Eighth Month Menu

Patrick and I are enjoying our monthly anniversary dinner celebrations so much! I'm getting a little sad each month we get closer to our first year anniversary dinner because these have been a lot of fun and a great time for us to reconnect during our busy lives and I will miss these first year monthly anniversary dinners. I'm certainly not sad that our one year anniversary seems to be approaching so quickly!! However I may have secretly decided to continue this little tradition even though Patrick thinks it will be too hard to continue each month.

One thing that is kind of difficult with these anniversary dinners is the menu. I do think if we continue with the anniversary dinner it may morph into a more casual menu or something that would've regularly been planned for the week and then we can just serve it with our formal place settings. Until we hit the year mark though I want to try to elevate the menu from our more casual weekday meals. The hard part is not so much planning a fancier menu rather it's coming up with different menus. One of my go to planned fancier meals is seared scallops and I don't want to have scallops each month! For this particular Eighth Month menu I decided to keep it light and simple since spring and fresh produce are on the way. I actually just went to the grocery store the day of our anniversary and selected a fish (halibut) that looked good and some seasonal produce (chioggia beets) that looked good! Here's what we did:

Fish baked in parchment
Lightly dressed arugula salad with chioaggi beets
Carrot cake cupcakes

Biltmore Spring Release White wine,
in honor of Patrick’s Biltmore proposal two years ago this month (April 27th, 2012)

Fish baked in parchment from chow.com
1 (6-ounce) firm-fleshed white-fish fillet, such as halibut, cod, or haddock (the fillet should be between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches thick)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf, cut in half (optional)
Fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, tarragon, or chervil (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 thin lemon slices
1 tablespoon dry white wine or water
   Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
   Draw out a large piece of parchment paper (about 17 by 11 inches) and, with one of the longer edges closest you, fold it in half from left to right. Using scissors, cut out a large heart shape.

I may have selected the recipe because of the parchment heart!!!
Place the fish in the center of one half of the parchment heart. (The heart should be large enough that there is at least a 1-1/2-inch border around the fillet.)
   Set the parchment heart on a baking sheet. Drizzle the fish with half of the olive oil, rub the oil all over the fillet, and season with salt and pepper. Lay half of the bay leaf and a few sprigs of herbs (if using) on top of the fish. Break the butter into little pieces and arrange them on top of the herbs. Place the lemon slices over everything and drizzle with the remaining oil.
   Fold the parchment heart over to cover the fish. (The edges of the heart should line up.) Starting at the rounded end, crimp the edges together, folding them over themselves and leaving the last two inches at the pointed end unfolded. Slightly tilt the package up and pour in the wine or water. Finish crimping the edges, then twist the pointed end around once and fold the “tail” under.

I recommend visiting the recipe website because it has step-by-step picture instructions for this step.
   Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes for a 3/4-inch-thick fillet or 12 minutes for a 1- to 1-1/4-inch-thick fillet.
   Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the parchment package to a dinner plate. Serve immediately, cutting into the parchment tableside using scissors or a knife. Since we split a fish filet I opened the package and plated half of the filet on each plate then served.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes adapted from Cook's Illustrated
   Serves 15-20 *We cut the recipe in half and made cupcakes
For the cake
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 lb carrot, peeled (medium 6 to 7 carrots about 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed (3 1/2 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or 1 1/2 cups safflower oil or 1 1/2 cups canola oil
For the cream cheese frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)

   For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan (or 2, 9" round cake pans) with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.
   Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
   In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots; transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor work bowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
   For the frosting: When cake is cool, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in clean food processor work-bowl until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.
   Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. (Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.).

Since April also commemorated our engagement I couldn't pass up this Biltmore Spring Release white wine. Patrick proposed at Biltmore two springs ago -- here's our proposal blog post!

April was an exciting month for us! Stay tuned to the blog for these things we've been celebrating!

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about your month anniversary dinners. I will try this fish recipe. I never know quite what to do with fish. I love the post to your proposal week-end - such fun to read again!