Thursday, April 16, 2015

Anniversary Dinner

On April 15 what comes to mind would be tax day, grrrr.    But it's also a special day for Stone and I,  our anniversary.  I know, your thinking why would anyone get married on tax day.  Lets just say there is no excuse for not remembering our yearly day of observance.  
Seven years ago we tied the knot on a beautiful spring day.   I remember it like it was yesterday.  We were each just commenting on the fact that we can't believe that its been 7 years already.  Maybe the time has flown because its been so busy.   We had three college graduations, followed by two more getting there MBA, plus a son-in-law and daughter-in-law getting theres.  My father passed away and lastly there has been two weddings, the oldest and the youngest.  Whew just writing this makes me tired!  
In between all the events we've traveled and made numerous good friends. Among those are Carleen, Daniel, Helen, Don and Vlad who joined us tonight to celebrate. 

After seven years I'm still his greatest catch, and he's mine.  Just sayin!

Lemon Velvet Cake, The Stack, Wedding Anniversary,
Our wine choice for the evening plus a special one that Vlad brought.  No, we didn't drink it all.

Lemon Velvet Cake, The Stack, Wedding Anniversary,
Our table awaits...

Lemon Velvet Cake, The Stack, Wedding Anniversary,
I usually like to make place cards for our dinner guest.  That way I can separate couples which generates more lively conversation at the dinner table. Shy next to outgoing and mixing things up is what I like to do.

Lemon Velvet Cake, The Stack, Wedding Anniversary,

Effortless, healthy and oh so satisfying.  Well, I guess you really wouldn't put red meat in the healthy category, but hey, it wasn't fried meat.

 The Stack
The Stack
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower
1/2-1 teaspoon minced garlic
chicken broth
2 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoon cream cheese
kosher salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/2 pound asparagus, washed and trimmed
About 6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 (6 ounce) filet mignons, at room temperature
Balsamic Reduction, this comes in a bottle, I use the ALESSI brand, and it is so good on so many things.
Cauliflower Directions:
Cut flowerets of cauliflower from stems.  Place in a medium pan with chicken broth to cover.  Boil until tender.  Drain, I put the cauliflower in a salad spinner to get the liquid out.  Then in a bowl, place the garlic, butter, cream cheese and blue cheese and the drained cauliflower.  Using a hand blender, mix adding salt and pepper to your liking.  I like to use a hand blender so the mixture will have some texture, almost like grits, and you know us southern girls love us some grits.  This can be made a day ahead. Refrigerate.  Heat in microwave when ready to serve, or put in a crockpot and turn on low until your dinner.
Asparagus Directions:
Preheat oven 475'.
Take your washed and trimmed asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat each spear.  Place in oven and bake for approximately 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus and how you like it cooked.
Filet Minion Directions:
Set out filet mignons at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Salt well.  Now this is the most important part.  At this point it's your man's job to place these babies on the green egg and grill em' up to your desired degree of doneness.
Assemble:
On a plate, make a nice wide circle with the balsamic reduction, don't be chintzy, this stuff is so good. I like a lot.  Put a large scoop of the mashed cauliflower inside the circle.  Top with as many spears of asparagus as you like, I did 6, and lastly top with the filet mignon.
Enjoy!!!

When trying to decide on what kind of cake to make for our celebration, I keep going back to lemon.  Number one, I love me some lemon and also the color for the seven year anniversary is yellow.  It just made sense for the cake to be lemon.  I have only made a Lemon Cake once in my life. It was very, very dry so I was a little afraid, although it didn't keep me from going forward with my plan.  I began researching Lemon Cake.  The reviews which I always look at was very good for this recipe.  I decided to bake it, going by the recipe except using 7" pans instead of 9".  It just made for a taller cake which is what I was after.  Also, I make my cakes usually about a week ahead and freeze, then frost them frozen.  I learned this from a cake decorator many years ago.  Lastly, I made a lemon syrup that I brushed on each layer, keeping it moist and adding additional flavor. This is the best Lemon Cake I have ever had thanks to Rock Recipes at http://www.rockrecipes.com/lemon-velvet-cake/.

Lemon Velvet Cake
Lemon Velvet Cake
Cake Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup butter flavored crisco
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
zest of two small or 1 large lemon
Frosting Ingredients:
8 cups powdered sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest (optional)
approximately 4 Tablespoons milk
Cake Instructions:
1.  Coat 3 (7" round cake pans), which is what I did, or 2 (9" rounds) with baking spray, that has been lined  with circles of parchment paper on the bottom.  Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar, set aside.
2.  In the bowl of and electric mixer beat together the vegetable oil, shortening, vanilla and lemon extract.  Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy.
3.  Beat the eggs in one at a time.
4.  Fold in the lemon zest.
5.  Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.
6.  Add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions.  It is very important to begin and end the additions with the dry ingredients.  Do not over mix the batter.  As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, divide batter into the prepared pans.
7.  Bake at 325' for 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.  I usually bake my cake about a week ahead and freeze each layer separately.
Frosting Instructions:
10.  Mix together the powdered sugar, lemon zest and butter until it becomes sort of crumbly. 
11.  Add the lemon extract and a little bit of the milk.
12. Beat until smooth and fluffy, adding only enough milk to bring the frosting to a creamy spreadable consistency.
13. Fill and frost the cake as you choose.  On my 7" layers I put 1/2 cup frosting between each layer, the rest went on the top and sides.  I did have a little left over, which I froze for another day to maybe put a dollop on sugar cookies, now that would be yum!

Lemon Velvet Cake