My son Evan’s birthday is a few days before Halloween so I decided that his 2nd birthday would be themed around his Halloween costume. I figure having a birthday so close to Halloween means we can have some fun with it – at least until he’s old enough to tell me to stop embarrassing him. Since he’s only 2, he’s not old enough to tell me what he wants yet so I decided this year he is going to be a cowboy for Halloween. I figure it’s a costume that I can easily wrangle him into wearing as it consists of a pair of chaps worn over his jeans, a vest and a hat – nothing too cumbersome or uncomfortable. Fingers crossed I will get him to wear it and convince him to go trick or treating.
So for his birthday, I hosted a Cowboy Birthday Brunch consisting of Quiche, Sausage Baked Beans and Garlic Baby Potatoes served with salad, sour cream, piri piri sauce and jalapeno pepper relish. To drink we had orange juice and Prosecco. And for dessert we enjoyed a Cowboy Birthday Cake with coffee and tea. The food and cake were enjoyed by both adults and toddlers – the Prosecco was for the mommies. Here are the recipes.
This is a simple recipe for a Quiche from the Lorraine region of north-east France. It is a Rachel Allen recipe found in her Bake cookbook. I served it with mixed leaves and Ballymaloe jalapeno pepper relish.
Ingredients – 1 quantity of short crust pastry, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 175g bacon cut into 1/2 inch lardons, 1 small onion, 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks, 250ml double cream, 1 tbsp. chopped chives, 50g cheddar grated, 50g Gruyère cheese, freshly ground black pepper.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Line the tart tin with the pastry and bake blind for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry starts to crisp.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and dry with kitchen paper. Next, sweat the onions in the same oil for 10 minutes.
3. Whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl (one with a pouring spout is handy as it is easier to pour the filling into the pastry). Add the cream, herbs, cheese, cooled bacon and onions. Mix well and season.
4. Pour the filling into the pastry. I find it is easier to do this while the pastry is resting on the oven shelf to avoid spilling. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the centre has set.
5. Serve warm with a green salad and relish.
Sausage Baked Beans
This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s Smoky Baked Beans found in his 15 Minute Meals cookbook. It is a hearty and filling dish full of flavour. I added Irish sausages to the beans and accompanied them with freshly baked Irish soda bread and butter.
Ingredients – 2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 x 400g tins of mixed beans, 450g passata, 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp piri piri sauce, 2 tbsp. ketchup, 2 tbsp. HP sauce, 1 tsp runny honey, 1 tsp mustard, 40g grated cheddar cheese, freshly ground black pepper, 6 sausages.
1. Turn the oven on at 240 degrees.
2. Drain and rinse the beans then put them into a medium pan with 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry for a few minutes until the beans crisp up.
3. Meanwhile grill the sausages using a grill pan.
4. Stir the remaining ingredients (except for the cheese) into the pan and bring to the boil. Transfer the bean mixture into an oven proof casserole dish and set aside.
5. When the sausages are cooked, slice them and return to the grill pan for a few minutes before adding them to the bean mixture and combine.
6. Toss the grated cheese over the sausage bean mixture then place the casserole dish in the oven until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve with freshly baked Irish soda bread and butter.
Garlic Baby Potatoes
This is a simple side dish of baby potatoes boiled then tossed into a frying pan with garlic and oil to crisp up. It’s something Jamie Oliver does in a lot of his recipes. I served them with sour cream and piri piri sauce.
Ingredients – 1 kg baby potatoes, 2 to 3 large cloves of garlic crushed, 2 tbsp. olive oil.
1. Cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water for 20 minutes or until they are tender then drain.
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until it is hot. Add the crushed garlic and baby potatoes. Toss the potatoes with the garlic and oil then smash the potatoes with a spatula to break them up.
3. Toss the potatoes until they are golden and crisp on all sides.
4. Serve with sour cream and piri piri sauce.
Cowboy Birthday Cake
I used Nigella Lawson’s Buttermilk Birthday Cake recipe from her Domestic Goddess book. She touts it as the most delicious and sturdy of all birthday cakes. I honestly think she is right. It makes a brilliant birthday cake as it is easy to make and decorate as well as delicious to eat. It is a moist and delicious sponge like cake that held up after being draped with colourful sugar paste icing.
I made 3 batches of the cake and filled 4 round tins (2 x 4.5 inch and 2 x 8 inch) to make a two tiered birthday cake. I sandwiched the cakes together with a vanilla buttercream icing to make 2 cakes (1 x 4.5 inch cake and 1 x 8 inch cake) then I covered each cake with the remaining vanilla buttercream icing before draping and decorating with sugar paste icing. The cake is simple to make, especially if you have an electric mixer to whip it up. The more difficult task was the cake decorating part.
Here is the recipe to make one 23 cm or 9 inch Buttermilk Birthday Cake:
Ingredients – 125g soft unsalted butter, 200g caster sugar, 3 large eggs, 250g plain flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 200ml buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line the baking tin with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
3. Pour the buttermilk into a measuring jug and stir in the vanilla.
4. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed then add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between additions. Add alternating increments of the flour mixture and vanilla buttermilk, blending well after each addition until combined (approximately 3 to 5 minutes).
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for about 40 minutes until the cake begins to shrink away from the sides and a cake tester comes out clean.
6. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.