As I mentioned in my previous post, I am doing a series of collaborative Valentine’s Day posts with Jamie, from Cooking in Red Socks. Go check her site for a great recipe this morning: Cherry and Pecan Stuffed Endive… She pointed out that in cocktail parties the food served is not always user-friendly. So true! I often find myself in serious trouble, trying to negotiate a glass of wine with a meatball that definitely needs to be cut in half or else… Her stuffed endive is classy, elegant, and perfect to enjoy while having a great conversation with your friends. No fear of that chicken wing flying off and landing on the guest of honor. 😉
And now, it is time to share my choice of main dish, a recipe that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. It was featured in one of my favorite food blogs, Elra’s Cooking. Her recipes have that aura that put me into a dreamy mode, they always bring together exotic spices, long-simmered, complex sauces, and her photography is simply superb! Cornish hens turn any meal into a festive occasion, so they seem perfect for a romantic meal.
FRAGRANT BAKED CORNISH HENS WITH APRICOT SAUCE
(adapted from Elra’s Cooking)
2 (3 lbs) cornish hens
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 small garlic, minced
24 dried apricot
¼ cup golden raisins
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole star anise
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cumin
1-2 tbsp orange flower water (I omitted, could not find it)
¼-½ tsp saffron threads, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
½ cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
a handful of slivered almonds
Heat oven to 375 F.
Saute shallot over medium heat until translucent, add minced garlic, dried apricot, raisins, cinnamon sticks, star anise, ground ginger, ground cumin, saffron water, and the chicken. Stir to mix the ingredients, season with salt and pepper. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the stove off, add the parsley, mix, and let this mixture cool completely.
Clean, and cut the hens into quarters. Pat dry with paper towels. Arrange them neatly on an oven proof ceramic dish. Pour the apricot-spice mixture directly on the hens, turning to coat each of the pieces with this mixture, then arrange them back with the skin side up. Transfer to the oven, and bake for 1 hour. About 10 minutes before the hens are done, scatter slivered almonds on top, and continue to roast until the skin is brown and the meat cooked thoroughly. If you want, increase the heat slightly at the end to brown the skin, but make sure the liquid won’t dry too much.
Serve hot, with steamed rice or couscous.
to print the recipe, click here
The apricot sauce is luscious, smells absolutely amazing!
Dinner is served! Tender pieces of cornish hen, a sweet and spicy sauce, plain couscous to soak it all up…
And, to brighten up the palate, a simple salad with fresh spinach, grape tomatoes, and black walnuts, with a delicate dressing of creme fraiche…
SPINACH SALAD WITH GRAPE TOMATOES AND BLACK WALNUTS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
for the dressing:
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 medium shallot, very finely minced
1 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
for the salad:
fresh baby spinach leaves
grape tomatoes, cut in half
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl whisk together the shallots, vinegar, creme fraiche, Dijon mustard and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make a creamy dressing. Reserve.
Toast the black walnuts lightly. Assemble the salad, and drizzle the prepared vinaigrette on top. Adjust seasoning with more salt if needed, and freshly ground pepper.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: This was a super-delicious meal, the apricots soak the sauce and develop a hint of spice to marry their natural sweetness. Make sure you remove the star anise and the cinnamon stick before serving the dish, you don’t want to have the favorite person in your universe to break a tooth right in the middle of a romantic dinner. That would pretty much spoil the mood. 😉
A double thank you is in order: Elra, thanks for bringing this recipe to my attention, and Jamie, thanks for playing with me on this Valentine’s week…
Stay tuned for the final act of our romantic meal… dessert coming up tomorrow!
29 thoughts on “VALENTINE’S DINNER FOR TWO: SECOND ACT”
Cornish hens do feel very festive do this would make a perfect main!
agree with you! I don’t make Cornish hens that often, so they feel even more special because of that…
baked hens! NOW that is something i have never done! Oh what joy it brings me when I find something I havent done before -especially when I find a recipe that i know I can trust! I can’t wait to give it a try!
I think they work well on the grill too, but I’ve never done that… something to try…
Surprise, surprise! I just made a chicken dish similar to this… but yours looks way better. I cannot wait to remake it using this recipe! I agree, that blend of spices is a knockout!
HA! Great minds cook alike! Looking forward to your blog about it…
The apricot sauce sounds so good with the cornish hens! I’m late to the game this year. I haven’t started thinking about cooking for Valentine’s Day yet!
I was actually wondering about your adventures for V-day this year… funny, normally I am never part of this game, but this year two new things: making Valentine posts,and posting three days in a row!
I love the idea of the apricot sauce – I bet it complements the hens perfectly…
The sauce would be great on many dishes… very very delicious
I love cornish hens! They are so easy and tasty, but more importantly – you called it – romantic. 🙂 This looks scrumptious. I bet the sweet and sour apricot sauce just made the whole dish. This is one the whole family would love for sure.
I think it is true, everyone would love it in your family, your kids are so adventurous anyway!
Elegant, romantic and tasty. All good things on Valentine’s day. I don’t think we use couscous nearly enough especially as it’s so quick to make and if you season it properly, delicious, whether plain or fancied up. I served it with salmon a couple of days ago.
I make couscous very often, exactly because it cooks so quickly – now the pearled variety I cook like pasta, in plenty of boiling water because I feel that cooking with just enough liquid turns them too gooey.
I’ve cooked pearl or Israeli couscous a couple of times … the last time I dry toasted it and then added it to soup. Shredded duck meat also went in to what ended up a very quick and tasty tomato based soup.
The other Israeli couscous recipe I forgot to mention was also a soup but with spinach, home made turkey broth and lots of diced leftover turkey. Hearty and filling way of using turkey after Thanksgiving.
Oh wow, I am drooling over here, I love Cornish hens! I wish I was eating at your house! 🙂
C’mon right over! 😉
Any recipe that begins with fragrant gets my attention. This sounds so good, Sally. What a glorious Valentine’s dinner for two.
A perfect adjective for a recipe, don’t you think? Cannot get better…
Perfect dish for Valentines Day! Love the apricot sauce, what a great idea!
Thank you, Cheri!
Great pic of your main dish! Looks succulent and delicious. I really have to give cornish hens another shot. I made them once decades ago when I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing in the kitchen and they were rock hard :(. This dish looks moreish! 🙂
It is easy to mess them up, and that happened to me more than once – dried up Cornish hens.. not fun!
I always reach for chicken and never think of getting coring hens, thanks for reminding me how lovely they can be.
I also tend to go for chicken, particularly because the cornish hens are always frozen, so I get kind of lazy… but they are so cute!
Hi Sally, I will be making nearly the entire collaboration for Valentine’s dinner tonight with close friends. I’m Jamie’s mom, Cathy, and her biggest fan. Thanks for sharing your talents with hers and off to the kitchen!
Wonderful to have you here! Nice to “meet” you, and so cool that you are Jamie’s biggest fan! I am sure you are super proud of her!
I hope you enjoy the recipes, and maybe stick around the Bewitching Kitchen!
I can see why you wanted to make this recipe, I love the combination of flavors! I have some orange water left from another recipe just waiting to be used. I agree, there’s something so elegant, pretty and romantic about a dish using cornish hens!xx