Every year, around this time, The Husband asks, "What would you like for your birthday?" And every year, around this time, I'm still playing with the cool things I received for Christmas (except this year, as that new sous vide thingy is back ordered and won't ship for awhile yet). So most years, I just want to play in the kitchen and make food that I love to celebrate another year of living. Here is the menu for this year, dinner starts at 6 - don't be late!
Goat Cheese Tartlets with Onion Jam
Arugula Salad, Balsamico, Calimyrna Figs
Elderflower Martini, Tanqueray No. 10
Roasted Shitake and Leek Risotto,
Black Truffle, Duck and Veal Demi Glace
Asparagus and Orange Salad, Fried Shallots
Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre
Macerated Florida Strawberries,
Blood Orange Zabaglione, Orange Scented Olive Oil Torta
Earl Grey Tea with Lemon
Bayley Hazen Bleu, Marcona Almonds with fresh Tuscan Blue Rosemary
Aged Irish Cheddar from County Kerry, Plum Chutney
Fresh made Ricotta with Gainesville Honey, Pistachio Biscotti
Lustau Pedro Ximenez, San Emilio Sherry
Appears ambitious, doesn't it? I will share a secret with you - a good portion of this menu has help from trusted sources. For example, the Goat Cheese Tartlets? Trader Joe's makes fabulous little canapes and freezes them beautifully. Pop them in the oven, toss some arugula with a little reduced balsamic vinegar and slice some beautiful dried figs (also from TJ's) and voila! You look like a genius. Use a larger plate that you normally would and take time with your presentation and you'll have something a restaurant would be proud to serve.
In the next course, the duck and veal demi glace is a product I trust from D'Artagnan. If you don't know about this producer, and their amazing product line, this is a great introduction. Using a little of their duck fat, fry some potatoes, add some cheese curds (preferably Beecher's), top with warmed demi glace, and you will think you have died and gone to foodie heaven.
Do you know about Spanish tortas from Ines Rosales? Imported from Seville, Spain, they come in several flavor variations, and all are terrific. A round, pita like crisp cracker like cookie, they are superior to adding a bit of crunch and flavor without any heaviness.
I will make the ricotta myself, but that is as easy as making a cup of tea (a future blog!) and the plum chutney is from a local producer - Virginia Chutney. When you're putting together a cheese plate to finish a meal, try to consider a little savory with your sweet and creamy. It leaves the palate refreshed.
So while we will have a fabulous dinner tomorrow evening, I won't work as hard as I typically would, making everything from scratch. After all, it is a school night. What are your favorite foods for celebrations?