Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Subject: Birthday Dinner

Smitten Kitchen

Hello dear!
So, I have been meaning to tell you about this a-mazing dinner I made for Jon's birthday earlier this month. I really wanted to take him to try this new restaurant that I thought he would like, but he really wanted me to make him something special and just have a low-key evening at home. Now, that is really sweet of him, but I was really hoping to go out because a) I would not have to clean up afterwards and b) I really wanted to try this restaurant too! Anyway, we ate at home and I made, according to the Birthday Boy, the best meal he's ever eaten. High praise, I know.
At first I was completely uninspired and annoyed that I had to cook so I had no idea what I was going to do. But then I got into the spirit of the challenge and decided that I would do all new recipes that we had never eaten before and I would cook an interesting meat. Now really, any meat is interesting since really all we have is chicken and shrimp and the occasional beef, but I wanted to do something decadent, like shortribs or lamb. (Side note: I love using the word 'decadent' to describe savory items.)

I found a really easy recipe for lamb chops (which I had never made before) with a pistachio tapenade on Smitten Kitchen [Are you familiar with this site? I am ob-sessed.] that made my mouth water the minute I saw the picture and read the ingredients, so I knew that would be the main course. Then in one of my many Barefoot Contessa cookbooks I found a recipe for Rosemary Polenta (recipe available here) that looked scrumptious and for the vegetable I did Ina's Salad with Warm Goat Cheese and cooked up some pancetta to add to the salad because everything is better with bacon.

Oh my gosh - it was incredible. I used rosemary in the tapenade instead of the other herbs, which really united the lamb and the polenta, and the dressing on the salad was perfect with the warm goat cheese. For dessert I made Ina's Beatty's Chocolate Cake, which has always gone over well in our house. To wash it all done I picked up a lovely Pino Noir at the wine shop and it was so light and smooth that it complimented the richness of the lamb perfectly.

It was an all-day affair baking and prepping everything for dinner, but it was so worth it when the food turned out so well and - mostly importantly - the Birthday Boy enjoyed it. The only problem: I've set the bar kind of high for myself for next year!

Happy cooking!

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