My mom and dad sure have a talent for celebration co-ordination.
Huh? Let me explain…
As you know (if you are good little sons and daughters), yesterday was mother’s day, the holiday where you are meant to wine, dine and brunch your dear ol’ mum to her heart’s content. Also accompanying the Sunday festivities, however, was my dad’s Friday birthday. See, celebration co-ordination, requiring a double whammy of gifts and cards galore.
The other peak of festivity in my household falls in early September, thanks to my parents having decided to get married on my mom’s birthday. A few years ago her 50th birthday corresponded with their 20th wedding anniversary. Guess who played grade 10 party planner?
But anyways, NBD. It’s fun, and it means that I can hit up two holidays with one hometown return.
It also gives me a shameless excuse to make food for my family.
Since I started this whole cooking thing, I’ve never had a problem with gifts. It’s my roommate’s birthday? Heck, they’ll get a homemade card and pavlova. It’s father’s day? Dinner feast for you! It keeps things simple. SO simple, in fact, that my dad will be getting a homemade fruitcake every year for Christmas for the rest of his long life. Cooking both stifles and assists gift creativity.
Last night I made fettuccine with prosciutto and orange for the mother’s day portion of the meal. Believe it or not, I had never actually tried prosciutto before (shame, shame), despite the constant pressuring of Ariel, my token Italian roommate. Its tasting was long overdue, and it was browned in butter, so it had to be good. The orange zest and juice in this recipe added an unconventional flavour and a complimentary citrus burst.
As for dessert, I decided to make my dad’s favourite cake – a simple vanilla cake with raspberry jam and whipped cream. Although my mom normally makes the cake in a 9×13 glass pan, I decided to make mine in an 8-inch round cake pan. My mom only had one of these, meaning that I was in the kitchen minding the oven for a hell of a long time. Luckily the time flew by thanks to some kitchen dance parties.
Now, I must admit that I was disappointed with the denseness of the cake. I used Martha Stewart’s cake recipe (albeit the one she uses for a rainbow cake, so maybe this made a difference), which called for all purpose flour instead of cake flour. I figured I would trust Martha…a multi-million dollar empire is usually a pretty good indication you know what you’re talking about, right? Anyways, like I said, the cake was really quite thick. In all future cakes, I will swear by cake flour, and my desserts will be so light and fluffy they could blow away.
Of course, the cake was still good (just not the very, very dad-worthy best), and it looked pretty. I’ll put the recipe I used below. You can always just use another white cake/boxed cake recipe, and add the jam and whipped cream to make your own version of my dad’s favourite cake.
Also: MY MOM HAS A GLASS CAKE STAND. I discover new and wonderful things about our home kitchen everyday.
Recipe: Fettuccine with prosciutto and orange
Adapted slightly from The Bitten Word & Bon Appétit magazine
– 350 g. fresh fettuccine pasta (I used the kind bought in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
– 3 tbsp unsalted butter
– Zest and juice of one large orange
– 1/2 cup whipping cream
– Ground black pepper
– 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and stir occasionally, until pasta is almost cooked, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta, longer for dried. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.
Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-high heat in another large pot. Add prosciutto; sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.
Add reserved pasta water, orange juice, and cream; bring to a boil. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and divide among bowls. Serves four.
Recipe: Vanilla cake with raspberry jam and whipped cream
Cake (recipe from Martha Stewart)
– 3 cups all purpose flour
– 4 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (one cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 2 1/3 cups sugar
– 5 large egg whites
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cups milk
Filling and icing
– About 3/4 cup raspberry jam
– 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
– 2 tbsp sugar
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In another bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Mix until well combined.
Pour the cake batter into three 8-inch cake pans that have been greased with butter and flour. Bake in oven at 350°F until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
After the three layers have cooled on a wire rack, use a serrated knife (I use a bread knife) to trim the tops of the cake to make them level.
After the cakes are completely cool…
Whip your cream with the sugar.
On the first cake layer, spread enough raspberry jam to cover the top of the cake. Spread whipped cream over jam, leaving about an inch around the edges. Put the middle cake layer on top of the first. Repeat the raspberry/whipped cream spreading. Put the top layer of cake on. Using a metal icing spatula, spread the rest of the whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate until dessert time. Serves 10.