They say the way to a person's heart is through the stomach, and we agree!
A homemade meal is far more romantic than even the fanciest restaurant, even if you are not the greatest cook. In fact, it is more romantic especially if you are not a seasoned chef. But with these recipes, your special someone might think you are!
Bacon-wrapped chicken roulade
100g butter, room temperature
100g baby spinach
4 large skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp Cajun spice
Salt and black pepper, to taste
230g cream cheese
600g streaky bacon
Fresh rosemary, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 20g of butter. Add the spinach and cook for 1–2 minutes, until just wilted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
Place the chicken breasts on a chopping board. Butterfly each breast using a sharp knife (see notes and tips).
Place the open, butterflied chicken breasts on your work surface and season with Cajun spice, salt and black pepper.
Mix the remaining butter and cream cheese with the cooked spinach.
Place approximately two tablespoons of the spinach and cream cheese mixture in the centre of each chicken breast. Roll up each chicken breast and wrap it in bacon.
Transfer the chicken breasts to a lined oven tray and bake for 25–30 minutes or until brown all over. Toward the end of the cooking time, grill the chicken breasts for 1–2 minutes to crisp up the bacon.
Once cooked, let the chicken rest outside the oven for 5 minutes before serving.
Notes and tips: How to butterfly chicken breasts? Place a chicken breast on a chopping board. Lay one hand flat on top of the breast to keep it in place.
With your other hand, use a sharp knife to cut a long, smooth cut horizontally through the middle of the breast, starting at the thicker end and ending at the thinnest point. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the other side.
Open the chicken breast and lie it flat so that it resembles a butterfly. Use a rolling pin to flatten it some more and create an even thickness.
Recipe by self-taught home cook and cookbook author Sinoyolo Sifo.
Lemon avocado pea pasta
2 large ripe avocados, peeled and diced
100g frozen petits pois or garden peas
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
50ml avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to the instructions on the packaging. Add the peas for the last 2-3 minutes. Drain and reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water.
Toss the pasta and peas with diced avocado, and cooking water, stir in the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, the reserved cooking water, and the avocado oil.
Season with salt and pepper, and then pile it into two serving bowls. Sprinkle the dill and the remaining Parmesan over the top and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of South African Avocado Growers’ Association.
Popcorn-infused crème brûlée
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup full cream milk
4 cups popped buttered popcorn
6 egg yolks
⅓ cup white sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place the cream and milk in a medium pot and bring to a low simmer.
Turn the heat down to the lowest setting, add the popped buttered popcorn to the cream/milk mixture, and stir. Take off the heat.
Allow the cream and milk mixture to steep with the popcorn for an hour and then strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a small pitcher or liquid measure, pressing the solids with the back of a spoon or ladle to release as much liquid as possible.
Place the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and whip with a whisk until pale in colour.
Add a small amount of the warm popcorn-infused cream or milk, whisking, to temper the yolks.
Continue to add the hot cream/milk into the yolks, slowly, while whisking, until completely incorporated, and warm to the touch.
Place four 200 ml ramekins in a baking dish and pour the custard mixture into the ramekins, dividing the mixture equally. Place the baking dish with the ramekins in the preheated oven and carefully pour hot water into the baking dish, allowing it to come to about half the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the custard is set.
Cool completely, sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar, and Brulee with a torch or under the grill until brown and caramelised.
Recipe by chef Thapelo Majafe.