Highs in the 60’s and raining all day. Raining all day for three days is actually what the forecast is predicting. Normally that’s a guarantee to put me in a bad mood. But how could it today – it’s my 27th birthday! (I can’t guarantee I’ll be so cheery when it’s raining tomorrow, though.)
Usually when people ask me what I want for my birthday, I tell them I’d rather be surprised. But, I actually do have one small request today. If you can do a little something in honor of me turning 27, I’d really appreciate it. And it will only take about 2 seconds. Marla from Family Fresh Cooking is hosting a Stoneyfield Yogurt Recipe Battle, and I’d love it if you’d vote for my Haddock with Feta Yogurt Sauce! If you already voted the other day (thank you! xoxo!) remember that today is a new day and you can vote once per day until August 25th!
So, how did I celebrate? I’m lucky enough to have plenty of family and friends nearby and they helped me ring in my new year all weekend long. It started with dinner at my mother-in-law’s house on Saturday. Want to hear the sweetest thing? She and my mother got together the previous weekend with a stack of Bon Appetit’s, and a mission to create a perfectly Cara-inspired menu. And you better believe they delivered! Goat cheese, sweet potatoes, garden-fresh vegetables, lamb, shrimp, and s’mores all in one meal… this girl couldn’t ask for much more.
To start, a fresh garden salad accompanied by a grilled flatbread pizza, piled with red-wine-laced caramelized onions, Italian chicken sausage and manchego cheese.
For the main course, a grilled sweet potato salad kicked up with poblano peppers and a mustardy honey-rosemary dressing.
And rotini tossed with asparagus, goat cheese, lemon and tarragon.
A mustard-crusted grilled leg of lamb, quite the show stopper! (Note, since mother-in-law is no longer afraid cooking lamb, I foresee plenty of it in the future.)
Rivaled by grilled shrimp skewers glazed with a mixture of molasses, apricots, lime and rosemary. Seriously wonderful.
Then it was time for gifts. Everyone was so thoughtful, I loved it! There’s one in particular I have to share. Besides being a fabulous cook, my mother-in-law is a talented seamstress, and for me she embroidered this oh-so-adorable apron! It’s pink, and bling-y. She knows me all too well 🙂
My own mother also knows me quite well and knows that s’mores are a summer favorite of mine. As it turns out, s’mores with dark chocolate are even better. I think my awesome brother-in-law agrees.
All of us enjoying our s’mores
My one special request was for a very specific birthday cake; that would be Wholly Cannoli’s Chocolate Caramel Cannoli Cake. In addition to serving up dozens of crazy cannoli flavors, this bakery makes my most favorite cake. It was our wedding cake and has made appearances at several other family birthdays and even a bar mitzvah. What makes it so wonderful? Layers of moist chocolate cake brushed with caramel and layered with cannoli cream, a perfectly not-too-sweet chocolate Italian cream icing, and ganache. (Please take a second to wipe the drool from your keyboard now.)
Happy Birthday to me!
My gorgeous sister-in-law loves cake too.
The celebration continued the next day when we headed to Rialto. It just so happens to be restaurant week in Boston, so it was a perfect opportunity to invite friends along for a nice meal out.
I started with the chilled white gazpacho with fresh corn and preserved lemon, but not before asking our server for a little more description on the base of the soup. She said it contained cucumbers, leeks, grapes, honeydew melon, and I forget what else – but that was enough to sell it for me! It had a wonderfully fresh and slightly sweet flavor, complimented by bright fresh corn and cilantro.
Ben opted for the smokey tomato risotto with beans.
Ben’s main course: grilled flank steak, basil chimichurri, garden fresh beans and corn, and twice baked potato.
And I went for the pomegranate and cumin glazed bluefish with garlicky cucumber yogurt sauce, grilled eggplant and whipped potato. There was also some spinach in there, under the fish. Note quite as pretty as Ben’s plate, but definitely just as delicious. I loved how the top of the fish was perfectly seared to a crisp, while the meat underneath was nice and tender.
A group shot of my awesome friends!
For dessert I chose the frozen chocolate pistachio cassata, not quite knowing what a cassata was. It turned out to be sponge cake layered with pistachio and chocolate ice creams, with some vanilla mousse, strawberries and plenty of crunchy pistachios. To give you an idea of how good this was, each of the ladies ordered the same thing and found room to finish every last bite!
Naturally, Ben chose the other option with chocolate in the description: a chocolate espresso torta with caramelized peaches, vanilla cream and crunchy hazelnuts.
Finally, a shot of some of my best girlfriends – and sorority sisters. Thank you for celebrating with me!