Monday, September 28, 2009

Birthdays are worth Celebrating!

Well summer is just about over…all though you wouldn’t know it as it is still about 100 degrees today in Southern California. Hopefully tomorrow it should be cooler.

I ran in to a few friends this last week who had asked what I had done this summer….."it was a big family summer, my mother’s 80th birthday and my husband’s family reunion".

I thought I would share with you my mom’s birthday celebration….It was held at my sister’s who lives in the Napa Valley, where we grew up. Our inspiration for the décor was Carolyn Roehm’s table setting seen below from her book “A Passion for Blue & White” and featured in Veranda July/August 2009 issue.

Below you can see where we created our own version pairing the blue and white with the acid green to add a bit of a punch.

The menu consisted of Fillet of Beef, which my brother-in-law cooked on the barbecue; this was accompanied by a horseradish sauce, fresh corn nibs with a basil-lime rub, cold slaw salad with blue cheese from Ina Garten along with her coconut cupcakes for dessert…

Here are some of the recipes & links.

Horseradish Sauce:


1 Jar horseradish

1 pint sour cream


Mix together with salt and pepper

Fresh Corn:


Fresh Corn

1 Bunch Fresh Basil

1-2 Fresh Limes

½ Cup Melted Butter

Salt & Pepper to Taste


Cut corn into 2-3” pieces-Nibs

Cook corn as desired

Chop basil

Combined with fresh lime juice and melted butter

Toss with cooked corn nibs

Add Kosher Salt & Pepper and enjoy

Cold Slaw: From Barefoot Contessa At Home

1/2 small head green cabbage

1/2 small head red cabbage

4 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled

2 cups (16 ounces) good mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled Roquefort blue cheese

1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves


Cut the cabbages in half and then in quarters and cut out the cores. Set up the food processor with the slicing blade (according to manufacturer's instructions) and place the pieces of cabbage, one at a time, lying horizontally in the feed tube. (If they don't fit, cut them to fit lying down.) Place the feed tube pusher on top and turn on the processor. Don't push on the feed tube pusher or the slices will turn out too thick! Continue with the remaining red and green cabbage quarters. Transfer into a large bowl, discarding any very large pieces. Before you pour the dressing on the salad, save a handful of the grated vegetables to decorate for serving.

Change the slicing blade for the large shredding blade and cut the carrots so they also lie down in the feed tube. Since the carrots are hard, replace the feed tube pusher and press firmly with the food processor on. Transfer to bowl with the cabbages.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, both mustards, vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper. Pour enough mayonnaise dressing over the grated vegetables and toss to moisten well. Add crumbled blue cheese and parsley and toss together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Coconut Cupcakes: From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook


3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

5 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:


1 pound cream cheese at room temperature

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

You can also find the two recipes from Ina Garten on the food network website.

I hope you will try some of these dollops of goodness for your next party.

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