What can be said about brothers? From childhood nemesis’ to adult friends, growing up as the youngest child, and only girl, with two brothers was quite an experience. Now, we are a tight knit group of entrepreneurs with big personalities. Yet, that is where our similarities end. Today’s spotlight is on Michael,the world traveling, always in the know, birthday boy.
Michael is the poster boy for the “It doesn’t hurt to ask” mindset. He is the assertive middle sibling who always manages to find himself in first class with extra drink tickets. It is truly a gift he has for finding loop holes and charming everyone he meets. Michael has a zest for the finer things. He is my favorite person to go out to eat with,the best shopping partner, and one of the people with whom I am in constant communication. He is always looking for ways to help improve himself and everyone around him.
Keeping all of this in mind I set out to create a birthday menu that satisfies even the most hard to please. A meal that feels incredibly luxurious without truly breaking the bank. I also, of course, wanted to include some of Michael’s favorite foods.
This meal was my most well timed kitchen venture to date. From start to finish the whole process took 4 hours. While this timing appears daunting at first, it can be split up between two days. I just happened to have a rainy day off to dedicate to cooking.
Main Course: Michael is a bourbon/whiskey connoisseur and carnivore. My go-to meat centric meal, sure to bring the wow factor, is braised short ribs. That is why I could not believe my luck when I found this Maple Bourbon Braised Short Ribs recipe. It was so incredibly easy and made the kitchen smell AMAZING. I did not make the glaze but instead used the remaining juices as a topping for the meat.
I laid the short ribs on a bed of whipped sweet potatoes. These are the easiest addition to any meal. I poked some holes to let the steam escape and then put the potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. The skin should fall off easily when they are done and you mash or whip them together with a little butter, salt, and pepper. Occasionally, I will add cinnamon but the sauce for the ribs was already slightly sweet. These are a perfect compliment to the short ribs.
Side: I truly do not remember a dinner out when we were younger where my brother did not order a caesar salad. You can absolutely buy a salad kit of use store bought dressing but it is really easy to make your own. It can even be made a day in advance. I used anchovy paste instead of whole anchovies and definitely did not measure the parmesan and it turned out ridiculously tasty. Just do not dress the lettuce or add the croutons until right before you are about to eat.
Dessert: Every birthday or special meal Michael requests lemon cake with lemon icing for dessert. I am not a huge yellow cake fan but I am a cheesecake aficionado. I love making different varieties and this lemon cheesecake may be my new favorite. The middle stayed super custardy and the sour cream topping was perfection. I added extra lemon zest to the topping and I did not use a glaze because I am not a fan of unnatural coloring on my food. The only thing I would do differently is make my own graham cracker crust. I usually do this but decided to cut corners this time. The crust was good but I like a slightly thicker crust that is crispier and does not fall apart under the weight of the cheesecake. I think out of the whole meal this was the undisputed fan favorite. The leftovers were gone in two days and apparently tasted just as good as day one.
Pair all of this with some crusty bread and fabulous red wine and you are sure to have a meal you won’t soon forget! Happy Birthday MPS, you’re my favorite brother for a day old man.