Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mango Smoothie from India for Republic Day (Mango Lassi)

Who knew there were smoothies as early as 1000 B.C.? They originated in the Punjab region of northern India (and Pakistan), where yoga was born.  It is perfect for hot weather (you didn't need me to tell you that), and is usually taken with lunch.The salty version includes cumin and yogurt, whereas the sweet version, sugar, fruit and maybe cardamom. Add turmeric, and you get a remedy for gastroenteritis, as well.

Republic Day, January 26th

In 1950, India's new constitution became official, thus turning the state into a republic. This day is celebrated with parades in the national and state capitals. In addition to the military displays, the different customs, dress and music of the diverse states in India are represented as well (you can find photos at

1 cup pureed mango
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup ice

Blend the mango, yogurt, milk, honey, and cardamom. Blend in the ice as well. Serve.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chinese Dim Sum Mango Mousse for Tea

The closest I've been to China is Chinatown, but I do often have a surplus of mangoes often.  And ever since I was introduced to a tea tasting tradition during my singing lessons, I keep many tea varieties at home--ginger, jasmine green, lavender, rooibos, chamomile, and others to honor my Irish roots (the Irish drink the most tea per capita in the world)... It thus seemed appropriate to place both together in a Chinese tea-tasting meal called "Dim Sum". 

Dim Sum stands for "touch the heart", and it means bite-sized portions of food that are served with Chinese tea. The tradition originated when people travelling back and forth from China to buy silk (a Chinese trade secret at the time) needed to rest during their journey. Teahouses appeared on the route to offer tea tasting (the very appropriately named "yum cha") opportunities for farmers as well. When the Chinese discovered that tea would help rather than hinder digestion, they began including small portions of food on the platters as well. In the Southern region, the Cantonese turned the tradition into a boisterous but fun experience, and Hong Kong chefs have declared it brunch, as they serve it from 6:30 a.m. to mid-afternoon. Nowadays, you can find frozen dim sum in the supermarket, or street dim sum on a skewer. 

As for the beverage part of this custom, it was discovered accidentally in 2737 B.C., when an emperor smelled the aroma created after a tea leaf blew into a pot of boiling water. Whereas the Chinese don't have as elaborate a ceremony as the Japanese do, they view it as a symbol of respect and follow some etiquette rules. When tea is served, it is customary to thank the waiter by gently tapping the cup with the index finger. If you want him/her to refill your pot with more boiling water, you can do so by lifting the lid and leaving it open.

Recipe from (the book "Dim Sum" by Ellen Leong)
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons gelatin
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups pureed mango
1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
1 cup whipping cream

Pour gelatin over 1/2 cup water. Add boiling water, then sugar. Mix in mango puree, then whipping cream. Place in ramekins or bowls and let set in the fridge. Decorate with mango slices. Cover the tops with saran wrap if you plan to leave them in the refrigerator for more than a day.

Coming up next:
Indian Mango Lassi for Republic Day, January 26th
Mauritian Banana Tart for February 1st
Chinese Fortune Cookies for the Chinese New Year in San Francisco, February 13th


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Papaya Pie from the Virgin Islands

A slice of papaya pie

I was a bit frightened--we were lost on a hilly dirt road in our little Chevy Aveo and I could see the precipitous drop to the side of a cliff beside my window. "Please, let's go back," I begged...
We returned to the main road, which was somewhat flat, and stopped at the first business we spotted.

"Welcome to the island" was the greeting we received from the head bartender at the Jolly Roger bar. He enjoyed a good laugh at our expense, after hearing about our misadventures upon arriving at the island. Quickly, he summoned one of the waitresses, who was going home, asking her to lead us to our hotel.

The following day, we would experience winding roads in daylight, a much more pleasant venture. The view of numerous islands out in the shining deep blue ocean improves the higher you climb. We also visited a centuries-old sugar mill, a sugarcane brewery, and pristine beaches in different locations.

Tufts of lavender shaped like pigs, whales, and other animals lie clumped on the blue porcelain bay. 

Lunar landscape within a papaya fruit

Recipe (adapted from )
3 medium papayas (6 cups or 3 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange extract or vanilla or 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
4 egg whites
1 baked pie crust

Remove peel and seeds from papaya. Chop into one inch cubes. Add lime zest, lime juice, and cinnamon. Next, add flour and sugar.  
Whip egg whites and fold them in. Place filling in baked pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

 Let cool. Refrigerate before serving.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Charcoal Candy for Epiphany

In Spain, the Three Kings' Day, or January the 6th, is the day presents are exchanged. They also promise misbehaving kids that they will receive charcoal on this date. Later, a candy that resembled charcoal was developed, and given to both well-behaved and badly behaved children, in small bags marked "charcoal".

Recipe from
70 grams Royal Icing (Beat 200 grams powdered sugar with an egg white and a few drops of lemons juice)
Black food coloring
700 grams granulated sugar
230 ml water

Mix a batch of royal icing, then add black food coloring. Set it aside. Mix sugar and water together in a saucepan, and when it reaches 130 degrees Celsius, remove from heat. Add black royal icing, and mix until it grows, deflates, and grows again. In that moment, place liquid candy in a silicone baking pan. When it grows hard,