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Game Night Birthday Party

A few weeks ago, we celebrated my younger brother's birthday. He requested heavy hors d'oeuvres and a game night. This would be great to serve if you're hosting people for Father's Day. The beauty of this menu is a lot of it can be made ahead and most of it is "no cooking required."


Day Before...

  1. Make Caesar dressing.

  2. Make tiramisu.

  3. Grocery shop for fromagerie and charcuterie.

  4. Arrange flowers.

Day Of...

  1. Buy baguette.

  2. Mix up aioli.

  3. Grill flank steak.

  4. Toast baguette.

  5. Assemble cheese board.

  6. Assemble caprese.

  7. Toss Caesar salad.

  8. Mix Old Fashioneds.


The birthday boy requested an Old Fashioned. I tried making it with agave and liked the final result - plus you won't have to make simple syrup.


Old Fashioned Cocktail

Makes 1 drink

2 ounces Bourbon

1/4 ounce agave

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Orange peel or Luxardo cherry, for garnish

Add agave and bitters to a rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice and stir to combine. Add bourbon and stir for about 30 seconds to chill and dilute. Garnish with orange peel or Luxardo cherry, if desired.


The man of the hour.

Caesar salad is always a crowd pleaser. I opted to make my own dressing but you can always use store-bought. Caesar dressing traditionally uses anchovies, which my mom hates. If I used anchovies, she wouldn't eat this dressing, so I experimented and found that a few dashes of Worcestershire adds enough umami flavor that you won't miss the anchovy. I made a half recipe of Ina Garten's Caesar dressing and used about 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire. I used store-bought croutons to save time but you could always be fancy and make your own. A sprinkle of fresh parmesan and an extra crack of pepper and this salad is ready to be eaten.

[A funny anecdote about Worcestershire. My family and I never pronounce this correctly as "wu-stuh-shr" and instead refer to this as "wooshie." (Yes, we are American trash.)]

Caprese salad in the summer while the tomatoes are good hits different. I plated the tomatoes and mozzarella ahead of time and refrigerated. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with fleur de sel and fresh-cracked pepper right before serving.

Atlanta Hot Tip: Rick's Farm Stand in Sandy Springs has the best produce. We stockpile their tomatoes every summer; they're incredible.

Flank steak crostini is my brother's creation. Slice the baguette about a 1/2-inch thick, brush with olive oil, and bake on 425 degrees for 10 minutes. For the flank steak, pat dry and sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Place steak on a hot grill and brush with melted butter mixed with a little garlic and thyme. Grill until medium rare (135 degrees). Rest the steak for 10 minutes, thinly slice, then add to baguette with a drizzle of spicy aioli. This is best served with a sprinkle of chives, which we didn't have, so we instead used parsley.

I don't have exact quantities for the sauce, but William adds a few dashes of Worcestershire and sriracha sauce to mayonnaise.

I made a cheeseboard for us to snack on whilst playing games. For the cheeses, I got smoked Gouda, Fontina, and Brie. I added prosciutto, summer sausage, Castelvetrano olives, grapes, and pistachios. I served everything with crackers, honey, and fig preserves.

I tried Marin French Cheese Company's triple crème brie and am completely obsessed. Every guest commented on how good it is. I found it at Whole Foods and plan on trying other Marin products.

This is great for entertaining. Throw all ingredients on a board and let guests help themselves.

William loves tiramisu. My family usually orders it for dessert if a restaurant serves it. While I've eaten a lot of tiramisu, I've never tried to make one. I was a little hesitant as we're kind of tiramisu snobs, but this Ina Garten recipe is delicious. It was also surprisingly easy and best when made the night before, leaving one less thing for you to day-of. I used my favorite dark rum, Bumbu, from Barbados, which has a complex vanilla and caramel flavor. I think it's intended for sipping (oops) but it was perfect for this recipe.


Get the Look:

I think that more men should receive flowers on their birthdays. I made William this cheerful bouquet with hydrangeas, sunflowers, and peonies. He may not care, but he always sends me flowers on my birthday and I wanted to return the favor - HA!


Thanks for reading!

- Sam


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