Move over Purdy’s! I present to you three edible Valentine’s Day gifts, appropriate even for the V-Day Scrooge who hates pink ribbons, sugar, kittens and probably student food blogs…
‘Baking the classic’
Replace red roses with apple roses made from frozen puffed pastry for an easy, impressive delight.
2 sheets puffed pastry, thawed
3 apples, such as honeysuckles or braeburns
2 tbsps sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
juice from half lemon
2 tbsps water
spoonful of melted butter for assembly
icing sugar to dust
- Roll pastry slightly thinner and cut each sheet into five pieces.
- Halve, core and slice apples into ¼ inch-thick pieces.
- In microwavable bowl, sprinkle apples with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and a splash of water. Cover and microwave for two to three minutes until apples are just pliable.
- To assemble each rose, place apple slices halfway down strip of pastry, overlapping adjacent slice by one inch. Brush exposed pastry with butter and fold over to seal before rolling into rose shape. (There are lots of YouTube videos out there for further explanation.)
- Bake roses in muffin tin brushed with melted butter for 40 minutes at 375ºF until pastry in rose centres looks golden.
- Remove from oven and dust with icing sugar.
‘Exceeding the bar’
It’s not true that everyone loves chocolate. It is true however that almost everyone loves a good granola bar. After a decade of trying, I’ve mastered the perfect chewy, low-sugar and gluten-free (!!) recipe. Rolled oats may serve as a substitute for the quick-cooking variety, but they will leave the bars less sturdy. For a romantic touch, top each bar with a single square of good quality chocolate or even a chocolate heart.
zest from 1 orange**
juice from 1 orange, plus water to make 6 tablespoons total liquid**
2 tbsps ground flax seeds
2 tbsps chia seeds
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup honey
1 ½ cups dried fruits
1 ½ cups nuts and/or seeds
¼ tsp salt
2 cups quick oats
2/3 cup brown rice Rice Krispies
1 tsp cinnamon
1 bar good-quality dark chocolate or 9 small chocolate hearts
**If you don’t like orange flavouring, omit zest and juice, replacing with six tablespoons plain water.
- Mix flax and chia with orange zest and juice/water. Set aside to soak. The flax and chia act as natural binding agents and will help keep your bars from falling apart.
- Melt butter and honey together. Let cool briefly then add to flax/chia mixture.
- In large mixing bowl, combine oats, Rice Krispies, cinnamon, salt, fruit and nuts/seeds. Use whatever fruits, nuts and seeds are your favourite, but chop large ones (or whizz briefly in food processor) to protect the holding-together-ness of your bars.
- Add liquids to oat mixture and mix well. Press HARD into a 9×9-inch parchment-lined pan, making sure there are no gaps or loose bits.
- Place nine full squares of chocolate bar or chocolate hearts equally spaced on top, angled to make diamonds on final cut squares.
- Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until outsides browned and tops lightly golden.
- Let cool completely in pan then cut into nine squares.
‘You’ll always be my dhal’
And for the sweet-tooth-less lover (who doesn’t even like granola bars), a jar of homemade curry paste. Pair with matching jars of lentils and rice for a complete meal. Because nothing says I love you like a good dhal.
Makes 250 ml paste
3 tbsps ground cumin
3 tbsps turmeric
2 tbsps garam masala
2 tbsps ground coriander
3-inch chunk of ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
3 tbsps vegetable oil
3 tbsps tomato paste
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 green chili (optional)
- Lightly toast first four spices over medium-heat until aromatic.
- In food processor, chop ginger and garlic then add spices and all other ingredients. Mix until smooth paste forms. Without a food processor, do the same by hand, grating or chopping the ginger and garlic as fine as possible.
- To prepare dhal for four, brown a chopped onion in a dollop of ghee or butter.
- Add 1 cup lentils, 2 ½ cups water and 1/3 jar of paste.
- Let simmer until lentils are fully cooked.