I wish I had pictures to share with you of the dinner my most awesome wife put together for my birthday last night but by the time we even thought of a camera, we had attacked the table like the Fantastic Mr. Fox and his family.
As is the custom in our house, the one celebrating their birthday gets to decide on the menu for dinner that night. As always, I chose my wife's Crab Cakes. I also requested a yellow cake with chocolate icing. As for the sides and or anything else, I left that up to my wife to surprise me.
When we first got married my wife pored over cookbooks (still does) looking for new things & ways to cook. She had been brought up in a very traditional italian family so her frame of food reference had been somewhat one dimensional. I was brought up on casseroles, baked chicken and hamburger every way you could. It wasn't until I moved west that I started to think outside of the box and experiment with different flavors & styles. One of the first dishes my wife started to make & perfect was crabcakes. I have always loved crabcakes and I would order them almost every time I saw them on a menu. Now back when we first got married, the budget was bit tighter than it is even now and the crab began with a K instead of a C but they were still good. They were labor intensive but they were a labor of love and I think that alone made them taste better than any Krab with a K should ever taste. as the years went by, they got easier to make and the recipe got tweaked. The biggest change was our shift to the front of the alphabet back to Crab with a C. Well last night my wife nailed them again. She made me crabcakes that were soft, light & melt in your mouth. This time she even served them with a warm & spicy mango vinaigrette that raised them to yet another level. I was in heaven and so were my kids as the crabcakes disappeared quite quickly from the plate in the center of the table.
As one side my wife made an excellent corn & black bean salad from this website (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Black-Bean-And-Corn-Salad-I/Detail.aspx<) that we have made over & over again over the years. I like to warm it up after mixing it all together and then letting it cool before serving. It kind of let's the flavors meld together in a real nice way. I think the balsamic vinegar & the cumin help to give it a layer of complexity that you don't really expect in a salad. It looks great on a plate and it is a great dish to take to any potluck picnic you mat attend this summer. The other side was more of an appetizer but also a favorite of mine and a standard dish for every Super Bowl. She made my Deviled Eggs with Cheddar Cheese & Bacon. The kids absolutely love these. Throw some leftover pasta on the table along with some Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips & Salsa and we were more than good to go.
There was one more addition to the menu that was strictly for me. For as long as I can remember my wife has been making me a cold Mango Cream Soup. It's silky smooth and goes down like melted ice cream. Sometimes she throws in berries or peaches to change it up a little and I almost always throw in some Sriracha Sauce or some Tabasco Chipotle to, as Emeril says, kick it up a notch. Last night my wife had found two absolutely perfect mangoes for the soup and it was the best I can remember. I can't wait to get home tonight so I can grab the leftover container and wolf it down while watching Modern Family.
As for the cake, I am traditional. I like a yellow cake with chocolate icing. My mother always threw a box of pudding mix into the cake mix to help make the cake moister and so does my wife. She must have also whipped that batter on high for more than the 2 minutes on the box because my cake was sporting a pouf that would have made Snooki jealous. My kids released their inner Jackson Pollack's and decorated the cake in a kaleidoscope of colors & designs. The french vanilla ice cream was the perfect compliment to the cake and if I am not mistaken, the cake & ice cream combo is being requested for an encore performance tonight.
And that's the view for now from Swampy's Kitchen. Stop by again when we talk about how many leftovers you can throw into a tortilla before the kids notice and start to complain