Friday, May 21, 2010

Birthday Dinner

When I was growing up, we ate dinner pretty much every Saturday night with family. It was a mix of family, but it was perfect. It was my mom's brother, Frank, his wife, Carol, and their two boys, Travis and Jason. My Aunt Carol's dad, Ray, and her Aunt, Fay, were always there as well, along with my parents and my Dad's mother, Phoebe. Other random friends and family could also show up on any given weekend. We would eat and usually play Trivia Pursuit, or other games, afterward. Even as I got older, I loved these dinners. Mom and Dad would request that I wait until after dinner and visiting for awhile before I went off with my friends. I never minded a bit and some of my favorite growing up memories are these dinners.

Well, when it was your birthday, you got to pick what you wanted- the whole thing- from start to dessert. It was fantastic. I usually chose beef on wick and french fries or spaghetti with Italian sausage. I remember that Travis always chose pancakes and Jason always wanted my mom's pineapple upside down cake. Funny I don't recall what the adults ever wanted. Travis and Jason and I were 3 peas in a pod growing up. They are 6 and 8 years younger than me, respectively, but they lived 2 houses away and were my brothers full stop. Travis is a father now, and Jason's been to Iraq 3 times. How'd we grow up so fast?

I digress. This post is really actually about Scott's birthday dinner... I got a little sidetracked by my memories.

I didn't give Scott a choice of what he wanted me to cook because since starting his new job, I think this was one of his busiest weeks. He was up at 4 or 5 in the morning every day and traveling around with another sales guy and working until quite late in the evening. I also worked every single night and before his birthday at dinner time on a Thursday, hadn't seen him awake since Sunday afternoon. So, I was going to pick for him.

It was a random assortment of food, but it actually came together rather well. Brussels sprouts were the easiest choice. He didn't know how much he loved them until I roasted them once for him. Now he asks for them all the time. For potatoes, I decided on making homemade potato chips and blue cheese dressing since homemade potato chips in any form on restaurant menus always has him wanting some (even if I'm stubborn and don't give in most of the time) and he especially likes the ones from Harper's in Greensboro that are served with a blue cheese dressing. I chose Salmon because we needed a protein and it's been awhile since I've made it. To personalize it a bit more, I did bread and pan fry it. Every guy likes fried stuff and Scott is no exception. I slaked on dessert mainly because I did not want to have leftovers taunting us! Thank you Whole Foods for the lovely cupcakes!

Prep on the salmon and Brussels really isn't that exciting or difficult, so I'll focus on the chips. I used my mandolin on a fairly thin setting to slice a huge russet potato. I used russet because they have a lot of natural sugars and therefore get really brown just like we like them. (My dad and I used to literally ruin bags of chips fighting over the "burned" ones! If only Utz made their bag of russet kettle chips back in the day... a whole bag of "burned" chips... it's heaven.) I put all the sliced potatoes in a tea towel and dried off the excess water. I set the oven on 400 and placed the cookie sheets inside to get hot. When the oven was ready, I covered the cookie sheets with parchment and brushed the paper with canola oil. I spread out the chips in one layer and gave the tops another brushing of oil. After that, I just had to keep my eye on them and flip them when they were golden. I guess it took about 10 min on the first side and just a few on the second. I worked in batches until they were all done. As soon as I removed them, I placed them on paper towels to remove the excess oil and gave them a generous sprinkling of salt. For the blue cheese dip, I mixed about a half cup of a Danish blue cheese, some Duke's mayonnaise, sour cream, a little milk, a few dashes of pikka peppa, (think Worcestershire) and salt and pepper. After some counter time to come together, it was perfect.

With all the fried foods, it wasn't long before we were full and there were loads of leftovers! If you saw my status update on Facebook, you know how the reheating of the leftover chips ended... we decided the toaster oven would crisp the chips back up... and that it did when the entire thing caught on fire. Thankfully, Scott had his eye on things and the fire did not spread beyond the toaster oven itself, but it did create enough smoke to set off the fire alarm! We were bummed that we didn't get to eat the leftover chips.

I wonder what Scott will cook me for my birthday? :)


  1. Breaded and fried salmon sounds right up my alley. Never even considered cooking it that way. Next time I make salmon, I will.

    Pikka Pepper rings a vague bell. Have to try that, too.

    Happy Memorial Day. Hope y'all have the day off!

  2. It's good pan fried- although I will choose grilled over any other preparation of fish... without a grill though, that's a little tougher... considering a grill pan- do you have one?
    I used whole wheat bread crumbs, lemon zest, crushed garlic, Penzey's Tuscan blend, salt, and pepper for the coating- good stuff.

  3. I do have a two-burner grill pan that my mother-in-law gave me. Always forget about using it.

    That coating sounds pretty good. I'm having a little trouble with garlic lately, however.