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Dinner for Two: A Midnight Snack, Alice Gaines Style!

by Red Sage Publishing

Bedroom food.

Okay, you’ve found the right man for a liaison. You’ve invited him to your place for an intimate dinner. After that, some good wine, seductive music on the stereo, and a fire to keep you warm. Everything goes as planned, and it turns out you’ve chosen well. He’s really, really good in bed.

The two of you wake up in the middle of the night and he again makes you feel like a princess. Only after he’s done, it’s two in the morning, and you’re both famished from all the exertion. What to do?

You have to feed this magnificent male. After all, you want him back for a repeat performance at some point. The way to his heart may not actually go through his stomach, but that’s the body part that’s talking to him now.

As a woman who’s spent decades enjoying myself in the kitchen as well as the bedroom, I have a few tips for you. You’ll notice that none of them involve chocolate. I’m assuming the two of you consumed chocolate earlier. Besides, I’m not sure its effects are as powerful on men as well as women. And, after all his work, he deserves something with a little more sustenance.

Kitchen sink eggs. I once had a lover who routinely woke up in the middle of the night hungry. He’d troop down into the kitchen and scramble some eggs. He put anything he found in the refrigerator into those eggs and loaded them up with butter. Yummy. Also very fattening, but this is a special treat.

You can prepare ahead of time. Chop onions, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge. You can brown some sausage ahead of time and put that into its own bag. Ditto, ham. Or ham and sausage. Grate some cheese – one or more types of your choice – and put that into another bag.

Now, all you have to do is heat some butter and add the vegetables. While they’re cooking, beat a goodly number of eggs with a fork. At least five eggs for two people. Remember, you have a hungry man to feed. When the veggies are cooked, add the meat(s) and warm them. Then, add the eggs and scramble. When the eggs are set, add the cheese and let it melt in. Grab one plate, two napkins, two forks, and head back to the bedroom.

Cold fried chicken. Although fried chicken looses its crunchiness when it cools, it’s still a delicious snack. This is something you can make ahead of time and have on hand in the refrigerator. Here are the tricks I’ve learned about frying chicken. First, the best coating is seasoned flour. That seems too simple, but it’s true. In a plastic bag, shake together flour, dried herbs, garlic powder, and either red pepper or paprika (depending on your taste for heat). Put the chicken pieces into the bag and shake. Leave the chicken in there for at least a half hour, shaking it from time to time. Longer is even better.

The second secret to good fried chicken, believe it or not, is the pan. The pan size and type will determine how well it retains heat, which is crucial for proper cooking. The pan should be large enough that the chicken fits without crowding. Otherwise, when you drop the chicken in, the temperature of the oil will drop too much, and the crust will be gummy. Similarly, the pan should be good and heavy so it retains heat. Something like a cast iron Dutch oven is perfect for 4 or 5 chicken thighs. When the oil is at 375 degrees, put the chicken into the pot.

If you don’t have a thermometer for oil, get a few cubes of dry stuffing mix. Drop one into the oil and see what it does. If it takes a while to sizzle, the oil is too cold. If it goes crazy immediately, as if it could hop out of the pan, the oil is too hot. It should sizzle and dance immediately, but not a frenzied dance. Does that make sense?

Once the chicken is in the oil, cover the pot partially and cook for a minute or two. When the hissing has quieted down some, cover the pan completely and cook for seven minutes total. After seven minutes total, turn the chicken, recover, and cook an additional seven minutes. Drain on paper towels, cool, and refrigerate.

Pie. Yes, pie. I’ve never met a man who wasn’t impressed by a good pie. My boss once ate a piece of my pie and declared, “Your husband is a lucky man.” And that was just cherry pie with canned filling. My mother got so sick of hearing about my father’s mother’s pies that she cooked a pie every week until she could make them as well as her mother-in-law.

Pie crust is the bane of almost all cooks. The main reason for this, I think, is the common wisdom that too much water makes the crust tough. As a result, we’ve all spent years trying to roll crust that’s too dry and tears and breaks. Since reading Flo Braker’s excellent The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, I’ve become convinced that – rather than the amount of liquid – what makes pie crust tough is heat and overworking. Use cold ingredients and handle your crust as little as possible and give yourself permission to add enough water (ice water, of course!) to make the crust hang together without bits of flour remaining in the bowl. Divide into two for a double crust pie. Wrap each piece in wax paper and mold as gently as possible into round disks, and let the crust sit in the refrigerator for an hour or more. If you’ve added enough water, the crust will roll out easily for you.

Recently, the amazing folks at Cooks Illustrated came up with an idea that I’m going to try. Substitute some of the ice water with cold vodka. Yes, vodka. According to CI, the vodka adds liquid but doesn’t work the gluten in the flour. Gluten is the protein that makes bread chewy. You don’t want chewy pie crust. The liquor cooks off in baking, and vodka leaves no strange tastes. They say you can add extra liquid in this manner without sacrificing tenderness. Now, bake your pie according to your favorite recipe and save it for the middle-of-the-night munchies.
When the time comes, cut your man a slice of pie. Perhaps top it with some ice cream, and serve it to him in bed. He’ll have two great reasons – great sex and great food – to ask for a second visit.

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Check back for more great stories, recipes and anecdotes on the “Dinner For Two” theme!

And if you want a taste of Alice’s sinfully delicious stories, check her author page! You’ll find a buffet to choose from!

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