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MENU FOR ROMANCE: Who Trusts a Skinny Chef?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finally, we’re getting around to one of the most important subjects in Menu for Romance: THE FOOD!

omelette3The fridge beckoned. Not much there—maybe he should hit the grocery store on the way back from the Guidrys’ open house.

Half an hour later, with the Rose Bowl parade providing ambiance, Major sank into his recliner and dug into the andouille-sausage–shrimp–potato–mushroom–red-pepper–onion–jack-cheese–and–bacon omelet, spread with Creole mustard on top.

Maybe he should consider making a New Year’s resolution to cut back on calories this year. What was missing? Oh, yeah, the grits. He’d left the bowl sitting by the stove.

Obviously, Major’s “not much there” in the fridge is quite a bit different than most normal folks’ “not much there.” But with a chef as the hero and a heroine who plans lush events (which he cooks for), both of them work with food on a daily basis (he in reality, she on paper). So it only seemed natural to take something that I did without even realizing it in Stand-In Groom and beef it up for Menu for Romance. And today, I thought I’d share some of the menus and a few recipes of the food that appear to, er, whet your appetite for the book.

Major filled the thermal carafe with chicory-flavored dark roast, covered the platter holding warm croissants, strawberries and raspberries, bacon, shelled hard-boiled eggs, and a large ramekin of honey-butter . . . and added them to the rolling service cart. Preparing a meal for someone he was mad at always helped him overcome the feelings and approach the situation in a positive frame of mind.

plain croissantIf you’re like Major, you’d leave the making of the croissant up to your pastry chef. But if you feel very industrious, you can try this recipe for homemade croissants. And honey butter is so much easier (and less expensive) to make yourself—plus, you can adjust the level of sweetness to suit your own tastes, as well as add in your own favorite flavorings, like flavored extracts or spices.


Meredith cut another small piece of the braised lamb. Cooked with honey, garlic, onions, and topped with crumbled cabrales cheese, the strong flavors burst in her mouth.

Okay, I have to admit that I got this through a Google search for Spanish restaurant menus. But here’s a recipe for braised lamb with ancho chile honey glaze that sounds pretty good.

Major added a last-minute garnish of chopped chives and parsley to the blue-cheese mashed potatoes and pulled out the chair for Meredith. . .

Meredith finished off her Caesar salad quickly and started on the blackened lemonfish with the citrus beurre blanc. At the first bite, she closed her eyes and sighed.

The Hearts to HEARTS Banquet

“How did that whole thing work? I know you and Mrs. Warner narrowed down the choices from what was presented to the board a few weeks ago.” Alaine pulled her pen from behind her ear, ready to write on the steno pad in her left hand.

“Once we narrowed that down, I had menus made up giving each banquet attendee a choice of starter salad, protein—from red meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetarian—and dessert. The menus will be at each place and the wait staff will take the guests’ orders as they serve beverages.” Meredith glanced around for Major, but didn’t see him. She didn’t really need to talk to him, but coming up to ask Alaine about Friday had been all the excuse she’d needed for an opportunity to bump into Major.

“But all of the meals are served at the same time?” Alaine scribbled on her notepad.

“Yes. Dinner service is at seven o’clock, sharp.”

“But how do you know how many of each dish to prepare?”

“Based on the percentages of how many chose the similar dishes last year,” Major said, and Meredith turned, heart thrumming.

d0003173A very, very long time ago, I posted the tasting menu that the board for the HEARTS Foundation (for the cardiac-care unit at the hospital) would get to sample and then have to narrow down to come up with what would be served at the banquet—of course, that was long before I cut out the entire chapter that contained the tasting. Once again, most of these dishes were taken from menus I found online. Here’s the final menu for the banquet:

Starter Salad (choose one):
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon and Apple Cider Dressing
Chicory Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan

Main Dish (choose one):
Filet Mignon topped with Crawfish Au Gratin
Seared Duck Breasts with Cherry Sauce
Chicken Breasts Stuffed With Ricotta And Goat Cheese
Crawfish Imperial
Apricot-Walnut Stuffed Zucchini

Entrées are served with:
Roasted Baby Vegetables
Garden Risotto

Dessert (choose one):
Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding
Poached Pears with Ginger Crumble (I omitted the mangoes from this recipe, because I’m allergic!)
Grilled Tropical Fruit with Spiced Chai Syrup


Now, for those of you who’ve read Stand-In Groom, are there any food items mentioned in there that you’d like a recipe for or would like to know more about?

  1. Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:11 am

    Makes that piece of toast I had for breakfast seem pretty puny! Thank goodness I have Community dark roast coffee at hand. Thanks for a fun post!


    • Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:46 pm

      Yeah–and the bacon and wheat toast I had doesn’t compete either. 😉 But a good cup of coffee makes it all worthwhile!


  2. Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:29 pm

    Oh, what wonderful timing! I was just thinking I might look for a recipe for croissants so that we could make them for Christmas dinner this year! (I’m planning my menu ahead of time, since we’re due to have a baby on Dec. 17!) Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!


    • Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:47 pm

      If you try this recipe, you’ll have to let me know how they turn out. I have a recipe for a crusty yeast bread (“Braided Peasant Loaf”) that I adore that I usually make for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. If the croissant recipe turns out good, I might make those too!


  3. Wednesday, June 24, 2009 2:01 pm

    Dang it. Now I’m hungry! 🙂

    UPS just showed up at my door with a package from Amazon!!!!


  4. Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:02 pm

    You’re making me hungry! And you’re making wish I was a better cook. Or any kind of cook for that matter. 🙂 Can’t wait to read Menu!


  5. beckycastlemiller permalink
    Thursday, June 25, 2009 9:24 am

    What was that dish Anne had in the restaurant at the beginning, when her date stood her up? That sounded amazing.


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