I’ve had migraines since Sunday night, ebbing and flowing. I’m in the middle of an ebb right now. My Valentine’s Day plans aren’t going as planned, but we’re pretty low key about V Day anyway. We never go out, and we typically let it pass with mild fanfare. Cards, maybe candy, a good dinner at home. Not so much today. But I did manage yesterday, before a migraine set in and lasted through the night, to make these s’mores bites with Hannah to celebrate the day.
As soon as I saw the Love Nest collection by Carina Gardner, I had to have it. I almost held off sending my Pretty in Pink bee packages so I could use this fabric instead. But, in the end I decided I’d make some wonky stars with it and see where they take me here at home. I think they’re taking me to a Valentine’s Day table runner, but I’m not positive yet….
I made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignonne recipe today (actually yesterday, it’s 12:02am now) for a supper club the Phi Mu Princeton alumnae gals were having. My mother-in-law, Cora, gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas (without movie stills on the cover!), and it was fitting that this is the first recipe from it I have prepared. All I can say is, plan your day around this if ever you make it. It was delicious, but I started it around noon and was racing to finish it so we could leave just after 6.
Adam and I make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, but we never go out. We’d both had past experiences being herded through crowded restaurants with spastic service on V-Day, and we just never thought it was that romantic. We began dating in mid-January (it was 5 years ago last month), and it was such a cold winter in NYC that we still joke we never actually saw much of each other until spring because we were so bundled up. Which isn’t actually true, but it was seriously cold in 2004. So that Valentine’s Day we decided to stay in rather than run around in the cold, and a tradition was born.
Adam cooked for me that year at his apartment in Midtown. I remember that I was working a 2nd job at a Bath & Body Works in the suburbs when we met, and I had to work until 5 that day. So I couldn’t head into the city until I left there, and I think I went straight to Adam’s (maybe I stopped at my apartment on the way to grab something). And I’m not kidding, it was 10 o’clock before I got to Adam’s after I’d fought my way through the traffic into the city and actually found a parking space. I tried every garage in a half-mile radius of his apartment with no luck; He lived at 50th and 8th, and I finally found a garage in the upper-60s and Amsterdam. Doesn’t seem that far away, 15 or so blocks up and 2 avenues over. But this was after cruising all the 40s and 50s from the West Side Highway to Broadway and stopping at every garage. Literally, every garage. At least 2 dozen easily. Over more than 2 hours. The garage attendant told me I was lucky because people were actually starting to finish dinner and leave the city, that’s why I got the space (in hindsight I would have taken the bus, but I had no idea what I was up against).
I was so exhausted when I got to Adam’s that I thought I would fall asleep before we even ate. But he’d lit candles and cooked this complicated steak teriyaki dish that he’d spent the day running around the city hunting down the ingredients for (we both have our war stories from that year). And it was so much fun, every year after we’ve cooked for each other. Some years we’ve made reservations but then canceled them in favor of staying in. Adam proposed to me on Valentine’s Day in 2006 on our couch, after I’d cooked something fabulous and we were watching a TiVo’d CSI (we positively drip romance).
So anyway, to make a long story longer, this year was no different. See? Aren’t you glad you read that whole story to get to the part where I talk about duck? Last weekend for Valentine’s Day I cooked duck breast for the first time, and it was pretty awesome. I also made some pretty great roast potatoes, as witnessed by this picture. I used Russets, left the skins on, cubed them and parboiled them until they were cooked but not mushy. I bashed them around in the strainer so they got a nice texture, spread them on a baking sheet with plenty of garlic olive oil and seasonings, and baked them for about half an hour at 400. NOTE: Keep an eye on them, since I don’t remember how long they were actually in the oven; Adam made pink cocktails! So the details are fuzzy; I’m not even positive the oven was 400, but that’s usually how I do roast potatoes. And there were peas (sometimes when I make all these new and exciting things, vegetables are an after thought).
So this duck recipe redeemed Ted Allen. All previous strikes are forgiven because this dish was as easy and delicious as he said. And it gave me an excuse to use my tangerine balsamic from Carter & Cavero, which I don’t use enough. I left out a couple of steps (like mixing the salt and pepper together in a bowl before seasoning the duck), but this version works just fine.
Duck Breast with a Balsamic Glaze
So here’s my Valentine’s Day post. The second book about Splat the Cat is called Love, Splat, and I. Love. It. I liked the first book, but now I feel like I know Splat a little better and there’s room to develop the characters more. Rob Scotton is English, and his humor is English but still kind of subtle. Splat wants to make a special Valentine for a girl in his class named Kitten (he likes her more than fish sticks and ice cream!). But he thinks Kitten hates him because she’s always touching him and tying his tail in knots. He works hard on a very homemade card for her, but then he finds out his rival Spike also likes Kitten. Spike gives her a very fancy homemade card telling all about the reasons she is so lucky to be liked by someone like Spike. Will Splat win his crush, or will she run off with his pompous enemy? It’s high drama, folks. And I just find Splat’s stuck-in-headlights expressions hysterical. I like this one.