PURPLE RAIN THIS VALENTINE’S DAY WITH CHEF JEAN PIERRE LEROUX
CONCEPT AND WORDS: CHEF JP LE ROUX
Inspired by movies and music, chef Jean Pierre shares some of his culinary magic for Valentine’s Day …
It’s February 14 – the day of love and, of course, the day of lovingly prepared and thoughtfully planned food. It warms my heart that romance and beautiful food always go together and, with that in mind, we decided to create a rather quirky and colourful event that is anything but conventional and everything that’s creative!
One thing that always comes to mind as the shops fill with colourful Valentine’s gifts is our fascination with colour and its rich symbolism. Perhaps the most magical celebration of colour is the rainbow and the diversity of colours which always draws our attention – from crisp yellow hues to deep violets.
Of course, colours are associated with our emotions, our mood and our sense of visual beauty when it comes to cuisine. Today, instead of sticking to conventional Valentine’s red or softer pinks, we’ve gone for a deeper hue, and we are doing the colour purple with all the richness and royalty that goes with it.
For me, today’s choice of colour was inspired by The Colour Purple, a hit movie made in 1985 that was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred the inimitable Whoopi Goldberg as well as beautiful song from Prince called Purple Rain.
BEETLE JUICE COCKTAIL
When it comes to a healthy love potion, this hearty beetroot smoothie is certain to make the heart skip a beat. After all, when making that all important first smooth move, you definitely have to choose your quality ingredients very carefully.
Seriously, though, I choose these skinny sexy numbers for my glasses to make a good first impression and then filled them with a hint of flair. Beetroot is extremely high in beta carotene and helps with eye sight – so, I sincerely hope that your date isn’t a sight for sore eyes!
FROM YOUR LOVING PANTRY:
2 medium cooked beetroots, skin off
a handful of baby spinach leaves
50 ml cranberry juice
zest of a lemon
handful of fresh raspberries
Apparently folklore has it that the cupid pantomime was a hefty little fellow with a bow and arrow, so you only have to blend your skinny smoothie for a few minutes and garnish with some more fresh raspberries and lemon zest. Because this is thoroughly healthy fare, both you and your date will be working towards the perfect waistline and a healthy heart!!!
PURPLE HEART SOUP
My favourite true Italian soup is gazpacho, a cold rich tomato soup with mascarpone. But, turning down the heat with my beetroot soup and goats cheese is a new way to use a different colour, rather than red, in your food … and don’t forget the flowers. That reminds me of a beautiful saying: I want you to come to my secret garden, my flowers would love to meet you…
I have tried to balance the rainbow ends in this dish with yellow and violet contrasting colours. As the sun feeds our souls, the beetroot fills our hearts. Believe me, I had a lot of fun making and plating this dish, especially with the colour and texture contrasts, the velvet beetroot, the semi firm texture of the goat’s cheese, and the crispy element of the heart shaped – or is that African continent shaped – honeycomb disk.
Peel your four large beets and cook them for 10 minutes until soft. Let them cool down to room temperature, then start making your honey comb disk by spreading some honey evenly on grease proof paper. Heat this in the oven until it is bubbling. Then, immediately put it in the freezer for a few minutes.
Place your beets in a food processor and try to liquefy as much as possible – but leave a few pieces unblended to add a bit of crunch in the soup. Gently immerse your slice or dollop of goat’s cheese in the beetroot soup mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once again, don’t forget the flowers… never forget the edible flowers!
SUNSHINE SHISANYAMA SUSHI
When it comes to sushi, I guess it’s more or less even more fashionable than ever before. But, today, we are making Zulu sushi. We are taking the salmon out of the equation and replacing it with some seared beef.
The honesty of a chef comes to fruition in this dish. I have a cracked bone in my right wrist, so it has been a tough ride, sometimes a little difficult to cut and shape with precision and I suppose that is why the sushi hand roll is a bit rustic by design and presentation. But, it is all in the taste and colourful presentation.
I love sushi, but this take is a little experimental, I admit. It’s certainly a way for carnivores to enjoy the same basic concept. But if you are a pescatarian, then you’ll have guessed by now that definitely not your perfect date.
Nevertheless, this home grown sushi is still wrapped in seaweed. You’ll be using seared beef fillet as a protein in your “Californication” roll. Your ingredient list should be spot on to impress – keeping to all the usual ones (except the salmon / beef swap) so as not to change too many of your leopard’s spots.
THE BEAT OF THE WRAP
This Afrique Individual Rhapsody is a true reflection of our natural respect for modern African cuisine.
I’ve used Thai seed, beetroot raps to elevate the colour and the taste sensation of this dish. These wrap up a score of healthy and earthy ingredients, much like the basic beetroot corn tortilla, wrapped with corn kernels, fresh cucumber, fresh yogurt, chic peas and fresh peas as well as fresh grilled lamb meat, red onion, and Julienne style fresh carrots. In essence, this is your perfect pita pocket with perfect freshness achieved with a tantalizing tatziki side.
This is a pocket full of lovely healthy joy, North African style. Serve with hummus and flat bread and you will be able to share a Persian journey reaching across the Mediterranean to Babylon the source of love and purple admiration this Valentine’s.
BE MY POISON DECADENT DESSERT
This decadent desert is guaranteed to be a deal breaker with your date. I have poached a plum and garnished it with a lemon meringue – a bit of a biblical tower vibe, set in a martini glass with spirit of vodka infused raspberries.
Steam away and poach your plum, or steam it the way you prefer,,, no pressure … then whisk some white with a teaspoon of caster sugar. Use a spoon to make your tower of babel design. For your tower, start with your depitted, steamed plum as the base followed by the egg white meringue. To create that final spark, flambé your raspberries in some raspberry flavoured Absolut vodka. Then, finish with some fresh mint and caster sugar for a garnish. Good heavens and good luck.
So, that brings our African and colourful cuisine full circle. By now, you’ll either be ready to close the deal or have a deal breaker on your hands when it comes to gastronomy and romance.
Right at the end of this purple feast, I discovered that the colour purple also has a symbolic reference to sensual, or sexual frustration. So, it seems that you can look at the colour as a token of grandeur with a hint of spice or a foodie experiment that might just mean you’ll have to wait until next year for a second chance in the gastronomic romance stakes.
Either way, I salute you for joining me on this romantic journey this Valentine’s day!