A romantic dinner for two: Setting the stage and preparing the meal
Chicken Parmigiana with veggies and even a great chocolate dessert are on the menu
Clear the deck
Set the stage
Set the table
Set the mood
The recipe: Chicken Parmigiana, Brussel Sprouts and Oven-Roasted Tomato
- Two skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (250 ml) fine bread crumbs
- ½ cup (125 ml) finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) balsamic vinegar
- 4 slices provolone cheese
- Black pepper
- 1 whole egg
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
- Olive oil
- Fresh linguine or fettuccine noodles to serve two
- Tomato sauce
- 2 cups (500 ml) Brussels sprouts, bottoms and loose leaves trimmed and halved
- Two medium-sized vine-ripened tomatoes
Method - Initial preparation for the vegetables
- Brussels sprouts: blanch the trimmed Brussels sprouts by placing them in boiling water for one minute, remove immediately and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well, and cut in half.
- Place on parchment paper-covered cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Vine-ripened tomatoes: wash tomatoes and cut in half horizontally. Place bottom down on cooking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper and parmesan cheese, one tablespoon (15 ml) of cheese per tomato. Leave room on the baking sheet for the chicken cutlets.
- Prepare tomato sauce by combining 28 ounces (830 ml) crushed tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon (3 ml) coarse black pepper and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Italian seasoning (or buy prepared tomato sauce).
Method - Initial preparation for the chicken
Preheat oven to 450 F (177 C).
- Set a heavy skillet on medium heat on the stovetop.
- Place each half skinless boneless chicken breast between sheets of plastic wrap over a heavy cutting board.
- Use the flat side of a meat-tenderizing hammer, heavy cleaver or sanitized axe to gently flatten chicken cutlets to a thickness of ¼ inch (6 mm).
- Season well with salt and pepper.
- Make three plates to hold breading mixes. First plate - flour. Second plate - beaten egg and milk. Third plate - breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
- Dredge each half of chicken breast with flour, dip in egg mixture and finally in bread crumb mixture, patting the crumbs into the breast for full coverage.
- Drizzle olive oil in the heated skillet and carefully place cutlets so the edges do not touch.
- Lightly brown one side, turn the cutlets, brown the second side and remove to a paper towel-covered plate while you prepare the other ingredients.
Method - Final assembly and cooking
- Bring 8 to 12 cups (2 to 3 L) of salted water with a tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil to a boil. At the same time, put the vegetables in the preheated oven.
- When the water boils, add the pasta. Remove the vegetables from the oven, add the chicken cutlets, top with tomato sauce and provolone cheese, and return the vegetables and cutlets to the oven.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and retain 1 cup (250 ml) of liquid to go back in the pot with the pasta.
- As soon as the provolone cheese begins to bubble and colour on the chicken cutlets, remove, plate cutlets and vegetables, lift a portion of pasta alongside the cutlet and serve.
Chocolate Lava Cakes with Raspberry Sauce and Whipped Cream
- 1 cup (250 ml) raspberries, less a small handful of berries for garnish
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Grand Marnier liqueur, or substitute 1 teaspoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
- A canister of real whipped cream
- Mix berries, sugar, Grand Marnier and orange juice; purée it into a sauce in a food processor.
- Bake the lava cakes based on the package directions and then place on plates.
- Drizzle raspberry sauce over the freshly based cakes.
- Top with a rosette of whipped cream and half a handful of fresh raspberries.