The Birthday Party: Q To Do

January 2012

My latest apartment had never known a proper dinner party- the kind with an abundance of food, friends and folly.  I was also overdue for a grand birthday celebration.  Thus, I decided this was the year for a birthday dinner party!


To Do:  Send the invites
I encouraged potluck provisions beginning with, or containing the letter Q.  It’s a pretty misunderstood letter, one that’s very near and dear to me.

To Do:  Buy Some”Supplies”

When I said “BYOB,” I highly encouraged bottles of red or bottles of bourbon.  I appreciate alliteration and I am big on bourbon (see what I did there?)!  I prepared a small Q stash and a bourbon with a back story (and a song…but that will come later).  Some people say I’m a bit of a megalomaniac (though you can’t really be a “bit” of a megalomaniac), but to those people, I simply say, “Quiet!”

To Do:  The Kitchen Scurry

Snoqualmie Kumquat Compote

Q Points:  
02+ (Bonus because I used to play routinely with a red tractor as a wee Quelcy)


1 cup red wine (Snoqualmie par example)
1 cup water
1 cup organic light brown sugar
1 pint fresh cherries, pitted and sliced
1 pint Kumquats, sliced


Bring the red wine, water and sugar to boil.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer until mixture begins to thicken.

Remove from heat.  Add the cherries and kumquats.

Serve with cake or bread or however you very well please.

28 Rolls for 28 Years:  Whole Wheat Quinoa Birthday Buns
Makes 28(+) small rolls for serving with sandwich fixings in increments of 28
Prep Time:  15 hours minimum

Q Points:  
Birthday Points:  28+ (for representation of 28; bonus points when served with a sammich fixin’ platter with charcuterie, cheese, olives and pickles in increments of 28)


3 ¼  cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 cups quinoa flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 ¼  cups water

For the Pre-Dough

Mix all of the pre-dough ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. (If it will be more than 24 hours, store in the refrigerator; it will be good for up to 3 days.  Remove it 2 hours before mixing the final dough to take off the chill.)

3 ⅓ cups organic all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup warm water
6 tablespoons warm milk
4 teaspoons instant yeast
5 Tablespoons raw sugar
2 large eggs (local/free-range)
extra flour or water for adjustments

Egg Wash- 1 whole egg (local/free-range) beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
Himalayan Pink Sea Salt


In a large bowl, whisk flour with salt.

Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs.

Cut the pre-dough into 24 pieces and add them to the flour mixture, tossing the pieces to coat (to keep them from immediately sticking back together).
Add the water, milk, yeast, sugar, and egg, and stir with a rubber spatula until a dough forms.

Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will be on the sticky side, but the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.

Grease a bowl with olive oil; shape dough into a ball and place it in bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, one to two hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide dough into 28 equal parts.

To shape each portion into an even round, gently pull the edges toward a pucker and pinch them together. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange them side by side on the prepared baking sheet.

Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let buns rise in a warm place for about one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center.

Brush egg wash on buns and sprinkle with sea salt and poppyseeds.

Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Serve with sandwich fixins in increments of 28.

The Most Important Part….

When I hit my quarter-century birthday, I baked a memory.  I recalled those January moments when my mom would ask what type of treat I wanted her to bake for my special occasion.  More often than not, I requested self-filled cupcakes.  Chocolate, cream cheese and the bonus of chocolate chips equated to a really delicious birthday.  When it came time to bake my own treat, rather than make cupcakes, I turned a sheet cake into twenty five little fancies.    When I turned twenty six, I found myself adding one more little fancy.  By the time I turned twenty seven, I had clearly taken my little cake fun and turned it into a full fledge tradition, one that will probably lead to lies about my age when the number equates to too many pretty, bitty cakes.  This year, though, I was content to count my years in cake.

28 Cakelettes for 28 Years

Makes two rectangular cakes for the sake of cutting and restructuring.  Halving this recipe would probably suffice if you’re just fixin’ for a dessert and not continuing a quirky birthday tradition.

Q Points: 01
Birthday Points:  28!


1 (8 oz) package organic cream cheese, softened
1 (8oz) package Neufchatel cheese, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten (local/free-range)
2/3 cup turbinado sugar

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup quinoa flour
2 cups trubinado sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups brewed organic, fair trade coffee
1 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two 9×13 glass baking dishes.

In a small bowl, combine first four ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Add the coffee, olive oil, vinegar and vanilla and stir to combine, scraping down the bowl.

Add chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan.

Drop a few large dollops of the cheese mixture on top of the batter.  Use a knife to swirl the two batters.

Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Dark Chocolate Drizzle

1 bar Ghirardelli dark chocolate (70%)
1/2 stick of organic, unsalted butter

Use a Maria bath to melt the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently.  Drizzle over cakelettes while still hot.

Whipped Topping

1 pint organic heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons Root


Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to use.  Use a pastry bag to pipe onto cake.

Quality control tastings
Tidy the apartment.
Hydrate before the wine floweth.
Set the table.
Thank the boyfriend for loads of help!
Thank that boyfriend once more!

Await the party guests (not with the candles lit, though)… more on that to come!


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