In August of 1970 when Bob Rakstang and I married, we were college students and too broke for a “pull-out-all-the-stops” honeymoon. Fifty years later, 2020 would bring a magical year of globetrotting to Hawaii, Iceland, and island hopping through Greece, but ahh, COVID changed those plans. So what can we possibly do to celebrate our golden anniversary? Shelter in place, of course!

Nothing could be more satisfying and fun than cooking up a 6-course dinner with Bob from recipes of our favorite Israeli/English chef and author, Chef Yotam Ottolenghi! And what could be more joyful than having watched our two children grow up into awesome adults and fifty years of love, laughter, happiness, and good health? Happy 50th Anniversary, Bob Rakstang! Gassho (palms together with gratitude).

FIRST COURSE: Hors d’oeuvre
These delicate pan-fried polenta chips are a perfect vehicle to serve this classic Homemade hummus garnished with smoked paprika, pine nuts, and micro greens.

So satisfyingly delicious served ice-cold on our warm August special evening. Green Gazpacho was made with celery, green bell pepper, cucumbers, green chile, garlic, toasted walnuts, baby spinach, basil parsley, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and Greek yogurt. Garnishes include handmade sourdough croutons, ice shards, and micro greens.

These Spice Stuffed Potato Cakes surprised my palate as it burst with flavors of turmeric, toasted mustard seeds, cilantro, mint leaves, green chiles, tamarind paste, and garlic!

FOURTH COURSE: Tomato Salad with Fresh Carmelized Figs
August brought a full harvest of veggies, tomatoes, and herbs, some from my balcony garden and others from our neighborhood Farmers Market. This salad of orange and red cherry and vine ripened tomatoes, green tomatoes, fregola, and a variety of herbs was refreshing and delicious.

Sous Vide Lamb chops, finished by searing in butter in an iron pan, was accompanied by homemade mint jelly and Basmati & Wild Rice, Chickpeas, Currants, & Herbs.

This exquisite Mushroom Ragout was made with sautéed fresh crimini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, and mixed with reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms simmered in a mire poix stock and herbs. Served with poached quail eggs, homemade sourdough croutons, and chopped herbs.

After our fifth course, we were stuffed as you might guess. But after a short rest, we were ready for our dessert of Watermelon and feta salad along with Sweet Filo Cigars. The refreshing watermelon slices and basil against the savory feta and thinly sliced red onion was a perfect backdrop to the filo rolls stuffed with almonds and pistachios, drizzled with honey, and topped with additional crushed pistachio nuts.

WOW–a sweet ending to a savory feast celebrating our 50th Anniversary on a warm summer night during times of COVID!

Our dreams of traveling during our 50th year of marriage were dashed during the year of COVID 2020. But Bob and I were healthy and for that, we were grateful. Throughout that year and the following, we remained positive as we sheltered at home and I finished my book COOKING FOR HER EYES–what more can I ask for?

< This is our official anniversary selfie-portrait…..

< And this is our unofficial anniversary selfie in true COVID dress protocol!

Wishing good health, happiness, and peace to all!