Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

the king of fruits

Of course, because it’s me, there was Easter dessert. And it was not themed, either — not in terms of cuisine or holiday animals. (Read: there were no decorative bunnies or spring chicks.) No, instead I made a very yummy, near-summery mango and raspberry crisp.

I came to mango late in life. My first memory of tasting one links with my first week of college in New York: I was walking up Broadway toward Union Square with an enormous group of other freshmen (freshmen always travel in packs, don’t you know) and there was a woman hawking mango flowers. She shoved a whole fruit onto a stick, and after whacking it with a machete (or so has morphed in my memory) for 20 seconds, the skin was peeled and the succulent, juicy fruit carved into petals. It was as big and sweet as cotton candy. A mango lollypop flower.

It seems like mangoes have been cropping up everywhere in the last couple months. “Everywhere,” like “twice in the New York Times,” but bear with me. The recipes are gorgeously enticing. There was a mango tres leches cake the beginning of the month: a white cake buoyed by with whipped egg whites, soaked with a heavy cream/coconut milk/condensed milk sauce, and topped with a mousse-like mango cream and pureed mangoes. I’ve been dying to make it… and with less than ten days to go, I suppose I’d better heave-ho! And then just yesterday, a parade of recipes showcasing the so-called king of fruits: ginger-orange-mango smoothies, shrimp and mango tacos, mango rice pudding…

Well, there will be a time for all that. (Mangoes peak in the next two months.) Sunday night was crisp time. We so enjoyed them, their rich sweetness only deepened and accentuated by the cooking time and oatmeal-nut topping. I know you will too.

Mango Crisp with Raspberries

(Adapted from Cusine at Home magazine)

Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb fresh or frozen mango, diced into 1-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups, or about two mangoes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp quick cooking oats, or old fashioned oats pulsed in a food processor
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 4 tsp cold, cubed, unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss together mango, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, cornstarch, lime juice, and salt. Set aside.

Combine oats, 2 Tbsp sugar, and flour. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add walnuts and vanilla extract.

Divide mango mixture between two ovenproof ramekins or baking dishes. Sprinkle each with half the raspberries and top with oat mixture.

Bake until topping is golden and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

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eating easter

Easter to me will always mean Greek food. And not just because of the lamb, which doubles as traditional Easter fare and, I believe, the most prevalent meat in Greek cuisine (though that is a happy coincidence). It’s because I spent spring break during my semester abroad at a friend’s house in Athens. Four years later, it’s still what I want every Easter.

I didn’t have any particularly salient Easter memories to overwrite. Like many little kids, I spent the week before Easter watercoloring hardboiled eggs, and Sunday morning hunting for little green nests of Hershey’s eggs and my painted ones. But I usually had to be quick about it, or the cats would eat the plastic nest grass. At least they were clever? apathetic? easily distracted? enough to avoid the chocolate.

And so went most of my Easter memories: egg hunting, floral dresses, the true arrival of spring. They’re lovely memories, but there’s nothing especially monumental or ground-breaking about them. But walking from one church to another by candlelight at midnight on Holy Saturday, singing (or mumbling along to) traditional hymns in the company of the entire Greek village, followed by an elaborate one AM Greek feast? That sticks out. That memory has rooted itself very deeply, so the word Easter conjures up not so much visions of Peeps, Cadbury Eggs, and HoneyBaked Ham, as cravings for grilled lamb, blocks of feta cheese, tomatoes and cucumber and olives.

Okay, not so much the olives part. But the idea of olives.

Yesterday, Mr. Boyfriend was kind enough to go with the flow. So we started with some baked pita (incidentally, one of my favorite party tricks) and hummus, and followed with rosemary-rubbed lamb chops with a feta-yogurt topping, olive-less Greek salad, and basil-mint couscous. Not exactly traditional for here, but I think somewhere in the wide world (somewhere I wouldn’t mind being right about now… Mediterranean Sea, Acropolis and all), we’d have fit right in.

breakfast of champions

Last night, I dreamed I had been interviewed by a very friendly student at a graduate program and woke up feeling quite relieved. Then I realized the telephone interview had not yet taken place, and that it would certainly not be conducted by a jovial colleague only three years my senior. So I spent the morning rereading past essays and exhibition catalogs, reviewing college notes, and jotting down answers to potential questions, from the likely (“Why grad school? Why art history?”) to the slightly further out (the infamous “What is your greatest weakness?”).

Of course, because these are the questions I prepared, I wasn’t asked any of them. That’s just the way the world works. Slightly tangential variations on them yes, but also one question that hadn’t even occurred to me and left me grasping wildly for recent museum exhibitions to discuss. (Yves Klein! Marina Abramovic! Chagall at the Art Institute! Sure, now they come easily.) (It’s okay, though, I mentioned a couple in my thank you email. Nothing if not tenacious here, people.)

Otherwise, though, I think the chat went quite smoothly. I think I kept my manic nervous giggle thing to a minimum, a blessing for the both of us. And I talked about a Hans Grundig painting at LACMA and my interest in provenance research and Nazi looting, and probably, you know, not everyone can pontificate chat what something approaching knowledge about those things. So there’s that.

But you want to hear about these turnovers, don’t you? First of all, I am sad to report that they are not what I had for breakfast this morning. (That would be fruit. Law prom’s this weekend, you know, and puff pastry midweek isn’t exactly the wisest choice for me. The beginning of the week is, of course, a different foxhunt altogether.) (Name that TV show!) This is what I made for the morning of Valentine’s Day.

I hate when people say a complicated (at least, complicated-looking) dish just “fell together,” but I promise that this one did. I had some leftover dough from the rolling out the quiche crust and I had some unused puff pastry and cranberries hanging around the freezer. From there, I just had to buy a couple apples, slice an orange and dig the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg out of my pantry. I filled and sealed the turnovers on Sunday, refrigerated them overnight, and had only to bake them on Monday. They puffed up nice and golden (especially the puff pastry; who knew!?) and the piping hot filling was sticky and rich, sweet with a tart edge. Hey, it’s breakfast: it couldn’t be a total apple pie rip-off.

Apple-Cranberry Turnovers
(Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, who serves them as dessert and is erroneously overlooking their beautiful function as breakfast food)

For 8 turnovers

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/4 pounds tart apples, such as Granny Smith (about 3 apples)
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 handful fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Combine the orange juice and zest in a bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples, then cut into bite-sized pieces, less than an inch all around. Immediately toss apples with the orange to prevent browning. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and toss well.

Flour your work surface and roll each puff pastry sheet to a 12″ by 12″ square. Turn the pastry frequently to prevent sticking. Cut each square into quarters and keep cool until ready to use.

Brush the edge of each square with the beaten egg (or, if you’re like me, forget this step) and spoon about 1/3 cup of apple mixture into the center of the square. Top with several cranberries. (N.B. I added them last because I didn’t want their juices to run and make the entire turnover super tart.) Fold the pastry diagonally, over the filling, and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. At this point, you can refrigerate them overnight, or even freeze them for longer than that.

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange turnovers on a baking sheet and brush tops with beaten egg. Sprinkle each with a couple teaspoons sugar and cut two small slits in the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

be my valentine?


By Ji Lee, via the New York Times

Happy Valentine’s Day! And happy birthday to my Mommers, a Valentine Baby!

Our celebration started with yesterday local chocolates and a rose delivery, and carries on today with an apple pie (esque) breakfast and dinner at Devotay. I’m not baking dessert (or so I keep telling myself), but here are some things I would love to make, from some of my favorite food blogs and photography idols. Today’s all about sharing the love, after all. Click for the recipe.