The love of food (+recipes)

By Amanda Laird, Babiche Martens

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Throw the cynicism out the window and enjoy a little romance. Yes, I know the commercialisation can drive people batty with hearts in every shop window, but take a moment - light the candles, play your favourite music and you may find yourself loving it. If not, you have the perfect excuse to drink Champagne!

When planning a menu for Valentine's Day one needs to concentrate on special ingredients. Small portions are important so as not to become too full and incapable of enjoying post-dessert high jinks.

Oysters first, just because they are undoubtedly sexy. All juicy and salty and able to be slurped out of the shell. Topped with finely diced shallot and a splash of red wine vinegar, they are both elegant and delicious.

Souffle seems romantic to me in a quietly impressive way. Twice baking them removes any reason to panic, you can even make them the day before, then pour over cream and bake for 15 minutes until all puffy and golden.

To end this romantic meal so your partner is adoring and starry-eyed if not already, a perfectly simple classic French dessert. Coeur a la creme is so named after the traditional heart shaped porcelain moulds in which they were made.

With perforated bottoms, the cheese could drain overnight before unmoulding and serving with berries.

I have sacrificed the usual heart shape by draining them in cheesecloth overnight but they still look and taste divine - the perfect way to enjoy a the beautiful berries at their best right now.

Chef's tip

When using oysters in the half shell, don't rinse them. Just check for any small pieces of shell and pick out or wipe with a damp paper towel. Rinsing will wash away the juices and the flavour will be lost.

- NZ Herald

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