My mom turned 50 this week (I had to get permission before posting this) and she did not want any sort of a hoopla. Her first instinct was "NO NO NO" to any sort of friendly gathering of more than 2 people, which soon turned into "well maybe I want to see a friend..." to a day before her birthday "I called a few of my friends to see if they wanted to meet us for dinner." Now, if I had known, I would have planned a hoopla, I really would've. But we had a nice time anyway; my sister, mom and I went out to dinner at Ouest, a French-American restaurant near our house. Of course I was the annoying customer who, after ordering, hurredly called the waiter back just in the nick-of-time to change it. Oh, but did I mention it was gnocchi-short rib-and ricotta delicious? And the creamed spinach with gorgonzola? In my defense, the table was unusually close to the chairs, meaning that I was too close to the spinach for anyone's good. I could have sworn it was saying "emilyy." As vegetables usually do.
After dinner, the celebration was postponed until the next day, when our family made a trip (or a once-every-decade pilgrimage) into the city to visit us. My aunt, uncle, 3 cousins (one of whom would like me to take note that, it was a "great day for a great day," If that means anything to anyone for some reason or other), and grandparents came over for dinner. My mom made 3lbs of baked ziti, which turned out to be more pasta than needed for an Italian family of 11 people. Who were hungry. It was delicious; even my Grandma, who normally won't eat anything anyone else makes, snuck a bite of pasta before it came out of the oven. She couldn't resist- I think my mom deserves a medal. And not to shift the focus away from the birthday girl, but I made some kick-butt broccoli rabe with sausage. I'll take a medal as well.
Oh, but the cake. I swooned for the cake. Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting; I had made it before, but this time, it turned out magically. I had always thought that cake flour was not a necessary ingredient- how different could it be from regular flour, right? Wrong. It makes the texture just right. It was incredibly moist, velvetly, smooth, not too sweet, not too decadent, and just perfect enough to convert cake haters. And oh, did it ever. - I used to be one of them. I hate dry cake, and only until recently did I see the light that is red velvet. I hope you can too.
Red Velvet Cake
From The Confetti Cakes Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen