Wednesday, August 10, 2011

birthday feast

hi hi! i missed blogging yesterday - one of those days i just couldn't find the time to squeeze it in - so a happy belated birthday to my love, sam, who turned 29 yesterday. smooches.

knowing that i work during the week, and usually don't get home until 7 pm or later, i decided to make him a big birthday dinner sunday night to celebrate. so considering his birthday dinner was on the 7th and his birthday gift (tickets to tUnEyArDs in manhattan on september 19th [get yours here]) is 43 days later, that's a lot of birthday. lucky man.

as i mentioned in the last post, sam likes his food with more food on top of it, and then maybe a side of food stuffed with food. so i tried to push my own preferences aside and make a meal that he (well, okay, we) would really enjoy. i settled upon a chilled soup, a ceviche, and a roasted chicken - all things, coincidentally, that i think he either hadn't tried or wouldn't eat when i met him two years ago, sweet, innocent vegetarian that he was. times, they are a-changin'.

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savory chilled peach soup with bacon

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(based off a recipe i found here.)

**note: i thought this was good, but it didn't knock my socks off. i think you have to be pretty into the sweet/savory contrast, which i definitely am, but adding the cold element to it was maybe one step too bizarre. that said, i still really enjoyed it, but i think sam did a little less. just in case you're thinking of making it for your new in-laws or something. maybe test it first.**

6-8 ripe peaches, peeled (mine were small, farmers market peaches, so i used 8)
about 4 ounces plain yogurt (half a container)
1/2 - 1 cup milk
1/4 cup sweet white wine
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 t smoked paprika

garnish: 1/2 peach, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 strips bacon, baked in the oven until crispy
chiffonade of basil, mache, sage, or another herb

place the peaches in a food processor and blend until they are pretty smooth; add milk until it is nearly the consistency you want in the soup. add yogurt. add wine. add cayenne & paprika. place in a container and let it chill for at least an hour.

to serve: crumble the bacon on top, add peaches, and finish with greens. voila! i think our peaches weren't the best, so that played a part - the flavor of the soup itself was a bit flat. next time i might try roasting the peaches first with some honey and herbs. still, we both cleaned our bowls, so it wasn't bad!

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spicy scallop ceviche


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3/4 lb fresh bay scallops
1 peach
1 jalepeƱo
1 red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 avocado
1 lime
salt to taste
tortilla or plantain chips, for serving

dice all fruit & veggies into small cubes; reserve the lime. (scrape the cherry tomatoes of their seeds and juice, as much as possible.) place them in a bowl and cut the lime in half and squeeze all its juice over the diced veggies. cut the scallops into small cubes and add to the mixture; mix well, ensuring that the scallops are covered with lime juice. add salt and cover; refrigerate for at least two hours. the scallops will go from being a kind of translucent beige to a very opaque white when ready. serve with chips.

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this was SO GOOD. light, cold and crisp; perfect for a mid-summer dish. i only served us little glasses, but we had a whole tupperware leftover and i pretty much ate it all with a spoon for dinner the next day.

and finally, the crown jewel of dinner: stuffed cornish game hens. sam loves almost nothing in life more than a good roasted chicken (that "almost" reserved not for me, mind you, but for any kind of fishing,) but i wanted to do something a little more fancy; these were a perfect compromise. i improvised a stuffing out of things we had lying around, and they turned out really, incredibly delicious - succulent, crispy in all the right places and really bursting with flavor.

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bacon & apple stuffed cornish game hens with crispy potatoes


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2 cornish game hens
3 strips of bacon (i used this really tasty uncured stuff we got at the farmers' market saturday)
1 apple
about 1/2 baguette, crust removed & torn into bite sized pieces
about 2 ounces of mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces (i used oyster mushrooms)
2 T butter, melted
salt & pepper
about 1/2 lb potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes (i used purple potatoes 'cuz that's what we had lyin' around)

preheat oven to 350. cut bacon into 1 inch strips, then start it in the pan; once it starts to brown, and fat is rendering off, add the mushrooms and cook until they're browned and soft. remove from heat; stir in bread; dice & add apple. set aside.

i used a roasting pan, like this one found at crate and barrel [thanks kenji! wedding presents are the best] because i was doing 2 birds instead of one; it also allowed me to place the potatoes underneath the rack, so that all the drippings would fall on to them. but i'm getting ahead of myself.

stuff the birds as full as you can of stuffing. i managed to get all of it inside of them, with a bit spilling out the top; any that fell out was just added to the potato mix, so it was all deliciously good. brush the birds liberally on both sides with butter; sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper. with potatoes underneath, place the birds on the rack and pour a splash of liquid in with the potatoes; i used wine, because it was handy (don't hate) but water or any stock would work, too. or beer! whatever. liquid. not milk.

roast the birds at 350 for about 30-40 minutes, then crank the heat to 400 and cook until they look good, crispy and brown - about another half hour or so. take them out and let them rest for ten minutes or so before serving. for my beer-loving man, i'd picked up a growler of local heffeweisen, which i served alongside.

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tender, juicy, delicious. the potatoes had a chickeny, bacony flavor and were crispy on the outside but practically burst when you bit into them. it was hot and heavy, to be sure, but i think that's appropriate for sam's first birthday dinner as my husband (or, as someone referred to him when wishing him a happy birthday, mr. dettmar.)

more from me tomorrow! my camera battery is dead and i can't find my charger anywhere, so wish me luck! and i hope to see some of you at rebecca minkoff tonight! i'm wearing bright red and shoes that i'll be more surprised if i do NOT sprain my ankle in. say hello.

xo audrey

17 comments:

  1. Audrey, I am always a little hesitant when it comes to ceviche. That soup looks so good though, I might have to push myself a little. Happy birthday to Sam, and I hope you enjoy the event!

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  2. This food all looks amazing. Your man is a lucky guy. Congrats to him on the 29th birthday :)

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  3. Oh how I wish I could come over for dinner...is that presumptuous?? Happy birthday to Sam!

    XO
    Lenore

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  4. Wow that looks delicious. Chilled peach & bacon? I'm tempted!

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  5. this all looks SO yummy! xo



    p.s. I'm having a sunglasses giveaway if you'd like to check it out!
    devorelebeaumonstre.com

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  6. I love your recipe posts! I'm a pescetarian, but I was just thinking that if the cold was too much for you, perhaps you could make that soup with a butternut squash base? I put apples, a splash of local farm cider & roasted red peppers in mine so it would add a sweetness to the savory.

    Also - so weird to see the link for the tUnEyArDs show - I know the opening band personally, and Lily also plays guitar in my ex's old school country band (jp&thegilberts).

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  7. Wow! Everything looks delicious (and so pretty!). And happy 29th birthday to your love!

    xo,
    melissa

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  8. oh my gawd..this all looks so amazing! we went peach picking yesterday and I needed some peach ideas. i was just eyeing cornish hens today thinking they would be so cute and fancy to make..love the purple potatoes! i've never tried ceviche but i want to so bad, might have to make my own. have fun tonight, i'm sure you look gorgeous!

    Krystle
    http://dearwinsome.blogspot.com/

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  9. Oh man, that chicken is bringing back memories! That was the best chicken I've ever had (or game hen), thanks again for another wonderful dinner!

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  10. What an awesome birthday dinner! Sam is a lucky guy =) Of course I always think that when I see the food you prepare for the two of you, haha.

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  11. Happy belated birthday to you man! He had quite an amazing birthday huh?
    I wish I cooked like you! The cornish is making me drool...

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  12. oh my god, this all looks absolutely amazing! i love cooking dinner for a loved ones for a special occasion, it's so rewarding :)

    I'm certainly going to try stuffing hens next time i cook them - i'm used to buying pre-made stuff, but this definitely looks do-able!

    Katie s

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  13. Wow! You sure do know how to take care of your man! Your comment about Sam liking food on top of his food reminded me of that Jim Gaffigan joke about trying to explain desserts to someone in a third world country ("It's the food we eat after our food... No, you're thinking of appetizers, that's the food we eat BEFORE our food. Sometimes, there's just so much food, we take it home in a bag.")
    You converted a vegetarian!!? I'd better run...
    The whole shebang looks amazing but especially that ceviche! It's so colorful!
    "(that "almost" reserved not for me, mind you, but for any kind of fishing)" cracked me up!!!
    P.S. You inspired some 'food porn' as one of my commenters called it (check it out here: http://gloriouslyarranged.blogspot.com/2011/08/last-day.html )

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  14. Oh gosh, this is some of the prettiest food I've seen in a long time! Scallops are my seafood of choice, so I may have a go at that ceviche!

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  15. @Chelsea i know - ceviche can be a real gamble, but i PROMISE this isn't fishy at all (so long as your scallops are okay to begin with.) i really think even non-ceviche lovers would like this, as there are so many other flavors.

    @Loren thank you!

    @Lenore @ Lather. Write. Repeat. not in the least! i'd love to put out an open invitation to any readers to come to dinner should they be in the brooklyn area. . . but then i remember how awkward i am. haha. still, cooking for people is truly my favorite thing, and i'm flattered you're tempted!

    @Cosmia it was rather wacky but definitely delicious. and really easy!

    @devorelebeaumonstre. thank you!!

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  16. @Tailoverteakettle that soup sounds AMAZING. i'll definitely try that. that's crazy about the tUnEyArDs! sam is absolutely OBSESSED. i'll have to check out that country band, i loooove old school country. thanks for the tips!

    @Melissa at bubbyandbean.com thank you!

    @dear winsome oooh, peach picking?! amazing. i'm jealous. sam and i are headed up to CT this weekend and i'm hoping for some late season peaches myself. thanks as always for the sweet words - i've been such a bad blogger lately but i haven't forgotten you, or your package!

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  17. @Sam Leary anytime babycakes!

    @Heather, 29 Skirts haha, sam hears this all the time and i think wants to say, the lucky people are our friends who get to come over for dinner and NOT help clean up afterwards. poor guy has had to do a LOT of dishes in the last couple of years.

    @Raquel practice makes perfect!! it took me a long time to get so comfortable in the kitchen, but i really believe that if you love food and keep working at it anyone can get there.

    @Katie i'd never stuffed hens before either, but it really turned out delicious! thanks for your sweet words.

    @Rachael hahaha. oh jim gaffigan. it's FUNNY because it's TRUE. haha, yes, i converted him BUT not with any force whatsoever. i cooked vegetarian at home (i, in fact, was vegetarian for a good seven years or so,) and only ate meat when we went out. . . but he got so he just couldn't take it anymore. so i guess watch out if you find watching a fast-eater eating meat sexy, which probably won't be a problem for you. especially since we're on opposite coasts.

    @Christy thank you! the ceviche was easy and SO good. and healthy? i think?

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