Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fantasy Birthday Dinner

Well, the Mendon Foodie is another year older today. Ugh! Not that I mind, really. I like myself so much better as a wise (okay, wise-ass) 40 something (okay, late forty-something) than I ever did before. When I hit forty, I left behind caring what other people thought of me, (to a large extent) and decided that what I thought about myself was most important. However, I still reserve the right to judge your bad cooking. You can judge me if you want, I just won't care.

I am taking a well-deserved birthday break from cooking today. I did make eggs and toast this morning, but only because I wake up at ungodly hours of the morning and I just don't think it would be humane to force Steve to get up at 5:30 to make me breakfast when he didn't come to bed until 2:00. A wonderful friend invited me to lunch today, at the restaurant of my choosing. I chose Simply Crepes. I prefer restaurants where they actually cook the food, as opposed to heating up something frozen. And don't kid yourselves, most of the national chains cook food that comes to them pre-done in some fashion. Do you think Pizzeria Uno could make the pizza taste the same at every store if they relied on the workers to make it from scratch? Hardly. I haven't written too much about restaurants as this is really a cooking blog, but I think I may have to delve into that topic with more frequency. I don't go out to eat very often, as I usually think what I can make at home is better, but a restaurant where they really cook, and care about the quality is a treat. I shall enjoy it today.

So breakfast is over, lunch is in the bag, what about dinner?

Well, if Steve could cook ( he thinks he can cook, mostly he stirs things. And when he tries to cook he makes giant messes. He can use every dish in the kitchen to cook some pasta and heat up some leftover red sauce.) I would have him make something along these lines:

First, I would want something to start that goes well with champagne. You all know by now how I feel about champagne, or rather, sparkling wine, since champagne is out of my budget, mostly. I love Perrier Jouet and would be exceedingly happy to start out with a bottle of it. To nosh along with it, perhaps Smoked Salmon with Crispy Shallots, since it is winter and we can't use the grill. Otherwise, I would probably want some grilled shrimp with a pistachio chutney or perfectly grilled flatbread or pizza with goat cheese and kalamata olives and basil.

Next, I must have a fabulous salad. Maytag blue cheese, glazed walnuts, korean pear, and artisan baby lettuces with a honey-red wine vinaigrette. Nothing better. Ever.

For a main course, I think I would have Steve make something meaty. You can't go wrong with a nice expensive cut of meat. I am partial to rack of lamb, rib eye steak, and veal chops. With no grill available until spring, my mouth waters thinking about the juicy, buttery meat sizzling right off the grill, with a mint chimichurri sauce to really bring the flavor alive. (And yes, I know the grill still works and I not too wimpy to stand out there and grill in the cold, but experimentation has taught me that the ambient temperature needs to be at least 40 degrees in order for the grill to get hot enough to sear meat properly.)

Dessert? Hmm, creme brulée maybe?

And so, I'm also not leaving you with any recipes today, just go cook something good. And send me the recipe. Think of it as a birthday gift to me. If I like it, I'll publish it. If I don't like it, well, just this once, I won't make fun of it.

You see, I think what it boils down to is that I think good food doesn't have to be complicated. Fresh, good quality food doesn't require fancy preparations, just some care and good techniques. So skip the romaine in a bag and wash the damn artisan baby lettuce once in a while. It's worth it. Let me know how it goes.


TexasHeather said...

Oh, happy birthday! It is my littlest son's bday today as well - he's 5. I will come back after dinner and let you know what I cooked. Just wanted to say Happy Birthday!! I will try and come up with something good enough not to be made fun of...

TexasHeather said...

Okay - the recipe: Q's Not-Quite Jambalya Yumminess.

2.5 cups rice
5 cups water
2 roma tomatos, diced
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
some olive oil
chicken breast, diced/chopped (1 to 2 lbs)
spicey-ish sausage, sliced into rounds (1 to 2 'links')
tomato sauce (2 small cans)
seasoned salt (Lawry's)
Tony's cajun seasoning

How to:
heat/saute' the tomato & onion in enough olive oil to coat the pan/keep it from sticking. Cook it on very low until the onions are smelling good and turn clear-er than they were, and the tomatos start to get soft but before they get soggy/squishy.

Meanwhile, cook the chicken & sausage, together, until the chicken is done. Season with season salt while cooking.

Then, combine the rice, water, chicken/sausage, tom/onion into one big ole pot, add the Tony's (to taste) and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Then turn to low, and simmer until the rice is cooked (about 10 to 15-ish minutes, depending on your heat).

Keep covered while simmering, but stir every now and then so it doesn't burn/stick to the bottom of the pan. Although, if it does, it just gives it a "rustic" flavor.

Uncover and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes if needed to cook off excess water. Otherwise, don't. Serve and eat.

Super yum, just don't tell your kids it's jambalya. It's not. If you call it jamabalya, they won't like it. Don't call it that, and they'll love it. Trust me.

(and, yes, the hubster made this one up...)

Priscilla said...

Ok Junie I don't have a recipe, but I will share a story about the fabulous dinner I had with Brian instead of you in Ottawa on your birthday at a fantastic restaurant called Beckta.....We ordered the 5 course tasting menu in which each course was paired with a specific wine. Halfway through this incredible meal I asked the wine guy if he were a real live sommelier and Brian gave me a sideways look like I was out of my mind. Later on the way home he said to me "Why the hell did you ask the waiter if he were from Somolia? That's so rude." I just love my husband.

The Mendon Foodie said...

@ Heather: Thanks! The recipe sounds good. Maybe you could all it chicken and sausage stew. I think that may be a better name and won't give me Cajun sister-in-law heart palpitations from calling it Jambalaya.

@Priscilla: That is why I love Brian. Completely clueless and yet utterly sincere. I can hear him now.

PK said...

Brian's disclaimer to all this was that I told him the owner of Beckta had been a "Somalian in New York"