Sunday, April 6, 2008

Best Birthday Ever

Mom’s Birthday Celebration!!!

I believe in big birthday celebrations. I think it is important to gather family & friends together and have a good time. I am however not into extravagant spending or gifting. I want celebrations to be meaningful and fun. I also like there to be some fire… but luckily birthday cakes often provide this. I got to prep for Mom’s birthday by participating in my boss’s birthday at work. For the work celebration I whipped up a vegan black bean and corn salad. I didn’t do anything special to make it vegan – I just know that going into a workplace you never know if people have certain dietary restrictions (medial, religious, or self imposed). I wanted to make something that was tasty and was acceptable for anyone to eat who was up for the adventure. I definitely could have made it hotter with the addition of more peppers and chilies; however I thought the Anaheim and poblano peppers I chose added a nice bite to the dish. Not to mention that any dish with the color contrast provided that this one has is appealing to the eye. There were the black/purple beans, white & yellow roasted corn, green & red peppers/chilies, red onion, fresh cut herbs - There were textural contrasts between cooked beans, roasted corn, and uncooked – though marinated – veggies. In addition it was pleasing to the palate with acid provided by fresh limejuice and a splash of balsamic vinegar, a hint of sweetness from some maple syrup (instead of honey… it was after all vegan), some cayenne for heat, and enough salt to brighten all the other flavors. Needless to say I was thrilled there were leftovers that I got to enjoy for the next week.

So what did I cook for Mom’s birthday? Not a darn thing. Dad and I thought of some really great gifts to give her (pedicure, manicure, 2 dozen roses….) and she was well pleased by our thoughtfulness; then we jumped into the car (once I was off work) and headed out to dinner. We had an enjoyable meal at the North End Café on Frankfort Avenue. The food was spot on, though I was slightly disappointed in the temperature of our berry crumble dessert. This was my third trip to the restaurant and the food has never disappointed. However this trip involved service that was not as stellar as my first two visits. It was not bad enough to keep me from going back; it was just not what I expected based on my previous experience. I have yet to try them for brunch and when I have Delaney next weekend – she and I will definitely be going out to brunch…. Not sure if we will go to Lynns (Delaney’s favorite), or Toast, or North End, or venture to a not yet tried Wild Eggs )

Where was I???? Oh yes talking about Mom’s birthday. My aunt is having people over to her house for Mom’s birthday luncheon with the ‘girls’. Counting myself there will be 8 of us. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to cook. I left cookbooks at my parents with pages marked for my mom to look at. I questioned her endlessly about what she wanted to eat. I eventually wrote up a list of potential dishes and let her choose from them. Then the week of the party was suddenly on us and I have a full-blown allergy attack that renders me grouchy, tired and unable to taste food well. We are charging forward – she has procured the groceries and I have a schedule for preparing the food. I even bought two sets of prep bowls for my mise ! The most difficult item of the week was getting the right cut of chicken (sorry to all my veggie friends but I am going to talk about this because it pissed me off). I could not locate a butcher shop that was willing to butterfly and remove the ribcage and breastbone of the chicken (spatchcock is the technical term for this). I called a couple of shops and the response over the phone to this request was not what I wanted to hear. One butcher claimed it was not something that could be done – at least the other said they were not set up for the health codes that would be required to do this. So instead of getting this done for me – I will be attempting it on my own. I should go buy a new knife just for this!!!!!

Friday prep (2 hours)

Prepare marinade and begin marinating the chicken (fresh herbs, lemons, olive oil, salt & pepper)

Roast garlic

Roast red peppers

Make Hummus

Make the Green Goddess Dip

Make the crust for the chocolate tart

Than get to Bones’ house by 6:30 to play D&D – let the looting begin


Transport everything to my aunt’s house – and try to squeeze in a trip to the 1st farmers market of the season on Bardstown Road.

Finish Chocolate Tart (make filling and bake)

Prep veggies for appetizers

Toast Pecans for Salad

Make Greek Yogurt Sauce for Chicken

Whip Cream for Dessert

Sample sangria and margaritas as my aunt makes them!!!!!!

Prep fingerling potatoes and asparagus for chicken

Make salad dressing

Prep salad

Cook Chicken and Veggies

Assemble food for serving and get in a 2nd shower in time for the party at noon.

Menu (Recipes by chefs in parenthesis)


  • Israeli Hummus
  • Green Goddess Dip – (Ina Garten)
  • Breadsticks
  • Toasted points
  • Haricot Vert
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash

Sangria (Joe Castro)

On-the-rocks Margaritas (Joe Castro)



  • Limestone Bibb lettuce
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Crumbled Feta
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Toasted Pecans
  • Cherry Balsamic, Shallot, and Olive Oil Dressing
Greek Chicken (Jamie Oliver)
  • Marinated Chicken
  • Fingerling Potatoes
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Greek Yogurt Sauce\


Fifteen Chocolate Tart (Jamie Oliver)

Fresh Whipped Cream and Raspberries for decoration

Vietnamese Coffee (Joe Castro)

Enjoy your weekend everyone! I know I will.

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