Cooking 101: Lust, love and a great dinner

Honey for your honey. Sweets for your sweet.

Food has long strolled hand in hand with romance and relationships.

You may scoff at the scientific idea that slurping oysters spikes the libido or roll your eyes at the thought that watching your lover nibble on a banana is the quickest route to the bedroom. But there’s no denying the link between food, lust and love.

Candlelit dinners, breakfasts in bed, picnics in the park, s’mores by an open fire, lattes at a sidewalk cafe?, ice cream cones on a beach boardwalk – from first dates to 50th anniversaries, the common denominator is food.

But not food simply for the sake of nourishment. This is food that leads to something, be it quiet conversations, deepening affections or passion.

Naturally, someone has researched all this and developed a list of foods that foster the physical side of human relationships. Or to put it bluntly: Better sex.

On most frisky food lists: Oysters, salmon, avocados, bananas, pomegranates, watermelon, chili peppers, chocolate, vanilla, honey, olives, figs, strawberries, cherries, asparagus.

Science, of course, explains it with compounds and chemicals – zinc and amino acids in oysters that prod the sex hormones, the hot stuff in hot peppers that kick-start those feel-good endorphins, the vitamin E levels in avocados that give you the energy and stamina for the job at hand, olives for virility, figs for fertility. Goodness, a quick scan of the web and you discover that watermelon is as good as Viagra. Watch out, Big Pharma!

OK, you don’t have to buy all of that scientific stuff. But the word “honeymoon” had to come from somewhere, right?

Does it really matter whether it’s a chemical that triggers the reaction? Or whether the stimulant comes from the simple resemblance of the food itself to, er, physical pleasure centers.

Let’s just say if it works, it works.

So, why not just prepare an entire meal of these frisky foods before your next “date night.” Put on some mood music, open the shades to a full moon, set out a platter of oysters and a spicy cocktail sauce and see what happens. Who knows – it could become an all-nighter!

SALMON WITH ASPARAGUS AND HOLLANDAISE

2 pieces of salmon filet

Honey Dill Butter (2 tablespoons softened butter mixed with 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill and 2 teaspoons honey)

8 spears cooked asparagus

Brush the fleshy salmon of the salmon with the dill butter. Bake in a 375 degree oven 5 minutes until fish just begins to flake (timing depends on thickness). Brush again and place under broiler until skin begins to glaze. (Salmon may also be grilled, skin side down).

Top the salmon with asparagus spears. Ladle warm Hollandaise sauce over the fish.

QUICK HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

3 egg yolks

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 sticks butter

1?4 cup fresh dill, minced

Fresh ground pepper

Combine egg yolks, lemon juice and dill in blender. Process until smooth. Melt butter until bubbling. Slowly pour into blender and pulse until smooth. Add pepper to taste and serve hot over salmon.

JASMINE RICE

1 cup Jasmin rice

2 cups water

1?4 cup coconut oil

1?4 cup diced scallions

1?4 cup diced cherries

2 tablespoons diced chili peppers

Bring water to boil. Add rice and cook on low until tender, about 15 minutes. Add more water if sticking. Toss in coconut oil and diced scallions, cherries and peppers. Stir to blend. Cover and let sit 5 minutes.

OLIVE SALAD

1 large tomato, diced

1?4 cup olive oil mixed with fresh chopped herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary)

1?2 cup diced good quality olives

1?4 cup fresh feta, diced

Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a pretty bowl and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour to blend flavors.

SWEETS FOR YOUR SWEET

Place honey yogurt dip in center of a platter. Surround with fresh cherries, watermelon spears, banana chunks, chocolate covered strawberries and stuffed figs. Help yourself, and your sweetie, to some sweet romance!

Chocolate covered strawberries

Melt some good quality dark chocolate. Holding strawberries by the stem, dip quickly in chocolate and set on waxed paper until chocolate sets.

Stuffed figs

Make a slit in the figs and insert a dollop of strawberry cream cheese.

Honey Yogurt Dip

Mix one container Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon candied ginger and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

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