Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Birthday Feast

I cooked a nine-course feast for the fam to celebrate my birthday. The deal was that they had to eat anything I prepared. Most of the time, I can only get my mom to sample my creations, as most of my family prefers fatty Southern foods, bad carbs, and overcooked meat and vegetables.

I spent Friday night through Saturday night cooking. My mom appointed herself my "sous-chef," and she was extremely helpful. My grandmother, stepfather, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew participated. Everything was weight loss surgery-friendly (and thus, Weight Watchers-friendly, which my mom appreciated.) The concept was to have foods inspired by flavors I enjoy from around the globe - though I was careful not to be too adventurous.

The Menu:

  1. Dover sole poached in lemon and thyme with a charred grape tomato, tarragon, and lemon chutney
  2. Seared scallop with Chinese five spice, served with soy sauce and edamame
  3. Curry-roasted cauliflower with sultana raisins, oven-crisped thin okra slices, and toasted pine nuts. Although I used Indian flavors in this and borrowed inspiration from my former favorite Indian dish, aloo gobi, the primary inspiration for this dish is the amazing roasted cauliflower at Zaytinya, one of my favorite restaurants. Their roasted cauliflower is the best thing on the menu. An aside: One of the more entertaining competitors on this season of Top Chef, Mike Isabella, is executive chef at Zaytinya. Neither aloo gobi nor Zaytinya's cauliflower has okra, and I think it was an awesome addition.
  4. Chicken breast skewers. I served these with two sauces that I made from scratch: a traditional South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce, and a Chinese-inspired plum sauce that was infused with soy sauce and ginger. It was awesome to make my own plum sauce, because the bottled kind is full of added sugar.
  5. Asparagus wrapped in turkey bacon and grilled
  6. Pasta-less lasagna - I used sauteed zucchini, made tomato sauce from scratch, and filled the lasagna with ground turkey breast and a mixture of both fat-free and part-skim ricotta, fat-free cream cheese, lowfat Parmesan cheese, chopped Spinach, and egg. I topped it with fat-free mozzarella. I was supposed to also have fresh basil on top but I misplaced it.
  7. Jerk-seasoned shrimp on a Napa cabbage leaf with a salsa made with roasted pineapple, tricolor peppers, grilled scallions, and vinegar, and topped with cilantro
  8. Steak and eggs - I made a deviled egg, except that I mixed the yolks with mustard, Splenda, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and a few other things and topped them with sauteed mushrooms. Alongside the egg was eye-of-round steak cooked simply in garlic and rosemary. I sliced the steak thinly and laid it atop the deviled egg.
  9. Dessert: I had an Edible Arrangements bouquet and served sugar-free Reese's Cups and Dove dark chocolate candies. Everyone was so full at this stage that I'm glad I didn't labor over dessert.

The biggest hits were the cauliflower, the asparagus, the steak and egg, and the shrimp. I made some preparation mistakes because I was trying to do too much. This showed mostly in the scallop (underseasoned) and the chicken skewers (overcooked). The lasagna is completely delicious, but I didn't get many compliments on it for some reason.

I love testing out my culinary skills and making everything weight-loss-surgery friendly! This was super-fun. I'm thinking about doing these again in the future, but I will make fewer courses, focusing on quality and not quantity.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I wandered over from I've really been enjoying reading your blog. I'm pre-op, and one of the things I've worried about is whether I'll be able to still enjoy cooking (and eating) after surgery. It's nice to see that you still do. :-)

    Oh, and I am making your meatloaf caprese for dinner tonight! I can't wait!

    - Kelly