We used to have a tradition that on my birthday Alan would cook mussels and french fries for me (moules avec pommes frites). He stewed mussels in a delicious buttery white wine sauce and served them along side a mound of fries. To say that I was crazy about this meal is an understatement. I was one with it. Sadly, the tradition is no more. That's because the last time he prepared it I became violently ill and was glued to the toilet all night. Come to find out, I've developed an allergy to shell fish. What a pity. I miss those mussels like I miss my family in Oregon.
This year my consolation dinner was Salad Lyonnaise. I specifically requested it because Alan makes the best (and only) version I've had. If you haven't had the pleasure of eating this easy but lovely dish, it's simply chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cooked bacon, and handmade croutons topped with a poached egg and drizzled with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and red wine vinegar.
What was really special is that Alan not only made dinner but he dressed the table with miniature Danish flags (a birthday tradition here), candles, and fancy paper napkins he bought just for that night (inserted in champagne glasses!). I was impressed.
Here, a recipe for traditional Salad Lyonnaise from Simply Recipes. If you don't like frisee (I don't), simply substitute romaine or red leaf lettuce. Also, this recipe contains no tomatoes or garlic, key ingredients in Alan's version. Stick with that if you prefer, but Alan makes his croutons in the following way. First he toasts slices of bread in the toaster. Next, he rubs the toast slices with a clove of fresh garlic. Then he chops the bread into bite sized pieces and sautees them in a pan of 1-2T of olive oil. They're spectacular, and after eating my first bite I vowed never to buy store bought croutons again. As for the tomatoes, we add them merely as a matter of preference and for the way they compliment the bacon and other ingredients.