How Can You Help to Produce a Romantic Atmosphere for Woman’s Day?
A perfect romantic date at home! Enjoy this interview with chef Laura Bridge and she will give you the ideal recipe for a romantic evening at home.
Text Annet Kulyagina
Photos Alexey Zhukov
They say in Russia that a path to a man’s heart goes through his stomach, do you agree?
Yes, and without hesitation I would say the emotional attachment to simple home cooking is what keeps a man happy! Over the years I’ve cooked for many people, from Prince Charles to Formula One drivers and their mechanics, and honestly their most popular requests were for simply-prepared food where the high quality ingredients stand out. Of course they would eat out at chic restaurants, but who wants to eat rich, foamed, molecular, or fancy food every night? ‘Keep it simple’ is the philosophy of Correa’s restaurants, and we have many clients who eat with us on a daily basis.
Also, let’s not forget that the heart plays an important physical function in our lives, so no matter what type of food your man desires make sure it’s nutritious as well!
And where does this path go to a woman’s heart?
I believe that women are more interested in the path taken rather than the end result.
For instance women are more touched by the fact that their men spent the time to cook for them rather than what the meal actually was. Over-cooked, served raw or simply unrecognizable, a woman will still feel that the meal is special because her man took the time to make it. We’re a lot more forgiving that way!
And why do you think there are more men chefs than women chefs?
There are perhaps several reasons behind this. First, the working environment in a commercial kitchen is very arduous. Chefs spend long hours in a heat-filled kitchen dealing with constant demands from both the front of the restaurant and their kitchen staff. Chefs are also, generally, very demanding on themselves and passionate about the food they produce. We spend hours wresting perfection from our staff, our flavors and ourselves. It is a very challenging and emotional world where each day leaves you exhausted, but in the end it’s all worth it when you see someone enjoying your creation.
What does it mean to you to be a professional in what you do?
A professional in the kitchen knows how to pass their passion for their food on to others. In a good kitchen the staff works together to prepare perfect meals for their clients. Promoting hard work and cohesiveness for each meal is a challenge that must be met in order to realize one’s vision. If everyone goes home at the end of the day happy with the product they put out, then the head chef did his or her job correctly. A spotless kitchen is of course an unspoken prerequisite as well!
Can you make a wonderful dish out of simple potato?
Absolutely! What is tastier than simple mashed potatoes? Potato gratin is also a delicious favorite of mine.
What is the most complicated thing for a woman when she is a chef?
That would definitely be preserving any bit of femininity she has! You can completely forget the image of looking like a ravishing Nigella Lawson, domestic goddess, in a commercial kitchen!
For practicality, the chef’s uniform is never flattering. Instead imagine surgeon-like prep gloves, hair completely scraped back, no nail polish, no dangling jewelry, or high heeled shoes. It’s hot and steamy, so forget perfume, and only bother to wear waterproof mascara! Personally I swear like a trouper too, which is never lady-like, and by the end of the day, you might find the odd random fish-scale in your hair etc.
In other words, femininity and commercial kitchens simply do not mix!
What is the main ingredient of a romantic dinner?
I would say the company! However other important factors to remember is good candle light, turning off the mobile phone, relaxing background music, good wine, and most importantly advanced preparation, so you end up sitting opposite each other, face to face, instead of panicking in the kitchen!
It’s also a good idea to think about the menu in advance. For instance, certain ingredients do not work well with romance. Ingredients to stay away from would be: raw garlic or onion, seeds, spinach, and bits that can catch in the teeth, and no deadly vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli or cabbage, which can induce unwanted odors!!
I’d also keep the meal as light as possible, otherwise you will have no romantic conclusion to the date, since you’ll both end up falling asleep on the sofa!
Aphrodisiac foods such as asparagus, figs, and strawberries which can be shared and fed with fingers can also be romantic and fun.
When you prepare your own dish, do you claim author’s rights? What if you don’t want someone else to prepare it?
I think that it is impossible to claim rights to a dish. If you serve your own signature plate and create contented clients as a result, that is the best reward you could have.
Fig & goats’ Cheese salad with toasted walnuts shards of proscuito & pomegranate – serves 2
- 3 small figs
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
- A bunch of arugula
- A small bunch of frisse lettuce
- 60 g proscuito
- 2 table spoons of soft goats’ cheese
- 6 walnut halves toasted
Seared tuna loin with a sesame crust & wasabi hollandaise served with jasmine rice and an avocado salad – Serves 2
- 2 Tuna loin steaks, about 200g each
- 4 table spoon of sesame seeds
- 1 table spoon olive oil
- Salt and cracked black pepper
- Jasmine rice 120g
- 1 egg yolk
- Squeeze of lemon juice to taste
- Pinch of salt
- 60 g unsalted butter
- A pea-size squeeze of wasabi paste
- 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (optional)
- 2 teaspoons sweet chilli dipping sauce
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 ripe avocado
- 8 sprigs of coriander
Coat the tuna steaks in the sesame seeds and set aside on a plate covered with cling-film in the fridge
To make the hollandaise, melt the butter, and set aside. Meanwhile put the egg yolk in a small bowl, set over boiling water and whisk with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt until it becomes pale and thick in consistency. Be careful not to scramble the yolk. Then very slowly add the butter until it is all incorporated. Whisk in the wasabi to taste. (Alternatively you can place the yolk in a blender, and very slowly add the hot butter)
Do not refrigerate, but leave at room temperature. Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with double the amount of water. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Leave the lid on until all the water has absorbed and the rice has become sticky, (another 10 minutes). For the salad, squeeze the juice of 1/2 the lime into a bowl and add the sesame oil, (fish sauce) and sweet chilli dipping sauce. Mix together. Peel and split the cucumber lengthways. Use a teaspoon to remove the seeds. Thinly slice into half-moons. Run a knife round the avocado, twist apart, then remove the stone and skin. Slice across the avocado and toss with the juice of the other 1/2 lime to season and stop discolouration. When you are ready, mix the avocado, with the cucumber, some chopped coriander and dressing.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, and when it begins to smoke, add the tuna steaks and fry on each side for 1 minute for rare steaks, or longer if you prefer your tuna cooked through.
To serve, spoon the rice onto warmed plates, cut the tuna steaks in half and stack onto the rice mound. Drizzle with wasabi hollandaise. Serve with the salad on the side, topped with coriander.
Gin & Rose Tonic Sorbet - serves 2
- 1 small gin and tonic 200ml
- Rose flavoured tonic ‘Holy Grail’ Brand 50ml
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon – (optional)
- 1 Egg white
- 1 tablespoon of fine white sugar
Whisk the egg whites in a completely clean bowl until they become peaks, and the sugar and continue beating until you regain firm peaks.
Combine with the gin, tonic and zest, and whisk vigorously. Put into a container and freeze. It is essential to whisk at intervals, at least 5-6 times, to combine the egg whites with the gin and tonic mixture.
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon water
- Pinch of salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Toast walnuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 300 degrees until they are just fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
In a food processor, or metal bowl, combine rosemary, honey, vinegar, water, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly blend in the oil.
Combine arugula, frisse, figs and walnuts in a salad bowl. Give the dressing a final whisk and toss with salad. Divide salad onto two plates and garnish with crumbled goat cheese. Finish by scattering the pomegranate seeds around the plate