Monday, February 15, 2010

My little boy turns 2!

My little boy turned 2yo today! My sister-in-law and her partner were visiting from the other side of the country, and were here in time for his birthday, so I decided to have a little family party for him at home.

Here is the menu I settled on... (mostly a repeat of the menu I did in December for visiting friends with a few extras).

  • Turkish bread
  • red kidney bean dip
  • fried halloumi with lemon juice and pepper
  • cucumber and pomegranate salad
  • herbed bulgar wheat and nut salad
  • olives

  • lamb and apricot tagine
  • couscous
  • steamed green beans
  • roasted beetroot (courtesy of my brother)
  • carrots (again, courtesy of my brother) - they had some yummy dressing on them
  • potato bake (courtesy of my mother, who seems to think potato bakes goes with any menu)

  • cupcakes
  • butterfly cakes with lemon curd (made by my mum)
  • birthday cake (white chocolate mud cake)
  • baked mango cheesecake

It may seem a strange menu for a 2yo's birthday, but he was the only little kid there, and he eats most of that stuff anyway :)

Fried halloumi dressed with lemon juice and black pepper - I love this stuff!

Red kidney bean dip - I was debating making hummus, but this is more yummy in my opinion. People could spread it on their Turkish bread. Recipe below.

Herbed bulgar wheat and nut salad - this turned out nicer than last time, so I had to get a new photo. Recipe is here (along with the recipe for cucumber and pomegranate salad).

The carrot and beetroot dishes provided by my brother :)

Red kidney bean dip

This recipe is from Nigella's Feast, which along with the herbed bulgar wheat and nut salad and cucumber and pomegranate salad form part of the 'mezze feast' menu. Nigella says to think of it as a 'terracotta, sweet and grainy version of hummus' - as much as I love hummus, it is quite bland compared to this. I love the spices in it. I've made this dip a few times before, and each time think I will put less garlic in next time, but I always forget and as I have a thing about not writing in books, so I don't make a note of it - argh!).

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic (I actually think half this amount would be plenty - I keep forgetting to cut the amount down. It does pack a garlicky punch with this quantity!)
  • 45 ml of olive oil
  • 410g can of red kidney beans, liquid reserved
  • 15ml tomato paste
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon (I upped this to ½ tsp)
  • juice and zest of 1 lime

Peel the onion and garlic and process them until finely chopped. Heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft and golden. Add the kidney beans plus their 'gloop' (liquid) and stir in the tomato paste and spices and cook for a few minutes.

Zest the lime and reserve in a bowl for later, then juice the lime, adding it to the kidney bean mixture. Take the pan off the heat, and when it has cooled somewhat, process until it forms a bumpy puree. When it is cool, serve in bowls, sprinkled with lime zest.

Dessert is served... From front to back: butterfly cakes with lemon curd made by my mum, cupcakes, white chocolate mudcake (birthday cake - tractor has been removed), and baked mango cheesecake. (You can see the new tagine I used for serving the lamb and apricot tagine in the background - it is made by Emile Henry and the colour is fig).


These were made using the same Nigella recipe as in this post. It comes from How To Be A Domestic Goddess and it is my favourite cupcake recipe - really simple, tastes beautiful, and will keep well in the fridge for several days if needed.

I cheated with the icing and bought Cake Mate icing - the pressurised stuff in a can that comes with different nozzles, already coloured blue. It just saved worrying about how buttercream would hold up on a hot day, no worries about ending up with aqua not blue icing because of the butter, and coped better with heat than the Betty Crocker icing I sometimes use (which colours well but gets very soft in the heat, and if you want to pipe it, you need to add a lot of icing sugar to the mixture first to get it stiff enough).

Fresh cuppies

Cupcakes iced using CakeMate frosting in a can using the star tip provided

The cupcakes with their 'little star' collars (from Robert Gordon)

Mango cheesecake

I love this recipe. The mango puree gives it a more mousse-like texture, and baking it in a water bath helps to keep the texture silky. It is a Nigella recipe which appeared in Australian Delicious magazine (Dec 2004 / Jan 2005 issue).

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 40g soft dark brown sugar

  • 4 small mangoes (to make about 2 cups of puree), plus extra thinly sliced mango flesh to garnish
  • 680g full-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • juice of half a lime

Preheat oven to 170C.

Blitz the bicuits in a food processor until they are almost fine crumbs, then cut the butter into pieces and add with the brown sugar. Process again until the mixture starts to clump together. Press the mixture into the base of a 24cm springform tin (I don't own this size, so I use a 22cm tin). Refrigerate.

Peel and cut the flesh from the mangoes (over the processor bowl to catch the juices), then puree until smooth. Add the cream cheese and blend. Add the caster sugar, and with the motor running, break the eggs one at a time down the tube of the processor. Lastly, add the lime juice and blitz again until smooth.

Wrap the pan in a double-layered piece of extra-wide foil; sit in a roasting pan. Spread the filling over the base and smooth. Pour boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until filling is set with only a msall amount of wobble in the centre (it will keep cooking as it cools). Remove from bath and foil and cool on a wire rack. When cool, cover loosely and refrigerate overnight.

Garnish with the extra sliced mango to serve.

The birthday cake
For my little one's 1st birthday, I baked two white chocolate cakes and layered them on top of each other to get extra height (see pics of that cake in this post). This year I just did a single layer, again using the white chocolate mud cake recipe from Exclusively Food. Rather than ice it with buttercream again as I did last year, this year I decided to follow the recipe for white chocolate and sour cream ganache. When I tried to ice the sides with the ganache, I found it a little too translucent for my liking, though it probably would have become more opaque as it set. I wasn't feeling very creative this year, so I'd opted for a toy tractor to decorate the cake, and wanted to create a ploughed field. So as I wanted a brown colour for the top for the soil, I added one square of 70% cocoa Lindt chocolate to the ganache, and iced the top and sides. Unfortunately it took on a slightly marbled appearance where there had already been some white chocolate ganache (not in a good way). I let the chocolate start to set, then ran one edge of my Wilton decorating triangle over most of the surface to get the ploughed look. I then coloured some coconut green for grass and sprinkled that at the side of the field, and when it was completely set, I added the tractor. I also iced my son's name on the cake using Queen white chocolate fudge icing (comes in a tube with a fine nozzle for writing).

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the candles alight, but I used 'Angel Flames' candles - the flame is the same colour as the candle.

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