Hubby and I celebrated 34 years of marriage this month. While we’ve had more romantic anniversaries over the years, this year was by far the most intimate in the truest sense of the word.
Restaurants in our neck of the woods are closed to inside dining these days. Fires are raging all around us, making it impossible to breath outside. The fires were started by lightning strikes a week ago, some of the worst fires in the state’s history. And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve been blessed with record breaking heat coupled with more dry lightning storms. Between the heat and the smoke, outdoor dining options were not options at all.
In the midst of all this drama, we had an anniversary to celebrate. Fortunately our love has evolved to a deeper appreciation of the moment. Moments are the true measure of marriage, all those little moments strung together over the years the keep a marriage going. Chatting about the day as one washes while the other dries the dishes at the end of a meal. Pushing the grocery cart together while shopping for the week. Taking out the trash and pulling weeds. Life makes a marriage filled with memories.
This year, with the world melting down around us, we stayed home. It was time well-spent cooking together. Even Kiddo got into the act, helping with the final touches to dinner as well as dessert. The measure of lasting romance is found in little things we do. That’s not to say I didn’t add a touch of romance to the day. I posted our “menu” on the refrigerator in French. French makes everything sound romantic.
Poulet au Herbes de Provence
Asperges a la sauce Hollandaise
Pommes de terre au Zest de Citron
Mousse au Chocolat et au Brandy
Poulet aux Herbes de Provence
8 boneless Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Apple Juice
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Raw Honey
Rosemary Sprigs for garnish
Place chicken thighs in a 1-gallon ziplock bag. Set aside.
In a glass measuring cup with a spout, add minced garlic, herbs, balsamic vinegar, apple juice, olive oil, honey and salt and pepper. Whisk to blend.
Pour marinade over chicken thighs and seal bag squeezing out the air. Massage thighs and marinate in the bag. Refrigerate overnight, massaging a couple of times before calling it a night and again in the morning.
Heat grill to medium heat, about 425 degrees. Oil the grate to prevent chicken from sticking. Grill thighs until juices run clear and browned nicely, about 10 minutes per side.
Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish serving platter with fresh rosemary sprigs.
Asperges à la sauce Hollandaise
1 bunch Asparagus, trimmed
1/2 cup Butter
3 Egg Yolks
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
Pinch or 2 Cayenne Pepper
To Prepare the Asparagus: Break off the tough ends with your fingers. Bend the asparagus spears near the end and they will break naturally where the spear is no longer tough. For an elegant presentation of the spears, use a vegetable peeler to peel off a very thin layer of the outer skin of the lower two to three inches of the asparagus spears. Bundle asparagus together with kitchen twine. Set aside until ready to steam.
Place asparagus in the insert of the asparagus steamer with about an inch of water in the steamer. Bring the water to a boil, maintaining steam. Cover and steam for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender, but still a little crisp, definitely not mushy. The timing depends on how thick the asparagus spears are. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To Prepare the Hollandaise Sauce: Melt the butter in a small pot. Separate eggs, place the yolks in a blender. Add lemon juice, and cayenne into a blender. Blend the yolks for 20-30 seconds at medium to medium high-speed until lighter in color. Turn blender down to lowest setting and slowly drizzle in the hot melted butter while the blender is running. Continue to blend for a few seconds after all of the butter is incorporated. Sauce with thicken and become silky. Taste the sauce and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
Plate the asparagus in a small serving platter. Pour Hollandaise sauce over the asparagus. Serve immediately.
Pommes de terre au Zeste de Citron
4 medium Red Potatoes
1 cup Chicken Stock
Water as needed
Kosher Salt to taste
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley
1/4 cup Butter
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Scrub potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place potatoes in a saucepan with chicken stock. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Season heavily with salt. Bring to a boil, cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Zest lemon, set zest aside. Cut lemon in half, squeeze to juice and set juice aside. Chop the parsley, set aside.
Drain potatoes; place in a large mixing bowl. Add zest, juice and butter. Give about 10 turns or so of the pepper mill. Toss to coat. Add parsley, toss well.
Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl and enjoy.
Mousse au Chocolat et au Brandy
6 oz chopped Dark Chocolate
4 tablespoons Butter, soft
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Brandy
4 tablespoons Sugar, divided
4 separated Eggs
Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Whisk the butter into the melted chocolate, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir in the vanilla, Brandy and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir until well incorporated.
Whisk in the yolks one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Set the mixture aside.
Stir the egg whites in a mixing bowl set over a saucepan of hot water until the whites are slightly warm (1 to 2 minutes). Remove the bowl from the saucepan, then beat hard until stiff peaks form. Slowly add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and continue to beat until shiny. Whisk a quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the remaining whites. Be careful to not overwork the mixture.
Spoon the mousse into individual Martini Glasses. Refrigerate for several hours for mousse to set.
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Brandy
Chill mixing bowl & beater for 30 minutes.
Pour heavy cream into the well-chilled bowl. Add sugar and brandy. Whip on low speed until just beginning to froth. Increase speed to medium and whip until soft peaks form. Increase to high, continue to whip until stiff.
Chocolate Curls as desired
Hazelnut Pirouette Crème Filled Wafers
Using a vegetable peeler, shave curls from a chocolate candy bar, set aside.
Top each serving of mousse with whipped cream. Garnish with chocolate shavings and wafer cookies as desire.
Now this is true romance!