In A Vase on Monday -Frangipani, Foccacia and Friends

 

20170702_115959

Sunday morning found me baking bread to make Pulled Pork sandwiches for a friend who came down with shingles. While the bread was rising, I toured the garden to find the components of a vase. The Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) has just started flowering in earnest and the scent wafting through the air in the early morning stopped me and my clippers.

I clipped a stem of the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani and looked around to see a Pink Desert Rose (Adenium) flowering and cut one of those to add to the vase. What vase? A small red glass one from the GoodWill (thrift or charity shop) seemed in order. Then a bit more red in the form of foliage. A few leaves of Pie Crust Croton (Codiaem varigatum “Pie Crust”) The Pie Crust Croton foliage has the unlikely color combination of red, black, green and a bit of yellow. The shrub will give you a bit of a pause when seen in the garden. The Copper Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpurea’) has come back with the rains and I added a bit of that for deep grey foliage, then found some errant Asparagus Fern to complete my vase. Here is a close up.

20170702_120238_Burst01

I punched the Foccacia dough down and set it into the oven to rise again and finished the arranging the vase.  Here is the finished Foccacia:

20170702_120551-1

This is a Parmesan Crusted Low Sodium Foccasia, my specialty. Here is the bad news.

I woke up the other morning feeling I needed to check on the Night Blooming Cereus:

20170629_091720

The bud was no longer on the plant. During the night something knocked off the bud! Maybe next year.

Rum Cake – updated

20161215_174125

I know the holidays are here when Rum Cakes start appearing in my kitchen. Not by magic, by me. This was my mother’s favorite holiday treat and she demanded one every year. She began baking Rum Cakes when I was a teenager and then passed the reins over to me. Her biggest problem, being a woman of tasteful Southern breeding was being seen in the liquor store buying rum. Imagine a grey haired upstanding Republican woman who dropped her change at the cash register while muttering “I think that is the pastor of the Presbyterian church”. She would then nearly wreck the manual transmission car trying to skip gears in the parking lot to avoid being seen and was very happy when I was old enough to go buy the evil booze. Why it was OK for me to be seen buying rum remains a mystery lost to Southern ages. So, really this is a family tradition. This cake is being gifted to my brother and his family.

The recipe is based on a Bacardi rum recipe from the 70s. I started having trouble making Rum Cakes when all the boxes of cake mix were downsized from 18 ounces to 15.25. So, I have ended up buying two boxes of cake mix to get the amount right. Otherwise the cake ends up soggy.

The rum I prefer is Bacardi Gold. Having made this cake for almost 40 years I have tried all types with the exception of 151 which I believe might blow up the kitchen, so Bacardi Gold is the rum of choice for this cake:

Rum Cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1 cup chopped pecans (this is a starting point, I fill the bottom of the pan)

1/ 15.25 oz Yellow or Butter Golden Cake Mix, plus 1/3 cup Cake Mix (buy two boxes) make more Rum Cakes with the leftovers

4 eggs

1/2 cup Canola oil

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup rum (Bacardi Gold)

Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan, then break pecans into the bottom of the pan until it is covered. You can chop the nuts or use walnuts. I hate walnuts and just cover the bottom of the pan with big pieces of broken pecans.

Put all the other ingredients in the stand mixer and mix til there aren’t any lumps. Pour batter over the nuts and bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out of the cake clean. Leave the cake in the pan for five minutes and then turn the cake out. Let cool til barely warm and make the glaze.

Glaze:

1 cup sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 cup cold water

Mix ingredients in small saucepan, then stir until everything is combined. Stirring over low medium heat the mixture will come to a boil, when the entire surface is bubbling set the timer for 5 minutes. Let it boil gently for five minutes, then take the mixture off the heat (this is important because it will catch on fire if you don’t) Add:

1/2 cup Rum

Stir until the alcoholic fumes wane. Meanwhile poke holes in top of cake with a skewer or pointy old knife. Spoon glaze over cake until the holes fill with glaze, then drizzle down the sides.

A Plethora of Papaya

Fall is Papaya season in South Florida. My neighbor has a tree and has been sharing his bounty. These are Mexican Papayas, slightly less sweet than the more pear shaped Hawaiian Papaya – the latest one in my kitchen weighed in at 5 pounds. My neighbor uses a dehydrator to save them. Not being a fan of dried fruit, it is a challenge for me to figure out how to eat five pounds of Papaya with only two people.

20160921_153829-1

The first order of business was to bake some Papaya Raisin Bread, these freezes well and I will enjoy it for weeks. Click for recipe

The Bread:

20160923_163922

The bread used about 1/5th of the fruit. I decided to make a Grilled Chicken Salad for dinner. The chicken was marinated in balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, olive oil and red pepper flakes. The salad was made with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, boiled eggs and yes, papaya. Divine. I had papaya and vanilla yogurt for dessert.

20160510_191710

Several times.

Faced with papaya overload and some pork chops in my refrigerator, I did some sleuthing online for another dinner dish. Aha, a stir fry -Thai Style Papaya Pork Click for recipe

20161005_191532

This was so good we made it twice.

And that was the end of the Papaya, all five pounds! Til next year.

Mangoes in Mass Quantity

July in South Florida means a couple of different things, heat, humidity and Mangoes. Lots of Mangoes. This year is a bumper crop. I am philosophizing the rainy winter produced many flowers followed by many fruits.

20160315_10351020160617_184052-1

Followed by many baskets of Mangoes, which I find irresistible.

20160703_110747 (1)

These are Haden Mangoes, from my neighbor the chef, who I suspect just eats his mangoes. I ate some of them, but my husband is not a big fan of plain and won’t eat them straight. So, I made a Mango Amaretto Cake. Not very pretty, but delicious. Last year my Mango effort included a Mango Rum Cake which I believe lasted longer due to its higher alcohol content. Something to consider if your household is not highly populated.

20160706_162433 (1)

After a few servings of the Mango Amaretto cake, I decided to take a more savory adventure with Mango Salsa for grilled fish (Pacific Swordfish in this case). The salsa is made with mango, red bell peppers, sliced green onions, cilantro, lime juice and honey.

20160706_174841

Great stuff, and I still had some leftover to have with my Blueberry Bread  from my lasr fruit overload and vanilla yogurt.

20160706_174850

Just when my Mango supply dwindled to this another basket was left on my front porch.

What to do? Bake some Mango Pecan Bread, of course.

20160714_172921

I used the same recipe as my Blueberry Pecan Bread and it turned out fine. This is not particularly sweet for a quick fruit bread but the resinous quality of the mango shines through.

On to my next culinary adventure in mangoland. Another neighbor gave me some Speckled Perch, a local freshwater fish. So, here it is – pan sauteed Perch in lemon butter sauce with Mango Tomato Sauce served with Parmesan Herb Rice and Sauteed Mixed Veg.

20160714_193626

Still have Mangoes. The only thing left to do is make granita. It can be eaten straight up, with vanilla ice cream, yogurt or vodka if you are feeling frisky.

The remains of the day and this is all I have left!

20150715_171204

Compost

Blueberry Madness

20150811_142604

The height of blueberry season is upon us here in the US. My husband is famous for his pies, see photo above for reason. I was tasked with blueberry procurement for pie production. Five cups were ordered, five pints were purchased. Oops. I was faced with an extreme overabundance of blueberries.

The pie was baked, tasted and deemed delicious. We still had a lot of blueberries, having recently read a blueberry feature in Better Homes and Garden, I decided to try Blueberry Corn Salad:

20160627_171057-1

An interesting idea, corn with a garlic lemon vinaigrette and spices. A bit weird, but good. Still, blueberries speak of baked goods to me and I still had some left. I thought Blueberry Pecan bread sounded like a good idea and freezable. Found a recipe for just the thing with a pecan crust on top. Baked it up, this is good and freezes well, so I will have some for later:

20160627_171043

Then, the horrible truth revealed. I still had some of the blue things left. And didn’t want to eat anymore at the moment. Realizing dogs could eat blueberries and they are actually good for them, I whipped up some Oatmeal Peanut Butter Blueberry Dog Treats:

20160628_151739

The overabundance of blueberries, finally conquered. I walked the dogs and gave them a treat. Everyone was happy.