Friday, May 22, 2009

The Annual Birthday Dinner (and not a single original recipe)

Saturday night I marked the birthdays of both my mother and her younger (by one year and 364 days) brother. Yep, two siblings were born almost two years apart to the day.

It was Memorial Day weekend and everyone is outside grilling, but I have to be different, and I was inside, cooking in the kitchen.

Sue warned me that my house - no, not house, apartment and don't you forget it - was going to be thought of as the family gathering place if I kept holding huge holiday dinners there. She really was right. I try to have a set guest list for family dinners and the next thing I know, there is someone else, some lost soul, some friend of a friend, who needs to come to the party. I can't say no and my party becomes bigger than I had planned for.

This party was no exception. I ended up with 11 adults and 3 children. At least the kids had already eaten by the time of the party. With so many people, I gave up on doing the plated dinner I had planned and scrapped it in favor of a big baked pasta dish.

My favorite baked pasta dish is Giada De Laurentis's Farmer's Pasta. I love this recipe. It's rich and creamy and cheesy and perfect. It's probably not the kind of thing you think of eating on Memorial Day weekend, but it feeds a lot of people, and that was really the key thing for the night. Too bad. I had wanted to come up with some kind of original recipe for this party.

It was also more chances to show how useful this book is to me. Two posts in a row using this book!

What else did I serve? I actually started this party on the Giada theme with her Vegetable Fritto Misto. I'm just a frying fool these days, no? I forgot to photograph it though.

Along with the antipasto I served a special birthday cocktail as people walked in. This was a combination of POM juice and proseco. Excellent combination. Some of us couldn't stop drinking these.

The official dinner portion began with a recipe I pilfered from a blog. This was Peter's Spring Salad with Warm Dressing. I love just about anything with pine nuts and the dressing was delicious. (Yes, there were pine nuts in here but somehow they just didn't come through in the photo). I received tons of compliments on it, which I pass along to Peter. Everyone wanted to know what was in it.
Then I served dinner. Gooey, cheesey goodness. My family pretty much ravaged this (except for poor, lactose-intolerant Sir Pickypants).

I pilfered a recipe once again and made Emily's Peanut Butter Marble Cake. My mother had originally asked me to make her favorite Tres Leches cake, but after all that cheese in the entree, I feared I might kill Sir Pickypants.
I always have trouble getting even layers in the cake pans, so my layer cakes tend to be lopsided, still it was a pretty cake once you cut it.
The frosting on this cake is to die for. It's both creamy and buttery. It's intensely rich without having that too-sweet dense frosting texture many people don't like. The cake was well received and Kevin said it was among my "better cakes". The way he said that almost implied my cakes aren't that good. I hope that's not how he meant it!

It was a very good party. We had great food, lots of wine, and good company. Still, Kevin and I have decided that until the day that we can afford an actual house, we're going to limit our parties to the number of adults who can actually fit around our dining room table. No more mega-Thanksgivings at the Pickypants-DisOrderCook condo. Our place just can't take the wear and tear.


Bellini Valli said...

Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate to me:D

Emily said...

YAY! Glad you made and liked the cake. It looks great!

The baked pasta dish sounds so good, and the salad looks beautiful.

Sue said...

See? I told ya! And thanks for the shoutout.

That sounds like such a great menu. You must have had to make GOBS of Fritto Misto for all those folks.

I hope you had some cake least, so you could enjoy the fruits of your labor after the fact...

I'll be watching at Thanksgiving to see what REALLY happens to your guest list. Don't deprive all those folks of your cooking, just cover everything in plastic first...I still like the idea of feeding the kids in the bathtub.

Donna-FFW said...

I love this entire meal. Love it!

That cake though, I will ba making that cake, thanks for showcasing this one, it looks delectable!

Adam said...

I kinda like lopsided cakes. They have this like underdog personality, if that makes sense :)

Great job on everything, and on being a totally cool host. I know it's a lot of work having everyone over, but if it's ever too much, just have another spritzer :)

noble pig said...

You have become the party queen! What a beautiful meal! And that cake, OMG!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Val - I hope it was!

Em - Your cake is awesome - as so many of your recipes are.

Sue - My mother said her boyfriend has already invited SPP and me over for Thanksgiving this November. I'm officially on a break from big family dinners until I have a house!

I did have to make gobs of fritto misto. We cleaned the plate in minutes!

I did have one piece each of cake after it was all over thank goodness!

Donna - Thanks. Definitely try the cake.

Adam - Great to see you back here. A lopsided cake does indicate a homemade cake, so there really is a charm to a lopsided cake. It just isn't much to photograph.

Cathy - Thanks. I think I'm going to be the SMALL party queen in the future though.

we are never full said...

i know it's late but happy bday. both jonny and i are may babies (not even 24 hours apart!) so we tip our hat to you. i like cooking for my big days too but this year, well we went for korean food. it fell on the same w/e as my sister's graduation and mother's day! happy bday again.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Now that's my kind of meal! Everything looks delicious, can I come next time?