The Husband’s Birthday Kick-Off

by Cate on September 1, 2007

The Husband’s birthday is on Monday and he’s started celebrating a bit early. The men in the family often chide that the women (and Nicholas!) manage to turn our birthdays into a week-long affair. It’s not intentional, usually it’s just scheduling. Well, The Husband is managing to eek out three separate days of celebrating, so methinks he’s catching on. Tonight we kicked off his birthday with dinner with The Neighbors. I was looking to plan a menu that was relatively simple, but that definitely encompassed a few of his favorites. I went with:

Fresh, homemade salsa (using this recipe) with chips
Mussel Salad (a tried-and-true concoction of mine)
Roasted Clams
Garlicky Mussels with crusty bread for dipping
Chicken Chimichurri Bites – love the salty dipping sauce
Creme Brulee

Both the Roasted Clams recipe and the Garlicky Mussels recipe were new and come from The New England Clam Shack Cookbook, which compiles recipes from a variety of food establishments in the Northeast. Both dishes were incredibly simple to make. I gave The Husbands the Roasted Clams recipe, since it was for the grill, and it was an interesting combination that worked. The recipe originally comes from The Place in Guilford, Connecticut.

The Garlicky Mussels were bordering on OMG good and I think the best part was mopping up the garlic butter sauce with the hot, crusty bread at the end. So.good.and.a.definite.repeater. This recipe hails from Tidal Falls Lobster Kettle in Hancock, Maine. The buttery sauce, not very Maine-like, was the addition of the restaurant’s French owner.

These were the first two recipes I actually made from this cookbook and if it’s any indication, we’re off to a good start.

All in all, a great meal with a spread that was not too filling, but just right. A perfect start to a long weekend.

P.S. With the herbs in the salsa, this makes a perfect addition for Weekend Herb Blogging, being hosted by Kalyn’s Kitchen this weekend.

Roasted Clams
Recipe courtesy of The New England Clam Shack Cookbook

24 littleneck clams
1/3 cup cocktail sauce
4-5 tablespoons butter
lemon wedges

Prepare a moderately hot hardwood or charcoal fire, or preheat a gas grill. Place the unopened clams on the grill, cover, and cook just until the shells begin to pop open, 5 to 10 minutes. Pry off the top shells, daub the clams with cocktail sauce, and top each clam with a small piece (about 1/2 teaspoon) of butter. Continue to cook on the grill until the clams are hot and the tops are lightly glazed with sauce and melted butter, about 5 minutes longer. Serve with lemon wedges and a small bowl of cocktail sauce for dipping, if desired.

4 servings, 6 clams apiece

Garlicky Mussels
Recipe courtesy of The New England Clam Shack Cookbook

5 large garlic cloves
1/2 pound (2 sticks) of butter
2 teaspoons salt
6 pound live mussels, rinsed

Peel the garlic and put through a garlic press or finely mince with a chef’s knife. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and cook over very low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, covered, for at least 1 hour. (I skipped that part) (Garlic butter can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently)

In a large stockpot, bring about 1 inch of water to a boil. Add the salt. Add the mussels, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and steam until the mussel shells open, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their size and the size of the pot. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mussels to a large platter; discard any that do not open.

Meanwhile, reheat the garlic butter over low heat. Pour the warm garlic butter over the hot mussels and serve.

6 servings.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly Savelkoul September 1, 2007 at 2:31 am

My husband’s birthday is Monday, also, and after tonights entry, I am feeling inspired to treat him to an entire day of fabulous food. Now, what to do for the cake? German Chocolate . . .

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Kalyn September 1, 2007 at 2:41 am

Let me go on record as being fully in favor of a week of birthday celebrating. I say make it last as long as you can.

Great photo of the salsa, and everything else sounds just delish too.

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Kelly Mahoney September 1, 2007 at 4:01 am

Way to milk the birthday for all it’s worth :)
How fortuitous, to have a birthday on a holiday.

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Cynthia September 1, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Sounds like it’s going to be a grand celebration.

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nicisme September 2, 2007 at 11:45 am

I love that salsa – it’s really colourful!
Happy birthday to your husband!

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Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Happy Birthday to The Husband! I thought you moved, Cate….do The Neighbors still live close?
We used to have fun neighborhood gatherings til one of the neighbor women turned into a nut LOL…I miss those get-togethers.
Val

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Cate September 3, 2007 at 3:48 pm

Kelly S – That’s the problem with The Husband; he really doesn’t eat cake. Think I’m going with rice pudding and flan tonight, but we’ll see.

Val – yes, we did move, but luckily for all, still in the same neighborhood. ;)

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