I love to celebrate occasions and birthdays are definitely an occasion to celebrate. I may have overdone things with my childrens birthdays when they were young--my 32 year old son still thinks his birthday should be a national holiday! Having a birthday is a reason to celebrate, whether on the actual day or not. Since two of my friends have January birthdays a week apart, we have turned their annual celebration into a joint event. This year, since I have a bit more time, I treated Beth and Martha Ray to dinner at my house. I love entertaining just as much as I love to celebrate, so it was a win/win!
We started off the meal with some small savory bites--homemade spicy pimiento cheese, roasted pecans and cheese straws.
Then we moved into roasted garlic and brie soup. I start with a recipe, and then tweak it with what I have on hand. The recipe called for two heads of roasted garlic. I bought some this week at the store (and paid for them) but they did not make it home, so we had one head of roasted garlic. It was a good soup with maybe a bit less garlic flavor than it should have had.
If you don't have an immersion blender, I would recommend getting one. I do love gadgets and have way more than I need, but this is one I use every week, and it doesn't take up much space.
I also made a loaf of homemade bread. This recipe will make you look like you are a rock-star baker, but it requires no skill. Use 3 cups of any flour you want (I used 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups bread flour). One teaspoon of dry yeast, 1-2 teaspoons of salt and 1 1/2 cup warm water (not hot). Mix together all ingredients. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook. It should be slightly sticky. If it appears too dry, add a little more water. Then cover and let it rest for minimum 3 hours or up to 12.
Heat your oven to 450 with a covered dutch oven (I have a Le Creuset) inside for 30 minutes. Take your bread out of the container and shape it into a ball or loaf shape. I score the top with a knife and put on some coarse salt or herbs. Take the pan out of the oven and put the dough inside and cover and put it back in the oven for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and let it brown for another 10 minutes or so. Take it out of the oven and it will slide right out of the pan. You can add anything you want into the dough. I have chopped rosemary from my garden, a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, oatmeal and flax seeds from time to time.
Then we moved to the main course. I sous vided (another gadget) halibut, and we had polenta and roasted broccoli, straight from my garden. We ended with coffee and dark chocolate creme brulee with blood orange and fresh whipped cream.
We had a wonderful time visiting, eating and catching up. Whether you have a real reason to celebrate or not, you should always find time to connect with your friends.