Thursday, September 10, 2009
Another year, another birthday dinner
Tomorrow is Dave’s birthday. He’s not much on presents, but we do try to eat well on his birthday. This year he has opted for eating in instead of out. So I worked with him to develop a menu that includes many, not nearly all, of his favorite things. You know, some years it is duck, others lamb. This year it turns out is a pretty traditional steakhouse dinner, and I am pretty much making everything from scratch that can be, including the bread, the salad dressing, and the ice cream: Mussels and clams steamed in white wine with baguette for dipping Iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing and tomato concasse Chateaubriand for two with green peppercorn-cognac sauce Steamed haricot verte (skinny green beans) Individual purple potato casseroles Rich chocolate cakes with chocolate velvet ice cream I have been doing shopping for the past two days and lots of the prep work today: - Tomato concasse are little tiny cubes of tomato flesh, no skin, no pulp, no seeds. You fillet the tomato much as you skin a fish fillet, taking pieces of the tomato and running a knife between the skin and the flesh with your knife parallel to the board. - The blue cheese dressing is a recreation of one Dave loves at one of our local restaurants, mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, grated garlic, minced parsley, minced chives, and lots of chunky blue cheese. - Tonight I will “butcher” the meat. I bought a whole tenderloin as the price has dropped to $8/lb, and there is so little waste. For $50 I will get at least ten portions of meat for us, including trimming I can grind up for luxe hamburgers. We were watching an old rerun of “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home” and they were doing beef dishes. Jacques took the “head” of the tenderloin, wrapped a towel around it, and beat it with a pan to make the thickness even. Dave wants us to do that. - I also still need to make the cooked part of the ice cream base tonight that blends semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa, and milk; tomorrow I will beat eggs and sugar with cream and blend both parts together. Have to do that in the morning. The ice cream will take about an hour in the machine then it needs six hours in the freezer to firm up. - The cake is one that I’ve been making for years, it uses a dark chocolate mix but you don’t fix it according to the package. You add sour cream, oil, chocolate chips, and walnuts to it. It is usually baked in a Bundt pan but I am going to cook it in 8–oz Pyrex dishes. Only after making it for a dozen years or so did I see the recipe printed somewhere else, it was called (no kidding) Chocolate “Better than Sex” cake. - I’ve picked out a Champagne to go with the first course and a Chateneauf-du-Pape we brought back from France for the main course.