Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Birthday

I have been on the "I am 40 fence" for the past year, yesterday around 7 am (birth time - it really is not your birthday until that time) I jumped over the fence and I am officially in my 40s. WOW! I do not feel 40; but, then again, what is a 40 year suppose to feel like? We laugh about how we take more vitamins now and how we have to exercise like a crazy person to drop those 5 pounds; otherwise, I am not 40. :)

I am lucky that I have a supporting family, fantastic friends and a man who is always there for me! I think Jen over at Use Real Butter really summed it up when talking about doing things for the one you love; L and I feel the same exact way. Now for a birthday, I feel that, this day is yours and only yours and you should definitely do what you enjoy. We did spend the day at the office working - we are starting a business together - which is exactly what I wanted to do. Then he surprised me by telling me he was going to cook dinner for me. Now this is BIG! He never cooks and when he does it is the one thing he knows how to make, his signature dish, Chili. While, I LOVE to cook, I was welcoming this evening of relaxing! And he seemed very excited to surprise me with an evening of food by Laudalino.

Let me set the visual for you - we have a tiny one bedroom apartment, maybe 450 sq feet in total, and our kitchen (kitchen part is no more than 20 sq. ft.) is part of the living room/dining area, so there is no where to go relax unless I want to go for a run in the garage, leave the house for awhile or take a nice glass of Lillet into the bedroom and work. I took the Lillet and left him in the kitchen to have fun! It was humorous when our friend D. stopped by with flowers and gifts, to have her come into the room I was confined too; but, we laughed as we (L and I) always seem to make it work!

While I am sipping and chatting with D. there was the occasional dish falling or pots being banged in some strange matter but not once did L. ask for help. I was becoming even more impressed, he was doing it! I was so happy and surprised to come out and find the table set (with candles even), a small gift (a little journal, a "love" journal) and a wonderful meal of his ever so famous chili right down to all the extras - avocado, sour cream, cheese, onions, corn muffins and a nice bottle of wine. It was really fantastic! I was very surprised and very happy - My MAN did this for me! I was very touched by his love for me!

We did laugh during the meal as he started a whole new food craze last night - instead of Euro/Asisan food it was Euro/Mexican food. He made the chili not only with beef but Italian sausage. The "cheddar" cheese was actually a hard orange cheese from France - very flavorful and rich. The wine was very full bodied Italian. As well he admitted to how tired all this prepping and cooking left him (notice him falling asleep during dessert) and that now he knew why I was so tired at the end of the night. Puzzling?!

It really is the little things that matter the most. The fact that he put all this effort into making my day special, was the best gift of all! We will be taking Chez on the road to Yosemite this weekend, for the rest of the birthday celebration and to just chill, read some books, shoot some photos and completely reconnect; so, until next week .... have a great weekend!

Come dine with us soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guess What was for dinner ....

You guessed ..... right! Again & again. What more can I say? Hmmm, we hate leftovers and have had the same thing three nights in a row - we can not believe it! Thank god it is like a fine wine, ages well with time. To shake things up, I tossed together a green salad with tiny sweet tomatoes and goat cheese! Promise we will be eating something new very soon.

Do come back and dine with us again!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Leftover Night

I was bumping around the world of food blogs today, when I should have been working, when I stumbled upon Sunita's World. Sunita hosts a monthly event about spices we have never taken part in this; but, after I began reading about it, I became interested. I saw that the current month's challenge involved Star Anise, now I was not sure what I would make with it as I usually just use it as a prop in photos, then I suddenly remembered that I used it in our Japanese Pot Roast and since we ate out last night we were dining on this outrageous meal again, tonight! Let me tell you after sitting in the fridge for a day, the flavor really blended even more, it was even more fantastic. You have to try this recipe!

So, here you have our entry for Sunita's very fun event!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Japanese Inspired Pot Roast

While, we have only joined Meeta in one of her Monthly Mingles - we had a great time. I was not going to do this months only because it was a "one-dish" meal and what comes to mind for us involves a crock pot food or casserole type meal, neither appealed to us, so we decided to sit this one out.

I was getting ready to put away my February issue of Food and Wine, when I decided to take one last flip through it. There on the cover was the topic, "the Ultimate One-Pot Meal". I slowly turned to page 101, thinking it was going to involve a crock-pot or would be a casserole. So happy to see it was a nice slow braised meal cooked in one-pot and in the oven. The perfect meal for the lazy Saturday night we were planning.

FW gives you four options and we chose the Japanese style. We did use a few potatoes instead of the Daikon. As well I cooked Udon noodles instead of the egg noodles they suggest. The pot-roast was very easy to make and while it is cooking the house smells truly incredible. Great way to get the mood going for a "lazy but romantic" evening.

While the roast was slowly cooking we used up the left-over bubbly from our pre and Valentine's dinners. We added a couple splashes of Bonny Doon Framboise and garnished with raspberries. What a great way to end your day and start your evening!

Then it was time to really chow down on the pot roast and buttered udon noodles. The roast was very tender and the carrots and potatoes were not over cooked, a slight crunch to them still. The broth was very flavorful - the saltiness of the Soy Sauce, and the sweetness of the Mirin and the Star Anise (which I almost did not add as I like to photograph with them) brought a very interesting flavor, a little spicy and not overwhelming, very exotic, definitely worked very well together - we loved it! Served a hunk of crusty bread with it and we popped open a lovely Bordeaux from the Loire Valley. For dessert we had a couple meringues left over, which, I made with my sweet little 4 year old friend, E. for Valentines - she is all about pink and love - I topped them with raspberries and drizzled deep dark chocolate over the tops.

Truly a great evening with the one you love!