So, the B-Day Party went off without a hitch!
Here is menu and notes for those who were helping me. Unfortunately, no photos, as I was running around like a Rocky Free Range sans cabeza!
Taqueria Can-Cún Salsa Verde and Fresh Tortilla Chips
Caprese Salad Skewers
Poached Mozzarella in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Roasted Garlic
Mini Chicken Pot Pie (I ended up using Puff Pastry and sharp white cheddar. These were the sleeper hit of the party! They were awesome!)
Chinese Dumplings- Vegetarian Mushroom, Chicken, Pork (These were ugly- I prefer mine pan fried then steamed, but people ate up the pale, doughy glumps!)
Escalante’s Famous Macaroni and Cheese
Wagyu Beef Mini Cheesesteaks with Crispy Shallots and Black Truffle Oil (These were gone before I even left the kitchen, though I must say the meat from GG Meat Company in the Ferry Building was not at all the quality I expected. Thankfully, it was also cheap ($35/lb) but I really would have rather had half as much of a true,. true marbled 'Kobe")
Tiramisu and Select Italian Pastries (From Dianda's at Mission and 24th. Truly awesome, just so great, esp the "rumball" cream puffs!)
Rob TXXXXlizzi's "The Punch" with Rum Fireballs (This was good, but responsible for me being dead asleep at the karaoke bar at about midnight. Rum, 7-up, sherbet (sorbet, actually) fresh fruits, etc. With cherries soaked in 151 and cinnamon schnapps.)
Here are the obnoxious details:
What a great weekend! The big three-five for Rob!
Thanks to everyone who came out the b-day party, and especially to Muppet for talking me off the ledge first thing in the morning (and Darci and Sherri for being so sweet after I hit the ledge again at Encore. :)
Here is the menu and a few recipes and stories, if anyone would like them:
Taqueria Can-Cu´n Salsa Verde and Fresh Tortilla Chips
Caprese Salad Skewers
Poached Mozzarella in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Roasted Garlic
Mini Chicken Pot Pie
Chinese Dumplings- Vegetarian Mushroom, Chicken, Pork
Escalante's Famous Macaroni and Cheese
Wagyu Beef Mini Cheesesteaks with Crispy Shallots and Black Truffle Oil
Tiramisu and Select Italian Pastries
Rob T&986zzi's "The Punch" with Rum Fireballs
OK, let's start at the top- Tac Can Cun makes this amazing Salsa Verde that has some avocado in it, so it's like a salsa verde/guac situation. It's awesome! Locations at Mission and 29th and somewhere else in the Mission... Google it... Whole Foods made me wait about 30 minutes so they could find the code for fresh tortilla chips, which they swore were flour, not corn. I acquiesced and thought flour might be fun, so I was fine with it. They handed me the bag at the end of the wait, though and I could clearly see that there were corn kernels in the jazz. Dumbfucks.
Caprese Salad Skewers- (Vegetarian) This was a product of rethinking something Rob loves. Both he and I could literally live on caprese salad in the summer when the tomatoes are ripe and juicy and you can get a bush of basil the size of your head for a buck. These were mini sweet-pear tomatoes with small fresh mozz and basil (from Trader Joes, so not local.) My favorite family-olive-oil-farm, Bairani, started making a balsamic, which I cooked down to a glaze. I made the skewers (tomato -> basil -> cheese) and stuck them into the business end of a napa cabbage (which I also used for the dumplings) and drizzled with the balsamic and olive oil.
Poached Mozzarella. (Vegetarian) So, as Muppet knows, I made this for two reasons only-- one, because I have a nifty tea-light fondue dish I wanted to use, and two, because Rob is Italian and nothin' says Italian like bread and sauce!! This was some chopped garlic (OK, a lot) and fresh Olive Oil (Bairani Family Farms) with Muir Glen chopped tomatoes and a ton of nicoise and calamatta olives from Whole Foods' fresh bar that I seeded myself. I added in about a head of garlic that had been baked at 350 for an hour or so in salt, pepper, oil and crushed red pepper. Whole. Added lots of crushed red pepper and a splash of balsamic, poured over a ball of fresh mozz and served with Acme Bread. I tried baking this goo to loosen up the cheese, but found I needed to nuke it for about 4 mins and then add an extra candle to the fondue set so that the pot got warmer. This is also great with goat cheese, but b-day boy hates such things.
Acme Bread- Well, this is easy. I could have gotten it from Whole Foods or the Good Life Grocery in Bernal, but I was at the ferry Building buying the meat, so I got it there. I have a half loaf left which will be made into the best croutons EVER tonight!
Mini Chicken Pot Pie- OK, so good- this was the sleeper hit of the party. Two nights before (easy pre-prep!) I poached a half a chicken in chicken stock, garlic and rosemary. Took the meat off and shredded. Next night, I got some button mushrooms and sautéed in butter and garlic. Added pearl onions. Cooked until caramelized. Deglazed with dry vermouth. Added celery, frozen veggies (green beans, carrots, peas, corn, etc) Fresh rosemary and thyme, and- this is important... salt it with CELERY SALT! Push aside the veggies, add a good sized pat of butter. Let it melt. Add a tbs or so of flour and let it cook in the butter for 2 mins or so. Add Chicken stock (free range organic, if possible, but definitely STOCK or well-boiled-down broth.) and half and half. Keep adding each until thick enough to stay in a spoon, but not dry. Taste it. You want it to be quite celeri-tastic, so if you need to salt it, salt it with celery salt again. Pepper, that kind of thing. Get yourself some puff pastry and the sharpest, whitest, driest cheddar you can find. It should look more like a parmesan than anything. Let the pastry defrost (~2 hours) spread it out and dump the shredded cheddar on it. Roll the cheese into it-- a nice generous sprinkle. Cut into appropriate shapes and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 or so for about 20 minutes until puffy and nicely browned from the cheese.
Put the cooked chicken mixture into a small heat-resistant container (I used porcelain Asian soup spoons) and top with puff pastry-- I used diamond-shaped pastry.
Chinese Dumplings- Step one, get you some wonton skins and some steamer baskets.
I got mine for 50 cents each at this great place on Mission and 17th. The recipe is the same, more or less, for the chicken and the pork. I made the chicken and pork in a food processor since I started with deboned meat from the other half of the whole free range chicken from the pot pie (recipe above). Raw meat -Chicken or Ground Pork- Add: 1 tsp fresh ginger, 3-4 cloves garlic, 2 tsp oyster sauce, 1tbs sesame oil, 2 tbs water chestnuts, 2 tbs chopped or whole peanuts, 1 tsp vermouth, 1 green onion, dash salt, 1/2 tsp sugar. Pulse until it comes together. It should be chunky. For the veggie (VEGAN) ones... about a cup of frozen wild mushrooms. 2 slices of nappa cabbage, a tsp of black bean paste, a dash of rice wine vinegar, a dash of vermouth, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 inch cube ginger, a small handfull peanuts... Let each mixture sit for about an hour in the fridge and then put into wonton skins. (My understanding is that these are vegan, but check the package to be sure there is no egg in the skin if you are doing the vegan mushroom ones.) I am not going to explain how to roll them here, but look it up- there are great resources online. Line the steamer baskets with napa cabbage and cover with aluminum foil. Fit over a pan with about 2 inches of water and steam for about 20 mins. Check the water often. Serve with a sauce of 1:1 soy sauce and rice wine vinegar with red chili flakes and chopped ginger/garlic. and several slices of scallion. If you have ready access to a fry pan, I would fry them in peanut and sesame oil first until brown bits form and then put them in the steamers--- or simply dump water into the pan and cover for a few minutes. I didn't want to do that much cooking at the host house, though.
Escalante's Mac and Cheese- I'm sorry. Cannot. Give. Details. *arrrgggghhhffff...*
Wagyu Beef cheesesteaks- So easy! Find a place that sells Wagyu beef or "American Kobe" near you. Buy a fatty cut and expect to pay about $40/pound. (Remember, you'll be cutting it thin!) Get a quality bread- I got Acme sweet batard. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and toast. Put a scant slice of fontina on top, toast again. Finely slice some shallots and toss in a pinch of salt then add flour, cayenne and fresh ground pepper and put it in hot smoking olie oil (an inch or so) in a deeper pan and fry, flipping, until golden, like an onion ring or onion string. Drain on paper towels or brown bag. Salt your meat-- pepper it, rub it like you love it! Put it in the hottest hottest oh- my-god-sohotsohotsohot-glowing-hot cast iron pan (greased with olive oil or, better yet, bacon grease) you can find. Sear each end. You want to do this like you would a seared tuna. Blaring blazing on the outside and quivery raw inside. Drizzle each browned cheesy toast with black truffle oil. Add a thin slice of (rested) meat. Top with crispy fried shallot and serve.
Tiramisu and Italian Pastries- Go to Dianda's on Mission and 24th. Point at stuff. Buy it. Eat things.
Rob T***'s "The Punch" with Rum Fireballs-- Buy Cherries (I had to do frozen.) Soak in 151 and cinnamon schnapps for 2 days or so. Pour white rum into a bowl. Add mixed fruit. Add ice. Add rainbow sherbet (I used organic raspberry and mango sorbet, since I couldn't bring myself to use sherbet.) A a bottle of lemon lime soda. Add Kool Aide to taste (tropical, again, I couldn't do this step.) Serve with soaked cherries.