The menu? Canned peaches, fried cod - the kind that came as a frozen fish brick, squishy canned peas that didn't make it into the photo, party cups of candies, and a pretty cake polka-dotted with pastel mint patties and topped with one giant candle. Sixties family food.
This year's birthday meal? Salmon with roasted red pepper sauce, risotto, steamed and stir-fried green beans, apple and fennel salad, and a nice mellow malbec.
Grilled Salmon with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Adapted by Je Mange la Ville from Eating Well magazine
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted slightly in a dry pan over medium heat
1 roasted red bell pepper
1/4 cup halved grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, or roasted
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 juice of ½ an orange (3 T.) or more if needed
1 tsp. paprika, preferably smoked
1 tsp. salt, divided
freshly ground pepper
3/4 – 1 lb wild-caught salmon fillet, cut into 2 portions
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
Process all sauce ingredients until almost smooth.
Grill salmon 3-5 minutes on each side.
Or bake in 425 oven for 15-20 minutes.
Shaved Fennel and Apple Salad with Orange Dressing and Ricotta Salata
from Food Network.com
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 navel oranges, juiced
1/2 navel orange, zested
1 small lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Couple pinches salt
About 15 to 20 grinds black pepper
1 bulb fennel, shaved with a knife or mandoline (about 2 to 3 cups), fronds reserved and chopped
1 Granny Smith, or Honey Crisp, or other good salad apple, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices, then cut into matchsticks
1/4-pound ricotta salata, shaved (feta or parmesan are also good)
Combine dressing ingredients in a sealable container and shake to emulsify.
Combine shaved fennel, some of the fronds, and apple in a mixing bowl and toss. Toss the salad with the dressing. Distribute between serving plates. Top with shaved cheese and scatter a few more chopped fennel fronds over the top. Serve immediately.