My husband seems to be unusually excited about my birthday this year. Don't get me wrong, he ALWAYS gets excited about my birthday, but it's still a week away and he has mentioned his excitement a multitude of times. I'm one of those lucky wives who doesn't have some story about how he totally dropped the ball and forgot and got me some generic gift that was found on an endcap in a whirlwind emergency run to Target to try and salvage his epic birthday fail. He always makes a wonderful premeditated fuss about my day. (Sometimes he brings out feelings of terror though, like today when he said he needed to go feed the clowns.) I dare say he is a better gift-giver than just about anyone I've ever met. Maybe because he likes to remind me that I'm older than him. (3 months doesn't really count if you ask me.) Most years we plan a little something fun to do for both of our birthdays. We don't usually do parties, instead, we love little mini-getaways. (We also love major getaways too, but that's another story.) We typically take the train to Chicago, or go on an overnight shopping trip to Birch Run (massive outlet mall in Michigan), or something like that. More focused on memories than gifts, but we usually end up pretty spoiled too. This year is different. We've pretty much put all planning of events, getaways, etc. on hold because we don't know when we are leaving for Italy, and Michael has several business trips coming up that we can't interfere with. We asked each other what we want to do... the answer was a resounding, "let's go to our cabin." Deal.
He asked me if I would like him to make me a special meal or help me make one. Of course, I do! He also asked if he can guest post about a particular set of kitchen knives that he is tremendously proud of. One thing I know for certain: I will handle dessert. A very particular dessert. An "Everest"of crepes, if you will.
Shortly after we were married, I got a wild idea to make this glorious layered chocolate crepe cake that was in Martha Stewart Living magazine. It was an undertaking that I embarked upon with minimal preparation and research. Research that, in hindsight, would possibly have averted the certain catastrophe that my beautiful crepe cake would endure. It was quite a project. I hadn't been married long, so my cooking and baking experience was limited, and my kitchen wasn't as equipped and arranged as it is now, almost 8 years later. Everything was going fine, and things looked (and tasted) decadent and lovely during the preparation... Until I assembled the layers with the cream and set the whole cake in the refrigerator to set. It seemed to be going great, even though the recipe called for "hazelnut cream" and I could find no such thing anywhere. I figured I could just use Nutella. WRONG. It made for a very sloppy, slippery filling, that couldn't support my 30 crepe layers. Needless to say, I had to spend a significant amount of time cleaning the remnants from the bottom of the fridge. Massive kitchen fail. Pathetic whimpering ensued. To this day, my most disappointing cooking moment. Birthday mission this year? I think so. Time to conquer that gorgeous hazelnut chocolate crepe cake, and get to eat it this time! I'm thinking 29 layers will be appropriate.
Being the food television enthusiast that I am, Gordon Ramsay's Beef Wellington is at the top of my list of things I've been wanting to try, but never seem to get around to. So, it's settled. I've got my newest addition to my cookbook collection all set to go: Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking.
We will have Beef Wellington, and 29 layer Chocolate Hazelnut crepe cake (with sufficiently researched hazelnut cream) to celebrate the beginning of the last year of my twenties, and what will surely be one of my most memorable years EVER. Now to round out the weekend with some more fabulous bucket-list recipes from some of my favorite celebrity chefs...Any recommendations are greatly appreciated!
Here's what I'm thinking for next weekend's birthday adventure:
Gordon Ramsay's Beef Wellington
Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Mushroom Soup
Julia Child's Cheese Souffle
Martha Stewart's Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake
What famous recipe tops your cooking bucket list? I would love to hear your thoughts!