat, strings and green patches trimmed
20ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
1 slice of bacon, chopped
50ml cognac or brandy
250g butter, diced
6-8 fresh sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Cornichons, Brioche and salad to serve
1. Soak duck livers in the milk for 1.5 hours at room temperature. If you are using frozen livers, simply allow them to defrost in water for 1h and then soak in milk for another 30 minutes. After soaking, drain, rinse under cool water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
2. Heat a bit of oil and a nut of butter (5g) in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, bay leave, thyme leaves and bacon. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starting to colour.
3. Add your duck livers to the pan with an extra small splash of oil and season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook on a high heat for 2 minutes or until the liver pieces start to plump up. Add 50ml brandy or cognac to the pan and cook it off.
4. Transfer everything to to the food processor and blend it until smooth. Add the remaining 120g of butter to the food processor, bit by bit, and season with another good 2 good pinches of salt and pepper. Pass through a fine sieve if you have one and spoon it into a serving bowl and place in the fridge to start the setting process.
5. To make the clarified butter, place the remaining 125g of butter on low heat and cook slowly until the white dairy and clear oil are separated. Clean any impurities off the top and pour the clear liquid into a separate pan, before placing it on medium heat. After a couple of minutes, add the sage to the butter to fry and take the pan off the heat. Let it cool down and pour over the cooler pate mixture. Refrigerate the finished parfait for at least 4-5 hours or until the top layer looks hard and thick.
6. Serve the parfait with cornichons, fresh butter, freshly toasted brioche and a green leave salad.
Some people like to eat the sage flavoured clarified butter with the parfait, but you don’t have to. Even if you decide not to eat it, it’s still playing a key role to locking in the flavours and keeping the parfait fresh. You can save it up 4-5 days in the fridge when sealed. If you can’t find duck liver, replace with chicken liver. /em>
Click here for a Valentine’s version of this dish!