Tuesday, February 23, 2010

birthday dinner at home restaurant

brought to you (me) by michael gaertner.

michael designed a menu for my birthday, and i got to pick which dishes i wanted! i chose:

garlic and goat cheese flatbread
endive and herb salad
squid ink pasta with braised octopus
blood orange sorbet

i chose the main course almost as a dare: could he do it?? YES. HE. COULD.

here is the beautiful squid ink pasta. as delicious as the octopus was (and oh so tender!) it doesn't photograph quite as nicely.

flatbread-- i made the dough for michael and he did the rest! this was delicious.

the salad was awesome... sadly, we forgot to take any more pictures after the above. it was curly endive, and all sorts of herbs: mint, parsley, marjoram, dill, tarragon... maybe more. everything tasted so interesting and exciting out of context. mint and marjoram especially! i made a buttermilk herb dressing to go with it. the dressing was easy and so so so good. in fact, i'm a little worried that i know how to make such a delicious creamy dressing at home-- i'm going to want it ALL THE TIME. whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, and seasonings to taste (and until you have a consistency you like.) i used dill, tarragon, and a whole lot of mashed garlic. awesome.

there is not much to say about the blood orange sorbet, except that it was very simple and very delicious. and that it's especially good mixed with a little lime sherbert.


better than the new york times?

Monday, February 15, 2010


i don't know why i stopped having valentine's themed birthday parties... they are really the best!! this was billed as a tea party type affair, but it turned into a late night party that necessitated the ordering of heart-shaped pizzas.

on the menu:

chocolate tarts filled with chocolate ganache
vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream
mini pear/strawberry hand pies

colleen made the fantastic strawberry pudding; emily made the delicious eclairs; lauren provided the fun decorations; michael whipped up a fruit punch!

chocolate tart shells (adapted from martha stewart living)
1 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 t salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg yolk

whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder; set aside. beat butter until light and fluffy, then beat in sugar and beat an additional several minutes. beat in egg (note: martha did not call for this, but my dough was very dry... i'm glad i had egg yolks on hand leftover from my buttercream!).shape dough into two discs and let it chill for 30 minutes. roll dough out to 1/4" thickness. press into desired shapes (i used hearts of various sizes). bake on greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes-- baking time should stay the same regardless of tart size.

the vanilla cupcake recipe i used is a pretty good one (from the chopping block), but very basic. any vanilla cupcake recipe will do. i took this recipe straight out of the class packet-- it wasn't until i had measured out 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of buttermilk, and 1 cup of milk that i realized this recipe certainly was going to make more than a dozen. oops.

i used this buttercream recipe. (i think... i looked at so many.) it was pretty easy, but tasted slightly more buttery than i would have liked... so, i just added a bunch of powdered sugar until it looked and tasted right. my only complaint is that this buttercream is not white. sigh. the perfect and pristine cupcakes of my dreams were not meant to be... regardless, these cupcakes (and especially the frosting) got rave reviews.

i hope everyone had a good weekend! and here's to more frequent blogging!