The company I work for runs a business called HomeGourmet. For Valentineís Day this year (2002), they offered a special romantic Valentineís Day Gourmet Pack for two. Seeing as how not a one of the courses was free from an animal derived product, I decided to create a Valentineís Banquet that is 100% Vegan, sumptuous, delicious and relatively easy to prepare. Last but not least - fortified with natural aphrodisiacs for a sensational evening!
As Iím a vegan for animal rights and not my health, I wouldnít exactly say these recipes are ideal for those who watch their weight compulsively. They are, however, tailored to perfection for those who enjoy varying and contrasting complicated flavours and textures in their meals. It should go without saying that all ingredients, apart from being vegan, should be organic in origin! More robust in flavour, better for your health and Gaia will thank you! You should ensure everything is at the peak of ripeness! Not almost ripe, just ripe or over ripe, but RIPE ripe - the flavour will be stupendous. Buy ingredients a few days ahead and refrigerate or set on your window sill as necessary if they need to ripen more. Most importantly - enjoy!

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Entreé: Circean Revelry
Creamy Avocado Soup & Herb Bread
Main:  Wallowing in Voluptuousness
Spicy Asparagus & Mushroom Linguini with Crisp Cucumber & Tomato Salad
Dessert: Slightly Sinful
Indulgent Fruit Bowl with Raspberry Coulis & Chocolate Strawberries
Finis: Introspection
Soothing Chai for Two!

From the Cupboard:
These are the ingredients you should have simply "lying around" and if you donít, then youíve no business being here, infidel!
Of course, if you rush out right now and purchase them, then all is forgiven!

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Ordinary olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • White vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Dairy free margarine (Naytura Soy Margarine is yummy)
Vegan Alcohol:
Not everyone knows that animal products like bone marrow and casein are often used to refine and purify most alcohols. Here are some alcoholic beverages which are certifiably vegan:
  • Mumm French Champagne
  • Most Robinvale Wines
  • Seagrams Spirits
  • Coopers (though I donít recommend beer with any of these recipesÖ)



Setting: Ideally, in a lovely clean house. Throw a purple or other passionately coloured tablecloth over your dining room table (should you have the luxury of a dining room, otherwise just drag a table into your most comfy room!). Set a big bowl or vase in the center with fresh roses and lilies. Light red candles, burn some ylang ylang oil and set the table with your best, preferably brightly coloured, china wear and cutlery. Put your favourite music on the stereo and dim the lights...

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Creamy Avocado Soup

Ingredients:

  • One large, very ripe avocado
  • One medium onion
  • Two teaspoons of soy sauce
  • Two teaspoons of lime or lemon juice (to prevent the soup from discolouring)
  • Pinch of cilantro
  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • Sea salt
Method:
  1. Peel the onion and chop it finely. Using a fry pan or skillet, sauteé the onion until it is transparent
  2. Peel the avocado and remove the pit.
  3. Combine onion, avocado, soy sauce, water, lime or lemon juice and cilantro in a blender or processor and mix until consistency is smooth and thick
  4. Pour the soup into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Serve!


Herb Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 Loaf Italian bread stick
  • Dairy free margarine
  • Fresh basil, parsley and garlic
Method:
  1. Mince a couple of gloves of garlic. Finely chop basil and parsley.
  2. Scoop a couple of tablespoons of margarine into a bowl. Heat the margarine until it has liquefied.
  3. Pour garlic, basil and parsley into the melted margarine and mix thoroughly. Allow the margarine to set
  4. Slice the bread and spread each slice with generous amounts of the herb mixture.
  5. Toast bread lightly until the herb mixture has completely melted through
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Spicy Asparagus and Mushroom Linguini

Ingredients:

  • Bunch of fresh asparagus
  • Very large handful of small button mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • ½ lemon (for juice)
  • 2 Cayenne chillies
  • 1 Red capsicum
  • Several pitted green olives
  • Fresh garlic to taste
  • Fresh herbs - parsley, basil, marjoram, oregano
  • 1 packet of vegan organic linguini
  • Sea salt
Method:
  1. Finely dice the chillies and capsicum and fine slice the olives. 
  2. Mince the garlic and chop all the herbs up very well. Mix the herbs, but keep them separate from the garlic.
  3. In a large fry pan, simmer the garlic, lemon juice, chillies, capsicum and olives in the olive oil for about 3 minutes. Then add the herbs and mix well, still simmering.
  4. Thoroughly wash asparagus and pat dry. Cut off the tough ends and finely cut into 1 inch pieces.
  5. Add the asparagus to the mixture in the fry pan.  Cover and steam until asparagus is tender, but not mushy.
  6. Add the button mushrooms, mix well and continue to cook.
  7. In a large pot, boil some water. Once boiling, add a grind of sea salt and a tiny dash of olive oil. Then add linguini.  Cook until al dente.
  8. Once pasta is cooked, drain well and transfer to a large (preferably attractive) bowl.
  9. Spoon generous amounts of the mushroom and asparagus mixture over the pasta until it is covered.
  10. Enjoy!
Crisp Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Lebanese cucumber
  • 2-3 very ripe roma tomatoes
  • Cos lettuce leaves
  • 1 red onion
  • Fresh herbs - dill and chives
  • White vinegar
Method:
  1. Slice the cucumber and onion and quarter the tomatoes
  2. Chop the chives and dill finely
  3. Do not shred the lettuce leaves, but lay them whole in the bottom of a salad bowl.
  4. Add the other vegetables, a dash of white vinegar and toss well.
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Indulgent Fruit Bowl with Raspberry Coulis & Chocolate Strawberries

Ingredients:

  • One punnet strawberries
  • One punnet raspberries
  • One punnet blueberries
  • 2 very ripe mangoes
  • Several juicy plums
  • Couple each of kiwi fruit, pomegranates and passion fruit
  • 3 blocks of vegan chocolate (one brand name easily available is Sweet William)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
Method:

Chocolate Coated Strawberries

  1. If you do not have a double boiler, you can set one up by putting a few inches of water in a small pot and balancing a metal bowl above it.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the double boiler.  Once melted thoroughly, dip the strawberries into it by holding onto the green part and only dipping 2/3 of the fruit. 
  3. Lay dipped strawberries on waxed paper to set.
Raspberry Coulis
  1. Heat a small saucepan. Add ½ cup of water, sugar, tablespoon of lemon juice and the punnet of raspberries and mix well.
  2. Continue to mix until the raspberries become a paste.
  3. Once the sauce begins to boil, the coulis is ready!
The rest
  1. Wash all fruit thoroughly.
  2. Dice the mangoes and slice in half the kiwi fruit, pomengranates and passion fruit. Leave the blueberries and plums whole, although stone the plums if you wish.
  3. On a glass platter or plate, arrange the fresh fruits in the center. Around the perimeter, arrange the chocolate coated strawberries. Drizzle the raspberry coulis over all.
  4. Indulge, indulge, indulge!!!
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Setting: Ideally, using a small portable stove whilst seated on a mound of plump, soft cushions before double glass doors looking out onto an idyllic and beautiful garden in the pouring rain. Realistically, the brewing will be done in the kitchen - but do serve it using your loveliest, prettiest tea set in your most comfy, romantic room.
The best thing about chai for Valentineís Day is it contains EVERY commonly known "aphrodisiac" spice! Iím an absolute chai addict and after many a trial and error, finally perfected my method of making chai! Use another recipe that works better for you, if you wish. But if this is your first time making chai, follow this recipe to the letter because the balance has been achieved just right and chai cannot afford to be ruined! Sup on this a good hour after finishing your meal, whilst youíre relaxing and enjoying each other - that is, unless you didnít get distracted with more sporting pursuits!!

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Soothing Chai for Two

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 cardamom pods, or two teaspoons ground cardamom
  • Freshly grated ginger to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons plain Darjeeling tea
  • 1 cup of Creamy Soy Milk (make sure it is a very creamy soy milk!)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
Method:
  1. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg. Mix together well.
  2. Boil the water and add the spices. Allow them to brew for a good ten minutes.
  3. Reduce heat and add the soy milk. Reheat, but do not boil!
  4. After approximately five minutes, add the tea. Heat, but again, do not boil.
  5. Stir in the sugar. Strain, and serve!


So there you have it! A sumptuous Valentine's Feast for two - completely cruelty free and absolutely, sinfully delicious!!  Of course, don't limit this selection to Valentine's only - use it whenever you need to do some heavy duty seducing - the way to a person's heart is through their stomach after all! Bon appetit and molto amore!

This selection of recipes created and/or compiled by Elise Archer, Please consult before reproducing in any format (apart from cooking them, that is!). If you have any questions, or would like to offer feedback, please email me.