tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal


Belated Birthdays

Dear E:

Happy belated birthday! With all of my travel last month we delayed your birthday meal until the tail end of February-- an extended celebration!

While I worked on finishing dinner, N picked up some supplies and made fruity mai tais in an effort to bring Hawai'i to Seattle.

I pulled out some pork tenderloins and made spice-rubbed pork tenderloin. I adjusted the spice mix a bit -- I omitted the star anise and replaced it with 2 additional tablespoons of coriander seed and 1 tablespoon of fennel. I will try it with star anise next time!


I thought some greens would go well with the pork tenderloin, so I made quick spinach and kale with onions and hazelnuts sauté, inspired by this recipe. I wasn't sure if the boys would eat straight kale, so I opted to cut it with the spinach. Both the kale and spinach were from my farm share.

Finally, creamy polenta finished the dinner. I've had some trouble in the past where the polenta solidified a little more than I wanted to, so I tried to prevent that from happening by adding a tablespoon of marscapone to the pot. It wasn't much, but it pushed it over into the "too rich" department for you. I also used 1 C milk and 3 C chicken stock to 1 C coarse cornmeal. That said, it did keep the polenta from solidifying too much and the leftovers were great with spicy blackened shrimp!

Your birthday dessert request varied between a few things but finally became "either tiramisu or cannoli." N suggested a tiramisu cannolo -- fill a cannolo shell with a lady finger soaked in booze and then pipe marscapone around it -- I vetoed that idea and made straight up cannoli.

My mom gave me some tips on the cannoli filling. I drained the ricotta overnight with the help of N and some very long chopsticks. About a half cup of fluid came out of the ricotta!

draining ricotta
draining ricotta

I blended the ricotta with confectioners sugar and a touch of vanilla extract, then split it in half (here's a recipe). To one half I added a bit of cointreau, chopped dark chocolate and minced candied orange peel (flickr set). I was a little worried about adding too much of any of those items because I've had some cannoli filling that was overpowered by too much candied orange peel. The other half of the filling I left plain and simply added crushed pistachios to the ends after filling the mini cannoli shells.

birthday cannolo

I was fairly happy with how well the Sicilian style filling came out, but I think it could have stood up to a bit more orange flavor.

I ordered the cannoli shells from cannoli by mail and they arrived mostly intact (one large and one small shell broke) and tasted alright. Not as good as homemade, of course!

After dinner and dessert, we played a million games of Uno that G eventually won. Of the 17 rounds we played, you won a single round. Not really fair considering this was your birthday celebration! Hopefully the cannoli helped alleviate the Uno loss pain.

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  1. Thank you so much! nom! nom!

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