For Mature Couples Only: Dinner For Two–A Saturday Evening Feast!

On this Saturday morning in May, the weather is pretty crummy. It is cloudy and way too cool. We can’t take a drive to the beach yet.  And I fear purchasing Geraniums for the deck because we could still get a frost.

Image result for atypical60 geraniums

Last year’s flowers were already “decked” out at this time!

And at some point, the hot weather will arrive in earnest.  In a few weeks, our Saturdays will be filled with outdoor activities. We will be beaching it and doing day trips.

And today, I will spend a good part of the day doing what I normally do on a Saturday during cold and cool weather times.

Preparing our Saturday Evening Feast.

OK. So it isn’t Thanksgiving. But I enjoy whipping up a feast for any ocassion. Even if just for two!

It’s funny because as I age, I find that I enjoy this “routine” more and more.

When the house was filled with kids and their friends, and the hustle-bustle of every activity under the sun, there wasn’t much room for dining routines. It seemed that we were eating on the run and when we did manage to have dinner as a family, it was rushed because a game or practice would be starting within moments of that final bite.

This was a typical saying at the Atypical60 household when I was in my atypical30’s, 40’s and 50’s!  “Hurry up and eat–gotta go!”

Don’t get me wrong.  I actually miss those busy days.  I miss the enormous amount of fun that I had when the kids were younger.  I miss being a stay-at-home mom.  But, I have great, great memories that I can play over and over in the theater of my mind!

And with age comes a certain appreciation that you have when you do get the time to spend with your better half.

Our Saturday evening dinners together are now a ritual. It is the time when Bonaparte and I can just unwind and enjoy each other’s company! During summer months, we will dine on quick meals served on the deck.

Image result for atypical60 drinks on the deck

Summer dinners are out on the deck and extremely casual. I don’t like to turn the oven on in the heat..but I do like the aperitif!

Tonight, we will dine indoors at the dining room table.

As I write, the dining room table is my office, but toward evening it will be transformed into a lovely setting for mature audiences only.  No. I won’t be performing a lap dance. Nor will I serve myself  to Bonaparte on a plate.

Ahhh. The dining room table as office. When the kids were younger the dining room table was the homework area, the project area, the sewing area…but only for dining durinig holidays!  Am I the only one???

Instead, this table will be set with good china (well, as good as it gets), table linens and we will enjoy the setting and partake in mature conversation—that is until I go into a rant about the current healthcare vote. But Bonaparte will calm me down by pouring wine in my glass!

Still casual but with a touch of chic and Provence!  Empty nesters–treat yourself to a beautifully set table and you will feel as though the evening is special!

This is one of the perks of being an empty-nester.  There is no time for baby-talk or having to clean up spilled milk (although I am prone to spilling wine).  It is merely two older, wiser and mature people enjoying an aperitif, a starter, the main plate and because I’m trying to drop a few pounds, no dessert.

No cheese either. After consuming two cheese quesadillas this week, I’m on the wagon until we get to France!

It’s a lazy-day routine that lends itself to working leisurely to achieve a delicious result!

How did I do it?  Here you go:

First of all, I wore a new wig to run errands!  But–had to take her off when I started cooking because…

Synthetic hair will melt and I certainly did not want melted fake hair all over me or our food! I’m clumsy enough!

We loaded up on the fresh flowers while running our errands.  We always have fresh flowers in the house–it’s an inexpensive way to add color and beauty!

On the menu this evening was:  Fresh Baked Bread and Country Pate, Tomato & Hard Cooked Eggs with Parsley and Basil, Cornish Game Hen, Spatchcocked  with herbal butter, cherries and Rosemary, Cognac Cherry Sauce , Cubed Potatoes sauteed in Duck Fat and Wilted Spinach.  Bonaparte policed my bread intake which meant I had one small piece so he could eat the rest!

First things first.  Making the bread. While the yeast (above) is blooming, I gather the dry ingredients.  Bonaparte loves home made bread.  I bake a Pullman loaf every weekend: The recipe I use is from an article in the Chicago Tribune. Check out the link-but be warned there’s a ton of ads before you get to the recipe–it’s worth it though:  Pullman Bread Recipe

And I must say, the bread was a great batch!

Next step is the preparation of the potatoes. Trust me. Preparing well in advance makes it easier when the time to cook the dinner comes around.  I call it preventative dining stress.

I’ve written about these potatoes before but they are so freakin’ good!  They are inspired by the potatoes at restaurant Chez Paul on Place Dauphine in Paris. Bonaparte assists me. He peels the potatoes because I hate doing that chore!  I use butter potatoes because they are nice and creamy.  I cube the peeled potatoes and par boil them for 9 minutes.  Then I drain, cover in paper towels and place in the fridge until I’m ready to cook them.  When ready to cook, I saute in duck fat-about 20 minutes until the outside is browned and crispy!

Next step:  Preparing the hen.

I use a blend of Rosemary that I’ve ground with mortar and pestle, and stalks of Rosemary and a bit cut up with a scissor. I can’t get enough of this stuff!

I grind Herbes de Provence into softened butter.  Hey. Anyone going to Paris anytime soon?  If you do, drop by E. Dehillerin –it’s a treasure chest of cooking supplies!  I purchased this little grinder for next to nothing and it has become an invaluable tool in my kitchen. It grinds very well!

The skin of the hen is lifted and the herbed butter smeared under the skin and atop the skin. Covered with stalks of Rosemary. Cherries soaked in Cognac come later. Into the fridge with these two until it’s time to cook!

Sauce prep comes next.  Dried cherries are soaked in Remy Martin Champagne Cognac (top right). Shallots are sweated in butter then chicken broth is added and reduced to less than half.  Then more cognac is added. Then reduced. Then the cherries are added with Rosemary. It all cooks down. Then heavy cream is added. Notice the photo on the bottom right. The sauce hasn’t emulsified yet.  This is brought to a boil and stirred and babysat and simmered.  It takes a while but I’m telling you a great sauce doesn’t need flour. In the end, I add a bit of frozen butter to make the sauce silky.

And the end result:

And tonight–for your dining pleasure I bring you..

Fresh-baked bread and country pate..

…a few toasted slices..

Tomato and egg –very healthy…

Cornish Game Hen, roasted to perfection...

A silky Cognac and Cherry creme sauce…

Some good red wine….

…and let’s not forget the spinach!

Here’s the thing.  I really have to watch what I eat.  I didn’t have sauce.  I ate only a portion of my hen.  I didn’t have potatoes.  I did have a half slice of bread.

And even though it was cooking for two, the leftovers will be used for Bonaparte during the week.  The potatoes reheat very well and can be saved for up to five days.  The leftover hen can be transformed into salad.  The bread can be frozen or slices can be cut up into thick chunks and made into croutons.  The sauce will last over a week–the Cognac is a natural preservative.

It’s all good!

After dinner, we watched one of our favorite movies. (Click on the link for some serious Cathe/Bonaparte entertainment):  This was the first m0vie we saw together and it has something for everyone. It takes place during WW1 in France but it one of the greatest love stories ever and is a lesson in never giving up hope.

Image result for atypical60 a very long engagement

If you see this in a store, by all means grab it and run home to watch it!

A Very Long Engagement.  Watch the trailer closely.  You will see a fleeting moment of Marion Cotillard who has now become an Oscar-winning actress.  The film is a visual beauty—but what else could you expect from the man who brought us Amelie?  Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a great filmmaker and story teller. I was fortunate enough to see it on the big screen 14 years ago!


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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16 Responses to For Mature Couples Only: Dinner For Two–A Saturday Evening Feast!

  1. Anne says:

    Your hen looked so delicious. I love Cornish hen anyway, but when you add rosemary, cherrys, cognac, and cream….oh my!!

  2. eveange33 says:

    YES!! So I can breath again. Sorry political related comment.

  3. fiona says:

    Your meal sounds delicious but can’t believe you used Remy for cooking! I use cheaper stuff for sauces….but then I am a skinflint and probably Bonaparte would not let cheapo cognac past his lips.
    I saw The Long Engagement at the cinema when it was released…a beautiful film.
    You must be celebrating tonight! Xx

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Fiona, As I write this, Bonaparte is watching TV5Monde and listening to Macron’s victory speech. I got chills. This is a great, great day for everyone. It proves that since the Brexit and the Trumpness, that France can lead Europe and set an example for the USA. AND the people of France didn’t succumb to the Russians!!!!!
      LOL. Yeah. I use the good stuff for cooking. A certain someone insists on it!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. JulietC says:

    Looks delicious, and I love spinach or any greens for that matter – we have a small garden but right now I am picking and eating rainbow chard and spinach as fast as I can as some of it is trying to bolt and set seed, it is NOT going to get the chance! I also confess my table is underneath sewing and crafts and books and ummm stuff – it will get cleared when the daughter returns from uni – perhaps

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Juliet! I’m listening to Bonaparte singing “La Marseillaise! He is thrilled and very proud right now and I’m thrilled for him! But hey–what’s rainbow chard?? I’m big on spinach and we were eating Kale when we were kids–my parents must have been hipsters before the kale craze kicked in.
      It’s so good to know that I am NOT the only one who uses my dining room table as a catch all for everything else!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

      • JulietC says: – rainbow chard on the seed packet, but we grew up calling it beet leaves, as opposed to spinach which is a more delicate texture – maybe our folk were related, mum (89yrs young) still grows all her veges and freezes/preserves most of it, any new vegetable is/was a nice exciting challenge for her – I think that is why we grew up food lovers and pretty unfussy in that we will try anything 🙂

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Juliet! Oh Swiss Chard! I know what that is. I was expecting a leaf that looked like a rainbow. I’m having an Amelia Bedelia moment! It’s funny because none of us ever grew up as fussy eaters either. We LOVED to eat and would eat anything. I grew up eating offal as well, like kidneys, tongue, gizzards, liver. Some people cringe but for us, it was normal and quite delicious!
        My own kids grew up very unfussy. I would say that Oona was a creature of habit in what she ate, but she was never fussy. The boys would eat anything. Now, all three kids are lovers of all foods and will try everything. I love that!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

  5. Judy says:

    I love to read about everything you do, Catherine . Like you I love settling down and preparing something really nice for just the two of us. My favourite main course is rack of lamb, medium rare, with a garlic, lemon and herb crust, bearnaise sauce and dauphinoise potatoes. Dessert, always! And a really good bottle of red wine! I always feel I’m with you in the kitchen/or shopping/checking out make up/trying on clothes to see what fits – love the experiences!

    • Catherine says:

      Judy! OMG. I LOVE Lamb so much. We grew up having lamb a lot for the Sunday roast dinners my mother used to make–boy do I miss those! I can’t get good lamb around here at all. I love it on the medium rare side as well. Now I want lamb! I think I would love cooking with you!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  6. Momcat says:

    I followed the link to read about your first movie date with B! That’s so cute that he decided you were his babe when he found out you liked French cinema! I left a comment before reading that the original blog post was in 2015!!!!! Here is the relevant part: anyway my old chum was a huge movie fan and actually went into movie production, directing in Montréal. He introduced me to French/Italian film and I have adored it ever since. Les Enfants du Paradis with the incomparable actress Arletty, Hôtel du Nord again with Arletty and Louis Jouvet along with my all time fave…La Strada by Fellini starring his adorable wife ( now that was a love story!) Giulietta Masina, Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart. I could watch that 1,000 times and never tire of it. Tear jerker for sure but brilliant cinema. Les enfants du Paradis combines the comical and heart wrenching that is done so well by the French it’s also one of my favourites. If you haven’t seen these all three are worth a look.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Momcat! Strangely, Les Enfants due Paradis is one of the films I’ve yet to see–although it is one of Bonaparte’s faves. I’m a HUGE Fellini fan and 8 1/2 is one of my all time faves. La Strada is up there with my faves as well. It HAS to be one of the most tragic films I’ve ever seen. The first time I saw it (Yeah. I’ve seen it multiple times ) I was dumbstruck by the ending. Guilietta Masina is just so stinking adorable–you are right!!
      There’s so many French films that I love. Have you ever seen Les Enfants du Marias? Andre Dusolier (sp) is in it and it’s a very sweet film about the turn of the century and a small little village. It’s one of my faves…Xoxoxoxoxoxo!!!

  7. HelloIm50ish says:

    Ok, I’m catching the next flight up from Atlanta for dinner!
    French make great movies don’t they?

    • Catherine says:

      OK Robin. I’ll have a place setting for you!!! Oh the French make fantastic movies. (Shameless plug: Bonaparte’s uncle, Yves Robert, directed two great french films “My Father’s Glory” and “My Mother’s Castle” based on books by Marcel Pagnol. His cousin, Hugo Gelin, just directed a very successful film in France “Demain Tout Commence” we were at the Paris premiere and it’s a great feel-good movie. Hope it comes to the States!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

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