Monday, August 31, 2009

A Birthday Dinner

Yesterday was my Mother's (29th) birthday, which we were thrilled she could observe with us while we are still at the beach. For a while, she was a Labor Day baby, but now that it seems Labor Day is being moved back each year to coincide eventually with Thanksgiving, her dinner party can no longer be expected to fall on a three day weekend.

When we were children, Mom's birthday were especially wonderful: Beautifully decorated tropical lagoons and hibiscus abounded and we were always thrilled by what new party accoutrement had been located to add to the end of summer celebration for her birthday.

We are a little more staid today, not only because I am making dinner but also because I am exhausted. This blog is generally written between the hours of nine and eleven at night and four and half past six in the morning. Little nibbles of sleep in the meantime are peppered with the wanderings of a two-year old and the occasional wakings of a six-month old which are pleasant sleep deprivors, but deprivors nonetheless and I am, to say they very least, a little mentally-breathless nearly all the time lately. So bear with me, because I am unable, both physically and mentally to Colin Cowie (now he is a verb) the dining room at the moment.

With that in mind, her menu:

Cold beetroot soup with hot potato
2006 Mt. Difficulty, Roaring Meg Pinot Noir

Artichoke Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Garlic & Wine Sauce
Red Bliss Potatoes with Mint Pesto
Apple Cranberry Chutney
Vienna Rolls
2003 Fattoria La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Spelt

Green salad with lemon vinaigrette

Chocolate Cracked Earth Cake
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

(These recipes will be posted shortly on Blushing Hostess Cooks, do kindly stand by.)

When I tell you that I wrestled with a butterflied leg of lamb at the crack of dawn this morning, I really mean it. I resorted to handing the mallet to my husband and allowing him to do the honors of flattening the beast rather brutally. In the future, I will seek a butcher who will do this task as it was just far more vigorous a task than I am interested in, though the final product is worth all the banging about, dropping of mallets on my toes, and colorful muttering. It was far too early to be drinking, and would have been perfectly undignified but would certainly have eased some of the pain, both mental and actual, involved in this particular menu.

Cold beetroot soup with hot potato, a colorful and deeply rich soup adapted from Paris' Rose Bakery Cookbook.

In any event, this menu, compiled from various sources including the timeless recipes of one of my favorite steakhouses, Delmonico's of New Orleans, was lovely for the incredibly hot summer day we had and took, all told, solid chunks of three days to execute in this order:

Roast off the beets for the borscht
Steam the artichokes for the stuffing
Make the lamb stock for the garlic wine sauce
Make the chicken stock for the soup from the Zuni recipe I have long treasured (a double recipe, half of which I freeze for future use)

Prepare the stuffing
Prepare the soup
Prepare the mint pesto

Prepare the stuffed leg of lamb
Cook and blanch off the potatoes and haricort vert
Prepare the garlic wine sauce
Bake the cake

Delmonico's artichoke stuffed leg of lamb with mint pesto and roasted red bliss potatoes and garlic-red wine gravy. This dish was part of three days prep and worth that time and then some. It was magic; from my hands or any other it is an delicious and enchanting roast from an alluring steakhouse era.

I pride myself on both the quality of the ingredients and my truth-in-menu suggestions to you: This food is going to take you a while, you will go to some trouble not only with the lamb, but also with the stocks (this quality cannot buy on a shelf) and the sauce (which needs to be babied. But a mother is a very precious thing to have as is a father. And as you know, Josh and I both lost our Father's very early in their lives and we are left to lavish upon our gorgeous Mothers.

Chocolate baked earth, as perfect and simple a recipe as I have ever worked with, on the platter used for now-four generations of birthday cakes, before it was dressed for its show.

However, if you are blessed enough to still have a Dad about the place, you might consider going to some lengths to demonstrate care in return for all he gave you. I can tell you, if my fine Father were still here to dine with my new children, I would certainly have turned the best part of a week inside-out to be sure he knew how very glad we are to celebrate with him too.

To Mothers, then, yes? Mine, yours, theirs...


mise @ pretty far west said...

What a beautiful place setting, and I'm delighted by your use of a name as a verb. I shall Blushing Hostess my standards of meal presentation.

Design Esquire said...

Wow, the menu and the presentation are just beautiful! What a perfectly wonderful way to spoil your mother.

Suburban Princess said...

Oh what a wonderful menu! Yum!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

I'm sure my invitation was lost in the mail.

Jesse said...

It all looks so delicious!

Nancy said...

Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting with me the other day! Please come back anytime!

What a beautiful setting with beautiful food that looks delish!!! Thanks for sharing the recipes! Nancy

Sweet Dreams Preppy said...

Just beautiful! Your mother is very lucky to have you for a daughter!

the southern hostess said...

What a fantastic menu! I'm sure it was a wonderful birthday.

thepreppyprincess said...

Oh, it looks like you had a lovely, lovely gathering Miss Hostess, the entree and the dessert are incredible! We have yet to do a leg of lamb, thank heaven your husband was the help, it sounds like quite a task, leaving us even more impressed with how wonderfully everything turned out!

We can't wait to read the Earth recipe, it is a new one for us.

Congratulations on such a beautiful meal and gathering!

Elle said...

Thanks for the tip about "French Women Don't Get Fat" I'm buying a copy tonight at Barnes and Noble!

Also, what super cute blogs you have... so glad you commented on mine so that I could be introduced to yours!

Great menu, Preppy Boyfriend is a professionally trained chef, so sadly my culinary skills leave quite a lot to be desired, I'm looking forward to learning from yours!

Bunny, THE PARIS HOUSE said...

Hi, I'm so happy you stopped by The Paris House, Your blog is Wonderful!!! Is Salem near Greenwhich or Cambridge ny??? that is the way I go from my mom and dads house up to vermont. I love it there so much!!! All your fabulous foods and glorious pics have me very hungry so I must go make dinner now!!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

That sounds like a delicious menu, and I know your mother must have been so honored to have been treated to such a feast.

I, too, lost my father early in life, and I cherished every day I had with him and with my mother who is also gone. And speaking of mothers... we just returned from Mr. Magpie's mother's birthday party, and it was a lot of fun. Hope your mother's birthday was extra special, too. How could it not be with that menu seasoned with such love!



Love your china (I think I recognize the pattern). :-)