Valentine’s Day is here and while take-away Chinese is a good option let’s just do away with it and get a little creative in the kitchen, says Shirin Mehrotra.

They say the way to a man’s heart goes through his stomach. We say that’s about women too. So, no matter what gender you belong to, put on your Chef’s hat, open a bottle of wine and try out these recipes by Chef Vincento Zizza of Fratelli Fresh.

Crunchy chocolate and strawberry dome

Crunchy chocolate and strawberry dome


First Course – Starter

Scallops with dill sauce

Ingredients:
Fresh or frozen sea scallops 450 grams
Butter 3 tbsp
Black pepper ¼ tsp
Paprika 1/8 tsp
Mayonnaise 2/3 cup
Lemon juice 2 tsp
Snipped dill 1 1/2 tsp

Method:
• Thread scallops onto four skewers.
• Preheat a broiler pan.
• Place the skewers on the greased unheated rack.
• In a small bowl stir together butter, pepper and paprika.
• Brush scallops with half this mixture.
• Cook for 8 - 10 minutes while brushing the remaining butter mixture continuously.
• Meanwhile, stir the mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill together.
• Serve scallops with the dill sauce.

Second Course – Mains

Roasted red pepper lasagne

Ingredients:
Red pasta sauce (tomato-based) 2 cups
Boiled lasagne sheet s 6
Ricotta ½ cup
Goat cheese or mozzarella 1 ½ cup
Red wine 1 tbsp
Finely grated parmesan ¼ cup
Roasted red sweet pepper (julienned) 1 cup

Method:
• Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
• Spoon 1/3 cup of the sauce in the baking dish .Top with two lasagne sheets.
• In a bowl stir together ricotta and goat cheese. Spoon half the mixture over the lasagne sheet in the baking dish.
• Sprinkle parmesan and top with half the red pepper.
• Spoon the remaining sauce on the pepper layer.
• Top with two more lasagne sheets and the remaining ricotta and red pepper.
• Add two more sheets of lasagne and the remaining sauce and sprinkle parmesan cheese.
• Cover with foil bake for 50 minutes.
• Let it stay covered for 20 minutes before serving.

Third Course – Dessert

Crunchy chocolate and strawberry dome

Ingredients:
Dark chocolate sponge
Egg yolk 440gms
Castor sugar 450gms
Wheat flour 180gms
Cocoa powder 100gm
Egg white 450gm
Unsalted butter 200gm

Dark chocolate mousse
Egg white Of 4 eggs
Egg yolk 4each
Sugar 60gms
Dark chocolate (melted) 300gms
Milk 100ml
Whipping cream 250gm

Praline crunch
French biscuit 100gms
Milk chocolate (melted) 150gms

Chocolate ganache
Cooking cream 500ml
Dark chocolate 450gms
Glucose liquid 50gms

Fresh strawberries 250 gms

Method:
For the chocolate sponge
• Whisk egg yolk and 320gms of sugar together.
• Once whisked, fold in the flour.
• Whisk egg white and the rest of the sugar together till it’s fluffy and stiff peaks form.
• Fold this into the egg yolk mix.
• Add melted butter (room temperature) and cocoa into the above mixture.
• Spread on a 60 x 40cm baking sheet that is five mm thick.
• Bake at 220 C for 10 minutes.

For the dark chocolate mousse

• Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and refrigerate.
• Melt chocolate on a double boiler and add hot milk. Keep stirring so that the chocolate does not burn.
• Remove from the heat and let it cool.
• Whip the egg whites till they are foamy, add sugar and whip till they form soft peaks.
• When the melted chocolate is slightly warmer than the body temperature, add the egg yolks.
• Fold in a third of the whipped cream, half the egg whites and mix. Add the rest of the whites and cream and refrigerate.

For the praline crunch
Melt the chocolate and combine it with crushed French biscuits and spread it on butter paper and let it cool so that it forms a sheet.

For the chocolate ganache
Boil the cream with glucose. Keep stirring the cream while boiling to avoid burning the glucose. Remove the pan from the heat, add dark chocolate to it. Mix well to avoid any lumps.

Assembly

• Crush the praline crunch sheet and mix with the dark chocolate mousse.
• Split the sponge cake into two halves and mold them into hollow semi spheres.
• Spoon some chocolate ganache on the plate and place the semi sphere on it with hollow end facing upwards.
• Fill it with praline crunch-chocolate mousse mix and sliced strawberries, and cover it with another semi sphere to complete the dome.
• Pour the chocolate ganache over the dome
• Decorate the plate with fresh strawberries and serve.

If you are planning to pop the question this Valentine’s Day, we suggest you do it in style. Hint: Try sticking the ring in a marshmallow or a bit of chocolate right on top. Surrounded by so much gooey goodness, we don’t think she will be able to say no, do you?