Tag Archives: tropical

Pina Colada

Most people think of Saint Patrick’s day when the 17th of March rolls around but I’m reminded of my older sister, Cynthia’s, wedding anniversary.  Almost 40 years ago I was working in Puerto Rico with Delta Airlines and  being away from home had missed all the wedding planning and preparations.  Unable to leave work until the afternoon of the rehearsal dinner, I flew into Fort Lauderdale in time for the rehearsal dinner after-party which I was hosting.  This was almost 40 years ago, when tropical drinks were thought of as exotic and slightly dangerous.  My post-dinner party was to be a Puerto Rican pina colada celebration and I arrived well prepared.  My suitcase was loaded with small cans of Coco Lopez cream of coconut, a product almost unknown here in south Florida at the time, my blender and a blender I had borrowed from a friend.  I had boarded the flight with two handles of golden Puerto Rican rum…one in each hand.  My only instructions for Mama were to stock up on ice, pineapple juice and limes.  Knowing my flight would touch down at about the same time the dessert course was being served I had told Mama I would take a cab to the house; there was no need to send someone to fetch me.  The taxi driver helped me to the front door with all my goodies.  The house was quiet.  I opened the front door and gaily called out, “Hi, everybody!  I’m home!”  My eyes swept the high ceilinged living room and quickly accessed the mood.   Mercy.   Every guest was sitting quietly…politely…ram rod straight.  I turned to my little brother and sister and murmured their orders.  They understood the tragedy of a flat party and the importance of their chores.  Within minutes we had salsa playing, both blenders whirred away offering up a frosty concoction to the waiting crystal goblets which were whisked out of the kitchen and served to the waiting guests.  My brother Tommy, sister Pamela and I happily buzzed about the kitchen mixing batch after batch of rum drinks while enjoying the laughter, cocktail chatter and music from the rest of the house.  We all had a delightful time.  The following day the weather was glorious, the bride was beautiful and glowing and the wedding was exquisite.  We had done our jobs and done them well.  All these years later I wish you a happy anniversary, Cynthia and Wash!

If you’ve never tried making this cocktail at home you must.  This pina colada may be served over ice or with the ice blended in as with a “slushy”.  Either way you’ll find, unlike many mixed and served in bars, hotels and restaurants, it’s not too sweet and much lighter than the aforementioned drinks.  It is best mixed in your largest pitcher or an empty plastic gallon jug then chilled.  If you plan on serving the iced “slushy” version, pack your blender half full of ice, pour in the already mixed drink then blend until liquified.  This recipe doubles or triples well.  Your cocktail will also inspire tropical trade winds when garnished with fresh pineapple spear.  But beware.  They go down quite easily!

Pina Colada

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • the juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cream of coconut
  • 2 cups golden rum
  • 4 cups pineapple juice, canned is fine
  1. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a large pitcher and set in the refrigerator to chill until serving.
  2. Just before serving mix again then pour over ice or pour into blender half packed with ice and blend until liquified.
  3. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Advertisements

Mango Upside Down Cake…go South!

IMG_1927

Summer’s here.  We’ve put down our bourbons, pulled out the tequila and now our blenders are humming happily on our kitchen counter and poolside in our tiki huts.  Sunday nights find us with sunburned shoulders making lunches and gearing up to answer the 412 emails waiting for us at the office.  I’m already thinking, heck, dreaming of the weekend ahead.  I want pool time with my family and early morning workouts where I can marvel at creamy magnolias and gardenias with their thick, glossy leaves, brilliant bougainvillea and tropical orchids seemingly growing out of palm trees.

IMG_1868

And although my clothes are sodden with perspiration 15 seconds into the workout, the damp sheen on my skin gives me perverse pleasure.  I want plenty of local fish and vegetables on the grill, the soft “plop-plop” of flip-flops slapping my floors.  Weekdays I take advantage of two major sales at our grocery stores… mangoes and Haas avocados are in season and dirt cheap.  In this house, avocados are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Sliced and on the side, in salads, stuffed or made into guac, we love ’em.  Mangoes, too.  In salads, blender drinks or salsas,  but especially in this summer favorite… warm Mango Coconut Upside Down Cake served with vanilla ice cream slowly puddling in the bowl.

IMG_1861

My family loves this cake.  Loves it.  I’ve had to bake it three times for this post as the first two times the cake was eaten before I had a chance to take some pics.  My boys had had a couple of long, stressful days and this was their reward for persevering.  I added a bit of good rum to the butter brown sugar which intensified the caramel overtones and depth of the syrup.  The alcohol burns off but know the rum is optional.  The recipe calls for creamed coconut, a product found in the international aisle of your grocery store.  The texture of the creamed coconut is that of hard wax.  When ready to use, it is melted stove top with the coconut milk.  Creamed coconut is unsweetened, has tee-tiny bits of coconut meat and adds a richness to foods that is unparalleled.  I keep a box or two in my pantry and boost the flavor of soups and curries with it.  Within the small box, the creamed coconut is in a cryovac bag so it keeps fresh for a good amount of time.  You won’t really notice a coconut taste in the cake but rather a creamy, richness.

IMG_7601

This Mango Upside Down Cake shines with a fat dollop of freshly whipped cream atop or a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream speckled with vanilla beans.  I have found, though, that this cake is at it’s best when served warm.  If it is baked in a 10″ skillet, the pan must  have at least 3″ sides to avoid spill over.  A nonstick pan is fine, however, I don’t recommend cast iron as the rum and/or mangos may react to the metal.

Key Lime Pound Cake…one year later

Thanks architec TSP for making a lightweight whisk that produces a gorgeous, runny icing!
Thanks architec TSP for making a lightweight whisk that produces a gorgeous, creamy icing!

This cake.  One year later this cake is making a resurgence.  I never dreamed it would be so popular; it was viewed and shared by thousands all over the world.  I posted it as an applaud to my older sister, Cynthia, on her birthday.  The older we get the crazier I am about her.  We’ve both changed over the years; we’ve each had our triumphs and struggles but this cake need not change.  I baked it so many times…just yesterday for my life-long friend, Andrea, who had a rather important birthday to celebrate.  Our birthdays are a week and a half apart so we’re almost twins.  Our families lived one street away from each other, her brother and sisters went to school with my brother and sisters.  One of my earliest memories of Ange was when we were in 2nd or 3rd grade at East Side Elementary School.  Our teacher told us to take out our spelling books, a thin volume sporting a gray cover with stick people moving about happily and with purpose.  I clearly remember being pleased because spelling was one of my few strong suits.  The teacher droned on, “Class, please open your books to page…”, when all of a sudden, whoosh!  BLEAH!  From somewhere inside of me came an explosion of  vomit splattering all over my favorite text-book.  Banished to the infirmary I remember passing a woman from the janitorial staff in the hallway and feeling horrible that she had to clean up some little girl’s mess.  In the infirmary I lay on my bed, bored stiff and somewhat bothered, waiting for Mama to come pick me up.  I would be there quite a while as Mama was always notoriously late and it was so unnecessary as I felt fine.  Staring at the ceiling I let my thoughts drift when I realized there was a tapping sound being made.  More like a light knock and it was coming from the cubicle next to mine.  I whispered, “Who is it?”.  “It’s Andrea!”, she whispered back.  On tiptoe I excitedly stood up on the bed and peered over the metal divider wall.  There she was, scrawny ol’ Ange grinning right back up at me.  “What are ya doin’?”, I asked.  “Nothin’.”, she replied.  “Ya wanna jump on the beds?”, I asked.  With a twinkle in her eye she popped right up and answered, “YEAH!”.  And so we did.  Up and down we bounced and twirled, singing little songs and giggling until Mama came.  As we walked out I heard Andrea say to Miss Pickrell, the principal’s secretary, “I feel better now, Miss Pickrell, so I’m just gonna go back to class.”  “Okay, honey!” was all the secretary said.  And that’s how it’s always been.  Andrea is a strong and golden ray of sunshine in my life.  Always has been, always will be.  I make her laugh, she makes me laugh.   We tell each other how beautiful and sexy we are and, really, we are.  We wear hats…and well.  We lunch regularly.  Together we live the words, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”  To my fellow Pisces, my sister mermaid, on this, your 60th birthday, I send you love, laughter and Key Lime Pound Cake.

Key Lime Pound Cake with Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing

  • Servings: one cake
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  •  4 sticks butter, that’s 1 pound, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk, (I always keep a good number of those small, 5 ounce cans in my pantry.)
  • 4 teaspoons key lime zest, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°.  Cover inside of 10 inch tube pan with non-stick spray.  My pan is 10  1/2″ and it’s just fine.  Set aside.
  2. Using a stand-up mixer or electric hand-held, beat the butter well until light in color and fluffy.  Add the sugar and again beat well for at least 5 minutes.  I use a stand up mixer and beat the mixture 10-15 minutes.  I don’t like a “grainy” cake.
  3. One at a time add the eggs and beat only until the yellow disappears.
  4. Stir juice, milk, zest and vanilla together.
  5. Now mixing by hand, gradually flour to the butter-egg mixture alternating with the key lime juice and milk mixture.  Begin and end with flour.  Mix well but just enough to incorporate all ingredients.  You don’t want a tough pound cake!
  6. Pour evenly into the tube pan and tap pan on the counter to loosen any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes in the pan then transfer from pan to cooling rack and allow to cool another hour or until completely cool.

The cake is far better the following day or 2 days later.

Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons key lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Using a hand mixer beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well mixed.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat well until completely smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add key lime juice, zest and vanilla and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Ice cake.

This makes quite a bit of icing.  It’s runny and creamy, smooth and sweet but with the tartness we’ve all come to love and expect from Key Limes.  If you’re in an area where Key Limes are not available they’re easily replaced with 2/3 parts fresh lime juice and 1/3 part fresh lemon juice. After icing the entire  pound cake I fill the middle hole with the excess icing.  When the cake is served icing can be taken from the middle and dolloped along the side the slice of cake.  Or, as in the photos, the leftover icing can be served on the side in a pretty, little bowl.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

North Meets South in a Mango Blueberry Cobbler

IMG_9088

I’ll be heading north for Boston soon.  Jimmy will be teaching and I’m going to try and get my writing going.  I don’t know when I’ll be posting on the blog so I thought today’s post should reflect this girl’s upcoming adventure.  I haven’t even thought about what I’m taking.  It’s such a challenge for me to pack appropriately.  I always take way too much and usually the wrong things.  Having spent last fall in Boston I’m hoping I learned my lesson do a better job of it.  This time I won’t need six pairs of boots not including my gorgeous booties with the stacked heels.  Nor will I need my darling purple coat. Or my 400 pound Burberry raincoat with the wool liner THAT I NEVER WORE.  No.  I’m going casual this time.  Well accessorized but casual.  Everything will match and blend.  Just like this recipe.  Jimmy came home the other evening with an enormous bag filled with beautiful, smooth mangoes.  I promised him I would use them, in fact I promised I would make him chutney but it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen.  As the days passed by I realized I had to hurry and do something with  them while they were still ripe and perfect.  There are two schools of thought for mangoes, those who love them and those who hate them.  Not much in between.  But in this house we love them.  It’s not often that you see them baked in a dish.  So today I decided to create a dish with a Northern ingredient, blueberries, and a Southern ingredient, mangoes.  A satisfying, warm cobbler to be served alone, with ice cream or whipped cream.  Another quick and easy dessert, this cobbler is a hit with the topping I’ve included or you can easily substitute your favorite crumbled topping.  This dish is a real flavor blast, the crumble is faintly salty with a lingering sweetness.  And the warm, runny fruit…ohmygoodness! Easily you could add a tablespoon or two of rum if the spirit moves you.   Mangoes have an exotic, peachy, perfumy taste that really comes out when cooked.  I added a bit of ground cardamom to give it that little “roll your eyes” goodness.  It doesn’t bake long so your house won’t heat up either.  I hope y’all try this and like it as much as we do.  And I promise to keep y’all posted on the Boston gig!

IMG_9114

 

Ripe Mango and Blueberry Cobbler

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 400°

Filling:

  • 4 cups thickly sliced ripe mangoes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 cup washed, dried and stemmed blueberries
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold butter

Topping:

  • 2 1/3 cups biscuit mix
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream or whole milk
  1. In a large pot combine mangoes, lemon zest and cup of sugar.  Allow to macerate for 20 minutes or so until you see juices that have come out of the mangoes.  You want some syrup.
  2. Whisk the cornstarch in the cold water until dissolved. Mix in the cardamom.
  3. Over medium high heat bring the mango mixture up to a boil and add cornstarch mixture.
  4. Stir continuously for several minutes until you see the mixture thicken.
  5. Pour mixture into a greased 2-quart baking dish.
  6. Scatter blueberries evenly over the mangoes and dot with butter.
  7. Mix all the topping ingredients to form a soft dough.  With your hands knead it 10-12 times.
  8. Pinch off pieces of dough to cover entire surface of cobbler.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly.
  10. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Note the chewed up mango pits. That's the baker's treat. Lean over the sink and eat the fruit left on the pits. Be careful. Mango stains!
Note the chewed up mango pits. That’s the baker’s treat. Lean over the sink and eat the fruit left on the pits. Be careful. Mango stains!

 

 

 

 

Key Lime Pound Cake with Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing…omg!

IMG_8555

Next week is my older sister Cynthia’s birthday.  She was my first friend, my first confidante and my first co-conspirator.  She loved tennis and french, classical music and fashion.  She was the best big sister.  She watched out for me and was always there for me especially when I went through my “wild” stage.  She never judged and has unfailingly given me the best advice she could our whole lives together.  We share the early years in Puerto Rico before Tommy and Pamela were born.  We shared Crayola crayons while coloring and spent hours playing “little dolls”.  While in college the clouds of cigarette smoke billowing out of her bedroom were epic during our late night girl-talkathons.

IMG_8570_2_1024

Here she is circa 1974 after a tennis match and cooling dip in the pool.  Slender, feminine and a helluva flirt she drove her college beaus mad.  Today we both have a passion for books and the sophisticated appointment of rooms.  Pearls thrill us beyond measure.  And she has a thing for lemon cakes (but she calls them “lemon kuchens”).  “Kuchen” being cake in German.  Every single time she comes home to Fort Lauderdale, which is three or four times a year, she’ll ask me, “How ’bout that lemon kuchen? and I always answer, “What about it?”.  I answer that way because I once baked her a lemon pound cake, from scratch, and ultimately she never had any because she never made time during that trip to come over to my house.  So no more lemon kuchen!  Until now.  I’ve been on a pound cake kick, not surprising when you see my girth.  I’m certain I’ve gained at  least 4 pounds since I started on this mission.  I craved… no, lusted after a dense, lemony-bright, tart and rich pound cake topped with a crown of smooth, creamy citrus icing.  As you can well imagine the development process has been a short visit to Dante’s fifth hell.  Not.  Also, here in South Florida, it’s key lime season and I would venture to say that here in this tropical end of the state, key lime cake comes in close right after key lime pie in popularity.

Creamy yellow is the shade you want in a key lime. In this case big is better. Look for limes the size of ping-pong balls.
Creamy yellow is the shade you want in a key lime. In this case big is better. Look for limes the size of ping-pong balls.
I participated in a one day travel writing class downtown and took these slices to suck up. It worked. It’s the miracle cake.

 

I was lucky enough to have a plethora of key limes given to me and have juiced and zested my fingers down to the bone.  Consequently long after the season is over I will have juice and zest safely tucked away in my freezer portioned out and labeled rendering me capable of baking great quantities of my new favorite pound cake.  This cake bakes up beautifully.  It would make an exquisite wedding cake, the icing decorated with the dramatic “pop” of fresh blackberries or raspberries.  On the other end of the “pretty” spectrum around the “practical” end James mentioned to me in passing me that for the past several days he has had a thick wedge for breakfast.  I’m telling you people, you cannot stay away from this cake.  It’ll sing out to you from the next room.  It’s the devil.  And if loving it is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  Yes, the cake is sweet, however the substantial addition of lime zest propels it to a new world of citrus wonder.  The crumb is heavy and dense, incredibly moist while at the same time smooth and somehow almost weightless.  The icing is a recipe in richness.  The cream cheese works in tandem with the lemon to make a “dolce-crostata”, or sweet-tart heaven in your mouth.  That being the case I look forward to having a key lime cake baked the next time Cynthia comes down for all of us to delight in and savor.  Happy, happy birthday, sweet sister.

Key Lime Pound Cake with Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing

  • Servings: one 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

  •  4 sticks butter, that’s 1 pound, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk, (I always keep a good number of those small, 5 ounce cans in my pantry.)
  • 4 teaspoons key lime zest, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 300°.  Cover inside of 10 inch tube pan with non-stick spray.  My pan is 10  1/2″ and it’s just fine.  Set aside.
  2. Using a stand-up mixer or electric hand-held, beat the butter well until light in color and fluffy.  Add the sugar and again beat well for at least 5 minutes.  I use a stand up mixer and beat the mixture 10-15 minutes.  I don’t like a “grainy” cake.
  3. One at a time add the eggs and beat only until the yellow disappears.
  4. Stir juice, milk, zest and vanilla together.
  5. Now mixing by hand, gradually flour to the butter-egg mixture alternating with the key lime juice and milk mixture.  Begin and end with flour.  Mix well but just enough to incorporate all ingredients.  You don’t want a tough pound cake!
  6. Pour evenly into the tube pan and tap pan on the counter to loosen any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a cooling rack for 20-25 minutes in the pan then transfer from pan to cooling rack and allow to cool another hour or until completely cool.

The cake is far better the following day or 2 days later.

Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons key lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Using a hand mixer beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well mixed.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat well until completely smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add key lime juice, zest and vanilla and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Ice cake.

This makes quite a bit of icing.  After icing the entire  pound cake I fill the middle hole with the excess icing.  When the cake is served icing can be taken from the middle and dolloped along the side the slice of cake.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com