Monday, February 28, 2011
A Special Meal in Honor of Love
February, the month to honor love, has come and gone, but the taste lingers.... For the past five years I have prepared a special dinner as a gift to "my valentine." This year I included many of my favorites, which have become the husband's favorites, or so I assume! For special meals I like to serve sauteed mushrooms made from the "Why French Women Don't Get Fat" book along with Veuve Cliquot. But on this night I was going to be serving a mushroom sauce on the chicken, so I had to mix it up a little.
I found one of my favorite (yes I know I have a lot of favorites) Bon Appetit issues from a few years ago (September 1993). I even remembered the meal I prepared from it, and my guests. I was in a "commuter marriage situation" living temporarily in a great apartment with a loft which had been an old creamery. I knew I was going to be moving soon, leaving a job I loved and wonderful friends and colleagues, so on this particualr night I cooked for two of them. The move and the marriage are stories for another time...because after all this meal is about love!
So back to this special meal...Other than the food and the wine, what made this meal special is the fact that I actually BAKED! Not just one thing, but two...the crackers for the first course and the lemon tart for the dessert. And if you have followed this blog for long, you know I do not like to bake because to be successful you must follow the recipes exactly...and that is stressful to me, not relaxing! I do admire those who seem to find calm and can spread joy through baking...my mom's pies are the best, and her cookies have made it to every grandchild's wedding; my sisters and nieces bake almost daily; and my daughter's sister-in-law's Scrumptious Swirls items are works of art.
Sorry to digress, but it is a blog.
Parmesan Crackers. I may have included these in a previous entry, but they are from a New York Times article. In a food processor combine 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, 1 cup flour, 1cup of grated Parmigiano-reggiano, place in plastic wrap and roll into a log, chill for two hours, cut into 1/4 inch pieces, bake for 12minutes at 325 degrees, remove from oven, turn heat up to 500, return to oven for 3 minutes.
First Course: Sherried Crabmeat Spread. Finding several recipes and not finding the one I had used before (guess I did not write it down, must have been before the blog), I settled on combining Crab meat, cream cheese, shallot, a touch of half and half and sherry. I heated this in the oven for about 10 mins.
The spread was served with the crackers. Accompanied by a glass of champagne and pre dinner conversation - an excellent way to start an evening.
Entree:Tarragon-Butter Chicken with Mushroom Sauce. The recipe from Bon Appetit used a whole chicken, but I used chicken breasts. I roasted the chicken in tarragon butter. When finished I removed the chicken, and deglazed the pan with white wine, and then added chicken broth. In another pan I sauteed shallots and added previously prepared sherried mushrooms. The two mixtures were combined and boiled till thick. The chicken was plated and topped with the mushroom mixture.
Side: Green Beans. I simmered the green beans in chicken broth.
Wine: 2003 Brunello Di Montalcino. Exquisite!!!
Dessert: The Lemon Tart. I follow the recipe in Bouchon cookbook. On this occasion I used a short cut for the pie crust, by using store pie crust and adding grated roasted pine nuts. The recipe calls for 2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, 3/4 c sugar, 1/2 c fresh lemon juice and 6 tb butter. Since I was only making two small tarts and not a large one I cut the ingredients in half.
Champagne - we finished off the champagne with the tart.
All in all a very special meal and evening.