The Gull Reef Club


Birthday drool

Filed under: — Jaime @ 11:18 pm

With our schedules being a little less hectic than last weekend, Mike made me my birthday dinner today.

Over the years Mike has become quite an accomplished cook. I think this is reflected by the fact that two of the items I asked for this year didn’t involve any known recipes and were reliant on Mike’s ability to come up with a working combination of ingredients. The menu included spinach salad, homemade French onion soup, and coconut shrimp with a habenero, citrus sauce, and apples in puff pastries with a donut glaze.

The salad wasn’t anything significant, it was the usual spinach salad we often have. It was in the fridge and needed to be eaten. Quite good with Ken’s Creamy Caesar salad dressing, fresh grated Parmesan, and croutons.

Until yesterday, I had never had a bowl or even a cup of French onion soup. I’ve got texture issues with onions and avoided them for the first two decades of life. In the last ten years, I’ve come to really enjoy foods with cooked onions (still can’t get past the texture of a raw onion yet, though). Last weekend, Mike had a bowl of French onion soup at a restaurant that seemed to be a bit disappointing to him. He commented that he would really like to make some homemade soup but didn’t think I’d go for it because it’s so monumentally oniony.

Irony had it that during the week, the Food Network ran the Good Eats episode featuring onions and Alton Brown’s French Onion Soup. Mike really wanted to give it a go and I thought it was time to give it a shot.

We actually made the soup yesterday. We left out the apple cider and replaced it with another 10 oz. of beef consomm√© (yes the Food Network recipe has a typo, it’s not beef consume :P ). We used three pounds of Vidalia onions and a little over one pound of red onions. We also cooked down the onions on the stove rather than in an electric skillet. In addition to using Fontina, we used a little mozzarella.

For my first excursion into French onion soup, I was pleasantly surprised. It sweet and very flavorful. Mike said that it wasn’t beefy enough, but since I had no other examples to go by, I simply enjoyed it. We made plenty of it and had enough for tonight’s dinner as well. Mike and I both agree that letting it sit overnight increased its flavor. There were stronger hints of beef and tomato from the consomm√©. I would definitely try this again.

The main course was coconut shrimp and the habanero citrus sauce. The coconut shrimp is allegedly the Outback Steakhouse recipe. The sauce came completely out of Mike’s head, we did not use the one in the recipe. The shrimp could not have been more perfect. Mike went to great lengths to ensure that the shrimp we perfectly butterflied. The coconut was not sweetened, which prevented burning when we fried it.

The sauce was based on a sauce Mike made once before, which had hooked me hard. He tweaked it a bit this time around and it was as close to heaven as we get here at the Gull Reef Club. It was a simple syrup with lemons, lime, calamondins (fresh from our own tree), coconut, paprika, and a whole habanero (from the garden). After the syrup was fully infused and allowed to cool, we strained it. We let it chill before serving with our shrimp. The coconut shrimp dipped in this sauce was delicious beyond words.

Dessert was another Mike creation. My desire was expressed to Mike as ‘make something with apples and cinnamon.’ He came through as always. We peeled and cored five granny smith apples. Mike cooked these in the cast iron skillet with butter, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of brandy. He then cooked up some puff pastry shells. He filled the shells with the apple mix and baked it for a short time. After they were done and had cooled a bit, he dipped them in a simple donut glaze (confectioner’s sugar, milk, vanilla). They ended up being like really fancy apple fritters. It should come as no surprise dessert was also delicious.

This was one hell of a birthday dinner. Mike’s cooking abilities really shone. It was more than worth it to wait an extra week.

One Response to “Birthday drool”

  1. Mike says:

    I’m glad you liked your dinner, Jaim. :)

    The sauce was originally meant as a glaze, and works equally well. I made the sauce when I was grilling some skewered shrimp. I wanted a glaze, and I wanted it spicy. That’s what I ended up with from the ingredients I had on hand.

    It turned out good tonight.

    I actually liked the shrimp, which was a first for me and coconut shrimp. It’s usually just a burnt fried mess without enough coconut only to add an annoying, stringy texture than to add any coconut flavor. With the hot-sweet-citrusy sauce, it was really good.


    Hot Sweet Citrus Sauce

    Combine in a 2-quart sauce pan:
    1c water
    1c sugar sugar
    1 thinly sliced lemon
    1 thinly sliced lime (I used 3 calamondins instead)
    1 thinly sliced habanero
    1/4c coconut
    1/4c vanilla turbinado sugar
    1/4c light brown sugar
    1/2t smoked paprika
    1/2t vanilla extract

    Bring to a boil, and boil for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Remove form heat, and let cool to room temperature.

    Strain mixture, squeezing juice out of fruit.

    Use as glaze or dipping sauce.

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