All About Writing

14 February

Romantic Dinners For Two

208-Penne Aux Chandelles, originally uploaded by gillespinault.

Romantic Dinners For Two

by Kerri Buckley

Some violin music, please! When thoughts turn to Valentine’s Day, or finding time for your partner on chilly evenings, can busy parents afford the time? Amid jobs, laundry and feeding and bathing the kids, not only can parents find the time; it’s essential that they do. Tuck the kids in bed early or hire a sitter and then prepare a romantic dinner for two. Add wine, music, flowers and a roaring fire to your evening and you’re set.

Romantic foods

Some of the most romantic food comes from the heart of Europe. Fine Austrian chocolates conjure up thoughts of roses and seems like a distant cousin to the chocolate we’re used to. In the same way, classical European dishes like Veal Parmigiana, Fettuccine Alfredo and Coq au Vin seem luxurious to the senses but are very easy to prepare.

When planning for romance, simplicity is key. Perhaps you and your spouse have a favorite dish that you enjoyed the night you became engaged, or perhaps you remember something exquisite from your honeymoon. Many chefs are more than willing to tell you how to prepare a home version of their masterpiece, especially if that masterpiece inspired love.

Finding a classical recipe is easy now with access to the Internet. French food has always been known for its romantic reputation, and dinners in France usually begin at seven and last deep into the night. They make dinner a long and leisurely ritual and harried American parents could greatly enhance their relationships, their digestion and even their health by adopting this same relaxed attitude toward dinner. Italian food is also known for its inspiration, with the olive oils, cheeses and fresh Roma tomatoes.

You don’t have to stop there, however. Search out recipes from other countries like Paella from Spain, Caldo Verde from Portugal and Viener Schnitzel from Germany. Other countries like Hungary, Poland and Belgium offer wonderful recipes that demand red wine and jazz. Below are some recipes that are sure to ignite some warmth on a cool winter night, or add some extra sizzle to a summer evening. Bon Appetit!

Veal Parmigiana

(2) 6 oz. Veal cutlets — ask the butcher to pound them for you until they are thin
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh or prepared tomato sauce
2 slices of fresh Mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons of oil
6 oz. of fresh pasta, cooked and drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly season the meat with the salt and pepper. Put the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs each in a bowl. Heat the oil in a skillet. Dip a cutlet into the flour, then the eggs and then into the breadcrumbs. Gently lay the coated cutlet Into the skillet in the oil. Do the same with the second cutlet. Saute each on one side until golden brown. Turn and brown the other side.

On a baking sheet place the cutlet with the cheese on top. Heat in the oven to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and place each cutlet on a plate with the cooked pasta on the side. Top with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

Coq au Vin

This lovely dish is so simple and yet, so delicious! The name is simple too and means Chicken in Wine.

One chicken cut into eight pieces
3 oz. oil
1 cup of frozen pearl onions
1 cup of mushroom, washed and with the stem removed
8 oz of red wine
8 oz chicken broth
2 tablespoon fresh and softened butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 slices of bacon
Chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice the bacon. In a large skillet heat the oil and add the chicken. Brown well on all sides. Remove from skillet. Add bacon and brown slightly. Then add the mushrooms and onions and lightly saute. Remove from pan with a slotted

Spoon and set aside. Add the butter to the oil in the skillet and melt. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Add the chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add the wine and salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan and cook very slowly about 20 minutes until chicken is completely done (thermometer inserted into the meat registers 170 degrees F.

Add the bacon, mushrooms and onions back to the skillet and warm. Remove and divide between two plates. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Heat the pan to very hot, add remaining fourth cup of wine and stir well. Pour this mixture over the chicken. Garnish with parley and serve with very coarse, crusty bread and wine.

Fettuccine Alfredo

This is another classical and beautiful dish. Serve with a salad, wine and French bread!

1 cup of heavy cream
2 oz. butter
1 pound of fresh fettuccine
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
6 oz. Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cream and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and reduce by a fourth. Remove from heat and set aside. Bring salted water to a rolling boil and add the fettuccine. Cook until just al dente, or firm to the bite. Drain.

In a skillet, combine the cream and butter mixture with the cooked noodles. Toss well until the noodles are coated. Add the remaining cream and cheese and toss well to mix. Divide onto two plates and season with salt and fresh pepper.the end

This article first appeared in print for Kansas City Parent Magazine February 2002