Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Homemade Romance

Four days after our sixteenth wedding anniversary and I'm still high on the success of the celebratory dinner I made!  Such are the little pleasures of life. 

My Beloved had been working hard the two days previous, so I offered that rather than go out to a restaurant or our usual anniversary weekend getaway, I would make a "romantic dinner at home." He assented with some reluctance, not because he doesn't like my cooking but because he does like spoiling me. I like that, too, as a general rule, but it just seemed like a good reason to have some homemade romance.

My most beautiful china came out of the cupboards, along with crystal for water and champagne. I even unearthed my "real" silver from its nest of silver cloth and dug around in drawers for the sterling bottle coaster that is the prettiest one we own. Set out lacy placemats and embroidered napkins, the ones that must be ironed. They are a pain in the neck but nothing else makes such an elegant showing.

I thought and thought about what to make. Courses, for sure! Shrimp cocktail with a fiery sauce, a perennial favorite for us both. Green salad after the main course with a tangy vinaigrette, since there's always room for salad. And a fabu dessert, my mother's killer chocolate mousse. But, what to do for the main course?

Happily, I had another package of pheasant breasts in the freezer, thanks to my pal Ray and his hunting buddies - yes, of course! As if they weren't special enough, I wanted to embellish them, just as I did the table. A little research on the interwebs turned up a fair number of recipes that sounded good but not quite it. Improvisation is more fun, anyway.

So, I made pheasant breasts with a bacon/mushroom/shallot/sage cover and topped with a slice of Brie-style cheese, baked in a puff pastry crust. All we could say was, "Wow!"

We rolled our eyes and made little soft moans of pleasure at the first bite, nodding emphatically over our pretty plates as the tender breasts and flaky pastry yielded to our forks. Easily the best thing I have ever "invented." And the champagne was a lovely accompaniment, a little astringent to counteract the buttery crust and sumptuous ingredients.

I made four of these bundles but we couldn't possibly have eaten more than one each, so I hustled the other two next door to our neighbor, as I couldn't imagine them being any good heated up the next day. I am gratified to report that they, also, had the moan-and-nod experience over their plates.

It will also be a great dinner to make for a dinner party, since it can all be done ahead and just baked in the last few minutes before serving. I can hardly wait to make it for friends. I may need to appeal to my Michigan pals for more pheasant breasts, but I expect you could make it with chicken instead. It would turn ho-hum chicken into something romantic and sexy, just right for a celebration.

Pheasant en Croûte, serves 4

4 pheasant breasts, skinned and "tenders" removed. (Save the tenders for other meals)
10-12 crimini (brown) mushrooms, minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 large shallots, peeled and minced
2 strips smoked bacon, cooked but not browned, and minced.
8 leaves fresh sage, minced
2 Tbs butter
4 slices Brie-style cheese, about 1/4" thick
1 package puff pastry (I use DuFour brand, as it is made with real butter) thawed in the refrigerator
Salt and Pepper
1 egg + 1 Tbs water for egg wash
A baking sheet lined with parchment paper

In a wide pan, sauté mushrooms in the butter until well browned and reduced. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until shallots are clear, taking care not to burn the garlic. Set aside.

Cook 2 strips bacon until just lightly golden. Remove and drain on paper towels before mincing. Add to mushroom mixture.

To assemble, unfold and cut thawed pastry into four equal pieces along fold lines. In the middle of each square of pastry, sprinkle 1/4 of the mushroom mixture, lay a thin slice of the Brie on top, then sprinkle with 1/4 of the fresh sage. Lightly salt and pepper. Lay a pheasant breast on top of the sage. Fold up the pastry, gently stretching to fit and pinching to seal the seams. Turn over so the seams are on the bottom.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet a few inches apart. Brush with egg wash and put into the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for about 20 minutes (or longer).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while the bundles chill. Slide baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 25-40 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Great with sugar snap peas!


Blogger Greg said...

Fancy smanzy! happy happy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

What a lovely dinner - I can just imagine the moans and groans.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015  
Blogger Whiting Hyland said...

Oh Baby! those sound awesome!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015  
Blogger Amy E said...

Sometimes the best spoiling takes place at home.

Thursday, July 16, 2015  
Blogger Katie Zeller said...

What a wonderful dinner! I think the best ones are at home -:))

Friday, July 17, 2015  
Blogger Diane said...

I love that you celebrated at home, and had the joy of using the good dishes and things that make a meal special. The pheasant sounds amazing. Happy anniversary to you both!

Saturday, July 18, 2015  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, it's really all about the presentation. Fancy China makes any meal more special.

Nancy, yes, we were unrestrained in our moans.

Whiting, they were. I'm goim
Ng to make with chicken when I run out of pheasant.

Amy E, you are a girl after my own heart.

Katie, amen to that!

Diane, thank you! We know how lucky we are!

Saturday, July 18, 2015  
Anonymous jann said...

Lucky recipients all. Sounds heavenly. Well done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Well, Jann, maybe you need to come for dinner next time I make it! That would be fun.

Sunday, July 26, 2015  

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