Happy Birthday Gwen

 

Hope she made a good wish.

Gwen on her fourteenth birthday.

 

The arrival of my daughter, Gwendolyn, fourteen years ago today was a surprise; she was five weeks early.  She was ready for the world despite everyone else’s schedules and is the same way now; she wants to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it.

Life with a teenager is different.  I could spend hours telling you of our adventures through life but as you probably are already aware, everything a mother does embarrasses a teen; she wouldn’t approve.  So, instead of telling you all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful moments we’ve shared over the years I’ll share the birthday dinner.  It will still earn me rolled eyes but it’s been awhile since I’ve done a food post.

Gwen has been a vegetarian for over three years now.  There was a short stint in the middle when I could get her to eat locally raised and sustainably produced meats but she’s since reverted to her diet of cheese and bread.  Actually, she eats fish and eggs and dairy.  She’ll even eat a lot of vegetables, but when I start combining them into balanced vegetarian meals she turns up her nose. (Ratatouille anyone?)  Since both the boys in our house are devoted carnivores, it makes dinner interesting to say the least.  Generally what happens is that the boys get a protein with a vegetable and grain or potatoes on their plates and Gwen gets the same plate without the meat.  She doesn’t particularly enjoy soy-based meat replacements and I’m not sure I agree with them anyway given how unsustainable they really are.

But, it is her birthday.  Did I mention neither of the boys like fish?  So, in addition to cake I got to make not one, but two dinners today.
Let’s start with the common elements.  

Grilled corn and flatbread

Folded flatbread with an ear of corn grilled in its husk.

 

Everyone had an ear of grilled corn from Olds Farm and a grilled flatbread.  Leave your corn in its husk and soak it in water for an hour or two before you throw it on the grill.  I made grilled breads a lot last summer but since I’ve started using spelt or whole wheat flour, they’ve waned in popularity and nobody cheers when I cook them anymore.  I’ve been tweaking the recipe trying to find a balance of white and whole grain flour that everyone will eat; these were pretty good and nobody complained although I probably could have increased the white flour a little more.  The recipe is below.

Garden fresh Ceviche

Halibut Ceviche with veggies from our garden.

 

Gwen’s entrée was ceviche.  I’ve never made a ceviche before but I was very pleased with the results and will definitely be making it again.  Every time I grill fish Gwen asks, “Do we have anymore lemon?” so “cooking” the fish in the lemon seemed like a natural thing to do.

Grilled Dinner

I want my baby back, baby back.

 

The boys had baby back ribs.  We ordered a half a pig from Olds Farm this year.  It was processed last week and we picked it up on Wednesday.  It feels really good to have a freezer full of good, local meat but at the rate we’re eating it, I’m not sure it will last long.

Sneaky Cake with chocolate chip ice cream

Nobody will ever guess the secret ingredients.

 

I should have made homemade ice cream to go in Gwen’s ice cream cake but since I was already cooking two separate dinners and baking a cake in a 90 degree house, I cheated and bought some. 

Everything was a hit (even the sneaky cake) and Gwen had a great birthday.   Here are the recipes:
Grilled Flatbreads

2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm whey (or water if you haven’t made cheese recently)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups white flour plus more for dusting

  1. Combine yeast with whey or water and sugar and let stand about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in oil, salt and flours to form a dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl; add more flour as necessary.
  3. Knead the dough with your KitchenAid mixer until the motor dies or the dough is smooth and elastic, whichever comes first. (My mixer died at just about the same time the dough was ready so I guess I got lucky there.)
  4. Oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and drizzle the top with oil.  Cover with a damp towel or cloth napkin and let rise until double.
  5. Punch the dough down and roll it into a two-inch cylinder.  Cut the cylinder into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and keep covered with a damp towel.
  6. Preheat the grill to high.
  7. Roll each dough ball into a thin disc about 8″ in diameter.
  8. Drizzle each disc with oil and sprinkle with salt before placing onto the hot grill.  Flip when the breads bubble and the bottoms brown nicely and cook until the other side has browned.

 

Birthday Ceviche

About 2 lbs. Halibut from Alaskan Premium Seafoods cut into 1/2″ chunks
1/2 cup lime juice
two small onions pulled from the garden along with some of the greens finely chopped
a medium yellow and two small Roma tomatoes pulled from the garden and chopped
two small hot peppers pulled from the rainbow pepper plant minced
several lime basil leaves finely chopped
2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.  Stir gently to blend and place in refrigerator.  Stir again every hour or so to ensure all parts of fish come into contact with the lime juice.  The fish is ready when it turns from translucent to opaque.

Scoop into bowls with a slotted spoon to remove most of the juice and serve.
Ribs

There isn’t really a recipe for my ribs.  I had the oven on for the cake so I rubbed the ribs on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic and dumped them in a glass baking dish.  I poured half a beer in the pan, covered it with foil and threw it in the oven while I prepared and baked the cake.  When the cake was done I left the ribs in while the oven cooled and then finished them on the grill with the corn and the flatbreads.  My sauce is also very complex:

  1. Dump the drippings and beer from the ribs into a sauce pan.
  2. Add a liberal amount of brown sugar and a big squirt of ketchup.
  3. Boil until desired consistency is reached.

 

Birthday Ice Cream Cake

1 quart ice cream
1 1/2 cups purple puree*
1 stick butter
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1 C. sugar
2 C. whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Chocolate frosting *

* Purple Puree is something the Sneaky Chef does, but mine is a little different.  Last summer, in an effort to use all the kale I was getting from my CSA, I decided to use purple kale to make a puree to add to my cakes.  It’s a little coarser than I think a spinach puree would be, but I haven’t had any complaints.  
In a saucepan, heat 1/4 cup water to boiling.  Chop a large bunch of purple kale (3-4 cups chopped) and add it to the boiling water.  When the kale is thoroughly cooked, add it and the water to your blender or food processor with two cups of blueberries and a teaspoon of lemon juice.  Puree the mixture on high-speed until it reaches a smooth consistency.  This will make over 2 cups of puree; you can freeze any extra.

Before mixing your cake, remove your ice cream from the freezer to soften (unless you just made your own and it is already soft) and line a 9 inch cake pan with plastic wrap.  Scoop ice cream into the lined pan and smooth it down so that it takes the shape of the pan.  Place the pan in the freezer to allow the ice cream to harden.

Preheat oven to 340 degrees.

  1. Melt a stick of butter with the chocolate chips in a large, microwaveable bowl.  I used milk chocolate chips because I had them on hand,  but I would advise semi-sweet for a more chocolatey cake.  Stir the chips and butter until blended.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups purple puree, vanilla, sugar and eggs and mix well.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Mix until blended.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients into the larger bowland mix until combined.
  5. Grease two 9″ cake pans.
  6. Divide batter evenly between pans and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Allow cakes to fully cool before assembling the ice cream tower. 
  8. Invert one cooled layer cake on a large plate.
  9. Remove plastic wrap from ice cream and stack onto cake.
  10. Top ice cream with second cake layer.
  11. Frost with Chocolate frosting *
  12. Place cake in freezer until ready to serve.

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick room temperature butter
powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a ratio of about 4:1
splash of vanilla

  1. Dump softened butter into medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add 1/4 C. powdered sugar and a T. of cocoa powder.  Stir until mixed.
  3. Add a splash of vanilla and stir again.
  4. Continue adding cocoa  and sugar until the frosting reaches a workable consistency. 

This post has been added to the Family Food Fridays bloghop.  Check it out for a selection of delicious recipes!

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2 Comments

Filed under food

2 responses to “Happy Birthday Gwen

  1. Wow! What a feast! You are such a good mom and two meals! Anyway, everything looks wonderful and it sounds like it was a good birthday for your daughter. Love the special cake ingredient. Makes the chickpeas in the chocolate chip cookies seem pretty tame!

  2. Looks great, thanks for linking up at Family Food Friday! :)

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