Monday, August 30, 2010

Daring Bakers Petits Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I have been a bad little daring baker. Stop it you, this is a food blog, keep your mind on topic.

I haven’t been altogether following the DB rules. There are some that I have been following very well. So, let’s try doing a little keep/ change analysis on my Daring Bakers technique.

On the first of the month, I forget that I am a daring baker—Change.

On the 13th, I think , “Oh darn, right, I forgot was giddy with excitement about the next recipe. I was planning to be on time. I was.” So I go into the forum, read the challenge and run off to buy the ingredients.—Keep

Around the 15th of the month, I wonder what other DB gals (and guys, but I don’t really know many bloggy guys) are doing. But, I keep mum cause that’s a secret society works.—Keep and change (Be secret, good. Don’t communicate and foster community in the Daring Bakers forum, bad.)

On the 17th or so, I start planning my entry. I think about how to change this recipe up, make it my own. Then I think about what personal event I could take my challenge recipe to, because there nothing is worse than having one of those sugar-laden DB challenges lurking, smirking at you from your counter.—Keep (sharing is always nice.)

On the 24th or so, I get the challenge done. I take a few pictures. I have done every challenge for 2010. I mean every one. And, I think I have posted just one. Sure, these days there is no more setting up the shot, making two different versions, attempting to really outshine. But at least I finish the challenge.—Keep. (Daring Bakers might be a challenge but not a competition. Just get it done.)

On the 27th of the month, I completely forget to post. I usually realize I have forgotten on the 26th when those Aussie posts show up in my reader. I know it is just the international date line and all, but those Aussies start to strike me as overachievers. I usually make a half-hearted attempt to start a post. But then a child breaks out of their room or a work email comes, and I am off the DB momentum.—Change (Really, jealous of the date line, what is wrong with you.)

On the 30th of the month, I start getting giddy about the next challenge. I imagine I will get it all right next month.—Keep. (We all need things to look forward to in life.)

And, so, the cycle continues.

I have actually completely all the challenges since January. I just haven’t posted and now I have even lost some of the pictures, but here are a couple I could find. Here is what I missed from 2010:

Nainamo Bars--delicious. gluten free graham crackers--right on. serving them for a just 3 years olds play date--adorable. pictures--gone.

Lady fingers--a breeze. Homemade tiramisu heavy on the liquer--yes siree bob. Pictures--alas, bye bye.

March--Orange Tian (posted, must have been a good month, can't remember it, but it must have been.

April--Steamed pudding--okay fine. Actually thought I posted, then apparently didn't. HMN. Pictures bye bye.

May--Croquemboche (did pretty good on this one, check out the tiny ones)



June--Chocolate Pavolva--good enough, camera ready dessert. Turn them pavs into tiny cookies--brilliant.

July--Swiss Roll--sweet yummy. Chocolate, Mango, Ohio Blueberry swiss roll--great birthday cake. Pictures--who knows where they are.

August--here we are. Browned butter pound cake, chocolate ice cream petit fours for breakfast on the first day of preschool--Good mommy.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BLT Tacos and Summer Salsas


Cool, sweet, piquant, ripe, juicy…criminally juicy. Real. What are the words you would use to describe the taste of a tomato?

I would have said, how would you describe a tomato to a Martian, but really, how would you describe a tomato to anyone who eats the industrial variety? You know the ones that can be described as plastic, mealy and watery. Those are usually a sicky dusty red, or even worse, a sort of red that is at once the ideal of tomatohood and a mockery of that state.
But, tomato, a true tomato, is the stuff that summer food joy is made of. I serious wait all year long to bite into a sun-ripened green zebra. I get giddy thinking about colanders full of yellow cherry tomatoes. I dream of the first black krim of the season.

While a tomato cooked, dried, sauced, souped, and Indian-fooded makes me joyful, the truest expression of a summer tomato is in the raw, salted, period. Next to that, then there is the salsa. Salsa with yuck tomatoes needs to be spicy, salty, cooked. With good tomatoes, it need only be diced tomato, a bit of onion, salt, and minced green chili. Get a little nutty, add some cilantro. Go wild, add sweet corn. Then mix in up, use grilled zucchini, thyme, raspberry and cherry tomatoes (or green zebras, cantaloupe, mint).

Then how do you serve these salsa up? Well, first, you should try to keep from slurping it all up at the kitchen counter. You should like the part that dripped down your wrist. You should dip in a chip. You should shovel it into your mouth with a spoon.


Or you could make a fancy BLT taco, as we did. Flour tortillas, homegrown tomatoes, grilled zucchini, grilled chicken, lovely local bacon, and some homegrown lettuce…

This post is part of Summer Fest 2010, which is a community food blogging event to write about (and eat!) seasonal produce. Today's Summer Fest theme is the lovely tomato.

I particularly like these other ones that I have read: from a dollop of cream, from white on rice couple (an organizer), from gluten free girl and the chef (another organizer), from a way to garden (organizer too), from pinch my salt , from tigress in a pickle . We you go around, read the comments to find more links.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pav Bhaji (in a roll)


This post is a draft of some fiction I have been playing around with. Not a literary sort, thats okay. here is the link to the recipe for the food.

“Paging Dr. Rajabalasubramaniam.” Fifteen years, thought Sanjay.

“Paging Dr. Cohen.” Eight years.

“Paging Dr. Khan. Stat.” Twenty years younger than me, Sanjay concluded, with a slightly audible sigh.

He mindlessly flicked two little yellow packets with his thumb and forefinger. He carefully creased the edge, pinched down, and precisely trimmed off the top. Then he watched the sweet white crystals of whatever drop into his coffee. He would have preferred to have three spoons of real sugar. These faux sugars were a concession to his wife and his cardiologist. Last year, when he fell ill, his cardiologist, gastrologist, GP, and wife all conspired, like an AAM funded coven, to keep him from pleasure. After he was released back into his life, Sanjay sat down in his study with the various discharge orders. He folded them up, and placed them under an unread book. Then, he took out some of the stationary his wife had purchased from his niece during a fund-raiser for her band trip to China. At the top, in obscenely curly letters, it said, Dr. Sanjay Nayak, M.D. Underneath his name he carefully wrote a vertical line. On the left side he wrote butter, cheese, eggs, steak, fries, doughnuts, sugar, pie. On the right, he wrote coffee, cream, cake. His pen hung over the “e” in cake as if pondering the magnitude of the work. Then Sanjay folded up the sheet of paper, placed it over the discharge papers, and stood up, as if anticipating that his wife would call him.


The next few months were filled with unbuttered chappatis, cheese made of rice, tofu, baked chips, and sliced fruit. His wife had a wide reach and a strangely knowing look, but she did not have spies at the hospital cafeteria. Every morning, he accompanied his wife to the gym for aquatic aerobics. He kicked and turned and avoided seeing any of the voluptuous jiggles that surrounded him. He dressed, bid his wife goodbye, got into his car. For the ten minutes from the gym to the hospital, he would prepare for breakfast. In his younger days, he always had breakfast after rounds, if he had time for anything to eat at all. But, now, there were fewer surgeries, more paperwork, less patient care, and more time for a bite to eat. Plus, he felt imprudent treating patients with his mind occupied elsewhere.
That is how he found himself listening to the overhead pages, drinking coffee and reading the paper, intermittently gazing at the cherry blossoms outside. Every morning, he started with the business pages and coffee. Then, one egg, poached. Finally, he would dig into hash browns, crunchy at the edges, melty buttery in the middle. On a regular day, he would refill his coffee cup and then go into the doctor’s lounge to read his patient’s charts online. But, today, there was less time for rounds. Today was not a usual day.

He left the first cup of coffee barely touched and an eggy puddle in the bowl. The plate of potatoes however was clean.

Today, he only had a couple of patients to view. His partner had suggested he forego rounds altogether. Routine had served him well for forty years, and Sanjay saw no reason to deviate.

Sanjay swiped his card at the elevator and pressed floor two. An older lady in a wheel chair glanced at him and smiled. He smiled back. Behind stood an assortment of daughters and granddaughters, all struck with the same grave, unpleasant look. Just as the elevator started to close, a lanky arm snuck in. The doors bounced back and forth and then opened again. A tall brown man in his late twenties entered the elevator. While his scrubs were just like Sanjay’s, his fine Italian shoes, carefully chosen glasses, and purposefully mussed hair were not.

“Hey Sanj.” Dr. Jamie said. Sanjay had never known what Jamie’s real name was, but considering Jamie’s parents had arrived on a PanAm flight from Sri Lanka through Dubai thirty years ago, he was fairly confident the moniker was as much a prop as anything he wore. The group in the elevator reshuffled themselves to make room for the newest resident. Dr. Jamie began to talk to Sanjay about the difficult cases that had presented over night. He discussed them as if one might talk about winning a video game—each patient was a slightly more difficult level. Sanjay might have teased him on a different day. But, not today.

He nodded in a way that he hoped suggested to Jamie that Dr. Sanj was not interested in dialogue. Along with missing the class on bedside manner, Jamie must have missed the discussion on understanding social cues. Jamie had managed to discuss the cases of four more heart patients before making it to the fourth floor. Once an overachiever, always an overachiever, Sanjay thought.

Sanjay leaned aside, and allowed the wheelchair to pass. Jaime took a quick stride and passed the patient by before she could make it through the elevator. After the three generations of woman made their march out of the elevator, Sanjay took up the rear like a strange little undertaker.

That morning, he spoke to his patients as carefully as could considering it wasn’t a usual day. There were niceties, compliments, and the like. There was the, “Thank you, Dr. Nayak. You are always so considerate.” But, mostly, there were the good reports. The “you will be alright, as long as you take care.”

After he finished his patients, Sanjay considered going back down to the cafeteria. He had never finished rounds before the end of breakfast service. Just as he started to turn down the cafeteria hallway, edging the orange directional line with his shoe, his pocket began to ring. His grandson had programmed the phone to show a picture of chocolate bundt cake when his wife called. When asked why, Graeme, or Grayhum as Sanjay pronounced the silly name, said that Dadi-ji loved him like cake. Instead of answering the phone, Sanjay turned quick on his heels. Within ten minutes, he was in his car, sweet coffee in one hand, driving towards the airport.
He waited until he was sitting in his airplane seat, buckled, and sipping on orange juice before he called his wife back. “ I only have a few minutes. Yes, I will call. Of course, I would.” Sanjay’s wife had more to say, but luckily the stewardess cut her off. In forty-five years, he had never cut off his wife. He was happy to let her prattle on, to run his home and his life. She was a capable woman amply able to see through his ploy. By then, Sanjay heard the stewardess say “Crosscheck” and they were off.

“9:15” Sanjay mindlessly said out loud. Right now, he should have been sitting in the cafeteria, two fake sugar packets in hand. Instead, he was watching the stewardess pass out trays with square boxes of small helpings of food. He avoided food on planes, and nothing in the scent emanating from the trays suggested he should change this policy. Covering his eyes with a mask, he hoped to sleep away his boredom.

Mostly, his mind rattled in and out of consciousness. Emotions and memories wove themselves into uncomfortable semblances of the truth. Time crept forward at a pace that suggested it wasn’t moving at all. Finally, as his muscles relaxed into the hard seat and his toes uncurled in his shoes, Sanjay’s mind let him sleep. Within minutes, the stewardess announced that they had arrived at their final destination, Mumbai.


By the time Sanjay had composed himself, collected his two newspapers, his golf magazine and his computer, the doors were exposing the passengers to the oppressive texture of the Bombay morning air. His skin tensed in reaction. Slowly, rationally, he chided himself for reacting so. All those years ago, when he arrived in Boston for residency and the chill of the winters seemed to shatter his skin and Sanjay warmed himself with his memories.

His capable wife had organized all his papers in his billfold, and as a man, with a briefcase and a carry-on, the customs ceremony was cursory. At the currency exchange, Sanjay saw a family he recognized from the plane. The father and mother wore smart casual outfits that even Sanjay recognized as expensive. They were yelling in Hindi to their assembled children. Their three teenage boys, each with longer hair than the last, seemed to hear and listen to the pleas to hurry up. The slim, lovely daughter was gazing absent-mindedly at the diamond ring on her finger. A few steps behind stood a tall blond man, likely the fiancé, seemed completely frozen in place. Sanjay couldn’t decide which aspect of the moment had stopped him—the heat, the people, the sounds, the smell. Sanjay took one purposeful pause, and then walked out into the assembled populace.

Sanjay’s sisters had promised to send any number of nephews and nieces to meet him at the airport. His wife had negotiated with them that she would hire a car service to take him directly to the hospital. As he sat in the black sedan, Sanjay wondered what she had said to broker such a deal. The overly air-conditioned car made him feel like he was back in his cafeteria. The driver had classical music playing. Sanjay wondered if his wife had arranged that as well. As the car made its way into traffic, he watched people preparing their tea, street-side, their movements in time with the music.

The tall black glass building that was his destination seemed strangely out of place, rising out of a hodgepodge of alleys filled with knick-knack sellers and the like. When Sanjay made no overture of departing, the driver said quietly, in English, “you are here sir.” Sanjay smiled, a little embarrassed. Sanjay looked down at his cell phone as if he had meant to linger. He grasped his newspapers and magazine, and shuffled out of the car. The driver met him at the trunk to help with his bags.

Sanjay turned on his heels and began wheeling his bag to the end of the street. The driver opened his window and raised his voice, “no sir, this is the entrance.” Embarassed again, Sanjay smiled, and moved slowly towards the entrance.

When he sensed the driver was satisfied with his progress, Sanjay stopped. He turned again away from the entrance and made his way to the corner. He walked across the street, bound by the lines of the cross walk, a rule following rebel. When he got across the street, he stood watching the hospital entrance. An assembled group of nursing students chattered; their mood seemed to be echoed in the jaunty periwinkle of their hats. A woman in a deep maroon sari stood beside a teenage daughter whose yellow miniskirt was impressively short. A group of young doctors were walking towards the entrance as well, stethoscopes in hand. A small band of construction workers, an assemblage of woman, men and children really, sat on the curb, shoveling pav bhaji into their mouths.

Sanjay’s phone began to ring. He remembered his wife saying something about updating his phone to work internationally. This call was from his sister. All three of the girls would all be sitting in the hospital room, at his father’s right hand. Their faces would be streaky and sober. At least one would be holding prayer beads, and another a book of mantras. They would be discussing the next fasting day or the last holy day. In a few minutes, he would be expected to walk into the room and pray like he meant it. The phone rang again. They needed him now.

He turned and walked to the pav bhaji wala. With his bags to his side, he sat on the curb. He arranged the grilled buns to one edge of the plate, and the onions to the other. He massaged the skin of the lime wedge and then gave it one precise squeeze. He cocked his spoon and then took one purposeful stab at the potatoes. He closed his eyes and ate breakfast.

Pav Bhaji Rolls

I am sending this recipe onto yeastspotting by Susan of wild yeast.

And also to Of Chalks and Chopsticks, a food fiction event started by Aqua and currently being hosted by Jaya of Desi Soccer Mom.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Homemade Buckwheat Mischiglio (Pasta) with Pickled Radishes

Buckwheat pasta

August in Japan is the kind of hot that makes you convinced that your bones have liquefied. I should qualify that statement. The two Augusts, ten years apart, that I was in Japan, the heat was miserable. Somehow the heat struck me by surprise, both times. Sure, I had a childhood of visits to the miserably, mind-boiling heat of India to prepare myself. Sure, the fact that I was dumb enough to get stuck in the heat twice gives you the sense that I deserve it.

But, I blame Japanese design. This is a culture, highly attuned to, actually reverential towards, nature with kami kindly abounding in this rock and that old tree. But, if you spent your time, as I often do, looking at prints of ladies at moon-viewing parties and the like, you will know that not one of those gals looked as if they were sweating enough to fill an inland sea.

Each time, as I planned my trip to Japan, I packed my suitcases with whatever struck me as design forward. Long black pants, perfect. Collared shirts, okay. Cotton cardigan, yes sir. I would like to think my brain was being even more design forward than my rational self. After all, each time, first in my semester there, and then for a visit, soon after my arrival, I found myself scouring the racks for seasonal cloths.


So, the first time I was in Kyoto, garbed newly purchased baby doll dress (accept that image for what it is), leaning against the white wall in some temple, my mother’s steps on preventing heat stroke started to cycle in my head. First, don’t go out between noon and three, I could hear her say. Alright, so it was half past twelve. Next. There was something about find shade quickly. I have always thought the Japanese prize nature on human’s terms rather than Mother nature’s. This is the land of square watermelons. The temple I was standing in had woefully few artfully manicured trees giving off enticing, though cruel, puddles of shade over a white sandy expanse. Alight, so find shade quickly was a surprising difficult proposition, considering I was standing in a garden.

What other advice had my mother planted into my inner brain. Hydrate appropriately—not too quickly and with light food. As a completely non-Japanese speaker, I found the byzantine arrangement of streets exciting. I came to accept that I would never find the same place twice. When I found a café, I didn’t really care what was on the menu. I took a seat near the back of the restaurant. In my crumpled cotton dress and oxblood Doc Martens, I must have been a sight to the housewives with their pressed jackets and silk scarves. I took the omnipresent book from my pink purse, and began to settle in.

The waitress was a kindly woman who assumed, rightly so, that reading the menu would be too advanced for me. With tasteful nods and gestures, she said that this restaurant really only served a few items, and the most popular was cold buckwheat noodles. Ice cold noodles, with their sooty grey look, didn’t strike me as particularly appetizing on its face, but then I began to look at the treatment of the dish. The noodles were arranged just so on a slatted lacquer tray that was festooned with gold leaves in silhouette. A small dipping bowl was set to the side. This was clearly a fashion forward way to stave off heat stroke.

When the dish came, I was on a roll with my summer reading. I let the noodles sit a moment. It’s not as if they could get colder. I pulled the tray closer to me without thinking. I held the chopsticks mindlessly; and grabbed a few noodles without much care or thought. I stabbed the noodles into the dipping sauce and raised the lot into my mouth, still focused on the action of my book. As the salty, earthy, cool, smooth, fullness of the bite began to register in my mind, I set my book on the table. I don’t remember which book I was reading, but I remember that first taste of buckwheat noodle.


I have played around with making buckwheat noodles. I have long ago accepted that the artisanal buckwheat noodles from that fine little shop are not within my reach. Instead of the futile effort of recreating remembered perfection, I have danced around buckwheat noodles. I made some flat ones a couple years ago, to use as a sort of salad wrapping.

In the heat and emotional exhaustion that has been August for us. Seeking foods that cool, in all senses of the word, we made buckwheat pasta tossed with vegetables and quick pickled radishes. While that first bite our buckwheat was different in context and content from that moment in Kyoto, the joyful earthiness was there.

buckwheat pasta

Buckwheat Mischiglio
According to the Encyclopedia of Pasta is an antique pasta from the Basilicata region that was often served with a light sauce. Traditionally it is made with wheat, barley flour, chickpea flour, fava bean flour.

Cover 2 sliced radishes with vinegar. Add one pinch sugar, 2 tsps kosher salt, and 1 tsp mustard seeds (dry roasted)

scant 1/3 cup chickpea flour
scant 1/3 cup fava flour

Dry fry in a skillet.

Sift together:
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour mix
scant 1/3 cup chickpea flour
scant 1/3 cup fava flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour

Make into a mound of the flour, create a small well, add:
1 T olive oil
Water by the tablespoonfuls

Mix into a dough. Knead vigorously. This dough is seriously stiff. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.

Pinch off nickel sized balls (the book said chestnuts, but I can’t say I can estimate a chestnut). Place the ball on a floured surface. Push down with two fingers, and then drag your fingers across the surface. You get a flat canoe-like pasta.

buckwheat pasta

Boil the pasta.

Dress with pickled radishes, soy sauce, pickling juice, olive oil, steamed summer squash, and sautéed radish greens.

I am sending this over to Presto Pasta Nights started by Ruth of 4 Every Kitchen and hosted by Amy of Very Culinary.

I am also sending this one on to Two for Tuesdays from Girlichef and Real Food Wednesdays from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Handmade Pasta -- Lasagnette with roasted vegetables

So for you is it late at night? In the car? When you brush your teeth?

By that, I mean, when does stress hit you the worst. For me, the stress usually hits me right after the kids have gone to bed. I saddle up to the sofa, my mind ostensibly focused on the cup of tea and relaxation that is about to ensue. As the tea steeps to perfection, the stress begins to seep out of the deep recesses of my mind. First it comes in dribbles. My shoulders tense. I curl and uncurl my toes. I stretch out my limbs like a cat. At which point, my feeble mind begins to search for the source of the stress—work, work, work, family, money, work…? I begin considering how to deal with the source of the stress—but then, quickly disillusioned, I look for diversions. This is when I start searching for enablers. Friends lurking on Facebook with whom to strike up a chat; the amazing mind/ time suck that is Twitter; and then the most dangerous of all— That one click shopping is an evil force, like a kindly librarian crossed with a drug pusher. One particularly stressful evening I found myself fantasizing about picking up the family and travelling through Italy to learn about artisanal pasta. I started to imagine our tiny little gypsy wagon and the quaint meals we would share in our cozy abode. In the end, I have too much of the bourgeois in my soul to chuck it all away. I am of the sort who approximates these far flung fantasies. (Knowing yourself is half the battle in life.) So, back to that evil, evil kitten Within seconds, I was the proud owner of the Encyclopedia of Pasta and Silver Spoon Pasta. All of a sudden, the stress disappeared and my mind was lost in reverie of flour.

And so began our weekly handmade pasta adventures.

One of our first was lasagnette… The example in Silver Spoon was potatoes and flour dressed in butter. You can see why this was our first choice. Carbs with carbs with butter and joy.


I can’t say I have a recipe (and I didn’t follow the one in Silver Spoon either.) I baked 3 large blue potatoes & 1 medium baking potato. Learn from my mistake--use only white potatoes. The blue just makes the lasagnette a sad, sick grey blue. It is the sort of color that you expect for DMV walls not dinner. When the potatoes are still so hot that they seared off my fingerprints, I peeled and mashed them. I then added 2 cups all purpose flour by the ½ cup amounts. Then finally I added 2 beaten eggs, 2 egg yolks, splash of milk, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Final, I played with the consistency by adding flour and water accordingly until a firm but supple dough resulted. After a one hour rest, we kneaded a bit; patted the dough down; and then gave it a final roll. This dough kind of makes me think of how your tongue feels when you get Novocain. But it with a ravioli cutter into wide strips. Boil in plenty of hot water for a few minutes after they pop up at the surface of the water. Then dress with browned butter, parmesan and roasted seasonal vegetables. Don’t be stingy with the salt. We served this with slowcooker turkey breast and gravy. It was like Thanksgiving in July.

I am sending this lasagnette to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Siri at Siri's Corner and run by Ruth for For Every Kitchen.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Oven Roasted Mango Hummingbird Cake

I always thought it was strange that I got an ice cream cake for my birthday. I wasn’t a big fan of ice cream. And, my birthday is dead in the middle of the coldest part of the Northeast Ohio winter. I kind of imagine it started with my pleas. I must have had ice cream cake at some warm sunny summer party and then begged my mother for the cake through the dog days of summer. My mom must have held onto my desire, waiting patiently, until she could make good. This was the tradition my mother had chosen for me. I probably could have stopped this train, but why?

Then there was the tradition I chose. When I became school age, I learned of the expression “birthday treat.” Girls were allowed to bring their favorite dessert on their birthday. (It’s not as if boys were fed bread and water—it was a girl’s school.) Most of these mothers stayed home, or worked in a more social sense. So, the desserts were handmade. There were cupcakes with tiny pink flowers, brownies with nuts, and even baklava. With my birthday almost halfway through the school year, I had taken a mental tally of what would be the most prized dessert. These were the sorts of things upon which first grade reputations are made. It needed to have mass appeal. Chocolate was in order—obviously. But, chocolate cupcakes could be so, well, simple. There needed to be more. I wouldn’t say nuts. That was the sort of thing that divides an audience. There are those for whom the nuts are a welcome surprise, and then there are the other half who feel put out to have their teeth accosted by the change in texture. And, I wouldn’t say anything with fruit. Noone, I mean no one, brought fruit desserts for their birthday—they had the vague ring of nutritional soundness. Really the goal was to up the sugar content of the dessert. In the end, I went with chocolate cupcakes filled with marshmallow fluff and topped with chocolate frosting. I can still taste those cupcakes after all these years. If you asked me tastes like my birthday, what was my birthday tradition, well, I can almost hear the clink of the butter knife against the empty glass jar of fluff.
So, this week with Tigerlily’s birthday, I have been thinking what will be her tradition? Born in the dead heat of the summer, with fruit at its best, I decided to make a sort of Hummingbird cake. I used roasted banana, peaches and mangos—all oven-roasted until their skins blackened. Mango is delicious in all forms, but roasting them in the oven, turns them into a rich jam. Tiger loves mango. She storms around mouth open clucking loudly like an irate chick when she sees you cutting into one. It seemed a fitting choice; a good way to start a tradition. If fifteen years from now, we have Humminbird cake, and she asks me why, will I remember this? Who knows? She will probably say to her from friends, I have no idea why my crazy mom makes this cake.

So, next year at this time, will I be slicing into six layers of heaven again? Considering the scores of January ice cream cakes I have eaten, maybe.

Roasted Mango Hummingbird Cake

based on a recipe from Saveur magazine
In a 400 degree oven, roast:
2 white peaches
2 large mangos
2 small bananas
Peel the fruit, deseed peaches and bananas, and combine in a blender. Should make about 4 cups fruit pulp. The combination should be mostly mango, so pick your fruit accordingly, or add aam ras/ mango pulp if necessary.

In a stand mixer, combine:
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp saffron, crushed
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten (or Ener-G equivalent)
1 cup pineapple, dicely finely
2 cups fruit puree
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Pour the mixture into two 9-inch round springform pans lined with parchment paper and then greased and floured. Bake the cakes for 1 hr at 350.

Then make another round of batter:
4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/3 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp saffron, crushed
1 1/3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
scant 1 1/3 cup sugar
scant 1 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten (or Ener-G equivalent)
1 T flaxseed
1 1/3 cup pineapple, dicely finely
2 2/3 cups fruit puree
1 1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

This time pour the batter into 3 pans. Bake the cakes for 1 hr at 350.

Cool the cakes for 2 hours. Then cut each layer in half. Frost each middle layer. You will use ½ of the frosting for the interiors, and ½ for the exterior. Chill after the crumb coat and then finish with the decorations.

Combine in a stand mixer: (you might need to do this in 2 batches.)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6- 8-oz. packages cream cheese,
cut into 1" cubes, chilled
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp saffron soaked in 1 T milk
5 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

I am submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging with Mango as the highlighted ingredient. I came to cooked mango later in life. As a kid I thought it was criminal to mess with the firm sweetness. But, I really appreciate the complicated flavor of cooking or even roasting mango.

This week WHB is hosted by Lynne from Cafe Lynnylu and run by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything