Yesterday was my birthday, and so far, 30 feels great and has been filled with really excellent food.
For dinner on my birthday (as per my specific request) we had pizza delivered just before Shabbat started, and though not gourmet, it was incredibly satisfying. But in terms of quality, things got better from there.
Thursday night, Marc and I collaborated on the fanciest and fussiest cake I’ve ever made, a chocolate raspberry layer cake from Bon Appetit. The cake itself was actually pretty straightforward, and it was frosted with chocolate ganache, which it turns out is just cream and melted chocolate (and will be a feature in many future desserts now that I know how easy it is). The assembly is really what made it tough, but it sure was pretty, felt like a real accomplishment, and it tasted amazing (plus we have leftovers!).
Our freezer door popped open during the night this week, meaning the box of frozen spanikopita I was saving for my birthday party was no longer usable, and, sadly, BJ’s was out of them. Desperate times and all that, so I made my own! I can’t recommend this one enough. At my party, there were also vegetarian “pigs” in blankets (veggie hot dogs in puff pastry!), homemade almond ice cream to go with the cake, and, courtesy of Marc, homemade pickle ice cream, which was surprisingly much better than it sounds!
2 boxes frozen spinach
6-8 ounces feta cheese
2 small onions or one large one
a couple spoonfuls of farmers cheese
handful of fresh parsley
fresh or dried dill to taste
freshly ground pepper
6 boxes of frozen phyllo shells
Chop the onion and saute in olive oil until it browns but doesn’t quite caramelize. Defrost and drain the spinach. Put everything in the food processor (or chop the onion smaller and chop the parsley and dill and mix everything together really well if you don’t have a food processor). Taste it and add more of whatever spicing you think it needs. But try not to eat all of it! Spoon a small amount into each shell and bake at 350 until warmed through, 10-15 minutes. You can also halve the recipe or save extra filling for eating by the spoonful out of the fridge. It probably freezes well, too.
My birthday party was absolutely the perfect evening, and I am so grateful and delighted to have had good friends there to celebrate with me. I got to have Shabbat and birthday goodness all wrapped up into one night, and it was just awesome.
We had lunch today at Joline’s, and since our only contribution to the meal was bringing chairs, I can’t take credit for any of the food. I had my first ever meat cholent, and I was surprised by how much it tasted like my vegetarian version. There was also a corn and bean salad, green salad with blueberries, and green beans and almonds. Super yum all around! Jonathan made a “you can’t believe it’s pareve” apple cake for dessert (pareve means neither meat nor dairy, and pareve desserts, made without butter, aren’t usually as good as, for example, things covered in ganache, but this cake is in its own category). We also learned about a cake comb, some sort of antique cake server that no one but Josh had ever heard of.
Next week, the semester is back in full swing, which means no more quiet Friday nights for a few months. But I hope you’ll enjoy reading about, and hopefully attending, a lot of the big dinners coming up, and thanks for all the birthday wishes!