Sweets

Banana Magic Cake

My husband recently introduced me to the wonderful thing that is Banana Magic Cake. The “magic” is due to its single batter that, when baked, becomes three distinct layers of varying textures. The top layer is fluffy and sponge-like, the middle is a gorgeous custard, and the bottom crust is decadently dense.
Although the cake is complex in texture, its flavor is mild enough to allow fun toppings. In this case, we used blueberry pie filling/topping mixed with fresh lemon juice to add some zing and cut through the sweetness.
This treat is a Jack of all Trades; it’s got tricks up its crust. It’s impressive in its looks but also resourceful in that it calls for overripe bananas and hardly any dish washing afterwards. I’m calling this dish, “Over-Achiever.”
Pair with a delicate Ceylon tea.
Sweets

Pistachio Cake with Cherry Almond Frosting

Supposedly, there are five love languages. They are: physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, and gift giving.

What they forgot to include was cake.

Recently, my husband built me a cake. It wasn’t my birthday; it wasn’t any particular day. Just a Monday. When I asked him, “What’s the occasion?” He simply shrugged and said, “I thought it’d make you happy.” Of course, he was right. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. So who wrote the Book of Love? My husband did.

The cake is made of white cake mix and pistachio-flavored pudding, which yields a cheerful sea foam green hue and scrumptiously moist texture. Its wonderful ballerina pink color comes from maraschino cherry juice combined with buttercream frosting and almond extract. Crushed pistachios top the cake giving it a bit of crunch and whimsy. I’m calling this cake, “Monday I’m in love.”

It’s a piece-of-cake pairing with cherry black tea.

 

Sweets

Raspberry Tarts with Dairy-Free Vanilla Custard

My 3 1/2 month-old son is quite the flirt. He’ll fix a steady gaze on you before he flashes a gummy smile, wrinkles his nose, and squeezes his shoulders up to his ears. He is generous with his charm and will effortlessly woo family, friends, and strangers alike. Day by day, he adds to his seduction repertoire as his ability to engage with people becomes more intricate. While melting hearts left and right, he’s slowly breaking my heart.
Alas, past that sweet, benign twinkle in his eyes, there are woeful things in store for this mama. For there will come that day when his gaze will linger a while longer on someone extra special, and I’ll have to bust out my third-degree interrogation list for the unworthy date he brings home.
Why, yes, I am bound to be one of those moms. But before I lose any more hair over it (I’ve lost plenty already — postpartum life is really somethin’), I’m going to savor the affection that he has for me now.
And the flirtation continues. Lionel has recently learned how to blow “kisses” (raspberries), which inspired me to make a raspberry dessert. A jewel-like raspberry sits sweetly atop luscious vanilla custard and a buttery pie crust. I’m calling this dish, “Heartbreaker.”
Enjoy this delicate sweet treat with chamomile tea.
Ingredients for the vanilla custard  (Recipe adapted from Ashley Adams at The Spruce)
2/3 cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cornstarch
2 ½ cups plain almond milk
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
You’ll also need
  • Raspberries
  • Sieve/sifter
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Muffin pan/mini tart pan
  • Small dish
  • Small saucepan
  • Heatproof dish
  • Plastic wrap
Instructions
In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar and salt. In a small dish, combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of almond milk. Mix until dissolved.
Add the cornstarch mixture, remaining almond milk, and eggs to the saucepan, and whisk together. Over medium heat, stir constantly until mixture thickens. Bubbles will begin to form on the surface.
While stirring, turn down the heat to low and cook for about 1 more minute.
Pour the custard through a sieve into a heatproof dish and stir in the vanilla extract. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard, and chill at least 2 hours.
Scoop the custard into the cooled pastry/pie cups. Top with a raspberry, and enjoy!
Sweets

French Macarons with Berry Filling

As a gift to me for my first Mother’s Day, my husband took on a baking challenge that has always intimidated me: French macarons. Those vibrant, perfect little cookie sandwiches make me squeal with delight at the very sight of them. It’s difficult for me not to use the words “cute” and “whimsical” when describing macarons. They’re almost cartoon images that have popped out of a children’s picture book — perhaps straight from the Mad Hatter and Hare’s tea table. Macarons place me in that “too pretty to eat” dilemma, and the ones that my husband made were no exception.

He not only succeeded in achieving the gorgeous “feet,” or ruffles on the edges, but also a sheen on the cookies that made them resemble jewels. They had a fluffy, marshmallow-like softness combined with a gentle crunch from the ground almonds. The slightly tart blueberry butter cream was a pop of fruity flavor with the mildness of the almond meringue.

The French macaron now represents for me the essence of motherhood: It requires patience, technique, and constant attention. It’s simple yet complicated. It’s delicate. And it brings so much joy. My husband lovingly calls this dish, “Macamom.”

Pair with a fruity black tea.

Recipe adapted by Elaine Lemm at The Spruce

Yields

12 macarons

Ingredients

1 cup icing (powder) sugar

1 cup ground almonds

2 medium egg whites

Small pinch salt

¼ cup caster (fine) sugar

For the filling:

1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup icing (powder) sugar

2 tablespoons blueberry fruit spread

You’ll also need

Sifter/sieve

Electric mixer

Large mixing bowl

Piping bag with 1 cm nozzle

Baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Parchment paper with drawn-in circles to use as a template

Cooling rack

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300.

Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds into a large mixing bowl. Combine well.

In the electric mixer bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Add the fine sugar a little at a time, and whisk until the whites are very thick and glossy. Gently stir in the icing sugar and almond mixture. The mixture will lose some air, which is normal. Add food coloring.

Fill the piping bag with the macaron mixture. Pipe small amounts onto the sheet remembering that the mixture will spread a little. Gently tap the baking sheet a few times on your work surface to help pop any air bubbles. Let dry for 20 minutes, or until the surface of the macaron becomes smooth and shiny.

Bake the macarons in the oven for 7 – 8 minutes. Open the door to release steam, close and bake for another 7 – 8 minutes. The macarons are ready when they appear firm and are slightly risen. Slide the parchment paper with the macarons onto a wire cooling rack and cool thoroughly. Do not remove the macarons from the paper until they are cold, or they will break.

For the Filling:

Beat the softened butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Add fruit spread, or any flavorings. Place 1/2 a tsp of the filling to the flat side of one macaron and sandwich together with another. Twist the cookies slightly to create a bond. Continue with the remaining macarons.

Savories

Cucumber and Roasted Vegetable Sandwich

This year I’ve joined the ranks of motherhood. As I navigate my way through it for the first time, I’m seeing my mom with a new set of eyes.
My mom: She’s not the warmest of people. She’s distant and pristine. Mysterious and proud. But then, despite her cool composure, she’ll surprise us with a feisty remark or a heartwarming gesture. She’s both hot and cold.
Still, I’ve never questioned her love for me. She shows her love quietly, but I know it’s a strong, unrelenting love. It’s the unique love of my mother.
So this tea sandwich is dedicated to my mom. Robust flavors working with mild. Creamy textures complementing crunchy. I’m calling it, “Matriarch.”
Pair the sandwich with a smoky green tea.
Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s to the women who have given us everything.
Ingredients
Roasted red and yellow bell peppers, minced
Seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
Vegan cream cheese
Bread
Instructions
Create a sandwich spread by mixing the minced bell peppers into the cream cheese. Spread onto the bread slices. Layer on the cucumber slices. Cut off the crust, and cut into rectangles or triangles.
Sweets

Lemon Blueberry Scones (Dairy-free)

For many freshman college students, college is the introduction to newfound freedom, heavy drinking, all-night partying, and the like.
I wouldn’t know anything about that. When I look back at my freshman year, I can smile and feel no regret because that’s when I was introduced to the scone. And it doesn’t get more exciting than that.
In dance class, I made friends with a student with whom I shared many a Starbucks beverage between classes. Back in the day, Starbucks carried an exquisite raisin scone. It was biscuity, dense, buttery, moist — everything I believe a perfect scone should possess. And I don’t even like raisins.
My friend often ordered a scone with her drink, and then I soon followed her lead. Before long, I became well-acquainted with the “Freshman 15” perhaps just on scones alone. But it was well worth it because the scone presented me with a whole new world of afternoon tea and tea culture.
I had long since lost contact with that friend, but my passionate relationship with scones remains strong. I call this dish, “Freshman 15.”
Pair with a fruity black tea. It will help cleanse the palate and enhance the sweetness of the scone.
Yields
7 large scones
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup dairy-free butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup water
You’ll Also Need
Sifter
Baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Large mixing bowl
Small bowl
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425.
Into a mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and lemon zest.
Add the “butter” to the flour mixture and break it into small pieces until pea-sized pieces remain.
In another bowl, combine the water and lemon juice. Place in freezer along with the buttered flour mixture for 15 minutes.
Remove both bowls from freezer and fold the blueberries into the buttered dry mixture. Add the water and lemon juice, and combine lightly.
Turn the dough out and flatten into a half-inch thick circle. Cut out desired shapes and place on lined baking sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve with clotted cream or enjoy plain.
Savories

Tuna Sandwich with Green Olives

IMG_20170509_123703A pastime that my husband and I share is binge watching fail videos on YouTube. I don’t know about my husband, but each time we laugh at another person’s misfortune I secretly say a little prayer that I don’t end up in one of those videos. Alas, I keep on watching and laughing.

One particularly memorable fail was on Wheel of Fortune when a contestant, hesitant yet convinced that he had the correct answer, blurted out a very bizarre phrase. I found the contestant’s heartfelt conviction of his answer especially hilarious. I shed tears from laughing so hard. It’s now a phrase that my husband and I spontaneously blurt out to each other for kicks.

This textured and flavorful tuna sandwich with its salty olives and mildly sweet bell peppers is for that Wheel of (mis) Fortune contestant. Props to him for believing wholeheartedly that “fish love” is really a thing. Accordingly, this sandwich dish is called, “Fish Love.”

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bINIsdojt6o

fishlove

Feel the love and pair with a light oolong tea.
Yields
2-4 servings
Ingredients
2 (6-oz.) cans of tuna, drained
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup green olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper, season to taste
Choice of bread (I used wheat)
You’ll also need
Large mixing bowl
Instructions
In the mixing bowl, combine tuna, olives, bell pepper, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Season with freshly ground pepper. Blend well.
Spread the tuna mixture onto bread and cut off the crusts. Slice the sandwich into triangles or rectangles, and serve.