With Valentine’s Day fast approaching—it’s on Sunday, guys—we’ve come up with all sorts of ways to prepare you for the big day.
From which cocktails to make at home in order to impress your date to what you should buy if you plan on wooing yourself this year, there are so many ways to celebrate that don’t require cheesy Hallmark cards and waxy chocolates.
One idea we’re totally stoked on is cancelling those reservations and staying in instead. Think about it: what is more romantic than a dinner you cook for your partner with the bedroom mere steps away? Actually, we can think of one thing: incorporating aphrodisiac foods into your meal.
Sure oysters and chocolate are no-brainers which we’ve dutifully included in the mix, but there are some ingredients you may not even know are associated with libido stimulation. So check out the four delicious recipes below and get ready for an exciting night at home.
Smoky Oyster Chowder with Bacon, Rosemary & Fennel
Sure, we all know oysters are known to increase sexual desire, but are you aware rosemary and chilies do the same thing? In fact, Medieval women used to seduce men with rosemary-scented baths. From Food & Wine
Serves 8 – 10
4 ounces smoky bacon, cut into 1-by- 1/4- inch matchsticks
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 dried red chiles, stemmed and broken
4 small celery ribs, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
2 quarts fish stock or 1 quart bottled clam broth with 1 quart of water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
1 pint freshly shucked oysters with their liquor
Tabasco, for serving
1. In a large pot, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot. Add the rosemary and chiles to the pot and cook for 1 minute. Add the celery, onion and fennel and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the roux is the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Scrape the roux into the soup and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender and the soup has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper and return to a simmer.
3. Add the oysters and bacon to the soup and simmer until the oysters are just cooked, about 3 minutes. Spoon the chowder into deep bowls and serve with Tabasco.
The recipe can be made through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Return to a simmer before proceeding.
Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Black Beans and Avocado
Black beans and avocado are both aphrodisiacs, making these tacos a zesty choice for dinner. From Food52
Serves 4 – 6
1 pound ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2/3 cups coconut milk, stirred (full-fat recommended)
3 tablespoons pineapple juice
1-2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1 lime
2 cups or one 15 ounce can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn or flour tortillas, for serving
1 large avocado, diced
Other recommended toppings: corn salsa, chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and a large pinch of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until they’ve softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pan, and add the cumin, paprika, oregano and cayenne. Let sizzle in the pan until they’re toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir well until the onions and garlic are evenly coated with the spices.
2. Add the ground pork to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up any large chunks of pork and stirring occasionally, until the pork is just cooked through. Season with salt to taste. Remove any excess fat from the pan.
3. Add the coconut milk; simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened, then stir in the black beans, pineapple juice and 1 tablespoon lime juice and cook for an additional minute or two. Taste and add more lime juice if needed. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can serve right away, or cover the pan and let the pork gently simmer over low heat.
4. Using a slotted spoon, divide the ground pork equally among lightly warmed flour tortillas. Serve with lots of avocado and other toppings of your choice.
Honeyed Fig Crostatas
This dessert is a two-fer. Both honey and figs have been considered libido enhancers since ancient times. This dish is flaky and buttery but light. You won’t leave the table feeling stuffed, but it packs a flavorful punch. From Food & Wine
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch piece
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 pounds fresh green and purple figs, each cut into six wedges
5 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus small sprigs for garnish
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (for egg wash)
1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add butter and pulse until it is roughly the size of peas. Add the water and pulse until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out eight 5-inch rounds, rerolling scraps as necessary. Transfer rounds to parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, toss two-thirds of the figs with 3 teaspoons of the honey, the lemon juice, thyme leaves and a pinch a salt. Arrange the figs on the dough rounds, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around. Fold the edges over the figs and brush the dough with egg wash. Chill for 30 minutes.
4. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until crusts are golden. Let stand for 10 minutes.
5. Gently toss the remaining figs with the remaining 2 teaspoons of honey. Top crostatas with fresh figs and thyme sprigs, and serve.
Dough can be made 1 day ahead. Follow step one, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.
Spicy Spiked Hot Chocolate
We all know alcohol is a surefire love potion, making this spicy spiked hot chocolate a sweet end to the meal and fiery beginning to the night. From Bon Appétit
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 ancho chile, lightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), chopped
2 oz. Xtabentún, Pernod, or other anise-flavored liqueur
1. Combine milk, cream, sugar, chile and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add pod. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat, cover and let steep 15 minutes.
2. Remove chile, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod; discard. Add chocolate and heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove hot chocolate from heat and add liqueur. Serve hot.
Hot chocolate (without liqueur) can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat and add liqueur just before serving.