Editor’s note: Today’s post is written by my husband Cormac, better known to you blog readers as Mountaineering Man. For my birthday a couple weeks back, he offered to cook me a homemade meal, which was a bit of a surprise; though he has become really good at making baked fish, roasted potatoes and the like he’s never made an entire meal using recipes. Here is his story.

WHAT do you cook the girl who’s eaten everything?

Well, anything.

At least that’s what Clare told me she’d happily have for her birthday meal.

It was a significant birthday so this was going to be a significant meal. So the amount of planning and prep was going to be – you guessed it – significant.

Now we live in a home filled with cook and food books. From the Larousse bible to Bourdain, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Julia Child, there was no shortage of ideas on the shelves.

This is the point where I would usually admit my shortcomings, go for the simplest thing possible and pray that enough butter (the chef’s ace in the hole) would carry me through.

Not this time.