I am not necessarily a tradition based person. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with any sort of tradition. In fact, we haven’t celebrated either of those two holidays for 2 years now. They are merely two paid holidays from work. That being said, I seem to have fallen into a tradition in October that used to only be reserved for my Halloween born grandson.
For the past three years I have made a special birthday cake for my friend and grasshopper, Emily. Her birthday falls on October 15th. Emily made several delicious home-made pizzas and I made a spice cake with cream cheese frosting for her 24th birthday. For her 25th birthday last year, we celebrated by going bowling and eating the Root Beer Cake. As Emily is maturing to the ripe old age of 26th, her birthday cakes are evolving as well. We decided several months back that this was the year of the Purple Haze cake.
I used my Red Velvet cake recipe and substituted Wilton gel violet food coloring for the ”traditional” red color. Although I had hoped the cake would be a more distinct purple color after it was baked, it was still a huge hit. I’d like to think it was my crazy baking talent that made it so tasty, but perhaps it was the “special” butter used in the frosting between the four layers that made it truly an experience. As the late Jimi Hendrix would say “Are you experienced?” After eating the Purple Haze cake, everyone was indeed experienced.
Emily wanted salad platters for her birthday meal. She mentioned seeing salad platters in food magazines and she wanted them for her birthday dinner. We ate kinda late, as she and Chuck came directly to our house from Breitenbush Hot Springs where they had spent the night and then spent the day soaking in hot springs, being pampered with soothing massage treatments and feasting on amazing vegetarian cuisine. They were ready to continue eating healthy fare and then indulge in a wicked treat of a birthday cake.
I roasted potatoes earlier in the day, as well as crisp stirred fresh organic green beans.
A couple of days before her birthday, Emily and I brainstormed about what we wanted on the platters. We got all organized and made a list of possibilities. There were a few more items on that list, but what I managed to throw together, I’d say everyone was more than satisfied with the food of the weekend.
Feta cheese on the outsides of the platter, moving in to the wheat berrie salad and then spicy quinoa in the center, topped by chili powder sprinkled avocado slices. So simple. So good!
The potatoes were tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic and onion powder and roasted in a 350 degree oven until done. I sautéed the green beans in peanut oil, fresh chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and cracked pepper. A splash of some mirin and put the lid on to lightly steam the beans for a minute. They stayed bright green and very snappy.
We also had a bowl of mixed greens from the garden dressed with a creamy pesto concoction that I whipped up from what I had on hand.
And then came dessert………………………………
Ok, so when I think Purple Haze, I think hippies, tye dye, trippin’, Jimi Hendrix music (duh). I envisioned a cake that looked like it was tye dyed. This cake look more like stained glass window on the top (which was pretty cool) and the tye dye on the sides reminded me of some kinda medallions. At any rate, it was a fun cake to make and it made an excellent conversation piece. We kept it center stage on the table and sat around it, almost in worship. But eventually we had to cut it.
See, it doesn’t really look purple in the picture, but it really had a purple tint to it in real life. The frosting is my favorite vanilla butter cream. The frosting between the layers has coconut and almond extract. The outer frosting is tinted vanilla. It was a damn good cake.
Emily kept saying “this is the best birthday ever!” Coulda’ been her best birthday ever. Coulda’ been that she was exhausted from a spa day and a long drive. Coulda’ been a belly full of delicious, nutritious food. Or it coulda just been the cake talkin’.’