I have a friend, Melissa, and she was telling me about how her daughter Chloe (aged seven) was invited to a birthday party by a girl in her daughter’s class. Nothing unusual about that of course.
But the mother of the birthday girl lives a busy life. Not because she’s raising four small children and looking after an enormous waterfront house and their yacht tied to the mooring at the bottom of their substantial block, but because she’s intimately connected with her plastic surgeon. He was responsible for giving her the over-sized implants that turn the corner before she does (not that there’s anything wrong with implants), and the wrinkle-free face that as Melissa says, ‘is so stretched she has excellent peripheral vision, (not that there’s anything wrong with having excellent vision).
Despite her hectic schedule, the mother did find time to organise the birthday party and it was definitely a case of ‘the more the merrier’. Everyone from the class was invited as was everyone from their street, as was everyone from her Mother’s Group, as was every living relative and known living acquaintance.
On the day of the party my friend Melissa went via the local toy shop and bought one of those amazing toys that are huge and an absolute ‘must-have’. Free gift wrapping is included so the present was covered in paper and thousands of metres of multi-coloured ribbon were added until it looked amazing.
The party was held on the local playing fields. Melissa had to park quite a distance from ‘party central’ so she and Chloe (who held the present clutched between her hands), trekked across the playing fields towards the action. As they progressed towards the party, the birthday girl spotted them and came running towards them with a huge smile. Chloe’s face lit up as she was thrilled that the birthday girl, who already had large numbers at her party, appeared to be so thrilled at her arrival.
As the birthday girl approached she lunged forward and without a word or a moment’s hesitation, snatched the gift from Chloe’s hands, turned and ran off, back to ‘party central’. Chloe was left stunned with her hands outstretched as though still holding the gift.
The present was never again mentioned. There was not a thank you nor an acknowledgement. Melissa was disappointed and Chloe confused.
What is proper birthday party etiquette regarding presents?
A party is not a party without a cake. As Carl’s recent birthday bash I served this hazelnut torte that I adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: This is a beautiful, inexpensive, lovely dinner party dessert
- 115g/4oz butter, softened plus extra for tin
- 125g/4 1/2 oz hazelnuts, roasted
- 125g/4 1/2 oz sugar
- 4 large organic eggs, separated
- zest of 1 orange
- 30g/10z plain flour (I used spelt flour but I think quinoa would work equally as well)
- 124g/4 1/2 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 tbspn poppy seeds
- a pinch of salt
- 3 heaped tbspns jam, preferably apricot
- 50g/1 3/4 oz best-quality cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely grated
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Butter a 28cm/11 inch loose-bottomed flan-tin or cheesecake mould, line it with greaseproof paper and place it in the fridge.
Whiz up the hazelnuts in a foood processor until you have a fine powder – be careful not to over-whitzz. You can bash the nuts up in a tea towel using a rolling pin if you don’t have a food processor.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a food processor until pale. Add the egg yolks one by one, and the orange zest. Sieve in the flour, crumble in the ricotta and stir in the powdered hazelnuts and the poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are really stiff, then fold them slowly into the hazelnut mixture. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for around 25-30 minutes until there is a little colour on the top of the torte. You can check to see that it’s ready by sticking a cocktail stick into the centre of the torte. It should come out clean and not sticky. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. While it’s cooling, place the jam in a little pan with 4 tbspns of water and bring this slowly up to the boil. Brush this over the top of the torte and when cool, sprinkle with the grated chocolate. Serve with some creme fraiche or fromage frais.
This recipe has been adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Kitchen
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