Bonus Food Pics: Pre-Birthday Dinner & Dessert

short ribs horseradish potatoes - gilded otter

As some of you may know, today is my 30th birthday. I’m going back and forth between not thinking about this new decade and trying to figure out how I’m going to not trust anyone over 30 if I’m now included in that bracket. Last weekend, my parents came in for a visit to celebrate a little early. As I mentioned in a recent Photo Diary, we went to New Paltz on Saturday and while I originally thought we might come back closer to home for a mid-day dinner, I changed my mind and decided to head over to New Paltz’s Gilded Otter. Both a restaurant and a brewery, I decided to start off with their beer sample which not surprisingly lead me to order their India Pale Ale to go along with my meal of Stout Braised Boneless Short Ribs. I haven’t had shortribs too often, but have always liked their juicy tenderness. The meal was served with veggies and some super fluffy, bite-y Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. I scarfed this all done pretty quickly, so it must have been good.

pre birthday cheesecakeFor dessert, my lovely wife Emily made Michael Ruhlman’s Classic New York Cheesecake from Ruhlman’s Twenty (page 113). She wasn’t super thrilled with some of the vagueness in the recipe, but I thought the results were a real treat. More lemony than I would have expected, the mixture of acid and creamy cheese with the best graham cracker crust I’ve ever had made this aces in my book. I should say, I’m not much of a dessert fan, but I do love cheesecake and even had two pieces of this on Saturday.

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Bonus Birthday Food Pics: Sushi From QQ & Brothers Barbecue

qq sushu1One of these days I’m going to remember to write down what I order from our favorite nearby sushi place, QQ Asian Bistro. I want to say that these are pictures of the 007 Roll (above) which consists of “Spicy tuna, crabmeat, avocado,lightly deep fried, eel, spicy mayo sauce, topped with scallion, masago” and the Spider Roll, but I can’t quite be sure. qq sushu2

Anyway, when my parents were in town for Second Christmas and New Year’s we decided to celebrate another holiday: my wife’s birthday. Instead of going out for a big meal, we instead ordered the big meal and ate it at home. It was a great experience and as usual, the QQ food was wicked good. IMG_2474But that’s not all the food goodness we enjoyed to celebrate my lovely wife’s birth. On her actual birthday I made her a cake and we also went and got dinner at Brothers Barbecue. Brothers actually opened a while back, but they had a fire and shut down for around two years or so. Well, they’re back open and we had some awesome food there. Above you can see the corn bread which was super thick and sweet and yummy. IMG_2478And then there’s the entree. I had the two meat plate with two sides and decided on Kansas City ribs and pulled pork with mac & cheese and collard greens with bacon. The ribs were delicious and fell right off the bone, the pulled pork was perfectly tender. Both were complimented very well by their barbecue sauce which reminded me of a homemade version of Arbys Sauce. The collard greens were really tasty too, I don’t think I’d ever had them before, but they had a very cabbage-y flavor to them. The mac and cheese was alright. Having made several versions of that as a main course and as a side, I know how hard it can be to keep in good shape. It wasn’t bad by any means, just not mind blowingly awesome like everything else. Welcome back, Brothers!

Baking Birthday Cake For My Lady

Sunday was my wonderful wife’s birthday. The one thing she asked for was for me to make her favorite cake with her favorite icing. That happens to be the batter recipe for Betty Crocker’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes with Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Vanilla Frosting (Cupcakes page 302). As I’ve said before, I’m not much of a baker because I don’t like sweets or deserts too much, but of course I’m going to do my best to make her birthday a happy one.

I got the cakes going in the morning which was as simple as popping all the ingredients into the mixer in the proper order (everything up to and including the baking powder). The only changes I made (as noted in my wife’s printed out copy of the recipe) were using hot water and vegetable oil instead of shortening. Then I mixed in the eggs and popped the baker’s chocolate into the microwave for 2 minutes and then into the mixer. Done. Those went into heart-shaped pans with Crisco and some flour and then into the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Later on in the day, I made the icing, which also was pretty simple. Again, it’s a lot of putting things into the mixing bowl, but my wife did suggest I sift the powdered sugar which took the most time. To add a little pizzazz I used some pink food coloring and as you can see, it came out a nice shade of neon pink.

The last part was icing the cake and that’s where I ran into some trouble. I’m more of a “it needs to taste good, not always look good” kind of people, so the first draft of the icing looked pretty crummy. Em came in and finished it up, which is good because otherwise it would have looked like an anatomical heart cake and no one really wants that in that shade. As far as I know, it turned out pretty good. Of course, it only mattered if Em liked it and she did, so there you go. Happy birthday!