Love and food are as intertwined as the rose vine that grew up the side of Juliette’s balcony and sharing a meal, particularly a sweet treat, to celebrate love is a pastime that dates back through the ages.
For the award-winning TV chef, cookbook author, and dessert diva Grace Stevens, cooking is more than an activity, it is an expression of love. It provides us with a way to physically show our care for loved ones by nourishing their bodies and delighting their souls with our culinary creations.
These recipes are great to make ahead of time and to share with sweethearts of all ages.
Here are Grace’s top takes on how to express your love through food this Valentine’s day:
For Grace, the sweetest spot in cooking is when you can use the skills you have learnt to spoil someone you love and see a smile sprawl across their face when they realise you created something special just for them. These heart-shaped Macaroons, although not the easiest to make, are the perfect gift for your darling. To get the inside scoop on making the perfect Macaroon or many other sweet delights, join Grace online.
Few nations can claim to do romance quite like the French, and Grace’s Madeleines are the perfect vintage dessert to add a touch of French flair to your Valentine’s day. And if you are like Grace and have a tradition of hiding a small treat in your children’s lunch box on Valentines, they make the perfect stowaway.
If, like Grace, you love soaking up the long summer days but prefer the cooler embrace of the evening for your picnic, this is the perfect cocktail for you. Using the floral and herbed notes from the garden gives the perfect balance between sweet and strong – not to mention it is far more refreshing on a sweltering summers eve.
Crustless mini quiches
While Grace understands as the mother of four, that many of us long for the opportunity to go out with our spouses to enjoy a fancy restaurant this Valentine’s day, the reality is that many of us will not be able to leave our children. Picnics are a fabulous way to entertain the whole family and with these crustless mini quiches, you won’t even have to worry about picking up the crumbs.
Although chocolate is the quintessential food of Valentine’s day and covers all manner of sweet treats, fruits and can even be found over juicy steaks at that fancy restaurant you love, Valentine’s day is about more than chocolate. It is about unlocking the wonderful memories we have connected to food and creating new ones with our families over twilight picnics on a hot summer evening as we pick away at a mound of finger foods and special nibbles.
To this day Grace enjoys avocado toast because it reminds her of the evenings she shared with her husband when they started dating.
Most of us have at least one memory of sharing a meal, be it a nervous first date or a 20th wedding anniversary and are familiar with the wonderful warmth that envelopes us as we share and laugh over food. So, let’s make this Valentine’s Day a celebration of sharing food that brings us closer with its magical ability to make our love not only visible, but deliciously edible.
For more delicious recipes, follow Grace on Instagram @ grace_stevenschef or meet her in person and book your macaroon master class on www.gracestevens.co.za.