Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.
Perfect for Anniversaries or Any Special Occasion
Today is the most perfect day. The sun is shining, birds are singing and I'm happily cooking in my kitchen. But even if the skies were dark, I would still be happy. Today is our wedding anniversary, and I can't remove the smile from my face. I thank God for the wonderful husband He brought into my life almost four decades ago.
Yes, of course. I'm the Carb Diva. I love my kitchen and I love to cook and bake (as you know). My husband and I could go out for a wonderful dinner, but in the end, we'd spend so very much money for the luxury of having someone else wash the dishes. (I don't intend to sound smug, but I rarely find a meal at a restaurant that exceeds what comes out of my own kitchen.)
Let me share tonight's menu...
Romantic Dinner Menu
- Individual spinach souffles
- Almond-crusted boneless skinless chicken breasts stuffed with bacon and mushrooms
- White chocolate Grand Marnier mousse with fresh berries
Are you ready to get started?
First Course: Spinach Souffles for Two
- Medium-sized saucepan
- 2 (8-ounce) ramekins
- Small saucepan
- Wire whisk
- Mixing bowl
- Hand-held or electric mixer
- 9-inch baking pan
- 3 cups water
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
- 4 teaspoons butter
- 3 tablespoons finely minced onion
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon flour
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 egg yolks, beaten in a small bowl until foamy
- 2/3 of a 10-oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove all excess moisture
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 egg whites
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Set aside.
- Coat the bottom and sides of the ramekins with non-stick cooking spray. Place dry bread crumbs into the ramekins. Tap the ramekins on your countertop while rotating to evenly coat the bottom and sides of the ramekins with crumbs. Set aside.
- Melt butter in the bottom of a small saucepan over medium heat. Add finely minced onions and sauté until onion is softened, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add flour and stir until onions, butter, and flour are mixed. Using a whisk, slowly stir in milk. Turn heat to low and simmer until mixture thickens—about 2 minutes. This is a béchamel sauce.
- Remove saucepan from heat. Let sit for two minutes to cool slightly. Place several spoonsful of the sauce into the beaten egg yolks and whisk to temper the yolks (see video below for an explanation).
- Add the yolk mixture to the remaining béchamel and quickly whisk until incorporated. Stir in spinach, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg.
- In a separate mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff (see link below).
- Spoon about 1/4 of egg whites into spinach mixture. Stir with a spatula until blended. Pour spinach mixture into remaining egg whites and gently fold (see video below) until well mixed.
- Spoon spinach/egg mixture into prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a 9-inch baking pan. Pour boiling water into the pan until the water reaches half-way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake until firm, about 25 minutes.
How to Temper Eggs
How to Beat Egg Whites
How to Fold Egg Whites
Second Course: Bacon-Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Sharp serrated knife
- Chopping board
- Knife for dicing/mincing vegetables
- Large sauté pan
- Heat-proof silicone spatula or wooden spoon for stirring
- Medium-sized mixing bowl
- Pastry brush
- Instant-read thermometer
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
- 2 slices turkey bacon, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- Spread a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Cut a pocket into each chicken breast (see video below for how-to) and set aside.
- Slice one half of the mushrooms and set aside. Finely dice the remaining mushrooms and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and turkey bacon and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the reserved diced mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms and bacon have begun to brown and the onion is soft and golden. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Add the panko crumbs and grated Parmesan into the bacon/mushroom mixture. Stir to combine.
- Stuff the chicken breast pockets with the bacon-mushroom mixture, pushing the stuffing back in as far as possible so that the opening of the pocket will close.
- Place the chicken breasts on the parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Dust the chicken breasts with flour. Next, brush the sour cream on the chicken breasts using the pastry brush. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on the chicken. Drizzle the melted butter on the chicken breasts.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 165°F. on instant-read thermometer.
How to Stuff a Chicken Breast
Third Course: White Chocolate Grand Marnier Mousse With Fresh Berries
- Double boiler
- Electric mixer
- Rubber scraper or silicone spatula
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 ounces white chocolate (use good-quality chocolate such as Lindt or Ghirardelli)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
- 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1 cup whipping cream
- Fresh fruit in season (berries, peaches, nectarines, etc.) or canned pineapple or mandarin orange segments, drained
- Flaked coconut, chocolate shavings, or chopped nuts for garnish (optional)
- Melt the white chocolate in the double boiler over low heat. Scrape into large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
- Wash and dry the double boiler insert.
- Separate the eggs; set the whites aside and place the yolks in a double boiler along with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the Grand Marnier.
- Cook over low heat, whisking constantly until the sugar dissolves and the sauce begins to thicken, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Don't let the bottom of the double boiler touch the water—it could cause the eggs to scramble).
- Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the reserved egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat, on high, until stiff peaks form.
- Scrape the sauce into the large mixing bowl with the melted chocolate. Scrape the stiffly-beaten egg whites into the sauce and fold in gently. Set aside.
- Beat the whipping cream on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the sauce/egg white mixture.
- Spoon the mousse into dessert glasses—this recipe makes enough for 6 servings.
- Garnish with fruit of your choice and garnish if desired.
© 2014 Linda Lum