Grammar Note: This title works with or without a comma after the word "peachy." Long ago having given up on Valentine's restaurant dinners (epic scenes of driving around and waiting around) and "traditional" gifts, we have made V-Day a cooking occasion!
We began with this recipe for double crunch honey garlic chicken breasts which a fellow foodie Facebook friend posted just before Valentine's Day. It was simple to make and scrumptious to eat.
We selected a rather ambitious dessert from Jacqui Malouf's Booty Food, a book that we had used just once previously, to make a special salad last fall. This time we made Ginger cake with Peaches and Maple Cream. It had three different components: the cake itself, maple cream, and peach sauce. We made the cake the night before, figuring we would have enough cooking to do on Valentine's Day. The cake was made by first mixing a egg with 1/4 c maple syrup, 1/4 c molasses, 1/2 c water and 1/2 of a stick of melted butter. In a separate bowl we mixed 1/2 c of minced, peeled ginger, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1 1/2 c flour , 1 t baking soda, and a pinch of salt. The two sets of ingredients were combined and then but into a bread loaf pan and baked at 350 for a lot longer than the 25 - 30 minutes indicated in the recipe, which made us especially glad we had started a day in advance.
The cream and peach sauce we prepared together after our chicken dinner. The Maple Cream required a 4 inch piece of ginger, mashed, 1 c. water, 1/4 c. sugar 3 t. rum, 4 t. maple syrup and 1 pt. heavy cream. Everything except the cream was cooked together in a saucepan for about 20 minutes, then strained. This we let cool while we prepared the peach sauce. Then the cream was whipped, and the syrup added to it. It was amazing that so much syrup could be whipped into the cream -- that is going to be useful in future dessert experimentation!
The peach sauce called for 1/8 c. Triple Sec, 1/8 c. brandy, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2 t. lemon juice, a pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon, and fresh peaches (we actually used nectarines). Once again, everything was mixed together and heated in a saucepan for 10-15 minutes.
Readers may notice that this recipe calls for three different types of liquor. Fortunately for us we not only have a well stocked pantry, we have a well-stocked liquor cabinet. We had to do shopping for some of the ingredients for this recipe (heavy cream, fresh ginger, and nectarines) but we had all the necessary libations on hand.
Readers may also notice that this recipe called for quite a bit of ginger. We bought a piece that would usually serve us for a few weeks, but used it all. Fortunately, there is no such thing as too much ginger!
Once we had all the components ready we cut the cake into slices, and topped with whipped cream, and peach sauce. Decadent.
Oh, yes, the dinner.
It was not all about the cake, of course, though that was the greatest novelty in this meal. The chicken we prepared was similar in approach to other fried-chicken recipes we have prepared, but with a few interesting improvements and a notably sweet outcome -- perfect for Valentine's Day!
The main innovation is the sweet garlicky sauce. I usually like garlic as a secondary ingredient, rather than center-stage, but this turned out to be scrumptious! The addition of quite a few spices in the dredge created a medley of flavors and was perfect for date-night cooking -- Pam kept bringing the spices to the counter and I would measure them. A nice twist that I will start doing with all of my similar fish and chicken recipes is to use the flour, the wash, and then the flour again. I had never tried that before, and it made things much better this time.