When I met Sam, she was only 13. This past Friday, she turned the big ONE-FIVE (Papa Josh & I are still in denial… where did the time go?!). At this rate, she’ll be driving, graduating and moving into college before we run out of mustard.
Sam is one of the sweetest, smartest, most creative and just all-around amazing people I know… so we wanted to give her an awesome birthday. After a whirlwind 3-day weekend of gifts, roller skating, shopping, fine dining and sweet treats, we decided to close the celebrations with a big family dinner Sunday night. We’d make all of Sam’s favorite dishes and decorate the dining room with her favorite things.
Sam has always loved owls. Even as a baby, I’m told she only uttered the sound hooooooo for months. So naturally, owls would be part of the table motif, in addition to an utterly obscene amount of roses, all fresh from the backyard (the gardeners put down a new layer of mulch a couple weeks ago and they’re blooming like crazy!). Add in Sam’s favorite colors of light aqua blue & white and we had a colorful Spring tablescape for our Sunday night dinner.
The menu included all of Sam’s favorites, from Grandma’s meatballs to Asian caramelized steak, to a raspberry tart (I’ll post recipes soon).
My personal favorite would have to be the fresh homemade bread. There’s just something about throwing together flour, yeast and salt and then witnessing a loaf of bread emerge several hours later… it kind of makes you feel like a magician. Or like a highly evolved cave woman.
This time, I took my usual quick French bread recipe, sprinkled the top with some freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano, and popped it in a 425 degree F convection steam oven (pan of boiling water below the bread) for about 20 minutes. Out popped a crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, savory piece of bready goodness.
We served it with butter and four different kinds of salt:
- White truffle salt
- Smoked sea salt – this was everyone’s favorite (find it at Surfas). It’s also great for margaritas and smoky-citrus-y cocktails.
- Hawaiian red salt (from Koa Kea in Kauai)
- Good ol’ fleur de sel
And in case you’re wondering, I actually have 15 different kinds of salt at the moment. Yes, it’s a sickness.
Sam cleared half a loaf all on her own – I’ll have to make this more often!
After dinner, Josh & Stu built our first backyard fire of 2012, soon to become a biweekly tradition. Since we had just recovered from Easter, we still had a stash of Peeps on hand, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to introduce the fam to the wonders of Peeps S’mores (wtf are Peeps S’Mores you ask? wonder no more)
Sophie and Jessica made a chocolate birthday cake and cupcakes, so between that, the raspberry tart, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and Peeps S’Mores, we were in dessert heaven!
Sam blew out 15 candles, we all had a chance to hold Rebecca’s adorable/edible 1-pound teacup Yorkie, much food was eaten, and we all smelled like a campfire at the end of the night. In other words, perfect homey goodness. Love you Sam!