Posts tagged ‘Birthday’

October 1, 2013

Lemon Dream Cake

Some recipes come and go from your repertoire and others become staples, go-tos, still others grab you and become yours…they become part of your traditions. One such recipe for us is what we have come to call Lemon Dream Cake (or Morphine cake or in this case, Kelly’s birthday cake)! I honestly don’t care that much about cake…put a chocolate chip cookie in front of me and I will be hard pressed to say no, but cake often disappoints. This changed my entire view of what cake can be; it is super lemony and not too sweet, moist and just perfect…every time! A little story about this cake: my grandmother was kind enough to let me live with her for a time and I really wanted to do something nice for her. I decided on this cake and I had none of the right equipment. We had to borrow pans from her friend (in exchange for some cake, of course), I had to do it all by hand and Grandma kept looking at all the work I was putting in thinking it couldn’t possibly be worth it. “Just go and get one!” she would tell me multiple times. I just kept at it, knowing it would be worth it, and it was. Shortly after I made it (luckily with some still safely stored in the fridge) she had surgery and when she woke up the first thing she asked for was a cup of coffee and a slice of my cake. Hence, Morphine Cake. It is still one of my fondest memories of living with her.

The first time we made this cake, we kept looking at it thinking there couldn’t possibly be a recipe with more steps (turns out we were wrong, we just hadn’t gotten that brave yet). But after investing the time and energy once, you get the hang of things and try it again, and again, and again. In fact, we have made it for more of my birthdays than I can count. Though having made it by hand on two occasions, I can tell you this recipe taught me to love the Kitchenaid! It is one of those multi-step, multi-day labors of love that really is worth it in the end. Plan 2-3 days ahead to spread out the steps and make it feel a bit less like a production and really try to follow the directions (which we are notoriously bad at), especially for the curd and the cake. If you are looking for a show stopper, try it out!



Lemon Dream (Morphine) Cake

From Bon Appétit via Epicurious

Makes 10 to 12 servings

*You’ll need a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip to create the decorative rosettes. Though we have decorated it lots of ways…Be Creative!! You will notice, ours is not perfect, but it does look homemade!


Lemon curd

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


6 large eggs, separated

14 tablespoons sugar

1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)

1/4 teaspoon salt


1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Filling and frosting

2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar

3 8-ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese*


For lemon curd:

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk constantly until thickened and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160°F, about 10 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add butter; whisk until melted. Transfer 1 cup curd to small bowl for spreading on cake layers. Reserve remaining curd for filling. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of both curds. Chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Make extra to use on everything!!)


For cake:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line bottom of two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with parchment paper, do not grease pans or parchment. (Try this method). Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted, about 4 minutes. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Add remaining 7 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold half of whites into yolk mixture, then sift half of flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt over and gently fold in until incorporated. Fold in remaining whites, then sift remaining flour over and fold in just until combined, being careful not to deflate batter.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pans on racks.

Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto 9-inch-diameter cardboard rounds, tapping on work surface if necessary to release cakes. Cut each cake horizontally in half (layers will be thin, you will think they are too thin, have faith). Peel off parchment.

For syrup:

Place sugar in small metal bowl. Add 1/2 cup boiling water; stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in lemon juice. (Can be made several days in advance and kept refrigerated).

For filling and frosting:

Beat whipping cream and sugar in large bowl until peaks form. Add mascarpone to lemon curd in medium bowl; whisk until blended. Fold whipped cream into lemon-mascarpone mixture.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Brush with 1/4 of syrup. Spread 1/4 cup lemon curd over, then 1 cup lemon-mascarpone filling. Top with second cake layer; brush with 1/4 of syrup and spread with 1/4 cup lemon curd and 1 cup lemon-mascarpone filling. Repeat with third cake layer, syrup, lemon curd, and filling. Top with fourth cake layer. Brush with remaining syrup, then spread remaining lemon curd over. Spoon 2 cups lemon-mascarpone filling into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch star tip (to be used for rosettes). Spread remaining lemon-mascarpone filling as a frosting over sides of cake. Pipe small rosettes of frosting over top of cake, covering completely. Cover cake with cake dome; refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

Decorate for the occasion as Ali did here…

And remember to Enjoy!!!!!

May 5, 2013

Chocolate Lavender Pie

Pie is a birthday tradition to celebrate my dad’s birthday. He loves pie and quite honestly, I only actually make it a handful of times in a year. I have worked long and hard on my crust recipe and have finally found just the right thing. It is flaky and flavorful. When I started looking for something to make for this year’s birthday celebration, I stumbled upon the Chocolate Lavender Pie from Sunday Suppers. They are really one of my favorite food blogs and I hope to get to one of their classes in NY one day. As you know, I am incapable of following a recipe exactly, so this is my variation. It turned out great! Pie with a great crust, rich dark chocolate, a whipped cream topping and just a hint of lavender. I chose a 72% dark chocolate which over powered the lavender, but it was a pretty touch! If you love chocolate, this is one to try. Happy birthday dad!!!


Chocolate Lavender Pie

Chocolate Lavender Pie
inspired by this recipe from Sunday Suppers

For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp coarse salt
4 T cold butter, cubed
3 T cold lard, cubed
1/4 cup ice water

For the crystallized lavender:
2 tablespoons dried lavender
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons dried lavender (make sure it’s intended for culinary use)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or up to 1/4 cup if your chocolate is very bitter)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Pinch of coarse salt

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

To make the crust:
Combine the flour, butter, lard and salt in the bowl of a food process and pulse until it’s cut into the dry ingredients and the mixture has the texture of coarse crumbs. Add the ice water and pulse in 5-second bursts, just until the dough starts to come together. Don’t overwork it!

Turn it out onto a lightly floured board and roll out the dough to slightly larger than a 9-inch pie pan (you can wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate it an hour to let it rest). Prick the bottom with fork tines, and put the pie in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the oven’s ready and the dough is chilled, spray a piece of foil with nonstick spray and press it, sprayed side down, on top of the pie dough. Fill the pie shell with beans or a pie chain, then bake it for 15 minutes until you see a little color on the sides of the crust. Carefully remove the foil and beans, then continue to bake the crust for an additional 15-20 minutes, until it is fully baked and golden brown. Cover the sides with foil if necessary to ensure the edges don’t burn. Let the crust cool completely before filling it.

For the crystallized lavender:
Boil the lavender in water for 30 seconds, then strain. Pat the lavender mostly dry between layers of paper towel, then roll the slightly damp lavender in the granulated sugar. Separate into individual pieces and let them dry completely.

To make the filling:
Combine the heavy cream, the lavender and gently heat. Allow to steep 5 minutes. Place the chocolate, sugar and salt in the bowl of a double boiler. Pour the cream through a mesh strainer into the bowl of chocolate, straining out the lavender pieces.

Whisk everything together until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is shiny and smooth. Add the room temperature butter and whisk it into ganache.

Cool the mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on top. Once slightly thickened and at room temperature, pour it into the baked crust and refrigerate it until it’s firmly set, at least 4 hours.

Chill your mixing bowl and whisk attachment for 15 minutes before you’re ready to use them. Pour the cream, sugar and vanilla into the chilled bowl into the bowl. Whip on medium speed until firm peaks form, then use immediately.

Garnish chilled pie with whipped cream, sliced strawberries (optional) and crystallized lavender. Slice and enjoy!!

April 21, 2013

Birthday Dinner

Firsts together in a relationship are always memorable and sometimes a little stressful. (Remember the first time I cooked for BF?) After being treated to dinner at one of the premier restaurants in town for my birthday, I needed to take good care of BF for his! When I asked what he wanted to do, I was asked to make dinner. “Anything you want to make.” No pressure! We generally eat pretty healthy so I tried to find a way to keep it healthy and kick things up a bit. Thanks to Mary’s suggestion, I ended up finding a great idea in the lovely book “In the Royal Manner” by Paul Burrell. I chose Baked Sea Bass in Filo with Julienne Vegetables. Seriously DELICIOUS! It is such a nice way to put a twist on our usual baked salmon. It is festive and relatively easy and something that will be sticking around in the future. Try it out; you won’t be disappointed!



Baked Sea Bass in Filo with Veggies

Inspired by “In the Royal Manner”

3-4 T Butter

Several Handfuls of Fresh Spinach

2 Sheets Filo Pastry

2 5-Oz Portions of Skinless Sea Bass Filet Steaks

3 Carrots (varied colors if available)

1 Zucchini

1 Small Leek

1 Clove Garlic

Salt & Pepper


Preheat oven to 400°. Julienne or shred the vegetables to equal sizes. Heat a frying pan to medium heat and sauté chopped garlic and a bit of leek until softened. Add washed spinach to the pan and cover for about 3 minutes until wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat, squeeze some lemon over, top with salt and pepper, and allow to cool.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Spread filo out on workspace and brush with melted butter. Fold the sheet over on itself and brush again.

Place fish in the middle of the sheet and top with spinach.

Carefully fold the opposite corners of the filo up around the fish. Gently press to seal and brush with butter.

Repeat with the second piece of fish. Place the fish in the oven and allow to bake 20-25 minutes until golden and baked through.

About 5 minutes prior to the fish being done, heat remaining tablespoon of butter and sauté the vegetables until tender.

Divide the vegetables on two plates and top with the fish. Serve and enjoy!

Note: We did serve with brown rice, though you may not need it.


May 19, 2012

Another May Day, Another Birthday!

May is a busy month for us: we kick off the month with Dad’s birthday, then Ali’s birthday, and Mother’s Day not to mention the end of high school golf season (which I coach). Trying to come up with something new to make each day feel special is always a challenge. This year I found some inspiration on Pinterest for some adorable golf inspired cupcakes. Perfect for my sister (and my golf team)! If you have a golfer in your life, these are a great novelty. There wasn’t a recipe for these so I found recipes from some of my favorite places and Mary and I winged the decorations. The cake ended up more like a muffin which was a nice balance for the rich frosting. You could use any of your favorite components as the backdrop for these cupcakes. They are a bit labor intensive, but definitely worth the impact. Have fun with these!



Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Sprinkles Famous Dark Chocolate Frosting


After preparing the cupcakes and letting them cool, prepare the frosting according to directions. Frost the cupcakes generously. Finely crush 3 graham crackers and set aside. Use a small spoon to make a depression for the “sand trap.” Cover the frosting with green sugar sprinkles. Carefully fill the depression with the crushed graham crackers. Use a dragée as a golf ball and add the flags for the final touch! I ended up making flags with some toothpicks and file labels folded in half and trimmed. J

July 19, 2011

60 on 60

How do you celebrate your birthday? Maybe with a day off, some relaxation, or dinner out with someone you love? Well that is not my dad’s style… This year, he and his buddy Ken reached a milestone by turning 60. They decided to celebrate by combining their favorite things: friends and golf…lots of golf. Yesterday, they played 60 holes of golf to mark their milestone. For those of you who aren’t golfers, that is A LOT of golf. As a matter of fact, it is 42 holes more than most people ever play in a day. But, they managed to get 5 other guys to take on the endeavor with them (plus a few who came to pace them along the way). Here are some stats for the day:

  • 7 players
  • 60 holes
  • 16.1 miles walked by each player
  • 11 hours and 20 minutes of golf
  • 97 degree high temperature
  • 20 PB&J sandwiches
  • 15 popsicles
  • 12 box lunches
  • Many, many snacks
  • 6 half gallons of iced tea
  • 3 cases of beer
  • 24 Gatorades
  • 1 bottle of tequila in celebration of birdies
  • 120 pounds of ice
  • 6 support golf carts use
  • Too much water to count…

The crew on the first tee

Ken getting things started, Hole #1

The “Dalai Golfma” Rex, age 71!

The young guys representing

Ali the Cart Girl keeping everyone happy and hydrated

A final toast on the 60th hole

Jack wrapping things up with one last tee shot

I am thrilled to report that we had a successful day with fun for all and no major casualties! This event was a huge testament to how golf can bring people together and create life-long friendships. It also shows how staying fit and active can keep you ready for anything life may throw at you. What a great celebration of two wonderful men!! Happy Birthday to Jack and Ken!

Ali, Kelly & Mary

“Stretch, stay limber, and keep golfing!” ~The Dalai Golfma

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