Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday - A Celebration Menu

On the weekend we headed up to the Central Coast to visit my inlaws Kate and Peter, who happen to both have birthdays in August. After thinking of and subsequently discarding numerous completely underwhelming birthday gift ideas, I decided that I would treat them to a nice birthday dinner instead. I decided on a classic menu, based around seasonal ingredients - starting with an amuse bouche of vivid green fresh pea soup - given a luxurious touch with the addition of black truffle, brought back from our honeymoon in France.

Amuse Bouche
Fresh pea soup with black truffle

My original plan was a fish entree, however on visiting the fishmonger I could not resist the lure of gorgeous W.A lobster tails, so I built the entree around them, combining them with a crisp potato rosti, creamy horseradish and lashings of delicious salmon roe. The lobster was tossed in a touch of sea salt, paprika and pepper - then lightly sauteed in french butter (a recent purchase from the Sydney Good Food and Wine Show)

Pan fried lobster tail with potato rosti,
horseradish creme fraiche and salmon roe

The main course used lovely plump Game Farm duck breasts, rubbed with L'herbes de province, and pan fried to crisp the skin, followed by a brief stint in the oven, then rested and carved. I served the duck with sugar snap peas, maple roasted Dutch carrots and delicious caramelised eschallots. A duck jus accompanied the dish. An old fashioned favourite, but a lovely end of winter dish.

Main Course
Roasted Duck breast with winter vegetables,
caramelised eschallots and duck jus

I decided against a super heavy dessert, given the richness of the lobster and the duck. A handmade coffee icecream completed the meal, served with a delicious almond praline. Icecream and praline are both great options for a dinner party - you can make them a day or two ahead and they lend themselves to all sorts of presentation ideas. You can serve the icecream in slices, or as a base for posh icecream sandwiches, or go for sundaes or cones. I served our icecream and praline in lovely little paper patisserie cups I found in a homewares store last weekend, keeping it simple.

Handmade coffee icecream with almond praline

The birthday dinner was a great success (I have decided to make it a yearly event) and Kate and Peter enjoyed having their dining room turned in to a restaurant for the night. Andrew provided his services as Sous Chef, waiter and dishwasher, which made everything go very smoothly, so I could just concentrate on the food. Special mention should also be made of the beautiful French champagne and wine that we enjoyed, courtesy of Peter's fabulous (and seemingly bottomless!) cellar.

One of the greatest joys of cooking for me is creating dishes for the people I care about, and Saturday night was no exception. I'm so glad that we ditched the dodgy birthday gift ideas and went with something personal and more meaningful. Happy Birthday Kate and Peter! Now.... to start musing on what to cook for you next year...........



  1. Absolutely gorgeous!

  2. With food like this we are going to live forever and have four birthdays a year! Love K8 & Peter