Thursday, February 5, 2015

Valentine's Day Dinner

This Valentine's Day, fan the flames of romance by cooking for the one you cherish. The recipe is simple; use this easy to prepare menu, add soft music, a splash of champagne and a generous sprinkling of affection. Arrange the table with your best linens, crystal, silver and china then set it off with beautiful flowers and candlelight. What could be more romantic?
* Dinner for Two *
 Cornish Game Hens with Wild Rice Stuffing
 Honey-Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Winter Squash
Raspberry Fool
*Shopping list: besides all the groceries needed for recipes, don't forget the...
     -optional Cranberry Sauce
     -heart-shaped shortbread or sugar cookies 

*Preparation the day before:
     -read all recipes you will be preparing... from ingredients to instructions
     -defrost the 'Cornish Game Hens' on a plate, in the fridge
     -cook, cool and refrigerate the 'Wild Rice Stuffing' 
     -trim and wash the Brussels Sprouts-store covered, in the fridge
     -clean, peel and cut the Squash-store covered, in the fridge
     -place the Champagne in the fridge to chill

*Preparation the day of:
     -start the Cornish Hen recipe about 2 hours before you want to serve dinner
     -put both vegetables into the oven 30 minutes before you want to serve dinner
     -once the vegetables are in the oven, prepare the 'Raspberry Fool'...
     -spoon into serving bowls but do not garnish until serving

Cornish Game Hens with Wild Rice Stuffing
Also known as 'Rock Cornish Game Hens', these are very small, tender chickens... perfect as a special occasion entree for two! (The Cornish Hen in the photo is almost 2 pounds and was enough to feed both of us.)
2 Cornish Game Hens (1 pound each)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
Cranberry Sauce-optional
     Preheat oven to 375 F. Rinse hens under cold running water and thoroughly clean the cavity. Sprinkle inside the cavity with salt and pepper, stuff with the cooled rice mixture (see recipe below). Spray a rack and a 13"x9"x2" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place with breast side up on the rack and pour a small amount of water in the baking pan. Keep 1/2" of liquid in the bottom of the pan, (this can be made into a flavorful gravy if you wish.) Melt butter, add tarragon and brush some over the hens. Cover loosely with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil, bake uncovered another 45 minutes to 1 hour and baste several times with tarragon butter. The hens are done when the internal temperature is 180 F or the juices run clear. Be sure to check the internal temperature of the rice stuffing, it should be at least 165 F. Serve with Cranberry Sauce if you wish.
*NOTE: if you do not want to stuff the hens, heat and serve the rice as a side dish.

Wild Rice Stuffing
'Converted Rice' is long grain rice that has been steamed before it is husked. This process causes the grains to absorb nutrients from the husk. When cooked, the grains are more nutritious, firmer and less clingy than white rice grains.
2 tsp. butter
1 small white onion, finely diced
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms-optional
3/4 cup vegetable stock
2/3 cup water or stock
1 Tbsp. chicken soup base mix or bouillon cube

Pinch black pepper
1/4 cup wild rice
1/3 cup 'Uncle Ben's' Converted Rice
      In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add onion and mushrooms; cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock, water, chicken soup base, pepper and wild rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer 35-40 minutes. Stir in Converted Rice and simmer covered for another 25-30 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Honey-Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
2 cups Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
Sea salt 
Freshly ground black pepper
     Preheat oven to 400 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, Dijon and honey. Add Brussels sprouts and toss to thoroughly coat in honey mustard mixture. Spread sprouts evenly on a lightly oiled, small bake sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake on the top rack for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and toss so they bake evenly. Place back in the oven and roast another 10 minutes. The outside leaves should be slightly charred and the inside tender.

Roasted Winter Squash 
My favorite winter squash from last year's garden is 'Sunshine' from William Dam Seeds. It is a scarlet orange Kabocha type with smooth, sweet, bright orange flesh. 
1/4 to 1/2 buttercup or butternut squash
Olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8-1/4 tsp. Chipotle chili powder
Coarse sea salt
     Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half, remove seeds and peel if desired. Cut into wedges and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with spices and salt. Bake 30-45 minutes or until browned on the edges and fork tender in the middle.
*NOTE for quicker cooking: peel then dice the squash into 1 inch cubes and reduce cooking time to 15-20 minutes.

Raspberry Fool
Foolishly simple to make, 'fools' are fast mixtures using stewed fruit and can be sweetened to taste. In the dessert world, a  'quenelle' is an elegant football shaped scoop, made using two spoons.
Total time needed to prepare: 10 minutes!
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
Raspberry Fool Quenelle Trio 
 with Shortbread Hearts

2/3 cup whipping cream
1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
2-4 heart-shaped shortbread or sugar cookies

Fresh mint leaves for garnish-optional
      In a medium bowl, beat the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, whisk jam until smooth; fold into whipped cream. Spoon into serving bowls. Just before serving garnish with fresh raspberries and a
mint leaf. Place the cookie last so it does not get soggy.
Happy Valentine's Day and Bon Appetit! Till next week...

Photos and dinner prepared by Sally Rae


  1. Sounds delicious, Sally. Thanks for the step-by-step. I'll print-out a copy for the Mister just in case he misses this post. :)