February can be a tainted or rose-tinted month for many, as the highly commercialized Valentine’s day comes around. You might have realized it’s impossible to ignore the day. The shop windows are filled with decorations, every business has a sale that you get to enjoy as a couple. Also, Netflix’s homepage starts looking like any genre other than romance is not worth watching. There are people who dread Valentine’s day, and there are those that wait patiently for it each year. Either way, let me be clear: running away from it is not possible.

While many have plans for the day, Valentine’s Day without dinner is, simply, not acceptable. Whether your plans include a significant other, a wild night of galentines, or just some “you-time”, cooking for your loved ones (yes, that includes yourself too), can be a great heartfelt gift. In order to be of assistance, we decided to gather up some delicious recipes to accompany you.

Stuffed Peppers

Picture courtesy of Jamie Oliver
  • 3 Bell peppers
  • 1 cup Rice, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon
  • Parsley

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius. Halve your bell peppers. In a pot, cook your rinsed rice with 2 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt, until it soaks the whole water. Latert it in a medium bowl, where you’ll also add your fresh parsley (stems removed and chopped), along with the salt and pepper, turmeric, and nutmeg and 1 and a half cups of tomato sauce. Stir to get everything mixed.

Sweat your onions in olive oil and when they are translucent add them into your rice mixture and stir again. Put the rice mixture into your peppers, and place into the oven for 20 minutes. Finally add a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese on top and broil for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs

Picture courtesy of Jamie Oliver
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, stems removed and chopped

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Later on, heat up your skillet. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper as well as a drizzle of olive oil on both sides. Cook on a medium heat pan for 15 minutes. Later on, place in the oven for 15 more minutes. In the pan you cooked the chicken in, add the lemon juice, garlic, and honey, and simmer. Take your chicken out of the oven and pour the mixture on top of it, cooking it for 5 more minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Easy and delicious chocolate tart

  • 300 ml double cream
  • 2 level tablespoons caster sugar
  • 400 g quality dark chocolate (70%)
  • 90 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100 ml cold milk
  • 1 tart shell, baked blind
  • quality cocoa powder, for dusting

This is a great recipe from Jamie Oliver, excellent to finish the soirée with your partner:

Place the double cream, sugar, and a tiny pinch of sea salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Break up the chocolate. As soon as the cream mixture has boiled, remove from the heat and add the butter and chocolate. Stir until it both have completely melted together. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, stirring in the cold milk until smooth and silky (do note, sometimes this mixture looks like it has split). Allow to cool down a bit more and whisk in a little extra cold milk until totally smooth. 

Scrape all the mixture into the cooked and cooled pastry shell with a spatula, shaking it to even it out. Allow to cool for 1 to 2 hours or until it is at room temperature. Dust with the cocoa powder and serve. The pastry should be short and crisp and the filling should be smooth and cut like butter.

For my fellow vegetarians, an option I personally love and adore is the next one: 

Mashed Potatoes and Saucy Mushroom Lentils

  • 2 Large potatoes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Lentils (boiled)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh tomato sauce
  • 10 mushrooms, chopped
  • Parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Boil your potatoes and when they are thoroughly cooked, crisp them up in a pan with some olive oil. Then add any form of milk (I use almond) and mash it with a fork or a potato masher until smooth. While you do so, gently caramelize your onions and add the chopped mushrooms. Finally, add the lentils, and later on add salt and pepper as well as the tomato sauce and close the lid off, cooking around 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and your whole kitchen smells fragrant.

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