Good Morning! 2 posts in one day, very exciting! Last night, we cooked Jennifer's annual birthday dinner - a couple weeks late, but T and I spent three weeks in Italy, so we had to postpone. Let's chat about Italy for a second - yes, the food is divine. Plan on seeing a lot of Italy inspired dishes coming up. I really think its the fresh pasta and seafood that makes a difference. That, and the simple preparation with quality ingredients. Fresh herbs, olive oil, and lemon. No butter, no crazy spices - just perfection!
On to important topics, though. What were Jennifer's ingredients? I know what you're thinking - some exotic fish or meat with a spice from somewhere in the world that no one has ever heard of. NO! She totally threw me for a loop when she said "watermelon and peaches." What? Really? We have that all the time! But the challenge really did come about, because it's not like we're going to just find some boring peach pie recipe for a birthday dinner, right?
Cocktail - Watermelon Ginger Mojitos
Oh yeah. Let me walk you through this quickly. Ginger simple syrup is how you infuse the ginger flavor - mix equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil, and then let cool. Add some sliced ginger to the syrup while cooling so it infuses. I then basically just juiced some watermelon, and mixed syrup, watermelon, and white rum until the flavor worked for me. Mix it with muddled mint and then top with some Polar Seltzer "mint mojito".
Appetizer - Grilled Shrimp, Orange, and Watermelon Salad with Peppered Peanuts and Zesty Citrus Dressing
OMG. I could eat this every day as a meal in itself. I did make some changes - so let's take this step by step. Lots of it was done in advance. Obviously, I was cooking with a lot of peaches and watermelons, so those were all diced and big bowls and put to the side. The edamame - cooked it up, chilled it, put it in a to go cup for later. The dressing/marinade - prepped it and put it in a to go cup. Instead of oranges - save yourself the hassle and use canned mandarin orange slices. I also skipped all the herbs at the end. I then used a box of mixed spring greens. Once I arrived at Jenn's, we brushed the shrimp with the glaze and then brushed again once on the grill. Simply assemble salad to your liking, top with a shrimp skewer, and drizzle with more glaze/dressing. Delicious! I'm actually using the leftover glaze/dressing/whatever on some chicken for the grill tonight!
Appetizer - Peach and Tomato Gazpacho
See it right next to the prosecco? We served it in shooters, because it is thick and heavy. It was fantastic! A great way to combine your fruits and veggies into a healthy dish!
Appetizer Wine - Ponte Prosecco
Okay, let me give a HUGE shout out to the people at Stew Leonard's Wines. John went there with our menu and they really had some fun helping him pick out a perfectly matching combination. This was, hands down, the best Prosecco we have ever had. I can't explain it. It's the perfect balance of fruit, bubbles, and flavor!
Entree - Tamarind Glazed Duck Tacos with a Peach-Watermelon Salsa
BAM! There you go! Didn't think I could find something creative with peaches and watermelon, right? Look no further for a truly impressive meal! Okay, we only did the duck part of the recipe above - but we followed to a T and it was perfect! (I can only find Tamarind at Whole Foods, if you're a local and looking for it, by the way.) Tamarind is a sweet and sour type of thick glaze. Then I made a peach and watermelon salsa (see recipe below - I just subbed watermelon for the mango) and it was divine! On the side - we did a stone fruit slaw and it tied into the recipe perfectly! Side note - make sure to put the ginger in that slaw - I think it really brought a flavor profile that helps propel this dish into "delicious-ness."
Entree Wine - 2011 Meiomi Pinot Noir
I will never be the same after this wine. By far, the best wine we have ever had on this blog! This California Pinot was unbelievable and unexpected! It was strong and bold and full of dark berry flavors. It also had a smooth cocoa and vanilla undertone to it that really made it stand out. Seriously - Stew's Wines - you hit this one out of the park!
Dessert - Strawberries and Peaches with Balsamic Zabaglione
Light and refreshing and a perfect end to the meal! I'm not sure what a zabaglione is to be honest, but it was pretty much a thickened jazzed up whipped cream. It was a perfect complement to the fresh fruit and sweet sauce. What is vin santo? No clue. I wasn't about to spend $30 on a bottle of it to find out. So I simply used a $12 ice wine and then we finished that off for dessert. :-)
There you go - another stunning birthday dinner for the books! And the best thing is - we have two more birthday dinners this summer! John is in August, and Tony is excited for his, which we will probably do next week!
Next Post - Antonio's Birthday Dinner