November 14, 2011
A (Surprise) Birthday (Dinner) Party

Yesterday was our friend Mikey’s birthday. It’s a little hard to properly celebrate a birthday on a Sunday, as schoolwork often gets in the way. But we decided that a surprise birthday pot-luck dinner party would be perfect!

My contributions (along with the help of Silvano) were a veggie pasta dish, salad, and homemade ricotta cheese.

The pasta dish was a kale pesto pasta, with sauteed kale, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and shallots. We made the pesto with mostly kale, a little basil, pignola nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Then I sauteed together all of the veggie-stuffs, and eventually we tossed it all together with some rigatoni. (Unfortunately, the picture-taking was seriously lacking, but here are the veggies.)

Now on to the cheese. So, I’ll be honest: this was an almost-failure that turned into a delicious treat. Over the summer, I bought a cheese-making kit online from Zingerman’s Deli. I was really excited to try it, but so far I hadn’t found the time. But this was a special occasion, so I went out and got the milk, and set to work. I’m not really sure where I went wrong, but the curds never came together the way they were supposed to, and so my failed attempt at mozzarella turned into a delicious homemade ricotta cheese (that was delicious with the pasta dish).

But I’m not totally deterred, I will definitely be attempting this one again. I was a little frazzled this time, next time cheese will be the only thing I make. So stay tuned.

The rest of dinner included a baked camembert with caramelized pecans; an arugula and mesclun salad with cucumbers and red peppers; Chinese-style eggplant with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts; roasted root vegetables; homemade bruschetta; garlic shrimp; and a homemade tiramisu.

(Don’t worry, I’m just pretending - I didn’t really like the tiramisu pan clean.)

Overall, we had a delicious dinner, wonderful company, and a very surprised birthday boy - I’d say it was a successful evening.

(That’s the surprised birthday boy.)

There are some leftovers, so perhaps more photos to come. Have a good week!

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