My Mom, has what in my family we call the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’. She loves to buy different recipe books, especially those featuring the varied regional cuisines of India. So we have Parsi cookbooks and Bengali cookbooks, recipe books of the Konkanastha Brahmins as well as those of the Goans, cookbooks featuring Marwari cuisine as well as a whole variety of books written by Indian TV Chefs. However not one recipe from any of them has ever been tried out.They are relegated to the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’ situated near my Dad’s ‘Telephone graveyard’….well that’s another story all together……so lets just stay on track.
This tendency to buy recipe books and just read them, not try a thing or try out something that was merely a hint of the original, comes to me, I believe, in a gene from my Mom.
I am not a strict follower of recipes. Wayward in many ways, I loathe following recipes…..and I don’t. Yet, most often than not, I strike success, brought about by another gene, also inherited from my Mom…..talent in the cooking department.
As a subscriber to the BBC Good Food Magazine, India , I enjoy reading the magazine, marvel at the photography and often plan what to cook. But never ever end up cooking anything from the magazine.
My son J, whined and whinged and flung back at me all the lectures we give him about valuing and making use of all that he gets/buys. “Well, Ma……YOU NEVER make anything from your Good Food Magazines!!
So Mama, that’s ME, slunk away, tail between legs……to cook….following a recipe from the magazine.
I searched in some of the latest issues and found the right recipe for me to follow. A Cake. An Orange and Almond Cake.
This cake was perfect. It looked stunning and was so different to anything I had baked before. I had, of course, previously done a Pineapple Upside down. But in this one, I liked the use of honey and orange rind (which is a flavour I am shamelessly partial to), as well as ground almonds in the batter!! Almonds, oranges, honey and of course eggs, how much more goodness could a girl wish for?
As I ate this cake and savoured every bite, I realised I really liked it. Every new mouthful revealed something different. Honeyed sweetness, followed by the bitterness of the orange rind, the nutty texture of the almond and the tang of the oranges. This is such a ‘grown-up’, ‘ adult’ cake. Yet my youngest, 8-year-old D, particularly liked it. She thought it looked stunning and was supremely delicious. Heaving a sigh of relief, that I had spawned children with superior taste buds thus feeling rather superior myself, I continued nibbling.
As I nibbled, savoring each bite….(think wine connoisseur swirling the glass of a particularly prime vintage and you’ll get the picture), I couldn’t help thinking about my bunch of friends. Wonderful women who have either already turned 40 or will be doing so over the next year or two…..and one very lovely 30-year-old who fits in with the rest of the ‘oldies.’ We are all stunning….and sunny. Nutty? Oh yeah….and love it that way. The hint of the rind, a reminder of another facet of our personality…..forthrightness and honesty….often thought of as cattiness. If that be so then MEOW!! But the citrus hit reminds me of all the spunk and ‘devil may care attitude’ that comes only with the age and I’d like to think…AHEM….maturity.
So this one is for all my lovely friends and family as well as all the women out there….who have embraced their forties and rock on with style and panache, wind-blown hair streaked with grey and the confidence to care a damn about whether the grey shows through or not. Who laugh so heartily not worried whether we look like a jackass but confident that any smiling, laughing face is gorgeous, neither does the thought of laugh lines cross our minds.
“We’re not 40, just 18 with 22 years experience.”
Go on try this one….its full of character and its sure to leave an impression on you just as much as it does on everybody.
ORANGE AND ALMOND UPSIDE DOWN.(adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine)
4 Medium sized Oranges
6 tbsp honey
200 gm butter + extra for greasing
200 gm brown sugar
200 gm flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
100 gms ground almonds
* Pre heat oven to 180 deg C.
* Peel the skin of all the oranges using a serrated knife.
* Cut the oranges into thick slices.
* Grease a 9 inch round baking pan. Drizzle the honey all over making sure that it covers the entire bottom.
* Finely chop the remaining orange slices.
* Cream butter and sugar till its light and fluffy.
* Bit by bit add in the egg a little at a time, ensuring that its incorporated into the butter/sugar mix before adding some more.
* Sieve flour and baking powder together and add in the ground almonds.
* Fold the flour and almond mix into the wet mix, adding in the chopped oranges halfway through.
* Pour the cake batter over the Oranges and honey in the tin.
*With a spatula or wooden spoon, make a depression in the centre of the cake.This will help the cake rise evenly when baked and not ‘dome’.
* Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins or till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
* Allow it to settle for around 5 minutes before turning it out.
* Serve as it is or drizzled with honey.
Personally, I prefer the flavour the next day.
But I’m sure you know your own likes.
“At the age of 20, we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at 30, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at 40, we discover that it wasn’t thinking of us at all.”
So sit back with a piece of this cake and savour the sweet, the bitter, the tang and nuttiness……embrace it’s flavours and personality.