ideas for easy spectacular meal I could make for husband tonight to celebrate a big promotion? Trick is I've got a newborn to manage too....
Do you still have to go to the store? Can you make something that's not too hard that you can start earlier (roasted chicken maybe?) with some tasty sides (scalloped potatoes? Really nice salad?) and then bring in the fancy with some great wine and a purchased pretty dessert? That way you can have chicken and potatoes in the oven hours ahead of dinnertime, make the salad during babynap, and all you have left is wrangling a shower and picking out clothes ....
In my house, nothing beats a steak and baked potato for a special occasion (it's what Hubby usually orders when we go out anyways). You should be able to get two nice, crisp, russet potatoes easily this time of year, and I usually go for New York steaks, but if they don't look great, talk to your butcher (ribeyes are usually pretty painless to cook too). You could also buy a loaf of good french bread.
When you get home from the store, scrub up your potatoes and let them dry on the counter on a paper towel. About an hour and a half before he'll be home, heat your oven to 425, prick the potatoes all over, cover with vegetable oil and tons of kosher salt. Put down a sheet of foil on the rack below to catch any starch drips. I like to keep them warm in the oven in case they're done before the steaks or if dinner gets delayed or something. When you're ready to serve (or before, whatever works for you and baby), use a pair of tongs and a few paper towels to rub off all the salt. This will leave a nicely-seasoned skin and a great texture inside the potato.
About 30 minutes before dinner, pull your steaks out of the fridge and season with at least kosher salt and pepper. Let them sit at room temperature until you're ready to cook. They will cook quickly and seasoning them and letting them sit allows a mini-brine to form and if you pan-fry them good and hot, they get a fantastic crust just like you'd pay for at a restaurant. When you're ready to cook, heat up a heavy skillet or cast iron. Add oil just before you place the steaks in. (Don't forget to turn on your ventilation fan! From experience, smoke alarms going off does not a happy celebration make.)
While the steaks cook, set the table, grate some cheddar cheese into a dish, put some sour cream in a little dish and put it in the fridge, put the (room temperature) butter on the table. When they're done, let them rest while you de-salt the potatoes, put the cheese and sour cream on, open a bottle of wine, slice the bread.
It's a little expensive because of the steaks, but pretty easy prep. No checking for seasoning, no last-minute thickening, no butchering or chopping.
And a newborn and a big promotion? Good year for you and hubby :) Congratulations!
I love aargersi's ideas. What is his favorite meal? If it's beef, get the best steaks you can. If he's a dessert guy, make his favorite dessert. Or just order his favorite pizza and get a good bottle of champagne!
For celebrations, we always have steak & shrimp (he has steak and I have shrimp). Twice baked potatoes are always welcomed at our house for this meal. You can bake the potatoes ahead and let them cool. Then gut them and mix the potato with something yummy like chevre & chives or bacon & cheddar (something he loves). Then you can pop them back in the oven while cooking the steak.
Please let us know what you decide to do and how it turns out. (And congratulations!!)
Here is my go to fancy meal. It is from a Napa Valley restaurant, but is easy to put together. You can make the Red Curry sauce for the Salmon ahead and reheat it. Don't halve it for 2 because some people like extra. You can chill the slaw ahead of time. Just dress it at the last minute. So all you have to do is cook jasmine or basmati rice and the salmon only takes 6-8 minutes to panfry. If you can swing making tangerine mousse, that's a make ahead dessert that's perfect after this one dish meal.
We're having Chicken Vesuvio tonight, just because that's what I'm in the mood for. This is my friend Jhoanna's dinner party go-to dish because it's fancy enough for an occasion but easy enough for weeknights.
You can, of course, use already-cut chicken pieces of your choice and downsize the recipe to accommodate your family.
You could poach a piece of fish in olive oil (amanda has a recipe posted on this site). It is super easy and low stress. Topped with a mayo flavored with herbs or a favorite spice (I often use piment d'esplette in amanda's milk mayo recipe) it is an elegant easy main course served with roasted potatoes.
These are all fantastic suggestions! THANK YOU!
Based on what I already had, not being exactly sure when husband would arrive, and what I thought would be easy to do well, I made Beef Bourguignon with buttered egg noodles and opened a nice burgandy from the wine fridge. I was a tad concerned about pulling off any "al minute" style dishes and as it turned out he had to finish the noodles (I had water just below rolling boil though!). Darn babies can be demanding at the most inconvenient times! I also put the baby in a fancy outfit and put on (gasp) make up to try and fete him as festively as possible. In the end it all worked out and he felt celebrated. Link to recipe I used as guide (I make my own tweaks of course - esp using much more flour and making basically a roux before adding all the liquid. Makes the sauce thicker...his was too thin for me):
thanks again everyone!