Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lime Mousse

This recipe came from The Silver Palate Cookbook. I'm on the second copy of this wonderful cookbook and it's covered with food splatters and comments written on the margins. Next to this one I wrote: “Oh, my God! This is too wonderful!”

This recipe is a tried and true masterpiece and I've made it many times. It's one of my husband's favorites. It's silky smooth and refreshingly tart, making it a great finish to just about any meal. Impress your friends . . . or butter up your husband, next time you need the kitchen ceiling painted . . .

Here's the recipe:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) sweet butter
5 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup fresh lime juice (7 or 7 limes)
grated zest of 5 limes
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream, chilled
  1. Melt butter in the top part of a double boiler over simmering water.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl until light and foamy. Add mixture to melted butter. Cook gently, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes a custard, about 8 minutes. Do not overcook or eggs will scramble.
  3. Remove custard from heat and stir in lime juice and grated zest. Cool to room temperature.
  4. This step is unorthodox but crucial. Using an electric mixer, whip chilled cream until very stiff—almost, but not quite, to the point where it would become butter.
  5. Stir lime custard into whipped cream until just incorporated. Pour into 8 individual glasses or a serving bowl. Chill for at least 4 hours.
8 portions (or 6 large ones if you can't seem to find your other two glasses . . . )

And, yes, I still have more limes . . .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tea Bread Tuesday: Lime Bread

What else? I still need to use up all those limes!

The recipe was quite simple:

For the bread:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
the grated zest of 2 large limes (1½ teaspoons)
the juice of 1 lime
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Half and Half
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

For the glaze (optional, I did not make it):

2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add lime juice, grated lime zest and eggs; beat well. Combine dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternating with the Half and Half until it's all incorporated into the batter. Fold in the nuts. Pour into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for about five minutes, invert and place in serving platter.

Make glaze by combining the confectioner's sugar and enough lime juice to desired consistency. Drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely.
* * * * * * * *
This bread was absolutely delicious. I chose not to make the glaze because I wanted to keep it light and not too sweet. I loved it. I think next time, though, I will try it with the glaze just so I can have a second viewpoint.

I sat in the backyard with my cup of coffee and a slice of bread . . . and savored a perfect summer day . . .

Monday, July 26, 2010

Of mangoes and perseverance

Little did my husband know, when he presented me in 2005 with a copy of “CUBA: A History in Art” by Gary R. Libby, that he was about to unleash a stalker. The book, published by The Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona, Florida, showcases their fabulous collection of Cuban art depicting works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

The still life shown on the very cover brought back a lovely memory from my childhood. My uncle, who was an artist, made a copy of this famous oil, and it hung prominently in the dining room of my grandmother's house. As a child, I was drawn to this painting. I actually remember sitting in a rocker just staring at it (what can I say, I was a rather peculiar child). The memory had become hazy in the many intervening years, but when I saw it in the book, I felt like I had been sucker-punched. I had to have a copy of this print.

What followed was a five year exchange of e-mails between the director of the museum and myself. The museum experienced repeated delays as they worked out the logistics of getting their online store up and running, and then figured out how to mass-produce these lithos. But finally, last month, my tenacity was rewarded: I was able to order the prints.

Certainly, even without my interference, the museum would have eventually offered these prints to the public for sale. But I feel I can take a teensy bit of credit, seeing as the prints on their store happen to be the ones that were of interest to me . . .

My son, John, who works in the Framing Department at JoAnn's, framed them for me. He chose a slightly distressed black wooden frame with a beading detail on the inside border. The beading echoes the texture of the sweet apples on the left print. He double-matted them, with a wide white linen mat and a second soft black mat that relates to the color of the frame and the spots on the mangoes. The prints are the same size as the originals, with the one on the right being slightly smaller.

The still lifes were painted in the European tradition, but the use of tropical fruits, and the outdoor setting of the arrangements, give them a unique New World twist, and, they feel very sensuous to me.

The left one is called “Still Life with Mangoes and Sweet Apples.” The one on the right (my favorite) is called “Still Life with Oranges, Cocoanut (as spelled in the book), Cashew Apples, Canistel, White Sapote and Mamoncillos.” They were both painted in 1932 by Juan Gil García.

These photos are terrible, but I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the glare from the facing window, and I was too impatient to wait.
You can take the girl out of the tropics, but you can't take the tropics out of the girl . . .

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More lime fun!

When's the best time to drink daiquiris? Summertime! Especially when you have 47 limes sitting on your kitchen counter waiting to be put to use . . .

The daiquiri is Cuba's most famous contribution to the cocktail hour. Its invention can be traced back to La Floridita, an ale house in Old Havana. According to Mary Urrutia Randelman, author of “Memories of a Cuban Kitchen,” the drink grew in popularity before it had a name. One night, a passerby asked the elderly black gentleman who sold newspapers outside the bar if “that drink” was served inside. The man, using a phrase once common among African slaves, replied: “Ah, da kirie” which means simply: “Yes, sir.” And so, the daiquiri was christened.

I had a dream last night that limes were following me around the house . . .

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I may have gone a tad overboard . . .

But who could resist this bounty? Twenty limes for $1 at Caputo's - my favorite grocery store! I bought sixty.

First, I dropped a wedge of lime in some fizzy water to cool off after my shopping expedition . . .

Then I made some fresh salsa . . .

And it's only Saturday! I have a whole lot of Sunday to think up more uses for these refreshing little wonders . . .

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tea Bread Tuesday: Mango Bread

As far as I'm concerned, this week's finding was a complete success: I've learned the correct way to cut up a mango! Laugh if you like, but I always thought that you ate mangoes leaning over a sink, with lots of paper towels to catch the juice drippings. I'm not kidding! I could never get those beautiful slices that I saw in cooking magazines, even when I was starting out with a superb specimen!

Then, I found this wonderful cookbook, "¡Cuba Cocina!" by Joyce Lafray and she has, hands down, the best instructions on how to cut a mango correctly that I have ever seen. It figures that she isn't Cuban. Most of my Cuban relatives just assume that everyone is born knowing how to cut a mango, like, its part of the Cuban genetic code or something. I mean, duh, it's so simple! (NOT!). So, for about a day I walked around like I held the secrets of the universe . . . and then, I don't know why, I googled “How to Cut Up a Mango” and . . . guess what I found? Yup, a bunch of links showing the very technique I just discovered. I can't begin to describe how upset this made me. First, I no longer had a secret, second, why did I never come across this information before???? Arrgh!!!

This is kind of a big deal to me. I wouldn't be at all interested in say, how to cut up a prickly pear. I didn't grow up with prickly pears, but mangoes are another story! I have been literally indulging in a secret love affair with this fruit. I mean, who wants to get caught with yellow juice dripping down the chin? I'd wait until the kitchen (or the Break Room at work) was empty to make a pig of myself. Well, at least now I can come out of this fruit closet.

Anyway, going back to the Mango Bread, it was O.K. The bread was beautifully golden, and was very moist, in part thanks to the sour cream in the batter, but it didn't have a distinct mango flavor. I can think of better, and simpler ways to enjoy the taste of mango . . .

Here's the recipe if you want to try it:

1½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
5½ tablespoons butter or margarine
2/3 cups granulated sugar
½ cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe mango pulp
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8½ x 4½ x 2½-inch loaf pan.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter, sugar and sour cream in a mixing bowl. Beat the mixture at medium speed until fluffy and light. Blend in the flour mixture alternately with the mango just until smooth. Add the nuts and raisins and pour into the greased loaf pan. Bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a dry crumb. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully run a sharp thin knife around the inside edge of the pan, then carefully shake the loaf onto the rack. Finish cooling.
Makes 1 loaf.

Friday, July 16, 2010


My mother would have been 83 years old this week. She was a music-filled woman who loved to dance, and sang with a clear alto voice. We grew up hearing the danzonete - a danzón, the official dance of Cuba, with an added vocal part. She would have recognized this piano version, and would have begun swaying to its rhythm.

¡Felíz cumpleaños, mami, querida!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tea Bread Tuesday: Zucchini Bread

For this week's tea bread, I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks: The Silver Palate Cookbook. Unfortunately, this is one of the rare times when a recipe from this trusted source did not turn out as well as I hoped. The bread rose and then sunk in the center, and looked quite ugly when it came out of the oven. It was also too oily and heavy. Lastly, the recipe called for one teaspoon of ground cloves, but for my taste, a half teaspoon would have been plenty.

I took some to work today and it flew off the plate. I received many nice compliments about it, but frankly, my only other competition was the Break Room vending machine . . .

I cut the slices in half and picked the best pieces for the presentation below . . . Shh! Don't tell anyone, O.K.?

Here is the recipe, for those who, like me, are perennially curious . . .

1 tablespoon sweet butter
3 eggs
1¼ cups of oil
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated unpeeled raw zucchini
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cups shelled walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
2. Beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until light and thick. Fold grated zucchini into oil mixture.
3. Sift dry ingredients together. Stir into zucchini mixture until just blended. Fold in the walnuts.
4. Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool slightly, remove from pan, and cool completely on a rack.

1 loaf

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Look who's back!

Hello, my friend! I've missed you!

Here's a refreshing summer drink . . .

No artificial ingredients . . .

Have I mentioned that I love summer . . . ?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad

You will become a beet lover, just as I did, when you try this salad! This is Fran's recipe, an old friend who has contributed to my cooking repertoire . . .

Cut the tops and bottoms off the beets . . .

Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for an hour at 350°F . . .

Remove from the oven and let them sit for a bit until they have cooled enough to handle. Unwrap under running water and rub them to peel the skin off; it'll fall off without effort . . .
Slice them in thin rounds. Slice an onion into rings and alternate stacking slices of beets and onions into your serving bowl. Add extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (lately I've been using white balsamic vinegar), salt and pepper.

Optional: Add some crumbled blue cheese and some walnuts . . . Magnifique!

Or . . . make yourself a beet sandwich! I know, it sounds weird, but you've got to try it . . .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Year of Tea Breads

I just watched the film Julie and Julia. I know, where have I been? This is particularly sad because my first cookbook was “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and I love Julia Child's recipes, although I've never attemped to make every single one of them, like Julie in the movie does.

Instead, I am now inspired with a different goal: I will dedicate one day a week for the next year to making tea bread. I like tea breads. I like their simplicity, evoking everything good about home life: A rainy afternoon with a cup of tea and a slice of strawberry bread . . . a snowy January day with a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of apple bread . . .This concentrated effort is my attempt to make all of the tea bread recipes that I've collected through the years and never got around to trying out. So, that's 52 weeks, 52 recipes; a modest goal, compared to Julie's effort, but a realistic one for me. This feature will appear on the blog on Tuesdays - Tea Bread Tuesday. I hope you'll stop in and visit.

I'm so excited that this first entry, Blueberry Lemon Bread, also happens to be a winner!

The lemon flavor is subtle, it's not overly sweet, and the texture is fine. Very moist! I'll make this one again (but not this year).

I got this one from Here's the link:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Backyard barbecue with the red, white and blue!

The 4th of July is really a great holiday. I mean, what's not to like? For one thing, it takes place in the summer, so how bad could it ever be, even if it were to rain? But as it happens, this year we've had glorious weather! Here's my tribute to the day, gratefully enjoying some of the blessings of liberty.

This tower of cupcakes represents the combined efforts of my son, John and myself. I mixed the batter and filled the paper cups, he put them in the oven and took them out. I put on the white frosting but John didn't like the job I was doing with the colored gels so he took over the task himself (once an artist . . . ). A few months back we saw similar cupcakes at my brother's house (see posting from February 28, 2010). They were the inspiration for these . . .

The 3-tier stand is such a great multi-tasker; it's so practical!

The new outdoor flatware has been forever nicknamed “The Tornado Flatware” - a reminder of the day I bought it, after spending time in Pottery Barn's basement waiting for a tornado to pass . . .

The jacquard-woven napkins came from The Vermont Country Store catalogue. They are machine washable and iron like a dream . . .

These blue salad plates, with their sandy glaze, puts one in mind of the beach, don't they? I found them at Crate and Barrel . . .

Could these posies be any sweeter? The boxwood came from our bushes which, er, ahem . . . need a trim . . .

And here's the first course: Romaine salad with strawberries, mangoes, walnuts and crumbled blue cheese, tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Happy 4th of July! Be safe! Enjoy your loved ones!