Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Kate's Kitchen: aphrodisiac foods for Valentine's Day

As it’s February – and coming up to Valentine’s Day – then my kitchen this month just has to focus on the food of love!

According to some historians, Valentine was a Roman physician who was also a gastronomist. This is perhaps one of the reasons why food plays a major part in celebrating Valentine’s Day. One of the most common gifts on Valentine’s Day is chocolate – which also happens to have a reputation as an aphrodisiac. This reputation started with the Aztecs, who made a drink fermented from cocoa beans; apparently the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank it before visiting his harem. It was also a drink favoured by Casanova.

But do aphrodisiac foods really exist? Scientists are sceptical about the role aphrodisiac foods play because of the lack of scientific evidence (most reports are anecdotal), plus the effects are difficult to measure. However, where chocolate’s concerned, it contains the chemicals phenylethylamine and serotonin – mood-lifting chemicals also found in the brain and released when we feel passion, causing a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. (OK, so I’m a known chocoholic and came come up with lots of excuses for eating it!)

I’m giving you three recipes this month, just in case you fancied making a complete Valentine’s dinner. All of them serve two (there will be left-over ice cream unless you’re as greedy as we are). And they all contain alleged aphrodisiacs :o)

For starters, I’m offering baked asparagus. (Apparently three courses of asparagus was served to bridegrooms in 19th-century France, because of its reputed powers.)
  • about 100g of trimmed and washed asparagus tips (thinnish ones are best for this)
  • about 50g parma ham
  • 50g dolcelatte (Brie and fontina also work well), thinly sliced
Cut the ham into strips and wrap it round the asparagus (the asparagus needs to be in a single layer on the baking tray).
Place on a baking tray and top with the dolcelatte.
Roast for about 10 minutes - the asparagus should be tender.
Serve with rocket and pomodorino tomatoes drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar.

For main course: chicken provençal (the tomatoes in the sauce are the aphrodisiac ingredients).
• 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
• 1/2 tbs olive oil
• 1/2 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1/2 tbs paprika
• 1/2 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
• 1/2 red pepper, deseeded
and cut into strips
• 1 small courgette, topped, tailed and cut into small dice
• Herbes de Provence
• 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes in juice

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan.Add the garlic, onion and chicken and saute until chicken is browned on all sides.
Add tomatoes, peppers, courgette and herbs.
Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve with couscous or a jacket potato and green beans.

For pudding: strawberry yoghurt ice cream (strawberries are alleged aphrodisiacs here – and actually, fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate would be a really nice accompaniment to the ice cream).

  • 400g strawberries
  • 400g fat free Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbs double cream
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Put the strawberries, caster sugar and lemon juice into a blender and puree until smooth.
Add yoghurt and double cream, and pulse until blended.
Pour into an ice cream maker and let the machine work for about 30 minutes.
Spoon into lidded containers and store in the freezer

In the UK, you can get a copy of The Ex Who Hired Her and Dr Cinderella’s Midnight Fling from the Mills and Boon website (out in shops next month), and next month they’ll be available on the eHarlequin website (out in shops in April). You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)

1 comment:

  1. My husband is extremely fond of green vegetables, but they have zero romance potential as far as I am concerned!