Happy Birthday to Me!
I walk in the side door to find one of my oldest friends wearing the "Chef Bitch" tocque I bought for him last year. He's standing over a plate of the most beautiful hor doerves you ever saw with cocktail shaker in hand. "I know you're parched from your drive up the mountain" he says as he starts to pour the "Mojo's" (the Mountain Man version of the Mojito). His lovely wife, and one of my closest friends, exclaims "Is it time for a cocktail? Can I have a heh-ehl yesss?!!" I respond enthusiastically - "Heh-ehl Yesss!!!" And with that, let the festivities begin.
It's my birthday season and I'm in the mountains, looking out the window, watching the sun rise over Pikes Peak. Why do I ever leave here? Why haven't I bought a house around the corner and moved down the street? There must be something seriously wrong with me.
Last night was the opening salvo in my birthday season and looking back over my notes from last night I see "Oh no! I've got Mojo up my nose". Let's just say we had a good time. And I learned new frenchy words - like "mir pwah". It's the stuff you make lobster bisque with. And those frenchy's - they're so smart, they thicken the bisque with the starch from rice and strain all the "mir pwah" stuff and rice out at the last minute. Then there's all this other stuff that includes sauteeing the tail and claws and fish stock and flambe (with cognac).
Let's go back to the hor doerves. Did I mention how beautiful they were?! OMG. We're talkin' smoked salmon with creme fraiche, and caviar, with just a sprinkling of fresh tarragon on crackers. Elegant, delicious, and ever so birthday-like. These tasty morsels were complimented by garlic and rosemary boule (cute little bread rounds, undoubtedly frenchy too) served with this amazingly rich and slightly sweet honey and walnut compound butter formed in the shape of a heart (an added touch for our lovely hostess from her handsome cheffy husband).
Next we have salad w/cranberries. I dress my salad with blue cheese vinagrette. Mmmmm, mmmmm good.
Back to the lobster bisque. That mir pwah stuff is actually spelled "mir poix". You make it with 2 parts onion to 1 part celery and 1 part onion. Put the veggies in a large skillet with a "bouquet garni" which is bay leaf, parsley, and thyme tied together with a string and 3 or 4 tablespoons of high quality unsalted butter (you can never have too much butter). Next you "etuv'e" or "sweat" the vegetables cooking them over a low fire to retain their sugars. Then add the lobster shells head and all (cut in two)to flavor the stock. Crush the shells in the pan to get all the lobster flavor you can. Then you add short grain rice (more gluten) to thicken the stock. Finally you strain all that out,add the heavy cream, drop in the lobster chunks (after flambe - pretty!)and dine like royalty.
The entree was Osso Bucco, veal shanks in this spicy, delicious kalamata olive flavored stew with maple flavored polenta. Jesus. I love my birthday. Dessert was a chocolate walnut tart with semisweet and bittersweet chocolate and caramel; a dessert made especially to my taste.
I'll add recipes for the entire dinner later. But now I must run - bagels with smoked salmon, capers and caviar await!