A Romantic Night In

Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Episode #7

A Romantic Night In

I love setting a beautiful table, napkins, flowers & candles. Just a few touches can make any meal romantic. Having an easy and incredibly chocolate dessert in your repertoire like my fudge pots will be the perfect ending for your romantic dinner.

Duck Breast with Michigan Tart Cherry Sauce print

Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 2 servings


2 duck breasts per serving
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Michigan dried tart cherries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup red wine (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat an oven-proof large sauté pan over stove top until it is very hot. When you think the pan is hot, wait another minute! It is important that the pan is hot enough to sear the duck breast and render out the fat.

Score the fat side of duck breasts and season the flesh side with salt and pepper. Sear the breasts with skin side down until the skin is mahogany-colored reducing the temperature to medium if the duck begins to brown to quickly.  

Turn the breasts over and place the pan in the preheated oven. Duck breasts should be served medium-rare, which should take 3 to 4 minutes.

While duck is in the oven, place cherries in a pan with enough water to just cover; bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer to a “bloom (rehydrate) Add sugar and taste. Make a slurry of cornstarch and water; add cherry juice to slurry. Stir mixture into cherries and water in the pan and bring back to a simmer; let cool. If adding wine to sauce, reduce wine from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup before adding to finished sauce.

Remove duck breasts from oven and place on a resting rack for approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Cut on a bias and place on a serving plate.

Fudge Potsprint

Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 dessert servings


1/2 cup ( 1 stick) butter, melted   
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
3 tablespoons Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
Whipped cream, raspberries for optional garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease custard cups and sugar sides . To a pan large enough to hold enough to hold the requisite number of custard cups, add 1 inch of hot water.

Combine melted butter and cocoa in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla and nuts, if desired. Pour mixture into custard cups; place custard cups in prepared hot water bath and place pan in preheated oven.

Bake 45 minutes until the fudge pots are firm, with crusty tops and soft interiors.

Remove custards from water bath and garnish with whipped cream and raspberries, if desired.

May be served warm or room temperature.

Risotto  print

Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: approximately 4 servings


5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter


Heat chicken stock to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.

Heat oil and garlic in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan; add leek and fennel and cook over medium heat until vegetables are slightly browned. Add rice and stir for approximately 3 minutes until it is translucent and smells like popcorn. Deglaze the pan with white wine.

Add 1 cup of warmed chicken stock and stir constantly until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup of stock at a time, stirring until each addition of liquid has been absorbed, until all the stock has been added and rice is al dente. (This should take about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove risotto from the heat and stir in cheese and butter. Let cool slightly before serving.


You may omit fennel and leek and use a medium white onion thinly sliced. Risotto is very versatile: you can add mushrooms, asparagus, or almost any vegetable about 5 minutes before the rice is done.