A Champagne Dinner for Two
I recently lingered over one of my favorite pages in my oldest recipe binder. There, taped to a yellowed piece of notebook paper is an article from an old issue of Southern Living. On the page is a photo of a pretty table setting and a menu for a Champagne Dinner for two. The carefully plated meal featured includes a salad, a vegetable medley, a wild rice pilaf and Chicken Breasts in Champagne Sauce. The dessert is a simple, but elegant, Amaretto Chocolate Mousse. Beside of the picture is a handwritten note that reads – Valentine’s Day 1987.
I can still remember preparing that meal for the first time. As a young wife and mother on a budget I remember thinking it was a perfect menu. Nothing on it was too heavy, too complicated or too expensive.
That Valentine’s Day dinner was a success right down to the Amaretto Chocolate Mousse. The salad was crisp and flavorful. The vegetable medley added a delicious splash of color and the rice pilaf offered a pleasing nutty contrast to the chicken breasts tenderly cradled in the silken champagne sauce. It was the first time I had ever made a mousse and I was surprised at how well it came together, how good it tasted, and how perfectly it completed the meal.
I have used those recipes again and again. Over the years some variations have crept in and won my heart. A greater variety of salad greens are available these days and I now use a blend of tender baby greens for the salad. I might also vary the pilaf and use black rice or a wild rice and quinoa blend. For the Chicken Breasts in Champagne Sauce, I often substitute Greek yogurt for the original sour cream and I carefully brown a whole pan of mushrooms for the sauce.
I have adapted the mousse even more. Rather than worry over more recent concerns about the consumption of raw eggs or fuss with a number of steps involved in separating, beating and controlling their temperature, these days I make my Amaretto Mousse using Silken Tofu. It is easy, delicious and possibly more wholesome…plus few would ever guess the secret ingredient of this creamy chocolate mousse unless you told them.
Despite the updates and adaptations, that menu from 1987 remains a great blueprint for a celebration dinner. It is sure to please on Valentine’s Day or any time you want to prepare a simple, but elegant, dinner for two!
1 package firm silken tofu
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup boiling water
¼ cup amaretto
½ teaspoon almond extract
6 ounces chocolate, melted
With a stick blender or food processor, blend the firm silken tofu until it is smooth.
Stir the brown sugar into the boiling water until dissolved. Stir in the amaretto and almond extract.
Blend the brown sugar mixture into the tofu.
Add the melted chocolate and blend until smooth.
Spoon into pretty individual serving dishes.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.