I'm learning to say what I want in life. I'm learning that true, humble confidence is incredibly beautiful & attractive. I'm learning to step out of fear & embrace life, even if I fail. Jesus has been inviting me to eat at his Table everyday, in order that I would know more of myself & Him.
Birthdays are a big deal to me. I had some disappointing ones growing up, where I didn't get a "happy birthday" from family members until the day was almost over. When I feel like someone should be the person to congratulate, seek me out, or know what I'm thinking (such a girl thing) and they fail...I shut down. I've been known to sit in that puddle of a pity party; rather, than say what I want & need.
Insert my vision...I dreamed of having a birthday party where everyone who I love & loves me over my life comes to celebrate me. They surprise me & I'm not expecting it. My kids are grown & they honor me for the love & life I've given to them. It's about me. Okay, I know I'm not the only person who has this--right?! It's not a proud "celebrate me" sort of party, but simply to affirm this life & celebrate it with all the people I love. It's a bit of heaven coming to earth.
This year, I told Ben what I wanted most was to cook a meal & bless my friends. To celebrate the year that I've been graciously given & the upcoming one. I was ready to be forward & say exactly what I wanted. There wouldn't be any Kamille pity parties...just one party with friends I love and food that was spectacular. Here was our menu:
- Cheese & cracker platter
- Spicy greens with fresh figs, salty prosciutto, walnuts, goat cheese, shaved fennel & shallot vinaigrette (Pinot Gris)
- Brine then Grilled & Smoked Pork Loin of Roast with reduced bing cherry sauce (Red Wine blend)
- Grilled Apricots with Fresh Raspberries a top freshly whipped cream & mascarpone cheese with a Salted Butter Cookie (moscato d'asti wine)
Pulling from the best of the season's bounty. I knocked dessert out of the park. The freshly whipped cream (no sugar added) & mascarpone cheese when paired with the grilled apricots & raspberries did something altogether magical in my mouth. My taste buds were singing praises & one could not help but moan "Oh.My.Goodness!" I reduced some apricot balsamic vinegar & drizzled it on top as well. This dessert pulled out all the punches with the creaminess of the cheese, the sweet & tang from the fruit, the bit of subtle acid from the apricot & vinegar & the salty from the cookie--heaven in one bite.
Grilled Apricots & Fresh Raspberries a top Whipped Cream & Mascarpone Cheese with Reduced Apricot Balsamic Vinegar (recipe here)
I realize that not everyone has Apricot balsamic vinegar lying around. I happened to have a bottle from a local vinegar & olive oil shop. However, a light drizzle of raw honey would be divine! By grilling the apricots, you are pulling out the sweet juices.
- 1-2 pounds fresh apricots, about 10-12
- 1 cup of raspberries
- 8 ounce container of mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup apricot balsamic vinegar
Reduction can be done hours ahead or day before: Pour your apricot balsamic vinegar into a small pot & gently reduce over low heat. You don't really need to do any stirring, just keep an eye on it. It will take about 15-25 minutes (sorry such a large range). The vinegar will become darker close to an amber color & coat a spoon like agave nectar (not honey coating though). Remove from heat & allow to cool. Transfer to a container.
Chill your bowl & beater for about 10 minutes in freezer. Take your chilled HWC & pour it into chilled bowl. Whip on high speed & should become billowy after about 30-45 seconds (if using kitchen aid). You are looking for medium peaks. Set aside.
Slice the apricots in half & remove the pit. Over medium-low heat on a grill, place your apricots face down & cover the grill. Checking on them after 1 minute to ensure they are not getting burnt. You will want them to grill for about 3 minutes (when they have those lovely grill marks). Put them on a platter.
Take your serving bowl & add two tablespoons of whipped cream & mascarpone cheese. Place two grilled apricots on top. Sprinkle 3-4 fresh raspberries. Drizzle very lightly with reduced apricot balsamic vinegar (or raw honey). Serve with a butter cookie (recipe below) if you'd like.
Salted Butter Cookie:
- 2 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, pastured
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Tb vanilla
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- vanilla salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling
Add almond flour, salt, & butter into a food processor. Blend for 15 seconds, or until butter is cut into the flour. Add the vanilla & honey and blend until the dough is thoroughly combined, another 25 seconds or so.
Have a sheet of parchment paper ready. Dump the dough on the parchment paper. Roll the dough into a log. It should be about an inch in diameter. Roll the parchment around the dough until completely covered & seal the edges by twisting them. Put in the freezer for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325 minutes. Put another sheet of parchment paper on a lined baking sheet. Remove the dough from the freezer & unwrap from the parchment. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Put the slices on the parchment lined sheet. Sprinkle with vanilla salt or fleur de sel. Bake for 15 minutes or until a nice golden color, depending on if the dough is still frozen or if it's slightly thawed. If thawed, it will be less time. If frozen, more time. Cool on sheet & serve.