Sunday, November 11, 2007

And the Beet Goes On

by Erin and Xani

In our family, when it's someone's birthday, not only does the Birthday Girl/Boy get taken out for fancy dinners, but he or she ALSO gets his or her favorite meal (or a meal of his or her choice) cooked at home. We apparently take this policy very seriously, because when EP turned 25 this summer, she got her fancy meal at a restaurant, but she had not, as of last Sunday, received her home-cooked meal. Well, rules are rules and as a family of attorneys (and an attorney-in-training), we know how to follow rules. So last Sunday, we belatedly celebrated EP's birthday with another extravagant meal.

Here was the menu:

  • Cocktails
  • Shrimp with Green Goddess Sauce and Cocktail Sauce
  • Raw Oysters
  • Beet Carpaccio with Goat Cheese and Mint Vinaigrette
  • Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding and Asparagus
  • Concord Grape Sorbet

For our cocktails, the ladies enjoyed Champagne Cocktails (champagne, angostura bitters, and a sugar cube) while Dad enjoyed a good strong Martini. No pics of these since they've been fully chronicled here and here (wow, we're starting to look like alcoholics here...).

Next we had our first course, which was cooked, cold shrimp served with Green Goddess Sauce (we also served some Cocktail Sauce with them). Green Goddess Sauce is a sauce to be served with cold, cooked seafood, and it made its first appearance in our repertoire back in the day at our Bastille Day party. We used the recipe from The New York Times Cookbook and it is really delicious and very easy to make. Just take chives, parsley, tarragon, and garlic and pulse together in a food processor. Then add anchovies, lemon juice, and mayonnaise until combined. Finally, fold in sour cream. We added extra garlic, anchovies, and lemon juice - big shocker there. It is a rich sauce but it's very flavorful, and is a huge hit at parties since it's so delicious and an unexpected turn from traditional cocktail sauce.

More anchovies, please...

Next, Dad and Xani shucked some oysters (including an absolutely gigantic one, as big as Dad's hand!) and EP ate her first oyster and LIKED IT! Hooray! (Actually, technically it was her second oyster which she tried several years ago and did not like, but now it seems her palate has finally figured out that she's a foodie, dammit, and foodies like oysters!). She was inspired to try them again since Mom, Dad, and Xani said they were just about the freshest oysters they've ever had.

EP before the big slurp

After our first course, we moved on to the salad course. Thanks to Epicurious, we found a recipe for Beet Carpaccio with Goat Cheese and Mint Vinaigrette, which was absolutely delicious. We really wanted to have a salad with roasted beets since they are so yummy and have such a unique texture and flavor. This recipe was perfect for us! The beets were roasted first and then peeled, and then to slice them thinly, Xani got to play with one of her favorite toys: the mandoline! The vinaigrette was easy, consisting of shallot, rice vinegar, mint, olive oil, and sugar. (The recipe actually instructs you to put minced shallot on the plate instead of in the vinaigrette, but we threw it in the food processor instead and it added an onion-y level that was present but too powerful.) The sweetness and tartness of the vinaigrette was great against the sweet beet and the goat cheese.

Next we got to the main course: PRIME RIB! Some of you long-time readers may remember that we made prime rib for our very first post! We used the same recipe from James Beard, where you (cardiologists avert your eyes!) smother the prime rib with butter and salt and pepper, and then roast at 500 degrees at 5 minutes per pound. After that time is over, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN for two hours. Now, back in the day before we started using an instant-read themometer when we cooked meat, this was a failsafe technique. But now, we leave the oven closed until the meat hits (food safety professonals avert your eyes!) 123 degrees, since it will continue to cook as it rests. As you can see, it turned out perfectly!! Oh we are drooling as we discuss this glorious dish...sooo delicious...

Dad supervising Xani's carving

Gellie at the ready

As one of our side dishes, we wanted to have the traditional accompaniment to prime rib: Yorkshire Pudding. Usually, we use the James Beard recipe for yorkshire pudding, but in past years it has failed us - the yorky (as BCD Mom calls it) comes out flat and not puffy as it should, and it is entirely too greasy (even for us). So, Mom and Erin hit up the internet and came up with Tyler Florence's recipe. We liked this recipe because it called for a moderate amount of pan drippings/fat (not too little and not too much) and it said you can use a cast-iron skillet. (Clearly we had not made enough dirty dishes at this point and we needed to make sure every dish, pot, and pan got some face-time.)

The yorky came out okay - after all that grease-phobia, it turned out that our well-trimmed roast (thanks to Dad and Xani's butchering skills) did not create enough grease! Also, we doubled the recipe and therefore used 6 eggs in the dish, which made it very eggy. Not great. Ah well...

We also steamed some asparagus. End of story on that one. Here is the finished plate:

For dessert, Xani and Erin went back to their favorite Gelateria in Fells Point, Pintango (see our love at first taste here), where they picked up some Concord Grape Sorbet (insert Manischewitz joke here). It was sweet and delicious but light after that ridiculous meal.

It was another great meal and a Sunday Dinner for the books. With the exception of Gellie's 3rd birthday next weekend (or, 21st for all you party animals), no more birthdays until January (Mom) and February (Xani). No worries though - that usually means dinner at Charleston!!!

Happy Birthday Gellie!

Happy Eating,

E & X

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