Saturday, February 13, 2010


Where are those back-up singers when you need 'em? When my actual birthday rolled around, we were just beginning to dig ourselves out of nearly ten inches of snow. So plans for going out to dinner with friends were postponed and I had to come up with an alternate game plan, preferably without having to drive to a grocery store. On my lunch hour, I walked to Avril-Bleh's, a great old-fashioned meat market downtown that makes its own sausages. When I'd stopped in the week before to pick up Andouille for my seafood stew, I spotted their "wagon wheels," flank steak wrapped with asparagus and provolone, which would be perfect, and easy, for my solo celebration. I also purchased a smoked potato, because, well, when presented with the prospect of a smoked potato, how could I resist? Unable to leave well enough alone, I transformed it into a riff on Appleton potatoes using other ingredients I had on hand. My sister picked up the recipe while staying at the Appleton Inn in Massachusetts, and it is one of my favorite versions of twice-baked potato. I had bacon and sour cream on hand, substituted Swiss cheese for cheddar, and added diced roasted red pepper left over from last weekend's rouille in place of green onions. By the time I doctored it up, I couldn't taste much smoke from the smoked potato, but it was tasty nonetheless. Some asparagus with leftover Sauce Maltaise rounded out my birthday dinner plate. Dessert was a chocolate cordial cup filled with Grand Marnier-laced marmalade mascarpone cream and topped with toasted almonds. These cups are tiny little things, but cute as a proverbial button. Just the right touch of sweetness to end my meal.

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