My little princess turned 10 on the 17th of February. I cant believe how fast time has flown. With the 17th being a Monday and as such a school day/working day, we celebrated her birthday with the family over lunch on Sunday. The usual suspects were invited - my parents, my mom-in-law, both my brothers and family, my borther-in-law and family and Sarah's Godparents. Unfortunately her Godparents were away and so it was just the immediate family. My elder brother couldnt stay for lunch as he had a prior engagement but he did pop round for a bit.
Deciding what to cook for lunch was a long discussion with The Lovely Wife. Sarah didnt know what she wanted although she knew that she didn't want rice and curry. So we decided to go down the Western route. My son wasn't very helpful as each time we suggested something, he would cheekily reply "It's not MY birthday."
So anyway, after tossing up a few ideas, we decided to on the menu. Shepherds Pie, a spicy Bacon Aglio Olio and a Salad. It was also then that The Lovely Wife declared that I was cooking. All of it....
Ever since my son started Secondary School, our weekends are rather jammed packed. This particular Saturday, The Lovely Wife had my daughters Parent Teachers Meeting. My son was supposed to have a replacement Saturday school day but it also coincided with a full day Band Practice at school. With The Lovely Wife at her meeting and my son at school, Sarah and I proceeded to do the grocery shopping.
We both had a lot of fun together shopping for meat, vegetables and ingredients for the cake. We got back home and unloaded the groceries and then relaxed and waited for The Lovely Wife while we watched TV together and I planned my recipes. We were having so much fun that we forgot that Sarah had her Tae-Kwan-Do class at 1.30pm and only realised it when The Lovely Wife came home and asked us why we hadn't had lunch yet! As it was already nearing 1pm, Sarah decided that she would skip her Tae-Kwan-Do class and we all went out to but some lunch.
I started on the cake late afternoon by making the cake base - from the tried and tested Cake Boss Sponge recipe. I baked the sponge and then left it to cool while I went to get my son from school. Later in the evening, I made the cake filling. My princess loves Hersheys Reese Cups and so I thought I'd make a cake version of that. A simple sponge cake with a Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse. To jazz it up a little, I added a layer of Feullantine.
This is what I did for the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole milk
55g salted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 cups Corn Flakes
2 Tbsp Butter
100g chocolate melted
Peanut Butter Mousse
300g Good Quality Dark Chocolate
100g chunky Peanut butter
2 Egg yolks
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Icing sugar
1. Beat eggs in large mixing bowl with electric mixed for 4 minutes. Do not skip this step!
2. Add sugar, and continue beating for another 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and stir on low until just combined.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add to eggs and sugar on low speed until just combined.
4. In a saucepan, heat milk and butter on low heat just until butter is melted. Add to batter, beat just until combined.
5. Pour into two greased and floured (or lined) 8" round cake pans.
6. Bake at 160C for about 40mins until the middle springs back when touched, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand in pans for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto wire cooling racks and cool completely.
Hint: Cakes are close to being done when you start to smell them.
Crush Corn flakes. Melt Chocolate and Butter and then add to corn flakes. Spread into an even layer. Chill in fridge until firm.
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 cup hot water
Peanut Butter Mousse
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir in the peanut butter and mix well till combined. Add in the egg yolks and mix well while chocolate is still hot. Mixture may get lumpy or granular but dont worry. Whip the cream till soft peaks form and then beat a little into into the cooled chocolate mixture. Chocolate will become smooth again. Fold in remaining cream until smooth but do not overmix.
Line sides of Springform with plastic wrap. This makes it easier to remove the springform from the mousse. Split one of the sponges into two layers and place first layer in springform. Soak with half the sugar syrup then spread with feullantine. Spread a layer of mousse over feullantine and then place second layer of sponge on top and soak with remaining syrup. Cover with mousse and place in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Come Sunday morning, I woke early and started the preparation for lunch. For the Shepherds Pie, I mixed Mutton Mince with Beef Mince. I dont have a step by step recipe as I made two large pies and didnt really take measurements. It's really not all that complicated and this is what I did:
I started of by caramelising some white onion seasoned with oregano and fresh rosemary. I then threw in some garlic and bay leaves and then some celery before adding in some fresh tomatoes and a tinge of curry powder and chilli powder - just a tad. I added in and cooked the meat and then added in peas, carrots and corn and also a can of stewed tomatoes. I finished it off by adding in fresh basil leaves and sprinkling some paprika over the meat.
For the topping, I mashed potatoes with some cream and butter and then topped off the meat and baked it for about 30 mins in a 190C oven.
The Shepherds Pie was rather flavourful and the topping had a nice crust to it. I had stuck some sprigs of rosemary into the top of the pie and that gave it a nice touch.
Again for the Pasta, it was just lots of bacon, zuchini, mushrooms, celery and eggplant fried together with some chilli flakes and lots of garlic. Later, the Pasta was mixed together with Olive Oil, garlic and chilli flakes before I added the Bacon mixture in.
The Salad was a real delight. I had found some frozen Duck from TMC and I decided I would make my own version of a Duck Confit salad that the kids love from Bens/Journal. The secret to the Salad is really the dressing which is equal parts Orange Juice, Honey, Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil. The Salad was a mix of Leafy greens, loads of rocket, soem capsicum, sunflower seeds and pistachios and finally topped off with lightly fried sliced duck and mandarin orange slices.
The Shepherds Pie was a real hit as was the Salad! The Pasta went down well too as it was a lighter contrast to the heavier Shepherds Pie. Finally it was time for dessert and the Birthday Girl couldn't wait to cut her cake and taste it.
The cake was rather rich but very tasty. The peanut butter was actually very subtle and complemented the chocolate very nicely. Since my Sponge Cake recipe makes two cakes, I used one to make a very simple trifle of Cake, Pears, Jelly and Cream. for dinner, we finished off the leftovers and also had the trifle that we had forgotten to serve that afternoon!
After a hectic day of cooking, eating and celebrating, it was time for a good nights rest - but not before some cuddles for my little princess!
The next morning, the actual day of Sarah's birthday, we woke her up after hiding her presents under her bed.
This year, she got a bunch of little gifts that included a fly eye glass - a look through toy that mimics what a fly sees, through lots of prisms. She got a "secret spy" voice distorter as well as a Magnet Space Wheel. Her 'big' present was a large Magnetic White Board with loads of coloured markers for her room as she loves to write notes and leave messages on boards. This way, she has her own message board in her own room to do as she pleases! She also got a Chiller Glass in the shape of a coke can!
It was then off to school. Later that night, we went out for dinner to finish off the celebrations for my little princess. Happy Birthday Sarah!