Day 217: Baby carrots with Raspberry Poppyseed Dressing, Bison Hot Dogs, Sweet Potato Fries, Roasted Potato Salad, Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint, Chocolate Zucchini Cake and Maple Pumpkin Ice Cream
Happy third birthday, W. I’ll fast-forward to the punchline: Lou ate the cake. Or rather W fed it to him, which is understandable; he was just trying to share.
It was a blueberry-buckwheat Bundt cake; I had stumbled upon a recipe for pancakes in cake form on Orangette, and since W is such a huge fan of pancakes and most of his party guests were under 4, it seemed like a good pick. (As a bonus, this cake actually improves after sitting for a day or two, which makes it perfect for events for which you do not want to be baking a cake the morning of.)
So I baked it yesterday, thinking that pumpkin ice cream might not make a bad pairing (a recipe I had to test anyway), and within an hour discovered it half eaten on the kitchen counter. I tried a chunk of it that hadn’t been tainted by dog lick, and it was pretty good, if not a little dense, plain and generally more appropriate for breakfast than a party. Mike was ecstatic, though, that I had to make another one and that it was chocolate. (He was seriously disappointed upon discovering that the birthday cake was to be blueberry-buckwheat; it was as if I was scarring W for life by making something too tweedy. I suddenly reminded myself of my parents feeding me ultra-grainy Bio bread – I actually asked for Wonder Bread for my birthday one year – and the neighbours down the street who I thought were weird because they ate only whole wheat spaghetti.)
So since I needed to re-test the chocolate zucchini cake anyway, I made one. And in the end I was kind of glad that Lou got his cake – the chocolate-zucchini was far better than the pancake-cake and everyone seemed to love it (or said they did) – I suspect that had I served the buckwheat cake they would have only complimented it to be polite. I put clouds of streaky blue icing on top (make any white buttercream frosting streaky by dropping in some food colouring but not stirring it completely in) and sat a 3 candle (found at a garage sale for 10 cents last summer and can’t believe I still have it) and a plastic Iron Giant on top. I’m sure next year the entire cake will have to be a robot or dinosaur or – please no – a Doodlebop.
We had a small(ish) third birthday party this afternoon, but we ate a lot and didn’t stop grazing until close to dinnertime, so lunch turned into dinner. (Why is there not a lunch-dinner equivalent to brunch? Linner? Lunner? Dinch?) W’s third birthday party menu included multicoloured baby carrots (my friend Sue brought me from BC) with a bright pink fresh raspberry-poppyseed dressing I picked up at Sunterra because it was so pretty I thought the kids might like it, bison hot dogs (you can get them from Valta Bison), cold soba noodles with broccoli and peanut sauce, roasted potato salad, watermelon, feta and mint salad and the aforementioned cake and ice cream.
The raspberry vinaigrette was thicker than your average vinaigrette due to the fresh raspberries, which were pureed. Seems simple enough to make – the ingredients: fresh raspberries, raspberry vinegar, sugar, poppyseeds, canolive oil (which I suspect is a blend of canola and olive) salt and pepper.
I’m seeing watermelon salads everywhere this summer – I first tried it at my sister’s last year and thought the combination completely earth-shattering, having not really done much with watermelon besides eat it and whiz it into lemonade. Hers was merely cubed watermelon and crumbled feta, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I added some chopped mint from the garden and a bit of oil (didn’t combine them, just drizzled with canola oil, then vinegar), and black pepper. It couldn’t be easier. You do have to serve it right away though, because the watermelon quickly loses its juice and goes kind of spongy.
Buckwheat Blueberry Bundt Cake
An adaptation by way of Orangette, where it was adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis. The original cake is made with chopped walnuts rather than blueberries; I think raspberries might make a good option, too.
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
finely grated zest of an orange (optional)
1/3 cup butter or canola oil, melted and cooled
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla or maple extract
1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375F, and set a rack to the middle position. Grease and flour or generously spray a Bundt with non-stick spray and set it aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk toether the eggs, buttermilk and orange zest, if you’re using it. Add the butter, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla and whisk well. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones, and stir just to combine. If the melted butter has clumped, whisk very briefly but vigorously to smooth the batter. Do not overmix.
Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter about half of the blueberries over the top. Add another 1/3 of the batter, and top with the remaining blueberries. Top with the remaining batter. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake rises, pulls away from the edges of the pan, and springs back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Maple Pumpkin Ice Cream
The lower the fat content of the cream you choose, the longer it will take to freeze; either way, it will taste like pumpkin pie with whipped cream on a spoon.
1 14 oz. (398 mL) can pumpkin puree
2 cups whipping cream, coffee cream (18%) or half & half (10%)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until smooth, then chill until cold. Pour into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturers’ directions. Makes 1 L.