A Very Merry Birthday Dinner

Here’s another episode of Chef Wu! Where I take pinterest posts and recreate them so people think I’m good at cooking! Today we are celebrating Emily’s birthday! She’s a really good, old friend of mine from high school and I’m so glad I’m back in LA that I get to see her more often now. I decided to make her food instead of treating her out because the last time I treated her out, she scared our waitress so bad trying to get the receipt from her. Like I’m talkin’, she straight up got out of her seat and used her body as a barricade to stop the waitress from accepting my credit card, played tug of war with me for the check, and threatened the waitress not to accept my card. But pls. I’m way more intimidating *insert smirking face here* so I eventually got the waitress to grab my card, much to Em’s dismay. But anyways, long story short, I’m not reliving that. Today’s menu is Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, Cheesy Spinach Orzo, Ricotta Peach Crostini, and a special Fishbowl just for the birthday queen. The hardest part about this meal was prepping for everything because not only was I on a time crunch (I get home from work at 6:30 and I told everyone to arrive at 7), but also I had to man 3-4 different dishes at the same time. I don’t understand how my mom can cook everything ready at the same time for dinner. It’s a skill I hope to eventually possess. It’s the worst when you time it wrong and one dish is finished before the others, sitting isolated on the dinner table, cold and abandoned. You can just taste its insecurities when you take your first bite. “Am I as delicious as the others?”, it wonders. “Am I still hot stuff?”. “I know I’m not as fresh as the other dishes, but what I lack in heat, I make up for in experience”.—Now I’m tempted to just make a Tinder for that poor, lonely dish.

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I decided to break down my cooking process here so if you guys ever wanted to recreate this meal, you will be a pro at it, and not scrambling around like me. I was so grateful that Carmen, another old friend of mine, came early so she was my helpful sous chef during this time of chaos.

Step 1: Boil a pot of salted water on the stove and add 1 cup of orzo pasta once it starts to boil. Set oven to 350 and place aluminum foil on the second rack. Soak toothpicks in water.

Step 2:

Prep the following:

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup orzo pasta

1 cup milk

1 T all-purpose flour

1 cup spinach, roughly chopped

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup feta

salt and pepper shakers

2 tsp rice vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, halved

a couple basil leaves, slivered

9 bacon slices

9 scallops

Baguette cut into 6 thin rounds

Peach cut into small slices

Ricotta cheese

Balsamic vinegar

Brown sugar

Basil slivered

Grape tomatoes sliced

1 lemon, sliced

1 lime, sliced

Step 3: Drain orzo, add bacon and baguette slices to oven for 10 min.

Step 4: Whisk lemon juice, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, basil and set aside. Make balsamic glaze by heating it up on a stove and adding brown sugar, set glaze aside.

Step 5: wrap bacon around everything with toothpicks, set oven to 450.

Step 6: Heat olive oil in saucepan med heat, add garlic and onion until translucent. At the same time, add scallops to oven (4-5 min per side). Start prepping baguettes by adding ricotta to the baguette slices.

Step 7: add flour to saucepan and milk, whisk for 3-4 min.

Step 8: add spinach (2-3 min), stir parmesan and feta (1 min), add orzo, season. Take out scallops. Add peaches, basil, tomato, and glaze to the baguette slices.

Step 9: pour all ingredients for fishbowl (over ice) and dump slices of lemon and lime in.

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It was a huge challenge balancing all these dishes because of the limited counter space I have at home. It makes baking a struggle when I have a baking tray, a grill rack to remove excess oil, several bowls for sauces, and cutting boards scattering everywhere. We ended up migrating to the table but even then it wasn’t enough space. I think that’s the scariest situation to be in when you have several things cooking under a sensitive timeline and no space to maneuver everything. You end up panicking and make poor decisions that could end up burning the house down. I’m no Gordon Ramsay so juggling everything was tough! Also, if you notice the plate, there’s a small side salad I put together since we had a lot of leftover peaches and grape tomatoes from the crostini. I just added it with spinach, feta, and a dash of poppyseed dressing. Poppyseed dressing is probably my favorite dressing for fruity salads, especially ones paired with kale or spinach. You can basically get any type of seasonal fruit (within reason), get a type of cheese, kale/spinach, poppyseed dressing, and optional: avocado and/or nuts, and you’ve got yourself a very fancy, deliciously light summer salad.

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Overall, the entire night went wonderfully. Emily came and helped make her incredibly strong birthday drink (we ended up diluting it like crazy), and we ate till we were stuffed, drunk, and happy 🙂
Links to the recipes here:

Bacon wrapped scallops: http://www.traegergrills.com/teamtraeger/post/2013/07/05/Bacon-Wrapped-Seared-Scallops.aspx#.VgMH8o9VhHx
Crostini: http://reluctantentertainer.com/2015/06/peach-ricotta-crostini/
Orzo: http://damndelicious.net/2014/02/10/parmesan-spinach-orzo/

Fishbowl (own concoction):

1/3 bottle of blue curaçao

1/2 liter of Sprite

1/5 bottle of Ciroc

1/5 bottle absolut citron

1 lemon (cut into slices)

1 lime (cut into slices)

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