For a long time even as I grew more successful as a gastronomy writer, I have felt bad that I had lost touch with my painting over the years. A student of fine art in school, then an animator I loved to paint with an obsession but truth to tell I had stopped painting a long long time ago, as other things became more important. And then Godrej Nature's Basket, invited me to host an interactive session at their Warden rd. store for some celeb couples. I wanted to do something Quick, easy and fuss free. As I put together the recipes for this cook up, I realized, I am still painting, only now my palette is a plate and my colors are ingredients.
With a busy work life and two kids, romantic time out is an illusion on most days in the Ghildiyal home (not that we are complaining, the kids give us new reasons to celebrate every day with their antics.) But this is the same story with most couples living the Mumbai life. Keeping that in mind, I decided to create recipes that could be prepared using ready products available at Nature's basket. The idea being that if you're looking for no cooking, quick, fuss free ideas for a romantic Valentines day, just stop at Nature's Basket on the way!
I picked up products; cold cuts, salad mixes sauces, jams, jellies and spice mixes that are readily available ready to use at Natures Baske, adding a fun element by using ingredients that are supposed to be aphrodesiacal in nature. An added bonus was that they can be put together by the most unschooled cook even guys who seldom enter the kitchen.
Romantic Recipes For Valentine's day
1/2 cup mixed lettuce (I used the very cool, convenient Trikaya premix)
1 tbsp Evoo (I use Soler Romero Organic Evoo from Spain)
1 cup ruccola
4 figs quartered
8 strawberries halved
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp fig preserve
2 tbsp Monin Chocolate and mint syrup
2 tbsp finely diced Aldagh Wine cheese or other sharp cheese - even a blue
2 tbsp shavings of bitterest chocolate (I used Lindtt extra Dark)
Combine fruit in a bowl with fig relish and the Monin syrup and leave to macerate for 5 minutes.
Place lettuce and rucolla in a glass bowl and toss lightly with olive oil.
Add macerated fruit and toss well.
Transfer to plate.
Scatter with cheese and chocolate shavings and serve.
Noughts and crosses Antipasti platter
Here are 9 bite sized appetisers, combining unusual flavours from products available at Natures Basket. Arrange them like a noughts and crosses the game and play with your significant other, taking one bite each alternately. The one that eats three in a line (vertical/horizontal or diagonal) is the winner. You decide what the forfeit is! ;-)
1. Halve a fig, top halves with 1/2 tsp crumbled Aldagh wine cheese and a smidgen of Rose Petal jam.
2. Toss one tbsp diced Smoked Cheese with 3 sliced orange rind stuffed olives and drizzle with Red Kelly's pepperberry sauce.
3. Combine 3 chopped strawberries and combine with 1/2 tsp crushed, brined green peppercorn and drizzle with I/2 tsp Monin Chocolate mint syrup.
4. Smear 2 slices Iberico ham with Soler Romero Olive oil and wrap around 1 stick os Manchego cheese each.
5. Smear 2 slices Cobourg ham with Pukara estate Wasabi Olive oil and roll over green cucumber batons.
6. Smear Smoked salmon with Costa Doro Lemon Parsley Olive Oil and roll around grissini sticks.
7.Smear 1 slice smoked bacon with Bamboleo sun dried tomato paste and fold onto The FIne Cheese Co. Chilli cracker.
8. Spread THe FIne Cheese Co. Fennel crackers with rose harrisa and top generously with Table of Plenty Pistachio dukkah.
9. Top The Fine Cheese Co. Rosemary crackers with sliced purple grapes, soft goats cheese and sprinkle generously with Table of Plenty Almond dukkah salsa.
Arrange each bite on a platter as you go in three rows.