My dear friend Christy had a milestone birthday a few weeks ago, so we had a belated dinner to celebrate. I wanted to do something special but I didn't know what. I knew the dinner would need to be gluten and dairy free too, but I still felt like I needed some sort of gimmick to help me narrow the scope. Because Christy is a talented artist, I decided to try to plan a meal with courses that corresponded to the colors on an artist's palette. I wrote out the menu on paper bags (a pinterest-inspired project) and cajoled my sister into decorating a butcher paper table runner with her gorgeous drawings (check out that dandelion!), which come to her so easily (more pictures at the end of this post).
The ROY G. BIV flowers. Henry loved this and has asked to listen to the corresponding They Might Be Giants song over and over (he now calls it 'the flower song'). What a tender lump!
The beautiful birthday girl and her eldest daughter, Ella! Ella is in fifth grade and is oh-so-charming. Pretty impressive considering fifth grade is the worst ever. Or was that just for me? All of my most embarrassing childhood stories happened in fifth grade. But let's not rehash them here!
Red (okay, this turned out more orange than red, but go with me here!): Andalusian Gazpacho. I love this soup, and it uses everything that's available at the farmers' market right now- tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onions, and garlic. Normally you would blend up this soup with the insides of a couple slices of soft white bread to make it smooth and creamy. I thought about just omitting the bread altogether (I'm sure it would have been almost the same), but ended up using a couple tiny slices of a gluten free brown rice bread instead. It worked great!
Adorable Josie! She's such a talented artist- she was inspired by the gorgeous drawings my sister drew and spent much of the dinner focused on replicating them exactly.
Orange: My latest obsession- April Bloomfield's Carrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad. I would never ever have thought of putting these ingredients together, but they are a magical combination. The carrots are roasted in a garlicky, coriander-y olive oil, and then tossed with segmented oranges, avocado, and lemon juice.
Yellow: Golden Beet Carpaccio. This was so lovely! The freshly toasted sunflower seeds are just wonderful with the roasted beets, which are dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette. I was never a huge beet fan, but they're growing on me (does that make me sound like some sort of root-infested monster?). This may have been my favorite recipe for them so far. I like the thin slices- it feels a lot more dainty than the big hunks of dense and meaty beets I've made before.
Green: Steak Ssam with Ginger Scallion Sauce and Pickled Carrots, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette. This (oh, yeah, plus the once-a-season posting) is why I'm not cut out for the life of a professional food blogger- I totally forgot to take pictures of this course (the main one, no less!). Lucky for me I make these brussels sprouts all the time, so I had an old picture of them to post here. This course was the most popular by far- it's hard to compete with a big platter of grilled steak and rice! You fold those things up into a bibb lettuce leaf, dress it with some delightful ginger scallion sauce, and eat it like a taco. Ssam are the very best gluten free/dairy free entree I know- a real crowd-pleaser. And if you haven't eaten roasted or fried brussels sprouts, you've been missing out.
Blue/Indigo/Violet: Blueberry, Blackberry, and Peach Crisp. Yes, this course was a cop-out, but come on, man! These three colors are nearly identical! I used this recipe as a guide, replacing the apples and pears with berries and peaches, the flour with oat flour, and the melted butter with extra virgin coconut oil. I thought it was delicious! I served it with some Coconut Bliss vanilla ice cream (DF, GF), and it was a fittingly lovely end to a meal celebrating a very lovely friend.
Thanks again to Helen for the beautiful drawings! Happy Birthday, Christy!!