Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mango Peanut Salad


I saw a similar recipe in the current issue of Cooking Light. Only theirs had meat in it, which was never going to sell around here because . . . Ewww, touching! But we had a case of unripe mangoes, so I made it a couple of times as a side dish. For company, spend a few extra minutes arranging it. For the kids, not so much. 
Mango Peanut Salad
6-8 ounces of spring mix
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves, rough chopped
1 large or two small mangoes, cubed
3 shallots, sliced thin
1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons peanut butter
juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons palm sugar (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce (or a pinch crushed red pepper)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together the peanut butter, lime juice, peanut oil, water, palm sugar, sriracha and salt. It should taste intensely salty and sour. If it doesn't, fix it. Add more salt/oil/lime juice.

Family Dinner Method: Dump everything in a bowl and toss it. Insist there are no onions, only shallots. Ignore commentary.

Company Method: Toss the lettuce and all but a tablespoon of the cilantro and mint together so that you don't end up with a giant ball of minty salad dressing. Pour on the dressing and toss together. Arrange the mangoes in a circle on top of the lettuce, top with a smaller circle of peanuts, and then a smaller circle of onions. Sprinkle the remaining herbs over. Take a photo for posterity.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Plum Cake

If you're a person who feels that the purpose of cake is to convey the frosting to your mouth in polite company, this cake isn't really for you. If you'd like something to serve with whipped cream after dinner, here it is. And if you're the person who is looking for an excuse to eat cake for breakfast the next morning, then Hello, Baby!

Plum Cake
3 small plums, thinly slice
11 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 eggs
Baking spray with flour
Parchment paper
8" or 9" round cake pan
The good news is that the batter comes together in five minutes. The bad news is that the fruit layer is sort of fiddly.

Trace the outline of your cake pan on the parchment, and cut a circle just inside the line you've drawn. Line the pan and spray the whole thing with baking spray.

Microwave the sliced plums on high for about a minute and fifteen seconds to soften them. You can skip this step, but your cake won't be as pretty because the plums won't be flush to the parchment. I arranged my plums in concentric circles. If you want rows or one spiral - it's a free country. But do try to press the pattern as flat as possible so that no batter seeps under the fruit.

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar for two minutes. Beat in the flour and salt, before adding the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Spoon the thick batter over your plums, spreading it gently with a small spatula so you don't move the fruit.

Bake at 350 (325 convection) for about an hour and five minutes. I prefer mine very crusty, so I left it in for ten minutes longer. Rest the cake on the counter for five minutes, before inverting it and peeling off the parchment. You'll want to do this very carefully, and with a small knife in hand to ease off any slices of plum that stick to the paper.

What did you have for breakfast?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lamb and Feta Lasagna


Let's say it upfront: Lasagna is a giant pain in the ass. It takes at least an hour and involves a dozen dirty dishes. Lasagna will not make you skinny. Your hair will smell like fried onions.

On the other hand: You can make lasagna whenever you have an hour, and refrigerate or freeze it until you need dinner. Pretty much everyone likes lasagna. And your hair will smell like fried onions, if you're into that kind of thing.

So, here's a variation on a dish I saw in March's issue of Cooking Light. Don't worry - I put back all the fat. If you're on a diet, have a salad instead.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lazy Blueberry Pie

Several years ago, I made a weird but wonderful fruit pie. It had a single pressed crust and went into the oven in less than half an hour. Of course, I immediately forgot which cookbook it came from. Maybe it was called "Lazy French Housewife's Tart?"

Five years later, I happened back upon it, there on page 433 of the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook: "French Fruit Cake." Come on, now! Who's going to remember that?

Let's call it Lazy Blueberry Pie and be done with it.