Brad and I actually met the week after his 24th birthday. So by the time his first birthday with me rolled around, we were pretty serious about each other. That actually didn’t take very long at all. One thing I totally credit him with is encouraging me to cook. When I met Brad, I was living by myself and cooking meals for one that often lacked imagination or creativity. However, I had basically been taught (by example) that food is love. My grandmother and grandfather showed me that every Sunday for lunch and every Thursday for dinner, back when I was living at home. Once I had someone to love, cooking became something I loved to do. I loved to cook for Brad and I loved it when he praised the results.
One of the my first elaborate meals was his 25th birthday meal, which has become the standard birthday meal that I make each year for him, per his request. The recipes comes from Williams Sonoma and include Filet Mignon with Bourguignonne Sauce and Risotto with Spinach. Williams Sonoma has an extensive collection of really delicious recipes. From what I have experienced, most or all of them contain an ingredient that you have to purchase from them. This is easily worked around for any seasoned cook. For example the Bourguignonne Sauce calls for a WS red wine reduction. Well William Sonoma I do love you and your products, but am perfectly capable of making my own red wine reduction. I wish I remembered more details about the wine we drank. It was a Trader Joe’s Reserve and was very good…maybe a Cabernet? All of their reserves I have tried have been really excellent. I highly recommend trying them out, preferably at their free wine tasting stand. 🙂
You can just barely see the beautiful bouquet of orange Gerber daisies and light blue hydrangea (our very favorite) I picked up earlier that day at Earth Fare. There will definitely be plenty hydrangea in our wedding this August. They just make me happy. 🙂
Usually this meal is accompanied by some steamed broccoli, but this year I wanted to try swiss chard, which I had never made myself. chopped the major stalks off of a big bunch of organic swiss chard. Added about 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil to my skillet and sauteed some minced garlic. When the garlic was starting to brown, I added the swiss chard and stirred them with the garlic until they had cooked down. I removed them from the pan, placed them in a glass bowl, salted and peppered them, and then tossed them lightly in some fig balsamic vinegar (more on that soon). It was really delicious and a refreshing change from the normal green sides.
We savored the meal out on our balcony where the sun had already gone down and no natural light was left. Maybe I should have used my flash? The meal turned out really well and even Rascal got to enjoy the fruit of my labor when Brad let him lick his mostly clean plate.
Rascal is a fan of pretty much anything on a plate. He does this thing once you are through with your food where he looks at you, looks at your plate, looks at you, looks at your plate. Not too subtle is he?
If you are a fan of risotto, you MUST look up William Sonoma’s risotto recipes online. There are so many to choose from. I’ve probably made about four and they all turn out absolutely delicious. Time consuming, but worth it. If you’re looking for a place to start, start with the butternut squash risotto and substitute sweet potatoes for the squash, since it’s not really in season anymore. You will not be sorry! 🙂