This Valentine’s Day, single or taken, try out these tasty treats

Published: February 13, 2017
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Starting off with the most basic recipe ever to kick start the sweet tooth high – French toast roll-ups! PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA.

Valentine’s Day is back again. Shops and restaurants are all decked in red. Street vendors with heart-shaped balloons and red roses can be seen in every nook and cranny.

It is my personal belief that this day does not have to be about couples alone as it has mostly been made out to be. All the single people out there do not have to go underground for the day. It can be an ideal way to spend a non-public holiday with your family and friends.

I will take this opportunity to admit I am not big on celebrating all the love in the world on one day alone. I believe there doesn’t have to be a specific day or event to showcase your emotions or to do something special for a loved one. Plus random surprises are the best – no comparison there – I, of course, mean the bring-smiles-to-your-face surprises only.

A few years ago, I started the tradition of doing something special for my close ones on random days. Something special. Something personal. We have all heard of the phrase; “There’s no place like home”. Almost every month I make it a point to cook a three course meal for my family, friends, or colleagues.

Below are three easy meals that don’t take up much time and yes, they manage to bring out all the finger licking smiles! So turn off your phone and TV, close your laptop, minimise all interruptions and dig in.

Starting off with the most basic recipe ever to kick start the sweet-tooth high.

French toast roll-ups

Ingredients
Fresh bread slices – 4
Cream cheese (My personal favourite)
Nutella
Eggs – 1
Sugar – 2 tbsp
Milk – 2 tbsp
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Method
1. Flatten the bread slices with a rolling pin.
2. Spread cream cheese or Nutella on the slices and roll them up.
3. In a bowl mix the vanilla, egg, sugar and milk together.
4. Dip the rolls in the mixture and fry them on medium heat.
5. Serve with fresh fruit, maple syrup or chocolate sauce.

Next comes the main meal – something fancy and exotic but not time consuming. Presenting my take on “Moroccan chicken”.

Arhama’s Moroccan chicken

Ingredients
Chicken fillets – 4
Oregano – ½ tsp
Basil – ½ tsp
Red chilli – ½ tsp
Paprika – ½ tsp (optional)
Ginger – 1 tbsp
Garlic – 1 tbsp
Oil – 3 tbsp
Worcestershire sauce – 2 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp

For the sauce
Chicken stock– ½ cup (You can mix in chicken powder and water)
Chilli garlic sauce – ½ cup
Cream – ½ cup

Method
1. Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients except the ginger and garlic for at least one hour.
2. In a saucepan, sauté the ginger and garlic.
3. Add the chicken filets and cook both sides.
4. Add in the ingredients for the sauce one at a time and stir carefully. Add in a bit of lemon and olives if you want and cook on low heat till the sauce thickens.
5. Garnish with fresh green onions.

Now to cap off the sugar high is this chocolate pudding. Serve it straight from the oven with vanilla ice cream!

Chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream

Ingredients 
Sugar – ½ cup
Cocoa powder – ¼ cup
Flour – 1 cup
Butter – 4 tbsp (melted)
Vanilla essence – 2 tbsp
Milk – ½ cup
Egg yolk – 1
Chocolate chunks – ½ cup (Chop up your favourite chocolate)
Baking powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – ½ cup
Water – 1 cup (boiling)

Method
1. Preheat the oven and lightly grease a baking dish (I used ramekins).
2. In a bowl mix together the sugar and cocoa along with flour, salt and baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together butter, milk, vanilla and egg yolk.
4. Mix the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
5. Pour boiling water over the batter in the baking tray and sprinkle additional sugar and cocoa powder on top.
6. Put it in the oven until it is bubbly and the top is cracked.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all single-and-proud people and all the lucky-couples out there! Hoping these recipes can make this day even more delicious.

All photos: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a Instagram food blog: @chakhoous (www.instagram.com/chakhoous/) . She tweets @arhama_siddiqa (twitter.com/arhama_siddiqa)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.