A Birthday Feast through Italy appetizers and Avocado Ice Cream

Ah the first big menu planning of the year! It always coincides with my mother’s birthday on April 1st when I have my parents over for dinner. Younger I would choose very long and elaborate recipes that would take an entire day to prepare. Now wiser in years I have learned to plan very sophisticated looking menus consisting of easy but wonderful recipes. If I am well organized I can pop out such a meal in 2 or 3 hours…exhausting ones. The hard part is finding the first inspiration.

In this case it was a bunch of rapini I had bought a few days before. It is not a vegetable I have cooked with very often but after seeing it a blog post ton it I was inspired to try my hand at it again. From there came an Italian theme spread over the whole menu. I like to think of it as  Southern Italian menu filled with cured meats, fish, fresh vegetables, ricotta and nuts. I hope you will enjoy my presentation of the meal….

The evening started of with a cocktail and lovely bites to nibble on while we toasted  to my mom’s birthday: Prosciutto Purses by Giada de Laurentis. A few handfuls of Sesame Roasted Nuts accompanied the purses. I adapted the recipe with walnuts, pistachios and almonds. I did not have the mentioned spices so I used cinnamon, cocoa mole rub, chili pepper flakes and garlic salt.

The Prosciutto Purses are very easy to make. I just used half a cantaloupe and scooped out 9 balls with a spoon. Then I just rolled up the cantaloupe balls with a slice of proscuitto and tied my purse with a sprig of chives. Here is the secret:  blanch the chives briefly until just a bit limp. This way they will not break when you make the knot.

My appetizer consisted of three Zucchini Ricotta Roll-ups per person served on a bed of pureed snow peas. I just cooked the peas till soft in a bit of vegetable stock and added a bit of garlic salt and pepper. I passed this through the blender and got an amazingly colorful shiny dark green puree.

The main course was a simple baked white fish recipe which was accompanied by Polenta with Beans and Rapini, the inspiration dish of the whole menu. A bigger portion could be a vegetarian meal on its own. I went with a soft polenta in which I added cheddar cheese. I loved this dish, the mix of flavors and textures was sublime, from the acidic sweetness of the tomatoes, the earthy mellowing taste of the beans to the perfect bitterness of the rapini.

The meal ended with a wonderful gluten-free Blueberry Almond Cake. This cake is just about all eggs, 6 to be exact. I followed the recipe but added some blueberries: I poured half the cake mix in the pan, sprinkled the berries and then covered then with the other half. I think this made the cake but my cake deflated. A little simple looking but there was no shortcoming in taste.

A very unusual but perfect pairing was a portion of homemade Avocado Ice Cream. I had this ice cream in the freezer for a while and had just enough for 3 small portions. I melted a bit the ice cram down and placed it in 3 canellé mold. The resulting presentation is reminiscent of the classic Tartufo ice cream.

Avocado Ice Cream


1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup milk

3 ripe avocados


Peel and seed the avocados; put flesh into a blender with the milk and purée. Pour all the ingredients an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Buon appetito!

14 comments to A Birthday Feast through Italy appetizers and Avocado Ice Cream

  • Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen

    I bet your mother was ecstatic over this birthday spread! Everything looked so incredibly well-thought out and scrumptious, but for me, the avocado ice cream and the blueberry almond cake are the stuff of dreams! You are an ah-mazing daughter.

  • I love the prosciutto purses! so much neater and cuter than the usual melon slices and prosciutto on top, with the splash of cognac! Love all the other dishes and I would be so intrigued by that avocado ice-cream! all in all, a feast!

  • Everything looks so delicious… especially those zucchini roll-ups! I bet your mom loved everything you made to honor her birthday!

  • Cara Evelyne…ti sei sorpassata!
    Yes, you’ve certainly pulled out all the stops on this one.
    I’m so impressed with your selections, enthusiasm and little Evelyne touches;o)
    My favourites were the zucchini roll ups and a little crunch from the spiced nuts. The dessert sounds scrumptious as well…and I’ll surely have to look into this recipe soon.

    Your parents are very lucky folks to have such a dedicated daughter.

    Brava…applauso ;o)

  • Obviously I meant “avocado ICE CREAM”… Sorry, I was thinking about my ice cream machine. *blush*

  • What an awesome menu! Very elegant! And your avocado machine is making glad ice cream season is slowly but surely coming!

  • Wonderful menu! My birthday is in May, by the way…

  • A lovely variety of food. I love the way the purses turned out….very elegant.

  • 5 Star Foodie

    This is a fabulous feast for sure! The zucchini rolls look so scrumptious and I love the idea of prosciutto purses too! The avocado ice cream is gorgeous in this mold!

  • Wow, what a feast…they all look so good :-) Avocado ice cream looks yummie! We used to have this back in Brazil. Have a great week Evelyne!

  • Sesame roasted nuts got my attention… You are such a great daughter to make your mom such a feast. Hope she had a great birthday!

  • The zuke rolls looks super fun. They’re nice to finish off on the grill too. Bet your mother had a great bday this year.