Saturday, March 29, 2008

Anacardiace-cake and Stuff-I-Bought-at-Whole-Foods Salad

Eventually, I am going to post recipes on here. As I wrote in the summer, even though I don't think I have the time/ambition/ability to maintain a food blog, I want to post some of the recipes I invent on here if nothing else so that I remember them. All too often I make something up, it's great, and then I don't write it down and I forget it and the recipe is lost forever.
For a surprise guest from France and a big family dinner, I made a cake which I conceived solely based on the idea that pistachios and mango would go together...just because they are in the same family. I have no idea if this same family thing really works (apples and rosehips? peppers and tomatoes? cashews and poison ivy?! potatoes and nightshade!?!?!?) but I became fixated on the idea...and we have a surplus of pistachios in the house (thanks to Costco)...and so I decided that it would be my birthday cake for my birthday party but first, I would test the idea by making a prototype cake for my family. The prototype was good, but I feel like something was making it less than perfect (even though everyone in the family liked it, even my mom who hates mangoes) so I am going to wait until I perfect the recipe to post it.
Basically it's the same as the orange and ginger flourless cake on chocolateandzucchini.com, except I used pistachios instead of almonds and two mangoes, pureed with a handblender, instead of boiled oranges. Instead of lemon, I made the glaze with key limes (I think any old lime will work though.)
When I modify the recipe successfully I will post it, with a picture of the cake - the glaze makes it so pretty! The pistachios and the lime zest make it a pleasant green.
It's kind of a decadent cake. It's probably got a lot of fat - good fat, but still too much good fat is still too much fat! - and the ingredients are kind of expensive. So, it's not an everyday cake, but fun to have sometimes!

Anyway, something I will NOT post a picture of unlike decadent taxonomically appropriate cake is this salad I made for lunch with a bunch of stuff I impulse bought at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. I am constantly looking for grain-based salads that can be packed in a tupperware and brought to work/class--that can also survive several hours of non-refrigeration. My schedule has me out of my house for really long days - sometimes twelve hours days - and I don't want to buy food, I get sick if I go too long without eating, and I also get sick of egg salad and peanut butter and jelly.
Before I can post a true recipe, I have to figure out and standardize the ingredients. And figure out what can be substituted from a normal pantry for the fancy snob store stuff, and what is actually essential. Basically it was quinoa (or couscous, bulghur, whatever) with a can of tuna; dressing made from lime juice and lime zest, olive oil, some fancy schmancy oil bottle (a mix of coconut, macadamia, and palm oils with "African peppers"), and chopped shallot; whatever not-overpowering vegetable or green you have in the house; toasted unsweetened coconut; and almonds toasted with the unfortunately-named spice blend merken. Smoked paprika would probably work just as well. I also chopped up some chili-spiced dried mango from Trader Joe's and put that in, too. It was really good and really filling and probably healthy - which is all I want from a portable lunch. The lime, coconut, and surprisingly - canned tuna! - went really well together. Still, it was decidedly not a photogenic salad!

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