Red is the colour of love, so are these divine strawberry recipes for Valentine’s Day
If you were like me, you would have noticed the hues of red being painted around town in order to commemorate Valentine’s Day. From flowers to painted boards to stuffed teddy bears to inflated hearts – this day, a celebration of love, has become quite an occasion in our part of the world.
Preparing meals, candle light dinners and the entire hoo blah shah surrounding this date are beyond me. Starry eyes, loudly thumping hearts, love-struck teens, long-stemmed roses, music in the air, helium-packed balloons, gift hampers, baskets of chocolates and teddy bears – all this is definitely a scene out of a romantic movie. Barring all the religious and cultural debates, I will only ponder on why love has to be celebrated on this particular date only and, more importantly, why so publicly?
If you were like me, you would have also noticed the scrumptious, juicy and absolutely pretty looking strawberries, which also happen to enter our lives around the same time as the Valentine’s festivities begin. This season, strawberries are my sweethearts! (Did I mention that I have an eye for good looking food?)
As many couples prep for their celebration of love, I, on the other hand, start prepping my kitchen and its utilities to make use of this heavenly berry. Frozen, pulped, puréed, macerated, sliced, chopped, cubed, spun or cooked, I can express my love for this little creature in numerous ways. Yes, you can call me ‘foodsessed’.
Whilst I was nibbling on this red, gold speckled and green crowned divinity with utmost care and affection, I decided to come up with two ornaments for those who wish to please their loved ones with my most loved fruit. I will show you how to make a chilled to perfection, smooth, sublime hazelnut mousse with strawberry purée which can be made in advance and assembled right before its presentation. Served for dessert or even for breakfast for those who want a sweet intake in the morning, this soft, airy, fluffy mousse laced with a sharp strawberry tinge is a brilliant combination. A mushy recipe bound to please your beau!
Give it a try and make this recipe for two:
Ingredients for the mousse:
Whipping cream – ½ cup
Nutella – 2 tbsp (softened)
Coffee – ¼ tsp (instant)
Ingredients for the strawberry purée:
Strawberries – 200 grams
Sugar – 1 ½ tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
1. Take a medium-sized bowl and whip the cream in it until it gets slightly fluffy. At this stage, it is important that you do not over beat the mixture, as the cream can turn into butter.
2. Now add in the Nutella and coffee granules and mix again. Make sure not to beat the air out of the fluff yet mix it uniformly.
3. Place the bowl in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the dish.
4. Prepare the strawberry purée by hulling and chopping the strawberries. Put them into a small saucepan along with the sugar and lemon juice. Let this simmer on low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the juices have slightly thickened and strawberries have gone all mushy.
5. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool.
6. Once the mousse is chilled, you can spoon the mousse with the strawberry purée alternately into small glasses or goblets. At this stage, you can go ahead and serve them to your loved one and enjoy the deliciousness. You can even refrigerate them for later; the mousse will stay well in the refrigerator for two to three days.
So once a dinner date begins on the ‘Red Day’, it starts with proclamations of love followed by promises of ‘forever’ phrases and finally ends with exchange of gifts, which leaves hardly any time to enjoy a good meal. But come on, you can put in just a little more effort and go for an easy, simple, frill-less meal, featuring of course my lovely strawberries!
If everything around you is swooning in red, what do you do?
Well, you don’t lose heart, and make grilled cheese and strawberry sandwiches which are both comforting and contrasting in its flavours. In these sandwiches, warm, buttery toasts are slapped together with melted cheese and caramelised strawberries, with hints of fresh earthy basil leaves.
Dig in is all I can say!
Ingredients (for one sandwich):
Bread – 2 slices (fresh)
Cheese – 1 slice (I used American Cheddar)
Strawberries – 3 (hulled and sliced)
Basil Leaves – 3 to 4 (fresh)
Butter – for smothering the slices
1. Put a griddle pan on medium to high heat and let it warm up.
2. In the meantime, butter your bread slices on both the sides and prepare your strawberries and basil leaves.
3. Once the griddle is hot, place one slice on the pan and let it toast for about 30 to 40 seconds. The idea is to give a warm brown crispiness to the bread on one side and then flip it to the other.
4. Whilst the slice is on the pan, place your cheese slice, strawberries and basil leaves on it.
5. Slap it down with the other buttered slice of bread. After a few seconds, flip your sandwich with great care so that you can now toast the top slice.
6. Around 30 to 40 seconds later, gently lift the sandwich off the griddle and plate it. This sandwich has to be prepared and eaten at once.
Although many of us make an extra effort to celebrate love on Valentine’s Day, I for one like finding love in little things and celebrating them whenever I can. You should do the same!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.