I had such a great time cooking – and eating – duck for January’s First Thursday, that I decided to participate again this month. (I do confess, though, that while I was out on my evening run on Thursday, I wondered if the powers that be would really know what night I cooked my dish.) The theme for February was romantic clichés. Italian food? Champagne? I had to think about this one. When Mr. Penpen and I first began dating, we followed the standard early courtship ritual of going out to lots of fancy dinners and eating fancy foods like oysters, which are best known for their aphrodisiacal qualities. We still eat lots of nice dinners, however, now most of them are cooked by me and eaten by us in front of the television in our sweatpants with a mesmerized Weimaraner at our feet.
I have acquired quite a few cookbooks recently, and there is a bit of a backlog in their usage, so I wanted to find an oyster recipe from a book I hadn’t used yet. The first recipe I found was an oyster bisque from Cooking with Les Dames d'Escoffier, which sounded fantastic, but I couldn’t justify using three cups of heavy cream in a soup. I recently picked up a copy of the classic New York Times Cookbook at a local library book sale, and figured that a book, especially one sophisticated for its time, published in the sixties would likely be flush with oyster recipes. I was correct, and decided on Oyster Chowder, which would be suitable for a winter evening. It turned out to be an excellent choice: hearty but not too rich, and only slightly more time consuming than I like my meals to be when I start the preparation after eight o’clock. The chowder gets a 7 for Deliciousness and a 3 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 2.33.
I have to admit I cheated on the second component of the meal. First Thursdays are intended to be about cooking from books, not recipes that are “inspired by…” But this dish needed a side! And I had leftover Brie from my Super Bowl party and frozen puff pastry from before I even started this blog, so I went ahead and made a savory tart. I had seen a savory tart in a recent Williams-Sonoma catalog (I have since recycled the catalog and don’t remember anything that was on the tart except for egg) and another one with Camembert in America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Recipes of 2009. My savory tart had caramelized onions, Brie, and red peppers. I had told Mr. Penpen I would find a creative use for the leftover cheeses we had (two down, two to go), so this dish was a surprise that night. And what is more romantic than a surprise? Especially one with puff pastry and Brie.
Once again, I had a good time cooking and eating my First Thursday meal. If you want to see how others interpreted romantic clichés, there will be a round up on the Thursday Night Smackdown site on Monday.