It was one of my favorite times of the year — my BIRTH MONTH!!!
Birth “month” you ask? Oh yes, I celebrate the entire month.
Actually our family is full of May babies….Mom, Dad, SIL and cousie –all Tauruses, which makes a lot of sense. We’re all a tad–how would you put it? Oh right–stubborn.
But when it came time for L and my Fam Din— I WAS PUMPED!
What to have on the menu?
Lobster? Prime Rib? King Crab? French Fry Fest?
Sooooo many options. Maybe TOO many good ones to choose from.
In fact, the week before dinner, we still hadn’t had a full menu planned other than knowing who would be in charge of which portions of the meal.
Then mid-week, it hit me-it was soft shell crab season! And I do love me some soft shell crab sammies! With new found inspiration, I volunteered to take on the main dish and its fixings!
But as for the other dishes–everything was still up in the air.
We all convened with our mystery ingredients to T and R’s casa and got down to prep.
But first–some cocktails!
I whipped up a few pitchers of Sparkling Rosé Sangria and let me tell ya, it’s like summer in a glass.
Fresh fruit, ginger, mint, cognac, light rosé, bubbly….now that’s a party!
And a little photobomber in the shape of Leonidas.
That little rascal….
I love that mischievous face.
And then it was time to get back in the kitchen for some more prep.
Thank goodness for R and Nini–our shuckers for the night.
Because without those two, we’d just be staring at these beauties saying “Alohomora” over and over again.
Why yes–that was a little shot out to my fellow Potterheads.
V and L had been visiting our friends in Ventura that morning and picked up some Fresh Oysters for us to nosh on.
L made a classic mignonette for us to enjoy the oysters with and there was also lots of fresh lemon and tabasco on hand too.
As you can tell, Nina didn’t like them at all.
They also picked up some fresh uni and L got to work cracking them open.
Seriously, my mouth is watering just looking at the picture of it.
And what did we do with them? Nini and L made adorable little bites of Uni Gunkan Maki.
Perfect morsels that just screamed of the sea.
I could have easily polished off a dozen of them.
ps. Gunkan Maki are “warship sushi” or “battleship sushi” and are named such because of its shape. See? I can drop some random knowledge from time to time.
N demolishes battleships on the reg.
Since we were going the distance, V & L also picked up some local Yellowtail while in Ventura and there’s no better way to enjoy it than as straight up Yellowtail Sashimi.
It’s how we roll.
Now most folks would just make 1 or 2 appetizers for dinner. But with my o’hana, why just have 1 when we could have 5?
Seriously, five. We had FIVE appetizers for Fam Din.
To wrap up our apps course, T made clams two ways. (Are you sensing that gluttony theme?)
The first version featured clams stuffed with miso butter, cheese, aromatics and panko bread crumbs. Quite addicting and hopefully will be at our football parties this fall.
The second preparation were roasted clams with miso butter, rice wine, ginger, beech mushrooms, scallions and some other magical goodies.
And OH. MY. GOD.
These were so freaking good!! So savory, so rich in flavor—FULL of umami (I feel like such an idiot every time I use that word)! The clams were wonderful on its own but would also be perfect as a main dish with soba noodles or even with just crusty baguette.
Look at my fam…..they’re cute.
I guess I’ll keep them.
I should probably admit that they look so happy because we had just spent an hour gorging on apps and cocktails (for the 21+ over).
But hey, whatever it takes.
After polishing off all the apps, we were pretty stuffed. And we still had our main course left, too!
In order to make it to the finish line, we needed a breather.
Maya took a T.O. on Lamby.
Life is rough for the munchkins, isn’t it?
Because apparently, we don’t take enough pictures.
After a quick pause, I turned my attention to these little guys–the soft shell crabs. Since the crabs have molted their exoskeletons, the entire crustacean can be eaten after a bit of light cleaning.
Sometimes you jut have to infuse your food with love……you feel me?
It makes everything that much tastier.
After they were cleaned and drained, we lightly dredged them in a mixture of flour and corn meal.
And not to sound twisted, but doesn’t it look like they’re just chilling in the sand?
No? Too much?
After they were dredged, Nini helped me pan fry them in butter and olive oil until they were golden brown and crispy.
Once out of the pan, they all got a sprinkle Old Bay and sea salt.
The crispy soft shell crabs were destined to rest inside these little Brioche Buns I had baked earlier. Nina lightly buttered and toasted the buns for that extra punch of goodness.
Aren’t they adorable? The girls said they reminded them of Krabby Patties from SpongeBob—which, now that I think of it, is kind of appropriate.
To serve with sandwiches, I decided to make homemade Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Chips. I know, it seems like a lot of work when you can just go out and buy a bag of chips.
But honestly, homemade chips are SOOO much better! It does take a bit of time but they’re really easy to make. Just be sure to fry up some extra because if your family is anything like mine, they will be gone before it’s time to eat.
A light schmear of Old Bay aioli on the buns, add thin slices of ripe tomato, a leaf of butter lettuce and top it off with
a beautiful soft shell crab.
So nice I had to show it twice!
Seriously–as good as I had hoped for when they came to mind just a few days prior. I love it when that happens.
And Food Coma starts in 5…4…3…2…..
But wait! We still have dessert!!
And not just any dessert but B I R T H D A Y cake!
N was in charge of our birthday dessert and all I said is that I wanted a dense chocolate cake that tasted like a Ferrero Rocher — one of my favorite candies.
And HOLY CRAP! SHE DELIVERED!!!
Just like a Ferrero Rocher!!!
The cake was super dense and rich–like a flourless cake that had ground hazelnuts in the batter. She topped it with a chocolate mousse and a “crunch” made from melted chocolate and rice cereal. It was then finished with more hazelnuts and a generous drizzle of more chocolate.
From taste to texture it totally was a Ferrero Rocher!
I’m not kidding y’all–it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. She’s going to have to make me this cake every year now.
And as if we didn’t have enough sugar, R broke out the fire so the munchkins could roast some marshmallows.
Why not, right? If not for the added sugar than at least for the experience.
I can’t help but hope that when they look back 20 years from now, they’ll think fondly of our monthly Fam Dins and the randomness that often occur.
For example, the fireworks that we set off shortly after I took this picture.
And no, I’m not kidding.
And that’s a wrap on our decadent Fam Din for L and my bday!
Not bad considering we threw the menu together at the last minute. And yes, it was a delicious as it looks.
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Cocktails: Sparkling Rosé Sangria, Various Wine
Appetizers: Fresh Oysters with Mignonette, Yellowtail Sashimi, Uni Gunkan Maki, Miso Roasted Clams with Beech Mushrooms, Panko-Miso Butter Clams
Entrees: Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches with Old Bay Aioli, on Brioche Rolls with Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Chips
Dessert: Chocolate-Hazelnut “Ferrero Rocher” Cake