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Recipes for romance

Stoke your partner’s appetite with undivided attention, a touch of imagination and delicious treats

Image Credit: Corbis
This Valentine's Day cook a special meal for your partner
GN Focus

Since the time of the ancients, 
the way to a man’s heart has 
been through his stomach. 
Until the 20th century, when food became plentiful in developed societies, bachelors depended on women to do their cooking 
for them.

Someone who was skilled in the culinary arts had a much stronger chance of landing a partner. In our time-pressed society, however, good home cooking wins for an altogether different reason. For many Dubai residents, ordering takeout is the easiest option after a long day at the office. Away from their families and no great shakes in the kitchen, busy professionals eat out as often as three times 
a week.

This Valentine’s Day, then, we propose a simple recipe: investing some quality time and effort into your relationship. A simple home-cooked meal trumps a soulless restaurant every time, no matter how expensive. Your husband, or wife, will appreciate the time and effort spent, so why not make this 
a day to remember?

Follow our recipe for romance to help spice up your love life.

Difficulty: average

Preparation time: as long as 
you want

Serves 2


1 Plan to be alone. If you have children, arrange to have your parents or friends babysit them at their house. Even better, arrange for the rug rats to have a sleepover at their friends’ houses. Get away, possibly 
on a drive into the desert. 
A barbecue under the stars 
can be so romantic.

2 Get the props right. Place scented tea lights around the room — spicy scents such as cinnamon or vanilla will get both men and women in the mood. You could even opt for more traditionally romantic scents such as ylang-ylang or jasmine. Set the table. A small vase with a single red rose will add to the ambience.

3 Create a playlist of songs that mean something to both of you or are significant to your relationship. Music is important to set the mood.

4 Dress up. Make a night of it by wearing the clothes you would wear to a nice restaurant. Also ask your partner to dress for dinner. Doing so marks the occasion as special.

5 Cook something you are familiar with. You need a dish that will turn out right, so pick an easy recipe and one that you have cooked before — so long as it is not convenience food.

6 Plan a three-course meal if you want to, but put the emphasis on dessert. There is still time to learn how to cook his or her favourite afters. Chocolate is always a good choice. It contains compounds including anandamide, the feel-good chemical; phenylethylamine, the so-called love chemical that excites the pleasure centres of the brain; and tryptophan, a key component of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for promoting a sense of well-being and relaxation.

7 Switch off all the electronics. This time is exclusively for your partner and yourself. Keep distractions to a minimum. Make this about the two of you, not the latest TV series or tennis scores.

8 Focus on your spouse. Working in a fast-paced city can take its toll on married life, so talk to your spouse about his or her dreams. Share your own hopes too, as you did in the early days of your relationship. Valentine’s Day is not to be spent eating in front of the TV or checking Facebook. It is the day to reconnect with your partner.

9 Plan for later. Think of something creative to do after dinner. Go for a long drive to the spot you first met, take a walk on the beach or even watch a romantic movie together.

Go shopping for something special or unique. Finally, don’t forget a fantastic present for your partner!


Serves 4
Rich chocolate and marshmallow brownie
150g butter
125g plain chocolate
285g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
150g mini marshmallows
100g chocolate chips
125g plain flour icing sugar, to dust
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a baking tray or a large rectangular casserole with a little spray oil.
3. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a pan over low heat.
4. Remove from heat, add the caster sugar and beat until the sugar dissolves.
5. Whisk in one egg at a time. Add the vanilla, marshmallows and chocolate chips and mix.
6. Stir in the flour and pour into the baking tin.
7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Stick a skewer or small knife into the middle of the brownie to check if it is cooked. The knife should come out with a few crumbs left on it.
8. Cool the brownie in the dish, cut into squares and dust with icing sugar. Serve immediately.
— Recipe courtesy of Flour Advisory Bureau, UK

Serves 2
Asparagus and Gruyère tart
1 tsp olive oil
¼ small onion, finely chopped 2 cases ready-cooked pastry
70g asparagus tips
1 egg
50ml double cream
50ml milk
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
fresh herbs (optional)
40g Gruyère cheese, grated chutney, to serve
1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the onion and cook until it turns soft and transparent. Transfer the onion to the pastry case and spread it out evenly.
2. Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes and refresh in cold water. Drain well. Arrange the spears in the tart cases.
3. In a jug, whisk the egg, cream and milk, and season to taste. Add herbs if desired.
4. Sprinkle half the cheese over the asparagus then pour over the egg-cream-milk filling.
5. Top with the remaining cheese, a pinch of black pepper and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden and the mixture is beginning to cook. (It may still be a little wobbly but will continue to cook as it cools.)
6. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve either warm or cold with a spoonful of chutney.
— Recipe courtesy of Flour Advisory Bureau, UK

Serves 2
Banoffi pie
80g dessert pastry flan case
2 medium bananas
¼ lemon
150g banoffi toffee
50ml double cream
1 flake chocolate meringue, banana slices and chocolate, to garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Line the flan case with greaseproof paper. Cover with baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper. Allow to cool.
3. Slice bananas, squeeze lemon juice over them and toss. Place in the flan case.
4. Spread the banoffi toffee over the bananas using a spatula.
5. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and spread over the banoffi toffee.
6. Crumble the chocolate and layer over the cream. Chill until required. Garnish and serve.
— Recipe courtesy of Flour Advisory Bureau, UK

Serves 2
Creamy, crunchy oysters
8 fresh Scottish oysters, cleaned and shucked
15g butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh chervil or parsley, finely chopped
150ml double cream
salt and black pepper, to taste
30g Gruyère cheese, grated
1 tbsp breadcrumbs
1. Preheat the grill to medium hot.
2. Arrange the oysters in the bottom half of the shells and place on a baking sheet.
3. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the shallot and cook until soft. Stir in the herbs and cream and season to taste.
4. Place a spoonful of the sauce on top of each oyster and sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Grill until golden brown. Serve immediately.
— Recipe courtesy of

Serves 2
Oysters au gratin
2 turkey bacon rashers,finely chopped
30g celery, finely chopped
4 baby asparagus tips,finely chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
6 fresh oysters, cleaned and shucked
30g mozzarella cheese, grated
1. Cook the bacon for 1-2 minutes until crispy. Add the celery and asparagus and season to taste.
2. Spoon the bacon-asparagus mixture into the oysters.
3. Sprinkle cheese and grill for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese turns golden brown.
— Recipe courtesy of