Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Six Month Anniversary Celebratory Dinner

Since I missed Valentine's Day to attend the CAA Conference last week, Tom and I decided to cook a big dinner as a joined celebration of our 6 month anniversary, Tom's parents' wedding anniversary and Valentines Day.

We wanted to prepare a lovely spring themed meal, and chose decorations to match. I love to decorate with glassware and fresh flowers and greens. I layered three tablecloths to create a modern, bamboo inspired runner to give length to the table. A simple black tablecloth allowed white square plates to float elegantly on the surface and gave distinction to the series of repurposed glassware and candles that joined to make the center piece.

The green tablecloth, folded into a runner, served as inspiration for the flora chosen for the evening. I wanted to focus on different shades and shapes of green with minimal presence of floral colors. I love the idea of incorporating herbs and various scented plants as part of the decoration for a meal. Scent is as much a factor of an experience as sight and sound. I chose three dozen un-bloomed daffodils, a green-gold column atop a bluish green stem. As the daffodils began to bloom throughout the evening, they emitted a fresh, springy scent and added spots of bright yellow to the composition. Bushels of rosemary and mint blended magically with the sweet scent of the daffodils creating a the feeling of a late spring/early summer picnic in a blooming garden.

As a preview for the evening, we decided to have a mid afternoon meal of cheese, toast and sparkling wine. We chose a vast, international assortment of cheeses, including a Saint Andre, Camembert, Herbal Goat, Manchego and an Armenian Stringed Goat Cheese with Mahleb.

The goat cheese was paired with freshly baked toasts and onions caramelized in a balsamic vinegar reduction. A toast covered in goat cheese or Saint Andre with a topping of caramelized onions made a lovely bruschetta.


1 baguette, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the baguette slices. Bake for about 10 minutes until both sides are golden and the bread is dry and crackly.

Caramelized Onions

1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar of Modena
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Add olive oil to a heated sauce pan. Cook onions in olive oil until they begin to golden and soften. Add balsamic vinegar and continue simmering until most of the white in the onion has soaked in the violet of the vinegar. Add leaves of thyme, cook for another 2 minutes. Cool and serve.

Scribbles from the Sommelier: 

This dinner, a combined celebration of Valentine’s Day, the anniversary of my parents, and our 6 month anniversary, is a re-creation of one of our dates from the summer of 2012.  It was the first time that Daria and I cooked together.  While one might think this dish demands a white wine, there certainly are some reds that will work.  Because this dish is creamy, I knew I had to avoid a tannic, heavy red wine.  I picked a very approachable and delectable wine, a Burgundy from Chitry.  The fruity, accessible nature of this 2011 wine from Marcel Giraudon made a wine as much of a pleasure to drink in the summer heat as it was on a February night.

Tom wanted to replicate the first dinner we cooked together, which I thought was quite romantic, so we made a version of Julia Child's Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons (Chicken Breasts with Cream and Mushrooms Sauce) with thinly sliced, herbal baked potatoes and sautéed asparagus.

Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons

8 supremes (boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2teaspoon salt
Big pinch white pepper
10 tablespoons butter
2tablespoons minced shallot
1/2 pound diced or sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:
1/2 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 cup port, Madeira or dry white vermouth
2 cups whipping cream
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons freshly minced parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a oven safe sauce pan (or two if you are cooking the full recipe) until it is foaming. Stir in the minced shallots and saute a moment without browning. Then stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt.

Remove from heat, roll chicken in butter mixture, nestle in the dish and cover with wax paper. Cover the sauce pan with lid and bake for 6 to 15 minutes, depending on how thinly you sliced the breasts. Remove the chicken to a covered dish.

To make sauce, pour the stock and wine in the pan with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961)


2 bags small gold potatoes, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Fresh rosemary, thyme or any other herbs on hand
Salt pepper to taste

Spread potatoes on the bottom of a oven safe casserole. Sprinkle olive oil and herbs, season and bake at 375 until the potatoes are cooked through and crispy on the sides.


2 bushels asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup water

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add asparagus and cook for a fe minutes. Season to taste. Add water and cook until the asparagus is slightly bendy.

The main dinner was served a few hours later. I really wanted to have a formal feeling for the service, and we decided to plate the dishes in the kitchen and serve plates as opposed to having a family style dinner. Tom's parents, his brother Joe and girlfriend Jen joined us for dinner to make a party of six. I felt quite like a restauranteur preparing all of the plates for service.

For desert, I made a French styled fresh raspberry tart with a custard filling. The. Tart called for my signature tart crust, the recipe for which you can find here: New Years Eve Tart.

Raspberry Tart

Preheat oven to 400 and bake your crust for about 25-30 minutes until it has a golden edge.

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour in a saucepan. Slowly add milk and cook it on medium heat until it bubbles and begins to thicken. Mix constantly to prevent burning or chunks. Remove from heat. Add yolks to a separate bowl, mix about a quarter of the milk mixture to the eggs, a spoon at a time to prevent the eggs from cooking. Mix this back into the milk mixture and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour into baked tart crust, decorate with raspberries and cool for an hour or two before serving.

We had an amazing evening and a lovely meal and I hope you guys have fun using the recipes. The Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons is a copyright of Julia Child and the rest are Tom and mine, all rights reserved and such.

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