Entries tagged with “birthday”.
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Fri 3 Dec 2010
Posted by Dana under Savory
The last time I was here it was 4 November. And now, it is 3 December! It’s so crazy how time flies! Since 4 November: we’ve almost finished the house, we’ll be moving in in approximately two weeks, I’ve written 43 pages worth of papers (43!?!?) and it has snowed more than a foot. Between school, work, and house fixing I haven’t had much time for rolling out the laptop for you guys out in blog land. I’ve got a store of things on my camera, though, so I’ll get you up to date as soon as I can.
Oh my dear readers, I’ve missed you so.
Anyway, I have a long running Wednesday lunch date with a new but dear friend. She is a very accomplished cook, and a genius storyteller. One Wednesday, not too many Wednesdays ago, it was this friend’s birthday. Instead of having her prepare a lunch, as she does on Wednesday lunches, myself and my fellow lunch-goers brought a lunch to her. On the menu: tortellini soup, a mixed baby greens with chevre and cranberry salad, sambuca shrimp and lemon meringue pie. It was quite a lunch!
I made the tortellini soup, but that will come later. First: easy cheater tortellini!
Labneh Cheater Tortellini
(methodology gleaned from my cousin who filled them with sweet potato!)
250 grams Labneh (labneh is a yorgurt cheese, feel free to use ricotta or whatever interests you for a filling)
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 package of wonton wrappers
- Combine labneh, egg, oregano, pepper and salt in a bowl. Stir until uniform. This will be the tortellini filling
- Take the wonton wrappers out of their package. While they are all still in a neat stack, cut off the bottom quarter of the whole pile in one fell swoop. You’ll be left with rectangles instead of squares, and I found that these worked a lot better for me.
- Get a bowl and fill it with warm water.
- Pull a wonton wrapper off the pile and place it on the work surface. Dipping your fingers in the water bowl, moisten the entire perimeter of the wonton wrapper. Then, put a line of the filling across one of the long sides, just inside of the wet edge (I used a piping bag for this, and it made life so much less messy). Fold the wonton wrapper over the filling, pinching the edges so that the filling won’t escape. Roll it up like a cigar, wrap it around one of your fingers, and pinch the edges together.
- Ta da! You have a beautiful little cheated tortellini. Repeat and repeat until you run out of wonton wrappers.
I know it’s cheating, using wonton wrappers instead of real pasta. But I bet if you didn’t hear it you wouldn’t have known. I’m still yet to try out homemade pasta making, and this method just does away with so much rolling and cutting. I’ll get up my gumption one day and make real tortellini.
Labneh made a very interesting tortellini filling, creamy and lovely. I had hoped that it would have kept some of the acidic bite it had uncooked, but I think they may have sat a little too long in the soup while I drove it to the lunch date birthday party. (Note to self: if you’re taking tortellini soup somewhere, warm it up again when you get there and then add the tortellini).
Overall, they made for a very tasty tortellini soup, recipe soon to follow, and would be really good as well with a simple brown butter and herb (I’m thinking sage) sauce. They were worth every bit of effort.
And to my lovely lunching friend, happy birthday again, even though it was really on the 17th.
Tue 1 Jun 2010
Posted by Dana under Sweet
My friend, known by many as English Ed, had his birthday yesterday, and we had the luck of having him on the continent so that we could all celebrate together. He’s returned to Canada to tour with The Electric Candles, a local band who will be playing shows in Ontario and Quebec locations during June and July. It’s his first trip back in five years, and we got to throw him a birthday at Vinyl Drip, the local all request vinyl night. It’s a great place for a Monday night get together, especially when the birthday boy is musically inclined.
I told him I would bake him a cake for his birthday, but we quickly decided on cupcakes. Being the avid baker I am, I asked him, “What kind of cupcakes are your favorite?” My mind already thinking of cool ideas, maybe I could do something with pomegranate molasses… or I could make the grape cupcakes I made for my birthday last year… what would be truly excellent?
Ed said he wanted “Normal cupcakes.” Just plain vanilla, nothing weird cupcakes. I agreed to this at first but then I heard stories of Ed’s very standard English consumption of tea. Lots and lots of tea. So, I made him Earl Grey cupcakes instead of his requested normal, vanilla cupcakes to bring a little bit of extra tea flavor for his birthday.
They were quite well received! All I did was take my standard recipe for white cupcakes, but steeped the required milk (after bringing it to a boil) with two tea bags of Earl Grey, and let it cool back to room temperature. The Earl Grey flavor was quite subtle, so maybe next time I will use another tea bag in the steeping. If you have someone request normal, white, nothing too crazy cupcakes, you can use this recipe as written, skipping the boiling of the milk and the steeping process.
Happy Birthday Ed!
Earl Grey Cupcakes
3/4 C milk
2 tea bags of Earl Grey tea
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
- Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan, removing from heat once simmering and adding in the bags of tea. Allow to steep until the milk returns to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Beat in eggs one at a time, add vanilla to mixture.
- In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
- Alternating in two batches, stir dry ingredients and steeped milk to the mixture. Try to mix minimally, just until the batter is uniform.
- Divide the batter between 12-16 cupcake cups (depending on the size of cup you are using).
- Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted to the center of the cupcake comes out clean (~18 minutes).
- Allow to cool completely and then ice as desired.
I iced Ed’s birthday cupcakes with a plain, normal vanilla buttercream icing, so that he at least got halfway what he wanted out of the cupcakes. I think he appreciated the tea, though.
Mon 29 Mar 2010
Posted by Dana under Sweet
I’m amazed at the number of times in the past week that people were surprised I was going to bake my own birthday cake: “Someone else isn’t going to bake it for you?”
“Do you want me to bake a cake for you?”
No, not really.
“Are you sure? It’s too bad you have to bake your own cake.”
I really don’t think it’s too bad. And I don’t need to bake my own cake, I want to! Baking cake is fun! Making food for your friends and the people you love most to eat is fun! Why would it being a birthday cake make it less fun too bake, or too bad that I’m baking it? I understand the nice sentiment put behind one of your special people baking a cake for you to eat (hopefully not the whole thing unless it’s a cupcake), but it was my birthday and I had a plan. I was going to make a grown up birthday cake.
I wanted it to be chocolate, which many very good cakes are. I wanted it to be not overly sweet (though the reicpe does call for a good deal of sugar), perhaps a little bitter from the chocolate. A deep chocolatey taste that would separate it from the not-grown-up birthday cakes of years past. This cake was perfect.
The Guinness in the cake quite successfully made the cake feel grown up. Not only is it a cake with beer (I know, it sounds weird but it is so good!), the Guinness lends the malty, slightly bitter, woodsy, chocolate, a little bit citrus everything I was looking for to my ‘grown up cake.’
The process of making the cake is really interesting too. The batter is hot! It starts to come together on the stove top! It sounds bizarre, but Nigella, the domestic Goddess herself, is rarely if ever wrong. Try this cake; it is just that good.
Chocolate Guinness Cake
(adapted from Chocolate Guinness Cake in Nigella Lawson’s Feast.)
1 cup Guinness stout
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan.
- Pour the Guinness into a saucepan and add the butter, stirring to melt. Then, whisk in the sugar and cocoa.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs and then mix in the sour cream and vanilla.
- Pour some of the chocolate beer mixture in with the sour cream mixture, whisking to temper, and then add in the rest.
- Whisk in the flour, soda and salt.
- Pour the lusciously warm batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven, immediately turning it down to 300° F.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45 minutes to an hour.
Not-too-Thick Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup cream cheese
2 1/2 tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups icing sugar
- Beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
- Add in whipping cream and vanilla, beating for a minute or two until everything starts to fluff up.
- Slowly add the icing sugar. Depending on the humidity and your taste, you may need a little more or a little less.
This is my perfect cream cheese icing. Most of the time, I find cream cheese icing too loaded with icing sugar, too thick, and just overwhelming. The whipping cream added in makes the icing just right, almost runny, easy to spread, but it still holds to the cake and doesn’t drip anywhere. Yum!
When the cake has cooled, remove it from the pan and ice the cake. In Nigella’s original recipe, she ices the deep brown cake with the fluffy white icing only on top, giving a cake reminiscent of a pint of Guinness. I iced the whole cake so I wouldn’t have a bowlful of icing left over. Here is my birthday cake, pre-lighting the candles:
The cake disappeared quite quickly at the party, with only a teensy weensy little piece left on the tray. My grown up cake was a success, but being a person who still regularly refers to what I might be when I grow up, I don’t know that this truly excellent cake suits how not grown up I tend to feel. I think maybe next year I’ll make the perfect still-not-quite-grown-up birthday cake.