Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Girlchild's Birthday Dinner

My mom always asked my brothers and me what we wanted for our birthday dinners. It was so fun to get to choose, but I always chose the same thing: Beef Stroganof. My mom makes the most amazing Beef Stroganof. One year, I wanted a pink party, so she made strawberry cake, served strawberry ice cream, and for the meal we had ham and pink mashed potatoes. My mom inspires me in so many ways!

For her birthday, the Girl said she wanted "Birthday Soup" and "Pink Noodles," so I stole a page from Mom's book.

When questioned, she explained that Birthday Soup is made with chicken broth, potatoes and tomatoes. Easy enough! I have a template* for soup that works for me every time.

Saute in a dutch oven with a little olive oil:
1 medium onion, peeled & diced
4-5 potatoes, peeled & diced (I used a couple Yukon golds mixed in with baking potatoes. Baking potatoes are best, but I was running low. Yukons aren't my first choice for this because they get a little rubbery when mashed, but they worked fine mixed in the soup.
sea salt & Penzey's India Tellicherry black pepper (my fave)

When softened a bit, add 
3 cloves of minced garlic
14 oz (1 can) stewed tomatoes
28 oz (1 large can) crushed or diced tomatoes
2 quarts of organic chicken broth
About a tablespoon total of dried parsley & basil
Simmer gently for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are all the way soft.
Turn off heat, puree using an immersion blender, and season to taste.
At this point, I added a touch of cream, which does not follow my usual soup format. Jeanie wisely also added a four-pepper blend, which really was perfect.
Serve with freshly grated parmigiano Reggiano and crusty bread.

OK, so Birthday Soup... Check.
Anna & AmmaKee with Birthday Soup. It's kind of pink, anyway.

"Pink Noodles" were a little more tricky. At first I thought about pureeing beet or tomato into my pasta dough, but that wouldn't really be pink enough, and it would take a long time to roast the beets. So I settled on food coloring. Fortunately, I have several different colors of the Wilton cake-decorating colors and was able to add enough blue to balance out the orange-ness of hot pink added to eggs. Also fortunately, I had my sister-in-law Tammy there to help me figure it out.
The result was a delightfully off-putting hot pink pasta. 
But what to serve over the Pink Noodles? What else is pink and delicious? I'll tell what is pink and delicious. Shrimp and pancetta, that's what. Here's what I did:

Saute chopped pancetta and sliced crimini mushrooms until mushrooms are about halfway softened. Add a little butter to get the rendering started, as well as a tiny bit of salt (not too much since the pancetta is salty) and some fresh ground pepper.
Pour in about 2 cups of dry white wine, and reduce a bit until the alcohol is mostly cooked off.
Add one pound of bay scallops and 20 oz (2 bags in this case) of medium-sized raw shrimp. Bubble gently until the scallops and shrimp are just cooked, and pour over the pasta.
Pink Noodles, with Shrimp & Bay Scallops. I know it looks nasty, but it was actually quite delicious.
 Here are a few more pics from the dinner party:

Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Marbled with Pureed Strawberry

Two Papas. Note Mike's t-shirt: Anna as a newborn!

Festive, girly-girl table

Sorry to take pictures of you all eating...

Jeanie & me
Some Litwins: Brian, Mike & Tammy

Do you have a favorite Birthday Meal?
What do you think of Anna's Pink Noodles?
Let me know!

*Soup template: Instead of tomatoes, any veggies will do. Any flavor of broth will do. Instead of potatoes, sweet potatoes or squash.


  1. The noodles tasted fantastic, but I'm glad we ate by candlelight. When I saw the pink noodles in the full light after dinner, they didn't look quite as appealing.
    The birthday soup was fantastic and inspiring!
    I have been so glad to partake in the cooking adventures of you and Anna!
    Just one favorite birthday food? I like picking different places to eat each year for my birthday and see people try new things!

  2. Thanks for the idea i will be making color noodles for my kiddos!!! I always love your creative ideas thanks for sharing!!!