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A Birthday Dinner – swell

A Birthday Dinner

Rum Raisin Bundt Cakes, Coconut-Vanilla-Cashew Cheesecake, and German Chocolate Cake.

Rum Raisin Bundt Cakes, Coconut-Vanilla-Cashew Cheesecake, and German Chocolate Cake

So, remember how in my last post I said I was reducing my sugar intake except for holidays and special occasions?  This was a very special occasion: my ladyfriend’s 28th birthday!  We had our good friends Michael and Dan over and it was a gay ol’ party (I mean that in both senses)!

While I kept most of the dinner a secret until the evening of, I tried really hard to think about what Angela would want and like.  I mean, she likes just about everything I make her, but after last year’s scuffle with the vegan cake I made her (she hadn’t yet been convinced that vegan baking was delicious), I tried to be very considerate in not making anything too out there.  I may have gone a bit too far with the raw cheesecake I made, but it was my least favorite (though certainly not inedible) of the desserts, too.

Tamari-Roasted Chickpeas from ED&BV

Tamari-Roasted Chickpeas from ED&BV

All the preparation started on Monday, when I baked the layers and filling for the German Chocolate Cake from the Artful Vegan (the Millenium restaurant’s second cookbook), made a gallon of vegetable stock, marinated and baked three packages of tempeh, made the raw cheesecake, and prepared a batch of Cranberry-Ginger Dressing (from the first Millenium cookbook).  Tuesday I actually ended up taking a break from all of it because I was so tired and totally stressed out about the election (even though I am not particularly into mainstream politics), but on Wednesday I made the Rum Raisin cupcakes from VCTOTW in bundt form AND assembled the other two desserts before going to work.  Once home from work it was chopping vegetables and stirring risotto and cooking a mushroom sauce for the tempeh while a big batch of Tamari-Roasted Chickpeas baked in the oven as a pre-dinner snack, and sauteeing kale and grilling the tempeh and finally assembling the plates.  Whew!  I’m tired just remembering it all.

Mixed greens with Cranberry-Ginger Dressing

Mixed greens with Cranberry-Ginger Dressing

Grilled tempeh with rosemary-dijon-mushroom sauce, butternut squash and sage risotto, and balsamic-sauteed kale.

Grilled tempeh with rosemary-dijon-mushroom sauce, butternut squash and sage risotto, and balsamic-sauteed kale.

It was a delicious success!  We started with the chickpeas and a mixed baby green salad tossed in the Cranberry-Ginger Dressing and topped with fresh pears.  I do think I’m a bit used to fatty dressings (this one had no oil or other fat) so I though it was a bit acidic, but no one left any behind.  Dinner included of butternut squash and sage risotto which I based on the PPK recipe; I also added some black truffle oil for extra-specialness.  I sauteed kale in olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a side, but the most delicious part in my mind was the tempeh.  I used the recipe from the Millenium cookbook for baked marinated tempeh, which I then grilled and topped with a rosemary-dijon-mushroom sauce (this was an on-the-spot invention).  Everything was rich and warm and flavorful, and I kind of wish I’d made more!  But we wouldn’t have had any room for it, because dessert was CRAZY.

Rum Raisin mini bundt cakes

There were a few different kinds of cakes Angela had mentioned over the past few months, and that gave me the idea to make a bunch of miniature cakes in different flavors rather than one single large dessert.  This was a bit of insurance as well, since she was sure to like at least one of them!  All the desserts were made using 4″ diameter cake pans and halving most of the recipes I was using (though that ended up being not quite small enough in most instances and I had to eat up some extras), which included: mini German Chocolate Cake from the Artful Vegan, mini Rum Raisin bundt cakes from the VCTOTW cookbook, and a raw cheesecake based on this slightly cult-ish internet video I found (the actual recipe directions were fine, but the surrounding contents were pretty … uh … creepy quotes and footage from some channel called “Supreme Master TV”).

Leaning tower of German Chocolate Cake from the Artful Vegan

Leaning tower of German Chocolate Cake from the Artful Vegan

Portions for everyone were devoured while watching VHS tapes of Bollywood montages which were AMAZING.  I’ve still got mountains of dishes to do today (and I really don’t want to do them!), but they were worth it for a tasty evening and a happy girlfriend.  Hooray birthdays!

***Thank you to everyone for your supportive comments about my last post!  Once I’m back in business I hope my attempts to be healthier will be reflected… I’ve got a load of ideas waiting to get tested out.  Including my first attempt at a lentil bolognese, seen here over spaghetti squash:

Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

16 Responses to “A Birthday Dinner”

  1. Courtney says:

    You are so sweet to cook up such a feast for her birthday! Everything looks delicious, and that rosemary-dijon-mushroom sauce sounds amazing!

    I know it wasn’t a part of the birthday meal, but that spaghetti squash looks soooo good! Spaghetti squash is my absolute favorite, and I have two sitting here waiting to be used. I hope you post your recipe and that one of my squashes makes it long enough to be used in it!


  2. Mandee says:

    Wow, you made a lot of food and it all looks delicious! I esp. love the idea of mini desserts!

  3. veganjay says:

    Wow so many awesome foods!! Everything looks awesome!!

  4. Shelby says:

    Your food looks gorgeous! I love the little desserts and the rosemary-dijon-mushroom sauce…mmm.

  5. Destiny says:

    Oh my! And the chickpeas are calling to me!

  6. alaina says:

    ooh wow.. please come cater my next birthday!! ;)

  7. untop says:

    Wow, you are adventurous to take on Artful Vegan. I checked out that book from the library last week and though I think I’m open to new ideas and methods, I was way too overwhelmed by the recipes in the book to try more than a handful. Everything looks beautiful!

  8. Happy birthday ladyfriend! And what a lucky lady she is! I wish I could have one of those cute little bundt cakes.

    And I may use that risotto recipe for Thanksgiving. My mom’s never tried winter squash (crazy, I know), so I want to make something with butternut.

  9. shellyfish says:

    You are the best girlfriend ever! Holy crap! Everything is so artfully prepared, I’m really awestruck. Your idea to amke the multiple desserts was genius, and those mini-rum raisins…poetic.

  10. this sounds like such a thoughtful celebration (and you took the time to take photos as well!)

  11. Maureen says:

    Happy birthday Angela. She is sooo lucky to have you in her life. I know for sure my friends wouldn’t do that for me. In fact, when I went backpacking for a year, they got me a non-vegan goodbye cake and told me it was vegan. But you gotta love your friends, no matter how dumb they can be!

  12. joanna says:

    that tempeh looks great. i can’t get enough of the stuff!!!

  13. Danimal says:

    IT WAS SOOO GOOOD!!!!!!! OMG!!! I NEEEEEED THAT GERMAN CHOCCO CAKE RECIPE. I know it’s complicated, but it is so worth it. hands down the best tempeh i’ve ever had. not usually a huge fan, but yr marinade and sauce were outrageous. Make that zine! write a book. you gunna be famous.

  14. Tofufreak says:

    yum! everything looks amazing!!

  15. Liz² says:

    aw, you have the luckiest girlfriend in the world. that tempeh sounds maddeningly good!

  16. DJ says:

    Lucky girlfriend – it all looks delish, especially the desserts!!!

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