Baking| Strawberry, Mascarpone & Chocolate Cakelets … attempted tryst with the RVC!!

“The secret lies in the love and the effort the maker puts into the creation. It really is a simple dessert to make. There’s nothing to it.”

Maria Olivas
There comes a time when we heed a certain callWe Are The World the song plays in the background all the time. It’s the recent remake for Haiti that the daughter loves to hear over and over again. It’s amazing how a song sung for charity way back in 1985, penned by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, can be resung by a whole new star-caste after a gap of 15 years for Haiti and still evoke such tremendous passion …

Similar emotions currently apply to my passion with strawberries, and it was time to heed a certain call to experiment with the red velvet cake (RVC) again. You may recall I recently posted a Red Velvet Roulade which achieved it’s characteristic red colour from the red in a bottle,  although just 1 tbsp and not the whole bottle as many RVC’s have. I’ve had it on my mind to try a natural food colour extract, and strawberries were something I wished to experiment with. Unfortunately, it was near impossible to get that deep red colour. So it ended up being a pink velvet cake!

A PINK VELVET SPONGE it was, and delicious in every bite. It was our 15th wedding anniversary on the 6th of March, and the last 2 weeks have been tiring beyond belief. To add to it, junior has had soccer for the last 2 weekends and somehow time has flown by in a tizzy. I did want to make a Chestnut Cake with the vital ingredients that Jamie had brought for me to the FBC in London, but woe begone me … for once, I had no time at all. This was our first wedding anniversary when I didn’t bake ourselves a cake!

I did make something sweet however! I had on hand my experimental PVC (eeeks, sounds like plastic!!) headed for dessert, and some homemade mascarpone. Strawberry season ensures plenty of fresh strawberries in the fridge all the time. I’ve just finished bottling 3 jars of strawberry conserve, the recipe of which I have yet to share with you. We are now looking at the end of strawberry season here, so I’m trying to make the most of it. No dismay though because hot on its heels are stone fruit! YES, I impatiently await them!!

Back to these sweet little cakes, little beauties that were perfect. The marriage of strawberries and mascarpone is a classic one, one that in beautiful in every respect. Place the sensual combination on a cut out strawberry sponge cake, paint it with some melted strawberry conserve (homemade),  grate some chocolate over … chill for a few hours, and you’ve created magic! Yes, it was that good.

THAI GREEN CURRY…inspired by RED!

“Red is obviously such a stimulating color, and it has so many connotations.”
P. J. Harvey

It’s nice to be inspired by colour, & it’s sometimes amazing the wonders it can work on your food. Saw this month that Click was back, & the theme for the month is RED. Everywhere I looked I saw red. The tomatoes sang to me, the red chilies called my name, & the bell peppers enticed me no end. Of course I couldn’t resist picking up some yellow peppers too, but have to say, ‘there’s something about RED’!!
Red has more personal associations than any other color. Recognized as a stimulant red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element.This picture above is my entry CLICK: January 2009 (Red) @ Jugalbandi
Am sure you are wondering what an elephant has to do with the curry! Actually it is my association with Thailand. In the early nineties, I used to go to Bangkok often with my bunch of gal pals from work. We often stayed at the YWCA, & invariably spent every night gallavanting the night bazaars for nick nacks, silver etc. This is an opium pipe I picked up on one such trip. The intricacy of workmanship & the detailing intrigued me no end. I am still charmed by this piece every time I look at it! On a relatively free morning, I clicked with the peppers for a while, & then decided it was time to put the red bell pepper to better use. Red reminds me of curries, hot & finger-licking good curries, but this time I had a Thai Green Curry on my mind. There are curries, & then, there are more curries. Curry is a word that has become synonymous with Indian food. It is said to be India’s culinary export to the UK, which is fast becoming the curry capital of the world. For a really welcome change, there is Thai curry – red, as well as green. My sis from Houston had sent me a recommended recipe a while ago, & I couldn’t wait to get started. This Thai curry recipe came ‘tried & tested’, with substitutions for fish sauce, because the sis knows pretty well I’ll never use fish sauce. It was everything it promised to be…& more! A green curry from scratch, as hot or as mild as you like it, with the option of spicing it up with some bottled green curry paste. The boy said it was nice, the daughter cannot stand coconut & didn’t take to it … but we, the adults, loved it. Next time I intend to add more veggies (more baby corn, & maybe mushrooms), or make a veggie/cottage cheese (or tofu) version. Try Thai for a change…
Thai Food and Cooking by Judy BastyraIn the cooks words …” Virtually every Thai cook has their own recipe for curry pastes, which are traditionally made by pounding the ingredients in a mortar with a pestle. Using a food processor or blender just makes the task less laborious.”

THAI GREEN CHICKEN CURRY
as adapted from Thai Cooking and Food by Judy Bastyra
Ingredients:
Green Onions – 4, with 4-5″ stalks; roughly chopped
Coriander – 1 bunch
Ginger – 1″ piece
Garlic – 4 cloves
Green chillies -1-2
Coconut Milk – 400ml
Worcestershire sauce – 1 tsp (as a substitute for fish sauce)
Chicken tenders – 1/2kg; cut into bite sized pieces (or tofu/firm cottage cheese)
Thai green curry paste – 1 tsp, optional
Red bell pepper – 1; diced
Baby corn – 8-10; sliced 1/2″ diagonal pieces
Green pepper/capsicum – 1; sliced
Green onions -2-3; sliced diagonally
Kafir limes leaves – 2-3, crushed (I used 2-3 leaves off my lime tree)
Lemon grass stalk, bruised (or zest of a lemon)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste Method:

  • Grind the first 5 ingredients with 2-3 tbsps of water to make the green curry paste, & reserve in a bowl.
  • Heat 2-3 tbsps in a pan, & saute chicken till brown. Remove from pan, & keep warm in a bowl.
  • In the remaining oil, add the veggies & stir fry on high for 3-4 minutes, followed by the green curry paste (both, if using bottled paste too). Stir fry again for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add reserved browned chicken, Worcestershire sauce, kafir lime leaves & coconut milk, & season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, & simmer for 10-15 minutes, until curry thickens. Adjust seasoning if required.
  • Add the lime juice & serve hot over steamed rice. I didn’t have Thai jasmine rice, but it tasted great over steamed basmati too!

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