Seester T and Nini are our January Babies! So with all birthday Fam Dins, it was all about them!
The evening included some of their favorite foods and of course, succulents. My Fam are somewhat succulents-obsessed….to put it mildly. And T and Maya put this adorable pot together for Nini that just had her written all over it.
Orange is her fav color.
And so are pugs—particularly Princess Leia.
And she also has been known to say that Maya is her Spirit Animal….so there’s that.
While we were admiring their handy work, I put my efforts towards that night’s cocktail – Pomegranate Moscow Mules!
We’re big fans of mules with its gingery, citrus punch—and the addition of pomegranate juice was the perfect kick to update the classic.
Then it was time to get down on some appetizers! Nini asked her mama to make pork belly baos.
Seester N marinated the pork belly overnight with soy, sugar, rice wine, garlic, ginger and a few other goodies. Once it was ready, she handed it over to me and I sous vide the belly for 10ish hours.
After the belly finished its bath, we placed it in the fridge for a few hours so it was easier to slice.
When we were about ready to eat, she took the slices of pork and seared it up on each side.
I wish you could have smelled the house when she did this. It was simply intoxicating.
A few hours beforehand, she made the dough for the baos and had it proof for a bit.
Then it was time to roll it out.
Super adorbs rolling pin, right?
Here they were before she placed them in the steamer.
And now here’s a confession……
Although everything looked perfect up to this point, the baos did not rise after they had steamed. It was the strangest thing!! We did taste a small piece of it and it was great! But we were looking for a smooth, puffed, mini-dome and somehow ended up with a pancake.
Luckily Seestrah N thought ahead and was prepared for any potential mishaps. You know, in case we “pulled a Monica”. Please tell me someone got that reference….
While at the Asian market, she swung by the freezer section and picked up a few packages of pre-steamed frozen bao dough. Think of it like the frozen dinner rolls you can buy and just throw in the oven.
They just needed a few minutes in the steamer and they were perfect!! Then it was assembly time.
Get a look at these beauties!!
Sis also pickled up some thin cucumber slices earlier on in the week and stuffed them inside the baos along with freshly sliced cucumbers, carrots and a few sprigs of cilantro.
They were insanely good — as delish as any I’ve had in restaurants! The pork belly was tender and succulent. The glaze was salty and sweet. And the veggies were the perfect offset for freshness, acidity and texture.
Sous Vide Pork Belly Baos — I highly, highly recommend them!
To be honest, T had requested those crazy, 10 feet tall seafood towers for dinner. But c’mon now…that would be, as my nieces say, “very extra”. Brother V got her to compromise and go with a Swan Oyster Depot-esque theme.
Which really just means HELLA seafood.
V picked up a gazillion of fresh oysters and clams from our local Dry Dock Fish Company. Birthday gal got to work and was shucking away! I’m telling you, Nini is a Shucking Queen.
I whipped up a quick mignonette for them but they were just as delish with a squeeze of lemon and tabascco.
And then it was time for a GINORMOUS platter of these babies – DUNGENESS CRAB!!!!!
LOOK AT ALL THAT ROE! HOLY MOLY!
Brother also picked up a few dozen clams too. He meant to have us enjoy them raw, but dang it! Those suckers were tough as heck to shuck!
So I did a little quick inventory of what N had in her pantry and decided to whip up a 20 minute dish – Seafood Squid Ink Pasta!
I sauteed some aromatics and threw in some crushed Roma tomatoes, clam juice and white wine. I then added the clams and some calamari N had in the freezer. Once the clams opened up, I tossed in some al dente squid ink pasta. Hey–we were going for seafood overload, right?
It was quite tasty and for a dish on the fly, we were pretty happy with it!
Then it was time for us to do a little clean up before dessert.
Which for Leia, that means commandeer her fur cousin’s crate for a post dinner nap.
Which is 100% okay for Bella because she prefers the couch with blankets.
And of course, I had to make one for each birthday girl.
Nini loves all things green tea so when I asked her what she’d like for her bday dessert, she quickly said Matcha Mille Crêpes Cake! She’s a fancy one….
It all started with matcha crêpes. And I’ve got to admit, they were the bane of my existence…well, while I was making them at least. I hadn’t made crêpes in YEARS and it took a while to get the hang of it down again.
It probably didn’t help that I started making the crêpes at 11pm the night before Fam Din but at least there was wine!
When all was said and done, I made 25 crêpes with the batter.
The next day, I made a matcha flavored whipped cream and began assembly.
One crêpe, then a thin layer of the whipped cream.
Once I was done, I had a total of 50 layers. But since I wanted to cover the whole cake in ganache, I used the whipped cream and covered everything in a thin layer before chilling it for a few hours.
While I was glazing the chilled cake in a layer of ganache, I put birthday girl to work by having her cut out a stencil of a succulent.
Yes, I know. We’re obsessed.
Nini’s Matcha Mille Crêpes Cake!
I’ve got to admit, it was quite delicious too!
And then it was seestrah’s turn!
After texts upon texts of me pestering her, she finally said she wanted a traditional chocolate cake. Now usually for us, that means Ina Garten’s version of Beatty’s Chocolate Cake.
Man, that is a damn good cake. But as good as it is, it’s not a great cake if you’re looking for a solid crumb for decorating.
So I chose a sponge that I used for Maya’s cake a few years ago. It’s really chocolately and delish too–but just sturdier.
Because purple is seester’s favorite color.
It’s mine too.
Chocolate Layered Cake with Ombre Swiss Buttercream Rosettes.
I actually kind of loved how it turned out in the end.
Now that I think of it, they kind of remind me of Sterling Roses that seestrah really loves.
I mean–I didn’t just think of it. I meant to do it that way all along!
Now here’s the thing about us. As much as we love desserts and as much as we bake….we’re not really into eating a lot of frostings or buttercreams. It’s just too sweet or too much most of the time!
Since I figured we’d get our fix of buttercream via the rosettes, I only used a thin amount between each of the cake layers.
Trust me, it was still plenty!
And I just had to include this picture because Lucas and Maya’s expressions have be DYING.
Happy Birthday January Babies!!!!
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Cocktails: Pomegranate Moscow Mules, Various Wine
Appetizers: Sous Vide Pork Belly Baos, Fresh Oysters
Entrees: Steamed Dungeness Crab, Seafood Squid Ink Pasta
Dessert: Matcha Mille Crêpes Cake, Chocolate Layered Cake with Ombre Swiss Buttercream Rosettes