Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » Hil’s B-day Test Nest
Hil’s B-day Test Nest

My best friend Hilary requested that I come down to DC to visit and prepare a Test Nest for her birthday, so I had to oblige. Sally, Tim and I traveled down from NYC for the party and to cook and Hilary invited some other friends in the area. We had a group of 11 for the evening and it was great fun to meet new friends and catch up with some old acquaintances as well. Everyone was really supportive of my cooking experiment and I was honored Hil wanted me to cook her special birthday feast…she’s quite the cook as well.

Mocktail: Mint Lemonade (3.5 Stars)

I love virgin mojitos and I love the idea of mint lemonade, but I just haven’t quite found that perfect mix in these two yet. Even after vigorously squeezing the lemons this still need a stronger lemon taste and the mint was too faint, it needed A LOT more mint. I’ve seen recipes where the mint is infused in the simple syrup; muddled or shaken…I’m on the quest to figure out the best way so that I can get a perfect 5.  This would have been good with some fizz or sparkling water as well.

1st Course: Tomato, White Peach and Ricotta Salata Salad (4 Stars)

The presentation of this dish was great and had good variation. We struggled to find good tomatoes, and couldn’t find heirloom. We also couldn’t find white peaches so used regular peaches and they weren’t perfectly ripe. I definitely want to make this again in a month with fresh produce, I think it has the ability to be a 5. The addition of the peaches and slight variations of a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad was quite appealing. I was irritated that this was suggested in a March issue of Martha Stewart when the right ingredients weren’t necessarily easy to find.

2nd Course: Baked Mushroom Linguine (4 Stars)

This recipe has a lot of potential but it didn’t quite come together for a perfect 5 star. The sauce was amazing, but the dish needed more of the sauce, especially since we used homemade pasta. The flavor packet of thyme and rosemary was infused with the sauce but should also be chopped and added to the bake before cooking for a stronger flavor. This would be really yummy as an individual serving in a ramekin. Everyone also wanted more crusty cheese topping, so the dish should be shallower to give more cheese to each serving. There is no way that this dish, meant to serve 10-12, will fit into a oven-proof skillet as the recipe suggests. There are too many ingredients. This recipe is worth making again though to get the right proportions.

Dessert: Lemon Sponge Pudding (5 Stars)

If you like lemon deserts you’ll love this one. I used Meyer lemons as I pulled this recipe from a feature in Martha Stewart highlighting them, although the recipe doesn’t specifically call for them. Meyer lemons definite have a sharper and bold taste to them and it was a perfect tart contrast to the sweetness of the sponge pudding. It is suggested to possibly serve in individual ramekins and it would give a nicer presentation and also more of the crusty edge to each serving.


4 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Mary (April 11, 2011)

    looks fabulous. What fun you always have.

  2. The Birthday Girl (April 19, 2011)

    Amber really knocked herself out! Thank you to all my friends who came, helped, ate, and celebrated with me.

  3. Gloria Johnson (April 20, 2011)

    Thank you Amber for making Hilary’s birthday just that much more special. As her mother I love it when people are good to my children. I am so excited to bring my friends from Oregon to a New York Test Nest just looking at the menu makes my mouth water.

  4. barbara c. (April 20, 2011)

    Amber, it was such a great dinner, and you are awesome for putting it together! Thank you!



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