Birthday Dinner for Friends


The other night, I made dinner for two of our friends who were celebrating birthdays. Unfortunately, the only thing I managed to take a picture of were the stuffed mushrooms, but I thought I would still blog the rest of the menu.

Goat cheese-marinara crostini

Probably one of the easiest things ever to make, and one of the best. Pat a log of goat cheese until it is slightly flat, and put in a small, shallow baking dish. Pour homemade or your favorite jarred pasta sauce around the sides of the cheese, coming just up to the cheese (but not covering it). Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes or until it starts getting bubbly. During the last 10 minutes, toss in a baking sheet with some slices of French bread that you have brushed with extra virgin olive oil so they become nice and toasty. Once the crostini are out of the oven, rub them with a fresh head of garlic. Sprinkle a little fresh basil over the goat cheese bake, and use it as a dip/spread for the crostini.

French Onion Soup

I have made a creamy onion soup before, but never a plain old onion soup. I looked at a couple recipes and each had something I wasn’t crazy about (or was missing something I wanted). I ended up just making my own version and it was delicious! The other good thing was that I was able to make this earlier in the day and refrigerate it until it was ready to reheat and pop in the oven. The added bonus, of course, is that soups always taste better after they have been resting for a bit.

This makes about 6 bowls of soup (I used the 10 oz. crocks).

Click here for the updated version of this recipe.

7 medium yellow onions, sliced
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (I only keep unsalted in my fridge)
2 thyme springs, leaves stripped
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
French bread croutons (did the same thing I did for the crostini, above)
Gruyere – 1.5 cups shredded or 6 slices

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, bay leaf, and thyme leaves and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to turn golden brown–about 25-30 minutes.

Add the sherry and cook until it is almost evaporated and onions turn brown, about 15 minutes.

Add the beef and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into the oven-proof bowls. Top with a French bread crouton and a handful (or slice) of the gruyere. Bake at 450* until cheese is bubbly and starts to turn brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Filet of Beef Bourguignon

I used Ina Garten’s recipe. It was great, primarily because it uses such a great cut of beef (“the Cadillac of meats” as the butcher called it). It was tender and flavorful. The only problem I had is that there it too little sauce. Between the deglazing and simmering of vegetables the sauce reduces quite a bit so I would probably 1.5x the liquid if I were to make this again. Also, I don’t think the “cadillac” of meats is necessary in a dish like bourgouignon. But, it doesn’t hurt.

I served this with some mashed garlic redskins [boiled the redskins until cooked, drained. To to the warm pot, added some butter (to  melt) and some roasted garlic. Re re-added potatoes and mashed. Added salt, pepper, and a little parmesan cheese] and roasted asparagus] and some roasted asparagus.

Chocolate Molten Cakes

I used Dave Lieberman’s recipe (sidenote: I *puffy heart* Dave) but did half semi sweet and half  bittersweet chocolate. I  undercooked them a little (because I was so afraid of OVERcooking them) but they were still yummy. And, it’s pretty much a given I will never make a perfect dessert since I don’t like to bake.

Birthday Dinner for Friends

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