For my mother's 60th birthday dinner this week, I decided to keep it simple. I needed a meal I could put together throughout the day, leisurely, while looking after my ever-more-needy 1-year-old son, M'hijo. I also needed a meal that could take care of itself for the last two hours since I was heading out to do some sparring training and wanted to come home, set the table, and be ready to eat immediately.
Laurie Colwin's dinner party menu from the chapter entitled "The Same Old Thing" in Home Cooking (which is currently competing with How to Eat and The Art of Eating for the honour of being my favourite food book ever) seemed to be exactly right. The meal consists of baked chicken, which takes precisely two hours in the oven, creamed spinach with jalapenos, and potato salad. Now this may not seem like a terribly festive meal for someone's 60th birthday, but my mom was going in for surgery the following morning, and I thought she might be more in the mood for some comforting, simple food than some like, oh, say, steak mirabeau, which is somewhat fancier, and which I made for her 58th birthday.
Everything turned out really well, in particular the spinach (this recipe is not Colwin's exactly, but close enough, I think). If I were going to be picky, I would say that the chicken breasts needed to be taken out about 20 minutes earlier than they were, and the thighs and drumsticks about 5 minutes earlier. But since I was busy kicking butt at the dojang, and my spouse was busy wrangling the baby, they were not.
So, three new recipes:
New Recipe Number 2: plain potato salad :pour mayonnaise thinned with a little lemon juice and pepper over just-boiled tasty tiny potatoes mixed with dill and scallions.
New Recipe Number 3: Creamed Spinach with Jalapenos: linked above.
New Recipe Number 4: Laurie Colwin's baked mustard chicken: cut up chicken, brush on mustard, roll in breadcrumbs and paprika, dot with butter, bake at 300 for 1 hour and 40 minutes for the breasts and wings and 1 hour and 55 minutes for the thighs and drumsticks.