And I Can Cook, Too

Monday, February 20, 2006

Valentines Day
Feb. 14, 2006
Clear that I was not going to spend my Valentine’s at a crowded, over-priced restaurant locked in the throes of romance, I invited Kim and Sarah to my apartment for dinner. My plan was to wow them with three courses of grilled amazement. On the 14th, however, the gusts of rain were so strong that grill use was impossible. When I mentioned to Ann that I would have to change my plans, she immediately offered the use of her beautiful kitchen. “Well”, I said, “If I’m cooking in your kitchen, I’m cooking for you.” Thus was conceived a romantic dinner for 5.

The chilly weather inspired me to make something I rarely do in Hawaii: soup. I always enjoy soup on the mainland, but never think to eat it in the heat of Hawaii. Kims favorite is New England Clam Chowder, so with her in mind on to the menu it went. I followed the soup with Curry Rubbed Lamb Chops with Cranberry Orange Chutney. A Spinach, Strawberry, and Gorgonzola Salad and Brown Rice with Garbanzo Beans, Lemon, and Black Pepper made a complete meal.

As I was preparing our dinner, the doorbell rang and in walked a female Barber Shop Quartet. I hid in the kitchen as they sat Ann down, handed her a rose, and began their serenade. The delight on Anne’s face as the group sang was a beautiful sight to see. Perhaps romance isn’t dead after all.

Kim and Sarah arrived and the champagne was poured. After a brief tour through my studio, it was back to the main house for dinner. The soup was delicious, a perfect balance of clamminess and creaminess. The medium rare lamb complimented nicely with the chutney. The salads were ideal side dishes.

As we ate Kim and Sarah and Richard and Ann got to know each other. The conversation turned from the Vice Presidents’ hunting habits to our shared history in improv comedy, to the places we’ve traveled in the world. Romantic? Maybe not. But there was a lot of laughter, and I felt a lot of love. Who needs crowded over priced restaurants when that’s what you have at home?

New England Clam Chowder
2 tbsp. Butter
1 medium Sweet Onion, small diced
2 stalks Celery, small diced
3 tins Chopped Clams
2 Bay Leaves
16 oz. Clam Juice
1 pint Heavy Cream
3 dashes Hot Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a stockpot, melt the butter and sautee the celery, onion, and bay leaves, until the onion is just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the clams and stir. Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the cream, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve.


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