Looking to impress your sweetheart this Valentine’s Friday with some amazing grub, cooked with love? Look no further, because Cupid Shalaka is here to save your stomach and heart and relationship and everything.
Now that we’ve gotten through the shameless, cheesy hook, let’s get real, my friends. You’re reading this article for one of three reasons: a) You saw my name and thought, dang! She must know how to write a Valentine’s article, b) You’ve already planned Single Awareness Day involving girlfriends/Fifty Shades/ some serious chocolate eating and wine consumption, and want to scoff at how the other side lives, or c) You actually need help cooking a meal for your significant other that goes a step further than getting EVKreative at the made-to-order grilled cheese bar.
Look no further, because Cupid Shalaka can take care of all of you. Though my Valentine’s Day spirit animal is the 72 percent Ghirardelli Dark chocolate that stocks my pantry (bitter), I’ve decided to make peace with the Hallmark holiday in the name of food and all that is good. Because food is all that is good, and no matter the occasion, nothing is more good than food that is shared. (Food = good. Got it? Good.)
I’ve put together a super simple three-course menu-for-two that even you (yes, you in the blue shirt pretending not to read this right now) can wade through with little to no casualties. I’ll get you from doorstep to dessert, and the rest is all your dazzle (or damage control). But I digress.
We’re not doing rocket science, and I promise we won’t bake a soufflé together, rather we are going to take the easiest recipes and spruce them up with fresh ingredients. Here’s what we’re working with: Citrus Salad to start, Tomato Basil Spaghetti Carbonara, and Flourless Chocolate Cake for the raspberry-on-top!
Quaking in your boots? Good — all love starts with a little fear. Let’s jump in!
This is the easiest, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-watch-me-cook recipe there is. The basics are the fresh spring mix, fresh fruit and a light dressing, all made from scratch. Lemon from the dressing stimulates the appetite, fruit boosts your mood — what’s not to like? Overall, you have plenty of room left for the main attractions to come.
For the salad:
- 2-3 c. spring mix / arugula / kale / all of the above?!
- 1 small red apple, thinly sliced
- 1 orange, peeled and cubed
- ¼ c. chopped walnuts
- Feta cheese to taste
For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme (fresh is best, but dried works too)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- No seriously, that’s all there is to it! Make sure to whisk the dressing together with a fork or baby whisk so it is properly incorporated, before tossing with the rest of the salad.
Tomato Basil Spaghetti Carbonara
Disclaimer: I made up that name just now, trying to find a way to combine all the things that I love to eat into one fancy recipe title name and that’s what I ended up with, so it’s not a real carbonara. The main attraction of this course is two-fold: we are going to be making the sauce from scratch (Deep breaths, it is easy and OH so worth it), and we are going to top off the dish with a gooey, perfectly cooked fried egg that oozes wonderful yolky flavor into the dish. If egg isn’t your thing, you can skip it, this dish pack plenty of punch without it.
- ½ tsp. oil
- Pasta (eyeball this, only your heart can tell you how much pasta to eat)
- 2 eggs
- For the Sauce:
- 1 tbsp oil (of choice)
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 1 can stewed tomatoes (not flavored)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- Few fresh basil leaves
- Optional: Splash of red wine
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp. oil on medium heat in a saucepan, and heat garlic for about 1 minute til it starts to turn golden
- Add the remaining ingredients (except the basil), and bring them to a boil on medium — high heat.
- Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Optional: with 5 minutes remaining, add a splash of red wine (no more than ¼ c) and stir in
- Turn off the heat and stir in shredded basil leaves. Save some for serving!
- Hopefully college thus far has prepared you to cook an egg. If not, read on
- Heat ½ tsp. oil in a frying pan over med heat
- Crack an egg into the pan and dust with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until most of the white looks solid (about 2 minutes).
- (Carefully) Flip, and cook for about 1-2 more minutes. The idea is to get the white cooked through, and the yolk to stay runny.
- Mix the spaghetti and sauce and the spaghetti (see? Not rocket science). Top with a fried egg, sprinkle with fresh basil, serve hot so egg is at maximum gooeyness. Encourage egg-cutting and yolk-mixing and spaghetti-slurping.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Compote
Alright, it’s not flourless because it’s low-carb — it’s flourless because flour only gets in the way of the rich, true chocolate flavor that fills these baby cakes. The only special thing to note for these: you’ll need single-serve ramekins (read: glass/earthenware dishes) that are easily found at Target (or even Ralph’s perhaps). This dessert is also customizable to your sweet heart’s desire: top it with ice cream for melty delights, top it again with raspberry sauce because more red means more love, or just eat it plain if you love the deep darkness of chocolate cake. Shout out to Jennifer McHenry’s ‘Bake or Break’ food blog for helping me out with baking proportions and directions. (I’m no chemist, I only study the science of loooooove) ((sorry))
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the ramekins
- unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting the ramekins
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 5- or 6-ounce ramekins. Dust with cocoa powder and shake out the excess.
- Place chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at half-power in microwave in 30-second increments until butter has melted and chocolate melts when stirred. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt until combined. Add chocolate mixture and mix until smooth.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared ramekins.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until cakes are set.
- Serve warm in the ramekins, top with ice cream and raspberry sauce if you so desire.
Directions for the Raspberry Sauce
Follow your heart! Only slightly kidding. If your heart doesn’t feel particularly adventurous try this:
- Melt 2 heaped tsp. of granulated sugar in 4 tbsp. of water, stirring until dissolved
- Add 1/3 c of fresh or frozen raspberries, cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or desired thickness of sauce has been reached
- Eat with a spoon, burning your tongue in the process
Whether you’re cooking for a loved friend or significant other, I hope your Valentine’s is full of chocolate and no seasonal bitterness.
Shalaka Gole is a sophomore majoring in business administration. Her column, “Alimentary,” runs Fridays.