Monday, May 19, 2008

Elise's Birthday Dinner

Next to "I love you," my favorite three words to hear from my girlfriend are "make me that." Like a dog that can cook, I like nothing better than to take an order for someone I'm deeply loyal too.

When she walked in, she was first greeted with a tray of thematically appropriate appetizers. These included olives and pickles, which she always had on her birthday as a child, and the spiced cheese leyden, which has cultural relevance because of her Dutch roots. There were also Ak-Mak, which is just kind of a thing for us. Then came the oysters.

Two each of three different native Massachusetts varieties. I like mine straight up, but she requested freshly grated horseradish, which I was all to happy to provide. You'll note that the one in the background is not in focus: she grabbed it as the shutter snapped.

For the main course, I fulfilled her request for an arugula salad (with roasted almond slivers and apples soaked in vinegar) and "super creamy" mashed potatoes with garlic and rosemary, into which I dribbled a little truffle oil.

The entree was left up to me, and it turned out pretty impressive if I do say so myself. Inspired by Mark Bittman's latest video, I butterflied and flattened a boneless skinless chicken breast, probably the only I've bought since I started caring about food. I stuffed this with a mixture based on a cornbread that she'd baked earlier this week. I rolled the whole thing up, and because it was for her birthday, wrapped it in giant slabs of bacon.

She's also had an angel food cake for every birthday that she can remember. That kind of dessert is the opposite of my forte, but I gave it a go last year with decent results. This time, I nailed it. It was moist and fluffy with more flavor than these pithy things usually can hold, thanks to freshly grated nutmeg, a glug of vanilla, and good, dark Fair Trade sugar.

I imagine I'm only going to get better at it, year by year.

Stumble Upon Toolbar