springtime dinner al fresco for my momma’s birthday


 {dungeness crab rolls with homemade light brioche buns}

This past weekend we headed down to my parents’ house in San Jose {after a much needed pit stop stop at In N Out for lunch}, and spent the rest of the afternoon around their outdoor table, sipping on champagne, catching up, and relaxing.  To celebrate my sweet momma’s birthday, we prepared Dungeness crab rolls with homemade light brioche buns, a butter lettuce salad with grape tomatoes, avocados, feta and an herbal vinagrette, cornmeal crusted Vidalia onion rings and a fresh raspberry tart with lemon and vanilla scented pastry cream.  A perfect meal to be enjoyed al fresco as the temperatures start warming up!

If you haven’t already tried the New York Times recipe for light brioche buns that is floating around, I highly recommend you do – immediately!  I have always been so intimidated by homemade bread, having experienced bread that won’t rise, is tough and dense, or never browns to my liking.  This recipe came out absolutely perfectly, and gave my bread making confidence a jump start.


{lemonade and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc enjoyed outdoors}


{butter lettuce salad with grape tomatoes, avocado, feta and herbal vinagrette}


{cornmeal crusted Vidalia onion rings}


{dungeness crab rolls with homemade light brioche buns}


{fresh raspberry tart with lemon and vanilla scented pastry cream}

Recipes continued after the jump>>>


Dungeness Crab Salad

  • 1 1/2 pound fresh Dungeness crab
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons chives, chopped, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground

Mix crab with butter and mayonnaise until combined.  Add chives, parsley and lemon juice, and stir to combine.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

To assemble the crab rolls:  Slice each bun in half.  Butter each half, and griddle each half, butter side down, in a pan over medium high heat until desired color is achieved.  Top bottom half of bun with crab salad and sprinkle with chives.  Top with top half of bun.  Repeat process for remaining buns.

Light Brioche Buns

From the New York Times

Makes 8 buns

  • 3 tablespoons warm milk
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat 1 egg.

In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, unfloured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.

Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400° with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Tomatoes, Avocados, Feta and Herbal Vinagrette

  • 2 heads Butter lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh grape tomatoes
  • 2 avocados, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 c. fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chiffonaded
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chives, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground

Assemble salad by combing Butter lettuce leaves, tomatoes and avocado in large serving bowl.  Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese over.  In a food processor, blitz olive oil, vinegar, mustard, basil, parsley and 1 teaspoon chives.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste and blitz again.  Drizzle vinagrette over salad and toss to combine.

Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings

From Ina Garten

  • 2 large Vidalia onions
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (medium) yellow cornmeal
  • 1 quart vegetable oil

Peel the onions, slice them 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick, and separate them into rings. Combine the buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the onion rings, toss well, and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. {The onion rings can sit in the buttermilk for a few hours.} In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

When you’re ready to fry the onion rings, preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large pot or  Dutch oven. {A candy thermometer attached to the side of the pot will help you maintain the proper temperature.} Working in batches, lift some onions out of the buttermilk and dredge them in the flour mixture. Drop into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown, turning them once with tongs. Don’t crowd them! Place the finished onion rings on the baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with salt, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch. Continue frying the onion rings and placing them in the warm oven until all the onions are fried. They will remain crisp in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Raspberry Tarts with Lemon and Vanilla Scented Pastry Cream

See recipe here, except do not divide tart dough before refrigerating.  Once chilled, roll dough out large enough to fit a 9 inch tart pan.

This entry was posted in mains + sides, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to springtime dinner al fresco for my momma’s birthday

  1. Everything looks beautiful! Happy birthday to your momma!

  2. your mom is one lucky gal! beautiful setup and recipes 🙂

  3. Momma says:

    The dinner was beautiful, yummy and made entirely from scratch. I’m sooo lucky to have such a lovely, smart and talented daughter. Thank you for best birthday I’ve had in years. I love you.

  4. Lena says:

    This looks incredible!

  5. What a lovely menu, I think your Mom is one lucky lady. Beautifully done.

  6. what a lovely spread.

  7. ladyredspecs says:

    One lucky Mum! Beautiful food, flavours and photos!

  8. It all looks delicious! I am going to have to try the Brioche rolls as making bread has been a challenge for me too. Thanks for sharing the day and the wonderful recipes!

  9. Lilly Sue says:

    OH my goodness, I am absolutely drooling!! This all looks so good. It sounds like a lovely time you had with your mom. It was just my mom’s birthday as well and with mother’s day I have just wrote a little thing about her 🙂 I also nominated you for the 7×7 Link award- check it out here http://lillysuesbitesandbrews.com/2013/05/10/tribute-to-my-mom-pear-cocktail/ Congrats!

  10. Karen says:

    I’m sure your mother appreciated the lovely lunch…it sounds wonderful.

  11. What a beautiful Mom’s birthday celebration! Thanks for sharing it with us, Lindsay; it was just like being there with you =) xo!

  12. Sounds like a lovely birthday celebration for your Mom Lindsay. The crab salad in the brioche buns sounds delicious! Hope you’re doing well. xo

  13. Reblogged this on Haute Mom Living and commented:
    Will need to make these for my family over the summer!

  14. laurasmess says:

    Aw Lindsay, your momma must’ve had a fantastic day 🙂 Those brioche buns look amazing. I’m definitely one of those who is intimidated by making my own bread. Foccacia normally turns out fine but anything like sourdough or yeasted white loaves… argh! Scary! I’ll definitely try the recipe, but not sure if we can get your type of crabs over here. The most common one is ‘blue swimmer’ (doesn’t sound anything near as interesting as Dungeness. I’m imagining some kind of Scottish kilt-wearing crab that lives in a dark hole) from the coast of Western Australia. Thanks for sharing this special day with us, and glad that you’re back safely from your holiday! xx

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Thanks Laura! I laughed out loud of the image of a kilt-wearing crab! A great character for a children’s story book! 🙂

      • laurasmess says:

        Definitely, hm… maybe I’ll run with that idea! My husband and I have always wanted to write and illustrate a book together (he’s a 3D animator and artist, I have a half-finished novel on my computer and I paint and draw). We can call it ‘Dungeness the Crab’. He definitely needs a sporran 🙂

  15. Pingback: fried chicken sliders with homemade brioche buns and sesame slaw | { fleur de sel }

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