My honey has been out of commission for a few weeks and tonight we have a date planned!! An interlude. A staycation, if you will. Jenny is prepping for romance!
I am going to have Clair, our Friday babysitter (yes, she is THE Clair), wear Baby Girl out with the pool and the walking toys while I put together the menu to end all menus. Of course, we know from the title of this post what the most important part of the menu is. Right? Right!
Check out the dinner plans and let me know what you think. I’ve got some choice wines picked out and what could be more romantic than a home cooked meal with a pretty table and great wine?
I’ve told y’all that I’m kind of a wine addict aficionado, right? If not, you might want to brace yourself.
First Course – Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese
I’ll make the salad with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden, rather than following the recipe below to the letter. Plus our fig tree is producing so we’re putting figs in everything right now, hence this fantastic fig recipe – since there’s only two of us, I’ll probably cut this in half:
- 6 Black Mission figs, cut in half
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, plus extra for dressing
- Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 12 slices prosciutto
- 1/2 log goat cheese
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- Kosher salt
Preheat the grill and brush with a grill brush to remove any excess crud and fat. After brushing, run an oiled towel over the grates to pick up any loosened crud or soot.
Drizzle each fig half with vinegar and fill each fig center with goat cheese. Sprinkle a couple flakes of crushed red pepper, if using, on top of the goat cheese and wrap each
fig with a slice of prosciutto. Paint the outside of each fig very lightly with olive oil.
Put the figs on a cooler spot of the preheated grill. The idea here is that we want to grill the
figs gently to cook the fig all the way through but to still get the char on the outside. Grill the figs on all sides so the prosciutto is starting to become crispy and the fig feels soft when squeezed, about 5 to 6 minutes.
The best wine with this would be some really crisp champagne but there’s two reasons why it’s not on the menu tonight:
- We don’t drink as much as we used to now that we’ve got a baby and have to be up at a moments’ notice.
- I tend to get a headache from anything but really good champagne and I’m not willing to open a $25+ bottle of wine to have a few glasses.
Note: Cava is champagne from Spain and Prosecco is champagne from Italy – they’re often cheaper (and better) than California or French bubbly.
We will be having some lovely Sauvignon Blanc with our figgy salad instead of the bubbly. Our favorite is Mulderbosch, a Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, but you’ve got to really identify a good source for this if you want to pay under $20. Here is our source, but we’re lucky – it’s not far from our house so we don’t have to pay shipping costs. Still, Wine.com charges $6 more per bottle than this place…it’s highway robbery!
It’s much easier to find Kim Crawford, a lovely New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – you can usually find it between $12-15 per bottle at most Costco or grocery stores. One of the nice things about both these whites is that they have a screw top so it’s easy to keep them fresh in the fridge if we want to limit our intake.
Suggestion: if you ever have to open a bottle of bubbly for a wine pairing and you have a lot left, champagne will usually keep for about 24 hours if you put a stainless steel teaspoon upside down in the bottle. It keeps the bubbles going really well, better than the champagne sealer corks that you can buy.
Rumor has it that just leaving the champagne open in the fridge reaps the same result but I haven’t been willing to lose any champagne yet. If you try this sans spoon, let me know if you’re still bubbly the next day, OK?
My honey eats veggies like a champ but he’s a steak guy at heart. I’ve bought some filets, which are marinating in the fridge with a liberal sprinkle of Montreal Steak seasoning and Lea & Perrins Worstershire sauce.
My hubby’s most favorite thing to eat with his steak is my stuffed mushrooms, which are crazy simple to make:
Jenny’s Magnificent Mushrooms
Remove stems from white mushrooms, wash the caps and set aside to dry. In a bowl, mix together:
- Whipped Cream Cheese (it’s easiest to buy it already whipped)
- Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles
- Ground pecans (if you have a nut allergy, wheat germ works well)
Whip these three ingredients in a bowl with a fork, then stuff the mushroom caps – I do this with my fingers to break apart fewer mushrooms. Bake on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees or until the top of the cheese is golden brown (usually about 20 mins).
BTW, these mushrooms are SUCH a hit as an appetizer at parties!
With the extra pepper on the steak and the strong cheese in the mushrooms, this meal will pair best with either a Petite Sirah, a robust Zinfandel (red Zin…don’t scare me with that pink stuff) or a Shiraz. A Malbec or Barbera would work well too but you’ve got to really look for great ones.
Before we go any further on the wine discussion, please be aware that many people are allergic to the tannins in red wine. I take a Claritin before I drink any red wine to bypass the headache. Especially if there’s any sediment in the wine, reds are a surefire headache for me without Claritin.
OK, back to the wine. I’ve got a lot of favorite wines (obviously), but my MOST favorite come from a little vineyard in Paso Robles, CA called Gelfand Vineyards. It’s run by a husband and wife team who distribute via wine club only.
I’ll have to tell their story sometime but, if it gives you a clue, their slogan is “Drink the Dream.” If it’s in your budget, check to see if their wine club is still open and join it. Their Petite Sirah is the best I’ve tasted, bar none. If I pair that with tonight’s steak, my honey
will be putty in my hands. *rubbing them together with glee*
Since I promised recommendations for a good mid-price Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Shiraz, here’s what you can do instead of the elusive Gelfand:
Aaron Wines 2007 Petite Sirah “Swell” – Paso Robles (it’s no Gelfand but it’s darn good and much more modestly priced)
p.s. If you LOVE reds and plan to take a wine tasting vacation to California, skip Napa and go to Paso Robles. The tastings are cheaper and the wines are amazing. August through October are the months to go if you want to go to Winemaker and Harvest events. It’s a lot of fun (and you better let me know you’re coming!).
What about you? What makes up a romantic evening for you? Do you have any fig recipes to share since the tree is literally dripping with figs right now?