You know it’s a dangerous thing when you are working at a theatre which is a stone’s throw away from a Whole Foods Market. It’s so easy to be lured in by their soft overhead lighting, abundant samples, and seven dollar pints of freshly ground peanut butter.
In between shows the other day I found myself wandering through the poultry section where my eye was drawn to a glorious whole duck. There it was with its breast wall puffed up, and I began to salivate just looking at it. However, I am not really in the market to be throwing down on an entire duck for just the two of us. Not to mention, I am deep in job search mode so such extravagancies need to be counted. That said, sitting pretty and unassuming right next to the big bird were a bunch of little birds, Cornish hens to be exact. It’s been years since I have eaten hen, and I have never attempted to cook them (it’s like cooking a chicken right? right?!?). It was then I remembered a story from when Jürgen’s parents were dating: A budding chef herself, his mom made wild rice stuffed Cornish hens for his father…and they just celebrated 33 years of marriage so she clearly did a good job with them. The idea struck: This would be a perfect dinner for our upcoming anniversary.
I decided on a Cornish Game Hen with Garlic and Rosemary recipe from Bon Appétit. I chose it because it didn’t require a ton of ingredients and it is a sort of play on a favorite roast chicken recipe we have made many times. Knowing Jürgen isn’t a huge wild rice fan, I went with a Sun Dried Tomato and Pesto Risotto, because A) sun-dried tomato and pesto anything is usually a surefire bet to awesomeness and B) I had both of those items left over from our Christmas night make-your-own-pizza dinner. A simple side of lightly steamed haricot verts would round out the meal.
For dessert, I decided to run with the theme of Fruit and Flowers, in honor of year four. I selected a Moroccan Citrus Fruit Salad (it uses Orange Flower water so I felt that satisfied the flower component), and in it I placed a small “bouquet” of mini-liquor bottle cutouts to represent the gift which awaits Jurgen when we arrive back in Chicago: Grand Marnier (Orange liquor), Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Rothman and Winter Creme de Violette (Violet flower liquor), Saint Germain Creme Yvette (also Violet liquor, I realized this after I place the order…alas), Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters and Rhubarb Liquor from Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
For every anniversary we follow the traditional gift progression and this was my alcoholic take on Fruit and Flowers (although apparently it can also be Silk or Linen…this is the first I have heard of this). It should come as no surprise to learn that Jürgen also took the same approach by gifting to be a bottle of 2010 Pinot Noir from Flowers Vineyard.
Next year is wood, I see a bourbon barrel with his name on it 😉
P.S.-The hens and the risotto both turned out wonderfully. The birds were most and super easy to make…just like Chicken! The risotto, while a bit time-consuming, was creamy and very fitting for a January evening.
The dessert…well…it tasted like hand soap. Orange Flower Water has a pretty specific flavor profile…of hand soap. I suppose just like in a marriage you take the better with the worse.