Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Aries Trio

R's birthday is coming up this Thursday on the 16th...oddly enough my sister's boyfriend whose name also begins with an R (but we'll call him RG on here) has the exact same birth date…and to make this all even weirder our dad’s birthday is just two days later!

So in April we have three big birthdays to celebrate…our Aries trio.

My mom decided to throw a nice family birthday dinner as RG’s parents, who live in London, also happened to be in town for a holiday. We enjoyed a lovely feast of goodies and unfortunately I enjoyed the dinner a bit too much because once I was done with the starter, I was about to tuck into the mains when I realised that I had completely forgotten to take a photo of the starter! Grr…what hunger does to the brain…

Anyway on to the food…My mom made a lovely mango avocado crab salad …there were so many different flavours going on in this dish…sweetness from the mango chunks as well as the pureed mango sauce…a sort of sealike saltiness from the crab…creaminess from the avocado different flavour notes from the cilantro and mint and a bit of heat from the Tabasco…it was refreshing and oh so good! I feel very silly for having missed out on that beautiful photo op!

Once we were done with the starters we were on to the main dish…a rich and tender boeuf bourguignon (burgundy beef stew)…sautéed green beans…and baked polenta circles topped off with a bit of Gruyere. All of this was no doubt delicious and as always my favourite part of boeuf bourguignon was mopping up all the delicious sauce with a nice crusty baguette…this is home cooking at its best!

Dessert was simple…a store bought birthday cake! This cake was light and fluffy which was good after a yummy heavy dinner... I helped my mom out the day before the dinner to make the baked polenta circles...it's a very simple side and yet its great to serve at a dinner party when you're tired of the usual starch dishes. It's also something that can be made a couple of days before so it saves you a lot of time on the day of your dinner party.

Baked Polenta Circles
2 cups organic milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups polenta
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup olive oil

Bring the milk and water just to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly stream in the polenta while stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in the salt and turn down the heat a bit if needed (you don't want the polenta to scorch). Continue stirring until the polenta thickens up and starts to stick to the whisk. This can take anywhere from just a few minutes to much longer depending on your polenta.

Remove from heat and spread out onto a baking sheet using a spatula or your hands. Chill in a refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight. Use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut the polenta into circles. Rub each piece with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with some Gruyere.

Bake at 200C on the middle rack, for 20 minutes or until golden.


Arwen from Hoglet K said...

It's a shame about the salad photo because it sounds like a beautiful dish. How I miss mango season! The baked polenta sounds like a great side dish, especially since you can do a lot of the preparation in advance.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

My favourite part of boeuf bourguignon or stews is mopping up the juices. It looks delicious and thanks for the polenta recipe!

thenomadGourmand said...

a night of great food and even better company huh! ;) Sigh..nothin beats homecooked meals u know!

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

Arwen - It was a beautiful dish..I'm hoping my mom will recreate it so I can take a pic of it!

Lorraine - Yes it's just sublime...I had leftover polenta and stew for lunch the next day and I let the polenta sit in the stew...ohh it was so good after soaking in the stew!

The Nomad Gourmand - Yup nothing ever does!

Anonymous said...

I think I'm having mangoes in the brain. I'm seeing mangoes everywhere!
that mango/avocado salad sounds absolutely delightful. the colors must be terrific! and I LOVE you baked polenta. I'm so gonna make this once I find me some polenta.

Alexandra@Chefspiration said...

BurpandSlurp - hee hee...mangoes are wonderful! I saw that you made your mango creamy sauce...good job! Let me know once you make polenta! It's lovely especially when you've got a dish with a lot of sauce...