You are currently viewing The ultimate Valentine’s Day spoils 

The ultimate Valentine’s Day spoils 

Our Editor shares his ultimate Valentine’s Day spoils. From the perfect intimate dinner for two to feeding a crowd of singletons, make this special day memorable for everyone. 

Creating a romantic dinner can be a tad bit daunting, so we’ve come up with ways to help make things as simple as possible. Take note of our loadshedding tips so you’re not left in the dark, as well as our cook’s notes for cheat codes. With prep hacks and serving suggestions aplenty, you’ll be well on your way to sharing and spreading love in all the right ways!  

Calamari with whipped feta, greens and pita croutons 


Swap out calamari for halloumi, roasted vine tomatoes or charred cabbage steaks for a tasty vegetarian option. 



2 discs feta 
1 cup plain yoghurt 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander, plus extra for serving 
1 lemon, zested 
1 tsp chilli flakes Milled black pepper 

1 packet (400g) calamari tubes and tentacles, defrosted 
½ cup cake flour 
1 tsp garlic powder (optional) 
Salt and milled pepper 
Oil for frying 
1 packet sugar snap peas 
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed 
¼ cup olive oil 
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped 
1 lemon, zested and juiced 
1 Tbsp smoked or regular paprika 
2 pita breads, quartered and toasted 


  1. Blitz together the feta, yoghurt, coriander, lemon zest and chilli. Season with black pepper and set aside. 
  2. Pat the calamari dry using a paper towel or a clean tea towel. 
  3. In a bowl, combine the cake flour, garlic powder (if using) and season. 
  4. Heat oil in a large pot or pot for shallow frying. 5. Toss the calamari into seasoned flour, dust off excess and fry in batches for about 2-3 minutes each. Drain on paper towel. 
  5. Blanch the sugar snap peas in a pot of salted boiling water and refresh in ice water. 
  6. Toss blanched greens in a bowl with half the olive oil, chilli, lemon zest and juice. Set aside. 
  7. Heat remaining oil and paprika in a clean pan for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant. 9. Add a generous dollop of the whipped feta onto each plate. Top with the blanched greens, crispy calamari and drizzled with paprika oil. Serve with the toasted pita bread.


Buttermilk marinated steak with peppercorn sauce and crispy potatoes 


No buttermilk? Add ½ lemon juiced to 1 cup of milk and set aside for 15 minutes to make your own. 


1 cup buttermilk 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 tsp chilli flakes 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander 
Salt and milled pepper 
2 club steaks 


½ bag baby potatoes 
Glug olive oil 
¼ cup melted butter 
¼ cup grated Parmesan 


½ onion, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
2 Tbsp mixed peppercorns 
3 Tbsp butter 
2 Tbsp cake flour 
1 cup cream 
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander
1 lemon, zested and juiced  


Shaved cucumber Pickled red onions 


  1. Preheat oven to 180 ̊C. 
  2. Combine the buttermilk, garlic, chilli flakes and herbs. 
  3. Season the steak well and add to the marinade, tossing to coat evenly. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Toss baby potatoes with oil and season well. Place onto a baking tray and bake for about 20-25 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile for the sauce, heat a glug of oil in a pot and fry onions, garlic and peppercorns for about 4-6 minutes, stirring regularly. 
  6. Add the butter and stir through flour until smooth. 
  7. Pour in the cream and stir through mustard and herbs. Simmer gently over a low heat while stirring until the cream has thickened.
  8. Stir through lemon zest, juice and season well. Set sauce aside.
  9. Remove the potatoes from the oven and use the back of a fork to smash each potato gently. Drizzle with melted butter, sprinkle with Parmesan and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
  10. Remove the steak from the marinade, pat dry and heat a glug of oil in a large pan.
  11. Fry the steaks for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
  12. Serve the steak, with the peppercorn sauce, crispy potatoes, cucumber and pickles. 


Spicy pork calzones with apple slaw 

MAKES 12-15 

Swap out pork for beef or chicken mince if you prefer.  


Glug canola oil 
2 onions, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra for serving 
2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped 
500g pork bangers, meat removed from casing 
2 Tbsp butter 
1 Tbsp ground coriander 
2 tsp ground cumin 
2 tsp smoked or regular paprika 
1 can tomato relish or chopped tomatoes 
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
Pinch sugar 
Handful fresh coriander, chopped 
Salt and milled pepper 
1kg store-bought bread dough 
Flour for dusting 
1 cup grated Cheddar or mozzarella 
1 egg, whisked  


granny smith apples, sliced 
½ head small red cabbage, shredded 
3 spring onions, sliced 
½ cup sour cream or buttermilk 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander 


  1. Heat oil in a large pan and fry onions for 3-5 minutes. 
  2. Add garlic, thyme and chilli and fry for a further 2-3 minutes until golden. 
  3. Add pork mince and cook for about 6-8 minutes until well browned. 
  4. Toss in the butter, spices and cook for 2 minutes. 
  5. Add the tomato relish or chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and sugar and cook for about 10-12 minutes while stirring regularly. 
  6. Stir through coriander and season well. Set aside to cool completely. 
  7. Preheat oven to 180 ̊C. 
  8. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick.
  9. Using a side plate or large cookie cutter, cut out circles of about 12cm in diameter. You should end up with between 12-15 circles. 
  10. Fold the cheese into cooled mince mixture and place 2-3 Tbsp onto each dough circle, fold over to enclose and pinch the ends with the back of a fork. 
  11. Place onto a greased baking tray, brush with egg wash and bake for about 15-18 minutes or until golden and cooked through. 
  12. Combine slaw ingredients in a bowl and season well. 
  13. Arrange the calzone’s onto a platter, scatter with fresh thyme and serve with the apple slaw.


Curried coconut wings with cucumber and cumin yoghurt 


Half each wing to feed a bigger crowd. 


½ can coconut milk or cream 
2 Tbsp curry paste 
Handful fresh coriander, chopped 
12-16 chicken wings 
Salt and milled pepper 
¼ cup melted butter 
1 cup yoghurt 
¼ cucumber, grated 
2 tsp ground cumin 
½ tsp garlic powder 
1 lemon, zested and juiced 


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. 
  2. Whisk together the coconut milk or cream, curry paste and coriander until well combined. 3. Season wings and toss into curried coconut mixture to coat evenly. 
  3. Arrange wings onto a greased baking tray and pour over any excess marinade and butter. 5. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning regularly and basting with the pan drippings. 
  4. Combine yoghurt, cucumber, cumin, garlic powder, lemon zest and juice. Season well. 
  5. Serve wings with a chunky tomato salsa and cucumber and cumin yoghurt.


Lemon, garlic & coriander lamb riblets  


Turn your menu into a fireside outdoor feast and cook the lamb over hot coals for a smokier flavour.   


8-10 lamb riblets 
Salt and milled pepper 
2 tsp ground coriander 
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lemons, zested and juiced, plus extra for serving 
3 cloves garlic, grated 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander 
Pinch chilli flakes  


1 lemon, zested 
1 tsp flaked sea salt 
3 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander 
½ tsp garlic powder 
Pinch peppercorns 


  1. Season the lamb well with salt, pepper and ground coriander. 
  2. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, fresh coriander and chilli flakes. 
  3. Toss lamb with this mixture making sure to coat evenly. 
  4. Heat a griddle pan until almost smoking and cook the lamb in batches for about 4-6 minutes, turning often. Baste regularly.
  5. In a pestle and mortar, combine the lemon zest, flaked salt, fresh coriander, garlic powder and the peppercorns. Toss the hot lamb riblets in this mixture. 
  6. Serve with lamb on a bed of rocket or salad leaves, and extra lemon wedges.


Cheat’s chicken quesadilla tray bake 


Bulk this up and add in canned corn kernels or beans to feed a bigger crowd. 


Glug olive oil 
2 onions, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
2 Tbsp smoked or regular paprika 
1 tsp chilli flakes 
1 can chopped tomatoes 
1 can tomato puree 
2 Tbsp brown sugar 
1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded, skins and bones discarded 
½ punnet fresh coriander, chopped 
Salt and milled pepper 
8 flour tortillas 
1 cup grated Cheddar 
1 cup grated mozzarella  


1 red onion, chopped 
½ punnet cherry tomatoes, chopped 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander 
¼ cup white vinegar 
2 Tbsp white sugar 


Sour cream or plain yoghurt 
Fresh coriander Avocado, optional 


  1. Heat oil in a large pot and fry onions for 3-5 minutes. 
  2. Add garlic, paprika and chilli flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of water if it starts to catch. 
  3. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and sugar then simmer gently for 5-6 minutes while stirring. 
  4. Fold through chicken, coriander and season well. Remove from heat 
  5. Preheat oven to 180 ̊C. 
  6. Arrange 2 of the flour tortillas in a large greased baking tray, making sure to cover the base. 
  7. Arrange remaining flour tortillas in the tray to cover any gaps, making sure to overlap and have enough of each tortilla hanging over the sides of the tray. 
  8. Fill the tray with your chicken mixture and top with both cheeses. 
  9. Fold over the excess tortillas to enclose, brush with oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. 
  10. Combine the salsa ingredients and season well. 
  11. Slice the tray bake into 6-8 portions and serve while hot with salsa, sour cream, fresh coriander and avocado, if using.


Churros with citrus, chilli and chocolate sauce 


Short on time? Simply make the chocolate sauce and pair it with fresh fruit or marshmallows to dip into it. 



2 cups (500ml) water 
180g (¾ cup) butter, chopped 
2 tsp (10ml) vanilla essence 
1 tsp (5ml) salt 
2 cups (240g) cake flour 
4 large eggs 
Vegetable oil, for frying  


1 cup (250ml) granulated sugar 
2 tbsp (30ml) ground cinnamon 


2 slabs (150g each) dark chocolate, chopped 
½ cup (125ml) cream 
2 oranges, zested 
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped  


1 large star nozzle 
1 large piping bag 


  1. Add water, butter, vanilla and salt to a pot over high heat, stir to melt and bring to a rapid boil. 
  2. Remove the pot from the heat, add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until a smooth paste forms.
  3. Transfer paste to another bowl and cool for 10 min until you can press your finger into the mixture for more than 5 seconds. (Too hot and the mixture will cook the eggs). 
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely combined before adding the next. 
  5. Heat a pot of oil for deep-frying.
  6. Combine cinnamon sugar ingredients in a deep bowl. 
  7. Snip off the end of your piping back and fit with your piping nozzle. 
  8. Place bag into a long glass, folding the opening over rim of the glass. 
  9. Spoon half of the mixture into the piping bag, close and twist to secure. Dip blades of a pair of scissors in some oil. (This prevents the batter from sticking). 
  10. Pipe portions of the batter into the hot oil, using scissors to snip between each churro. 11. Deep-fry in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden and cooked through. 
  11. Remove using a slotted spoon and immediately toss through cinnamon sugar to coat, then drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining mixture to make 20-30 churros. 
  12. Melt chocolate and cream over a double boiler until well combined. Stir through the zest and chilli. 
  13. Arrange the churros on a serving plate with citrus, chilli chocolate sauce on the side.


4-ingredient chocolate cheesecake


If you’re in a rush, simply skip the refrigeration process and serve as is. 


2 tubs (230g each) plain cream cheese, at room temperature 
½ cup icing sugar, sifted 
3 slabs (80g each) dark chocolate, melted 
1 packet (133g) Oreo biscuits, finely crushed  


Fresh raspberries or strawberries 
Chocolate shavings 


  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until soft. 
  2. Whisk in the icing sugar, then fold in the chocolate.
  3. Layer serving glasses with crushed Oreo biscuits and chocolate cream cheese mixture, alternating between the layers. 
  4. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. 
  5. Serve the cheesecake topped with fresh berries and chocolate shavings.


Creamy chicken & sun-dried tomato pasta 


Splurge and add ½ tub plain cream cheese or cottage cheese to the sauce for extra decadence. 


2 chicken breast fillets 
Glug olive oil 
1 tsp smoked or regular paprika 
1 tsp ground coriander 
½ tsp garlic powder 
Salt and milled pepper  


1 onion, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
3 Tbsp butter 
2 Tbsp cake flour 
1 cup milk 
1 cup cream 
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard 
½ packet (120g) sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 
½ packet (150g) baby spinach 


½ packet tagliatelle or spaghetti, cooked 
1 lime, zested and juiced 
¼ cup grated Parmesan  


  1. Combine chicken, oil, spices and season well. Toss to coat. 
  2. Heat another glug of oil in a pan and fry the chicken breasts for about 4-6 minutes per side until golden and cooked through. Set aside and keep warm for serving. 
  3. Heat some oil in a pot and fry onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes or until they are golden. 
  4. Add butter and once melted, remove from heat and whisk in the flour. 
  5. Place the pot back onto a low heat then add milk and cream, while stirring until thickened. This should take about 6-8 minutes. 
  6. Stir through mustard and sun-dried tomatoes and simmer gently for about 3-5 minutes. 
  7. Season well and fold through baby spinach, simmer for 1 minutes and remove from the heat. 
  8. In a bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and coat evenly. 
  9. Divide the pasta and sauce between two serving bowls. 
  10. Top with cooked chicken, drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with zest. 
  11. Finish off with Parmesan just before serving.


Recipes & styling: Chad January

Photography: Zhann Solomons

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