Hello. Allow myself to introduce.. myself. I am jwa, the willing target of mlb’s delectable meals. Remain calm! I have temporarily commandeered this blog whatchamacallit to, erm, blog about mlb’s birthday dinner.
mlb and I have a fine tradition of birthday meals. True, it is often she or an anonymous set of chefs at fine restaurants who create the birthday dinner, but it is both of us that consume it, and remark upon its relative merits of toothsomeness, snackability, or gastrodelicentatiousness. It is this tradition that I choose to break in twain — like the snap of a crisp breadstick, or hot thin peppered bacon — and instead cook for her. It is true that I lack her finely honed skills-o-the-skillet, her technique-with-the-tongs, her proficiency-with-the-prosciutto, but while I may lack talent, I also lack the sense to know when to stop. Let’s go!
For this birthday, I agonized over my choices. I am most comfortable with the pasta meals, having perfected the elusive al dente technique and my own personal garlic-olive-oil-tomato-sauce-parmesan-cheese extravaganza. Alack, this, while tasty, is a well-worn rut on the winding rattlesnake trail that is our relationship. . . . → Read More: Birthday Dinner Part II: Grilled Rosemary Chicken (guest post by jwa)
A New Birthday Tradition
For the last two years, we’ve started the tradition where jwa cooks me dinner for my birthday. Previously, we’d spend a long weekend in Gearhart and eat my birthday dinner at the Pacific Way Cafe but it seems lately work and other things have interfered with that version of my birthday celebration.
But, I am really starting to look forward to having dinner made for me! And he always decides he wants to cook dinner more after making the meal — then he kind of forgets. Hopefully, this year he’ll start making dinner once a month or something because he did a really good job with the soup and the chicken!
Last year, he made stuffed shells and this year, he once again looked towards Rachael Ray for inspiration and picked Ribollita and Rosemary Grilled Chicken and Wild Mushroom Sauce (that one is coming tomorrow). Both recipes are from Thirty Minute Meals II. The soup was warm and hearty and perfect for the cold and freezing weather we’ve been having here in Portland.
It was easy to make the soup while also preparing the chicken. He just followed the recipe through adding the beans and tomato . . . → Read More: Birthday Dinner Part I: Ribollita (Bread Soup)
Well, now that I can actually think about falafel (the tasty Middle Eastern chick pea snack) without shuddering or laughing, it sounded like a good pick for dinner. I really like falafel. I used to get it on the Stanford campus for lunch sometimes (at a place by the coffeehouse) and it brings back memories of when I worked there and would walk around campus.
At home, I usually prepare falafel-in-a-box. My new favorite kind is al fez. They’re based in England but you can find the falafel mix at Cost Plus stores. Instead of deep frying, I put my little falafel balls on a cookie sheet that I brush generously with olive oil and then bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, flipping them over after five minutes.
My presentation is more Greek than Mideastern but, you know, that’s just the way I like it. If you’re a purist, omit the feta and yogurt and use tahini sauce.
1 box falafel mix, prepared and set aside
4 pieces flat bread or pita bread, warmed in a dry, hot skillet
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup lettuce leaves, spinach or any mixed greens work well
1 small cucumber, diced
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/4 . . . → Read More: Falafel Friday
2411 SE Belmont
Portland, OR 97214
Traditionally, we walk to Bread and Ink for Valentine’s Dinner, have a bottle of wine, food and walk home. That’s what we did last year and for the last three years. This year, I was in the mood for a change.
I’ve been wanting to try Wild Abandon quite some time and Valentine’s Day seemed like a good night to do so. Yeah, I know — is a holiday when everyone else is trying to go out to dinner really the best opportunity to try someplace new?
The atmosphere was funky and dark. I’m not sure if they made it extra dark for the holiday or of it’s usually that way. I’m not complaining — I’m just saying it was dark but cozy and romantic. Our timing was right on (of course we had a reservation), as we got one of the velvety booths along the wall. Fun!
They had a special menu for Valentine’s Day which included a few appetizers (including a goat cheese tart), salads, and some pasta dishes, salmon with red beans and rice, chicken marsala and prime rib.
I really, really wanted the goat . . . → Read More: Valentine’s Day at Wild Abandon
Leftover cookies from the dinner — they are gone now!
So, last Wednesday was the day I made 34 cookies. I followed the basic cookie recipe here, but used 3/4 bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli 70% bittersweet) and 1/4 white chocolate chips (just for fun).
After baking them I let them cool for a few hours then wrapped them all in plastic wrap and made cookie flowers. These I tied ribbon around and put each person’s name on a piece of 2 inch by 3 inch card stock and we used them as place cards. Quite festive!
1 roll of red cellophane
Ahh, this I learned while working at Cookie Creations, in Glen Ellyn, IL. To start, attach leaves to each stick using floral tape. Wind the tape around over the wire to attach each leaf. You don’t have to wrap the tape all the way to the top.
Next, cut circles about triple the size of your cookies from the cellophane. Place a cookie on a circle and gather up the cellophane, wrapping and gathering it up an around a stick. Use a 4-5 inch piece of floral tape to secure the cellophane around the stick and . . . → Read More: Cookies + Chocolate Tarts = Yum!