Summer 2011 has been a bad season for cooking in New York City.
Last summer's batch of cherry bounce went very quickly
Record heat and humidity have kept Raphe and I cloistered in our sole air-conditioned room. We’ve filled our bellies (and emptied our wallets) with local Pakistani fare rather than heat up the apartment a tenth of a degree.
Oh, and did I mention the grad school applications? Those aren’t exactly conducive to kitchen bliss either. I have been slaving away on my personal statement and harassing college administrators for transcripts while Raphe has had to put up with my bad moods and periodic cursing at the computer.
Between the heat and the pressure the Kensington Kitchen has literally been a hot mess. Raphe has been the only culinary presence and he hates doing dishes more than I do. When we traded in a toasty 103 degrees for a downright chilly 90 degrees he roasted potatoes and braised chicken legs and sausage in white wine. When it finally cooled down to, oh, 85 degrees, he saw fit to roast a whole chicken and whip up some gravy. (Must be something from his early years in New Orleans kicking in.) Both times dishes sat for the rest of the week, until it was cool enough to spend more than 15 minutes in front of the sink. Neither time was I adventurous enough to photograph Raphe’s creations.
The good news is that half of the applications are in. The other half aren’t due until November 1st. Rain is returning to the Big Apple. I’m heading to Zamboanga City to eat my weight in mangoes. Raphe is heading to Seattle to relearn how to sleep without the AC hum in the background.
And when we get back we’re going cook up a storm.
In the mean time I present you with a no-cooking summertime recipe. Have patience: you’ll reap the benefits around Christmas.
This is a submission to the Kulinarya Cooking Club May 2011 challenge. The theme, “Flores de Mayo” was chosen by Sefie of Sefie Eats and Connie of Home Cooking Rocks. For more information, visit the Kulinarya Cooking Club blog.
While even my mom was unfamiliar with the Flores de Mayo fiesta (I guess it isn’t big in Zamboanga?), we did celebrate May Day in our house. My post focuses on May Day, as it is also celebrated with flowers.
Mochiko cake stacked up nice
Every day, on my way to work, I pass a small flower shop. I’ve never gone inside, but I always stare as I walk by. They have all the usual arrangements of roses and baby’s breath, daisies, lilies. They have little ceramic pots housing colorful delicate orchids. They have ferns and cactus. The only thing that ever tempts me to visit inside is a small basket of lavender that sits on a table outside the main door. I smell the perfume as I pass, always thinking “maybe I’ll pick some up on my way home.”
3 eggs, coconut milk, evaporated milk and half a stick of butter
May Day is an ancient European celebration of spring. It has its origins in pagan religious ceremony, but in modern times has become a secular celebration revolving around flowers and dancing observed on May 1st. My Irish great-grandmother taught me to make May Day baskets filled with flowers and candy. I was to drop them off on neighbors’ doorsteps, ring the door bell and hide from sight. They got the gifts, but I got the pleasure of giving.
It's a thick batter, but whisk-able the whole way through
One May Day when I was very young, I came home to a mochiko cake (bibingka) cooling on the counter. I made a basket with paper and tape and filled it will dandelions, lilacs and lily-of-the-valley. I wrapped a slice of warm cake in foil and place it in the center like a jewel. I dropped the basket on my favorite neighbor’s doorstep, rang the door bell and dashed back to my house.
Lavender flowers show through before adding the coconut flakes
I compromise. No fresh lavender, but I spring for dried lavender from the food co-op. The dried lavender blends into sugar and I beat the sugar into another May mochiko cake. The cake is chewy and dense, rich but not too sweet. The edges are pleasantly crisp straight from the oven. Lavender flower fragrance laces the cake underneath a crunchy coconut crust. A gift for all this May!