Love is well and truly in the air. Valentine’s Day, last Sunday, saw many couples heading out for a celebratory romantic meal. But our readers have been breaking the mould this year and cooking up homemade feasts instead.
So many people got involved with our World on a Plate ‘Love’ challenge that we just had to share some of our favourite recipes. Cooking a la France and Italy – two of the world’s most romantic nations – readers created simple yet delicious meals that are perfect for couples. Take a peek!
Janie added a lightly spiced twist to the French classic, oeuf en cocotte: eggs and a rich cream baked into ramekins. Janie lightened them up for Valentine’s Day, cracking the eggs onto a bed of spiced tomato and pepper puree, in little matching teacups. She also recommends serving them with a green salad and fresh baguette, for a romantic supper for two.
For her World on a Plate contribution, Lindy indulged her desire to visit Italy. . Drawing on the country’s coastal heritage, she took inspiration from the sea, settling on linguine con le vongole. This mouth-watering combination of smashed garlic, red pepper and white clams puts Italy firmly in contention for ‘most romantic cuisine’.
Bintu evoked memories of trips to Parisian food markets with her World on a Plate feast. Her thoughts turned to fresh, succulent apricots: the perfect accompaniment to sweet waffles made with almond flour. Combined with whipped cream and fruit, it made for an indulgent Valentine’s breakfast.
What would a French-themed Valentine’s be without that patisserie classic, the macaron? Self-proclaimed ‘cake-coveter’, Sarah, created a delectable batch of dark chocolate ganache-filled delights. We think they’re the ideal Valentine’s Day dessert, or a sweet snack while you snuggle up with your partner to watch a film.
Stephanie believes that the best Valentine’s meals are homemade, so set about creating a slow-cooked spaghetti bolognese for her World on a Plate contribution. This traditional dish was perfect for Valentine’s Day: hearty, comforting and intimate. With few ingredients and minimal fuss, all you need to worry about is your table setting.
We’re staying in Italy for Fiona’s ‘Love’ feast: three courses of pure heaven! To start, she created dough balls from scratch, pairing them with parma ham and olive oil. For the main, she turned her talents to tagliatelle carbonara, with a side of hearty pesto and sundried tomato bruschetta. To finish, Fiona treated her partner to chocolate biscotti, the perfect accompaniment to an after-dinner coffee.
Back to France, now, a place close to Beth’s heart. She struggled to choose between the likes of garlic mussels, tartiflette and cherry clafoutis, but eventually settled on a true French delicacy: beef bourguignon. Placing the ingredients in a slow cooker gave Beth plenty of time to whip up crème brûlée for dessert. Delicious!
Emily has travelled to both France and Italy with her boyfriend, so this culinary decision was always going to be tough. In the end, however, she took inspiration from Lady and the Tramp, choosing Italy – in particular, pasta! She paired this blank canvas with something a little bit different: vegetarian meatballs that veggies and carnivores will fall head over heels in love with.
Ellie at Ellie’s Favourite Things used her Italian-inspired bundle to create, in her words, “a reeeeally fancy meal.” Enjoying a glass of fizz with a mushroom risotto and tiramisu eaten so quickly there was no time for a picture, Ellie certainly cooked up a storm.
Italian food conjures up so many delicious visions true to this beautiful Mediterranean country. Chloe at Life Unexpected created a menu of restaurant standards to get in the mood for lurve. A starter of antipasti, allowed Chloe to whip up bruschetta and a tomato and mozzarella salad. Followed by Promo Piatto (a fettucine dish with peppers and parmesan) and finished off with a cheese board and prosecco, this was a winning meal.
Pasta was the preference for Chiara of the blog, Wine and Olives. Chiara opted for an appetising combination of spaghetti picante with Italian sausage and spinach, celebrating a day early due to her impending house move. She added extra spice to her Valentine’s dish and rounded off the evening with a plethora of cheese.
Romance was certainly on the cards for Sian at Quite Frankly and her exquisite French dishes. For entrée, Sian chose celeriac and truffle oil soup, followed by a French open sandwich with flageolet beans, green olive tapenade, celery and herbs. A French meal wouldn’t be complete without a traditional dessert, and for the pièce de résistance, Sian made palmiers out of flaky puff pastry, that reminded her of holidaying in France.
Karen and her husband, of Stopping at Two, aren’t huge Valentine’s fans, but made an exception when it came to creating a show-stopping Italian feast. A platter of antipasti to start, with Italian meats, stuffed tomatoes and bruschetta, followed by truffle-infused fettucine and puttanesca sauce with garlic and red chillies was all they needed. Taking inspiration from a holiday in Sorrento, Karyn went for ice cream with crushed meringue for a super sweet finale.
Ali from Cookies and Cwtches is another blogger who doesn’t rave about going out on Valentine’s Day, however, she does prefer to make a home-cooked meal for her and her husband. This year she looked to France for romantic foodie guidance. Ali went for a traditional beef bourguignon recipe, with dauphinoise potatoes and heart shaped carrots. Not forgetting the enviable crème brulee and oodles of red wine.
Have you gathered some inspiration for your own French or Italian menu? Let us know what you’ve made, and if you post a picture to social media, don’t forget to use the #ExpediaWorldOnAPlate hashtag so we can take a peek!