In an effort to cook more and avoid the cold weather, I am bringing the “date night” home.
Usually, once a week, Tats and I will make an effort to go out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in NYC and have a great meal with good wine. What usually ends up happening is we stay within a 3 block radius because of true obstacles (the weather! the subway’s taking too long! no cabs! 2.5 hours for a table?! midtown is not so bad, you know!) yet we always have a great time. There’s no reason we can’t take this experience home though, is there?
Have you ever tried to recreate date night at home? Well if you did, and you live in NYC, you may have found it difficult. Most apartments (at least the one we live in and the ones we have visited) lack an actual fine dining table with chairs, good linens, flattering lighting, etc. Hahaha… that I am even bringing it up is cruel. Anyway, after a terrific brunch at one of our favorites, DBGB, today and taking notes of the wonderful atmosphere, I went home and vacuumed the floors, wiped our “dining table” (coffee table), fluffed up the couch and pillows, created a simple yet delicious and nutritious menu, went grocery shopping, visited a wine shop and purchased some wine we enjoy, and set to work!
Luckily (or unluckily) Tats had to work today, so I had plenty of time to fix everything up.
On the menu~
From the Bar
Green Cerignola olives
Traditional Bloody Mary
Kale Parmesan salad (I told you I would make this often!)
Seasonal fruit (who I am kidding, sliced apples)
Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir
Yes… this is kind of ridiculous… but fun
For the items from the bar, I set some good olives and my favorite almonds in pretty serving bowls on our table. I wanted to light a candle but the last time I did that, Gizzy the cat stuck his face over it and toasted his own eyebrows. For the Blood Mary, I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs, ever.
For the appetizer, you will find the recipe in my last post, and you will probably be as addicted to it as I am!
For the main course, the recipe is below.
For the drinks, I just bought my favorite brand of prosecco and a particular wine we have enjoyed in the past.
I often don’t like to label meals as “healthy” or “nutritious” because immediately they become less delicious or enticing to eat. But really, this meal is healthy and very, very delicious – they can coexist! I am on a mission to merge the two concepts and to do so at home. I believe there is no better way to enjoy food than to plan an entire meal, shop for it, cook it yourself, and enjoy with friends or family. Or maybe just yourself!
Adapted from the New York Times
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 to 8 skinless chicken legs and/or thighs (thighs can be boneless)*
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh minced Italian parsley
1 heaped teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 ounce Portobello mushrooms
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups homemade chicken broth
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice
*Note that I had some shredded chicken thighs in my freezer after making a pot of chicken stock I used that instead.
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown, in batches, for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl as they are done. Pour the fat off from the pan and discard. If you already have cooked and shredded chicken thighs, simply do the same.
2. Turn the heat down to medium, add the remaining oil and the onion, carrot and celery, as well as a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Cover, turn the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until the mixture is soft and aromatic. Stir in the mushrooms, turn the heat back up to medium, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the wine has reduced by about half. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down a little and smell fragrant. Stir in 2 cups chicken broth.
3. Return the chicken to the Dutch oven and stir so that is well submerged in the tomato mixture. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve. You can serve with rice, pasta, or alone (as we did).
Here is the Chicken Cacciatore resting nicely on our coffee table. In the background is a magazine tree I made from a Martha Stewart Arts & Crafts section! Also you can see Gizzy’s white paws We enjoyed our dinner along with a movie, “Taken” (so classy… it was playing on TV plus the other options, believe it or not, were worse). I hope you guys are inspired to do your own “date nights”, and if you do, please leave a comment and share your own experience!
Here’s to DIY!!!