Lamb Cake: Clever or Disturbing??

I think it's safe to say that not everyone is going to love this cake. I'll admit that when artist Andrea Everman emailed it to me, I looked at the first pic and thought, oh, that's sooo cute and then I saw the second photo and my feelings changed to hmmm…it's also kind of disturbing, and then quickly switched back to but, it is clever. My emotions continued to sway back and forth like this for several minutes until I just couldn't take it anymore and had to ask for another opinion! I think it's definitely well done and interesting, but, as an animal lover, I don't know if I could actually eat it! On the other hand, the less emotional part of my brain keeps saying, why wouldn't you eat it! It's just cake! So, what do you guys think of this particular lamb cake or lamb cakes in general??? Clever or disturbing?

For those of you interested in trying this at home, the cake is strawberry and those are cilantro leaves filling in for the grass. Oh, and Andrea is a lovely lady and is going to making us a vegan dessert later in the year, so if you hate this cake, please don't take it out on her! :-) Thanks, Andrea!

Gummi Bear Chandelier

I've always been drawn to bold, statement making lighting fixtures, so when my friend Alja posted this beautiful chandelier on Facebook, I was instantly intrigued. It was only after I started reading the text that I realized that this isn't any ordinary light source. It's not made out of glass or plastic, but, drum roll please, gummi bears! Okay, so they're acrylic gummi bears, but the real thing probably wouldn't last very long once the light was turned on! Created by Kevin Champeny of the deign group Jellio, the chandelier is made out of 5,000 gummi bears and takes two months to complete. In addition, only ten of these babies will ever be made, so you will definitely be getting an original piece!

Jellio's Web site also features a number of other dessert-themed furniture, like an ice cream bench, cupcake table, and gummi bear lights. I'm not really sure these pieces would work with my décor sense, but I have to admit, I kinda like the Pop Art feel of that ice cream bench! There’s lots more to see at their site, so click here for more information. Thanks, Alja!

Inspiration Board: Easter

I love Easter, the spring air, the flowers, the bunnies, the Easter egg hunts, and the Easter basket filled with fake grass…and, of course, candy! My favorite Easter candy has changed quite a bit over the years. When I was a kid, I was crazy for Peeps and Cadbury Crème Eggs. As I grew older, I lost my taste for those too sugary treats and and now, when Easter comes around, I start craving Cadbury Mini Eggs and Resses Peanut Butter Eggs! Everyone has their favorite Easter candies and memories, but if you're looking for some new and fun ideas for your Easter table, check out the photos below! {Above: Raspberry-Lemon Easter Cake from The Food Network}

Chocolate Mousse-Filled Easter Eggs by Lauren at Fisher&Paykel. Gorgeous!

Martha Stewart's Springerle Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Easter Bunny Cake by Andrea Meyers. I love, love, love this cake! So cute and retro, like a cake I would have had when I was a wee girl.

Martha Stewart's Easter Paper Chains A super cute and easy way to spice up a simple cake!

Martha Stewart's Sugar-Coated Marshmallow Bunnies. These homemade Peeps made the rounds last year, but I still really love them!

Mini Cheesecakes from Bright Ideas. Again, I really like the old school feel of these. So sweet.

Easter Cookie Purse ($3) by Route 29. I have no idea what these taste like, but I'm a sucker for cute packaging and the illustration on this box is just great!

Quinoa Pudding with Mango and Pineapple

Inspiration. Is it an ephemeral, elusive bit of magic? Something people lie in wait for, sometimes living life only from one flash of brilliance to the next…the time in between inconsequential and forgotten. Or is it something that is ever present? Slyly camouflaged all around us…just waiting for us to notice?

I’d like to think it is that latter. That inspiration truly exists among us and can be found in the everyday. That it is precisely in the everyday where brilliance thrives. That it is inspiration that lies in wait for us, and not the other way around.

It doesn’t take much to inspire me or make me smile in wonder. The scent of a mangoes ripening on my dining room table. The way bread dough comes together. Butter melting. The slight tickle of really long earrings brushing against my bare shoulder. What happens to vegetables when you roast them. Nice stationary. My baby’s giggle. My friends.

And all of you. Those of you that always leave your comments here even when I’ve been terribly delinquent. Those of you that are silent but keep dropping in. You who leave helpful hints and answer my sometimes amateurish questions. You who cheer me on. You who I have met. You who I have yet to meet.

Another place where I find endless inspiration is other blogs. Food bloggers’ passion, and the delicious results of that passion, never fails to inspire me. This beautiful pudding is one such example.

Quinoa Pudding with Mango and Pineapple
(adapted from Cannelle at Vanille)

  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup mango chunks

- Rinse quinoa in a strainer for a few seconds.
- Combine 3 cups of the milk and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Add the quinoa and stir. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, especially in the latter part of cooking so your quinoa doesn’t stick.
- If mixture starts looking too dry, or you would like a more liquid pudding, add the extra 1/2 cup of milk. I didn’t have too although I must admit I do like a fairly squidgy pudding.
- Ladle pudding into bowls, cups, or glasses (as I did here) and top with mango and pineapples.

Anyone who has visited Aran’s gorgeous blog knows that it is bursting at the seams with charm and beauty. A virtual stroll through her pages always leaves me inspired. When I saw this pudding I knew I had to recreate it – not only did it look enticing, it was a quinoa version of arroz con leche (which my mum makes and I love!). I decided to make mine with our local dark muscovado sugar, whose deep molasses-y flavor got on perfectly with the quinoa’s earthiness. Instead of strawberries, I topped mine with pineapples and mangoes…our intensely sweet summer fruits. The juicy mangoes were a gift from another food blogging friend. Yet one more thing that inspires me – the generosity of food bloggers who are so willing to share even if they haven’t really “met” the person at the other end (thank you Divina!)!

This blog has always been a very personal space for me – a place where I journal my life in the kitchen (and sometimes outside of it too!). But over the course of almost five years you (yes you!) have, happily, become a part of it. No, it isn’t my birthday, nor my blog’s birthday, nor any occasion of distinction. Just another lovely everyday in which I'd like to say thank YOU for the inspiration! :)

Edible Art: Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Couch/Cake

Someone once told me that buying fancy, and expensive, chairs and couches by designers like Mies van der Roche was ridiculous, when, really, when it comes to sitting, a rock will do just as well as a store bought chair. I don't know if I completely agree with that statement, but I did stop and wonder what he'd think about this particular piece of furniture, which is an exact reproduction of Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona couch. It's a fancy designer couch that you can't even sit on, but you can, at least, eat it . . . because it's a cake! And believe it or not, it sounds like it was actually pretty tasty. ARTINFO described it as "a moist, buttery layer cake with hints of cream, coffee, and liquor buried inside. The pillow was even softer, fashioned from an airy angel food cake spiked with vanilla."

Right about now you may be saying to yourself, wow, that's pretty cool, but why even make a couch cake? Well, this yummy replica was created by artist Leandro Erlich and pastry chef Guido Mogni as part of "cake happening" in New York that was organized by Raphaël Castoriano’s cake-art group Kreemart, which encourages artists to "explore dessert as a medium."

Now, I love this cake and the idea of thinking creatively about food, but anything with the word "happening" attached to it is a little too pretentious for my taste. Personally, I was getting annoyed just reading about the event. I could barely get through the article! That said, if you don't mind the possibility of getting annoyed, and would like to learn more about the "cake happening," click here.

Oh, by the way, this is also not the first time that Mies van der Roche's work has been captured in edible form. Remember the edible version of the Farnsworth House that I posted in January of 2009?

The Mixing Bowl: Brown Butter Berry Tart by Saelee Oh

Good morning! It’s a warm and sunshiny day here, so I thought it would be nice to start the morning with a delicious seasonal recipe and some cheery, colorful images. Saelee Oh's recipe and gorgeous artwork certainly fits the bill on both accounts! I don't know about you, but I have been dreaming about fresh raspberries for weeks now, so I thought it was the perfect time to post Saelee's recipe for Brown Butter Berry Tart. I hope it inspires you to make something sweet and sunny this weekend. Happy (early) Spring!

Saelee Oh is an illustrator, painter, and paper cut artist, who uses mixed media to create wonderful and whimsical worlds filled with animals, nature, and magic. Her beautiful and distinctive work has been exhibited around the world in cities like Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New York and has been featured in magazines like Juxtapoz and Giant Robot, as well as on wall graphics, t-shirts, and iphone cases. She also finds time to create a lovely calendar each year with fellow artist Jill Bliss that I just LOVE.

For more of Saelee's work, check out her Web site and online shop, right here. Thanks, Saelee! More pics and the complete recipe after the jump.

Brown Butter Berry Tart, adapted from bon appetit


7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries and/or blackberries

Preperation: crust
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto sides and bottom of pan.

Bake crust until golden, about 18 minutes (crust will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Cook butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often, about 6 minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange berries, pointed side up and close together in concentric circles, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over berries. Place tart on rimmed baking sheet. Bake tart until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan on rack. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. Remove tart pan sides. Place tart on platter. Cut into wedges and serve.

Test-Kitchen Tip: When browning butter, use a saucepan with a light-colored bottom so that you can gauge the color of the butter.

Fried Eggplant with Sumac and Garlic Yogurt Dip

C has an aunt who used to work for a princess. Yes, a princess that lives in a palace in a kingdom not so far away. I would sit enthralled by her stories of riches so grand it was almost unreal…like my own personal One Thousand and One Nights. Gold and jewels and family vacations on private jets, mammoth shopping jaunts and bespoke sports cars and magnificent feasts.

The parts that captivated me most, not surprisingly, were the magnificent feasts.

As she is a kindred spirit when it comes to food and cooking, these were always the most colorful parts of her tales. Stories of the amazing meals prepared, the ingredients used, the sights and smells of the large (large!) pantry and kitchen. Befriending the chefs, she managed to learn the cuisine…which she brought back with her (along with a hoard of spices and dried herbs) and continues to share with us. The dinners she prepares are much-anticipated events involving multiple courses and an incredible array of exotic flavors.

Although this dish is not hers (I’m quite sure I adapted it from one of my Donna Hay magazines actually!), she was the one who introduced me to sumac. Sumac spice (not the poison plant!) is an unbelievably deep and velvety red, its flavor tart and a bit astringent. Unlike other aromatic spices that are used in more complicated dishes, what I like about sumac is you can simply sprinkle it on anything to which you would like to add a sour kick (much the way you would add a squeeze of lemon juice). So you don't need a degree in spiceology to use it ;)

Fried Eggplant with Sumac and Garlic Yogurt Dip
  • Olive oil
  • 300 grams small Asian eggplants (they are short and skinny)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sumac

- Heat a couple of glugs of olive oil in a skillet. Slice the small Asian eggplants lengthwise into two. When oil is hot lay eggplants cut-side down in the pan. Fry until golden brown and then turn. Fry the other side until eggplant is cooked. I like mine with crisp edges but still soft in the center. If you’d like to fry it until totally crisp go ahead!
- While the eggplants are frying, prepare the yogurt dip. Mix yogurt, garlic, and olive oil in a bowl. Add sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Store it in the fridge until ready to serve. Top with a sprinkling of sumac just before serving.
- When eggplants are done, fish them out of the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Dust liberally with sea salt and sumac. Serve with the yogurt dip.
- Serves two as a side dish.

As the name implies, small Asian eggplants are smaller versions of the long skinny eggplants most commonly used here. I love them solely based on their looks, as what’s not to love about a vegetable’s cuter version (one of the reasons I also love Brussels sprouts)? You can see them in this enticing still life of local vegetables. If you can’t find them where you are, substitute with any of your friendly neighborhood eggplants, and just slice them thinly.

Fried eggplant and yogurt is a pairing that works wonderfully for me – please have it freshly fried as the contrast between the warm eggplants and the cool yogurt adds to its deliciousness. The sumac adds a pleasing vibrancy to the whole dish, highlighting the eggplant's mild smokiness and the garlicky zing of the yogurt. We had this with our dinner, but you can easily prepare this as part of a larger spread of appetizers…or even as a video-marathon snack! If you are a bit health-conscious you can roast the eggplants instead with just a smidge of olive oil and salt. If you have leftovers (you won’t), mash the eggplants and yogurt together and you have a spread for tomorrow’s lunch.

Discovering new spices is one of my food thrills, especially if the discovery is peppered (no pun intended) with stories about royal feasts! I’m definitely glad for my introduction to sumac. Do you use it in your cooking? Any favorite ways to use it you would like to share? Yours may be the next sumac recipe that I post! :)

American Fashion Cookbook

The American Fashion Cookbook ($45) has my name written all over it! Fashion + Food + Colorful Illustrations by Designers??? Yes, please! The recipes included are both sweet and savory, but I, of course, immediatly foucused in on the desserts! Featured among the sweets are recipes for Betsey Johnson’s Cherry Sour Cream Pie, Cynthia Steffe’s Apple Crisp, and Mark Ecko's "Adults Only" Chocolate Chip Cookies ("adult" because they contain espresso).

From the publisher: Isaac Mizrahi’s Mushroom Truffle Spaghetti, Carolina Herrera’s Pommes Toupinel, Mark Ecko’s “Adults Only” Chocolate Chip Cookies, Derek Lam’s Yellowtail Crudo, John Varvatos’s Calaloo Soup—food can be fashionable too! Published with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and with a foreword by Martha Stewart, American Fashion Cookbook is a chic objet containing recipes and original illustrations by more than 100 American designers. Brimming with color, flavor, and personality, here are the fashion community’s favorite dishes and preparation tips. From the flirtatiousness of Strawberry Shortcake to the minimalism of Chocolate Ganache to the zip of Andalusian Gazpacho, here are all the recipes a stylish soul needs to whip up a tasteful brunch, a romantic dinner, or simply prepare comfort food, in a collectible volume.

Click here for more info and to buy online.

Beef Stew

I know. I was just blathering away about summer and the heat, and now look. I’ve gone and cranked my oven up for a couple of hours (!!) and made, what is known in the rest of the world as, a winter dish. Something cooked and enjoyed when it is cold out and you need some extra warmth indoors and something hearty to stick to your ribs…not something you make when the sun is blazing like mad and you feel like a roast yourself.

As fate would have it however, I live on an archipelago with no winter, and as such have never been trained in the art of “winter eating” vs “summer eating” (nor in “spring eating” or in the much longed for “autumn eating”). No. It was just plain “eating” for me. Anything at anytime. And though it could be argued that I might have waited for our much milder months at the end of the year, I can be illogical at times when my appetites are involved.

But aside from those minor personality flaws, there was another reason that brought this beef stew into being. Our local wagyu man. The charming fellow from whom I’ve been buying locally raised wagyu beef (read more here for more information). Since it is more affordable than imported wagyu, we are able to enjoy pretty great steaks (though of course not as awesome as real Kobe beef) without upsetting our budget too much. We usually get the chuck tender steak cut (from the shoulder) – it is cheaper than the more popular rib eye, but because of the wagyu’s signature marbling, still tender, fatty (in a very good way!), and delicious (if you don’t overcook it! We like our steaks medium rare). The last time we were at the market, charming wagyu man told us that he had some chuck tender in cubes, which some customers requested for soups or stews. It took us all of two seconds to snap them up.

Beef Stew
  • Olive oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot (about 250-260 grams), peeled and diced
  • 500 grams beef chuck tender cubes (I used locally grow wagyu beef and it made all the difference)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon pimenton de la vera (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bundle farcelettes (a Spanish version of bouquet garni)
  • 1 400-gram can whole tomatoes
  • about 1/3 of a 750 ml bottle of red wine (I used a cabernet sauvignon)
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 small potatoes (about 220-230 grams total), peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives

- Heat a few lugs of olive oil in a heavy based pot (oven-proof with lid) or Dutch oven. Add in onions, garlic, and carrots and sauté until onions soften.
- While the onions/garlic/carrots are cooking, toss your beef with the flour, 1/4 teaspoon pimenton, ½ teaspoon salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Add floured beef to the pan, pushing onions/garlic/carrots to one side. Brown beef on all sides. By now there should be some yummy brown bits on the bottom of your pan – deglaze with a few glugs of your wine, scraping those bits up.
- Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of pimenton, and the farcelettes and stir. Add enough red wine to come up almost to the top of the meat but not covering it. Add freshly cracked black pepper, a dash of cayenne (the amount will depend on your heat tolerance) and stir once more to get everything mixed. Bring to a boil. You can bash up some of the tomatoes with the back of your spoon.
- Once it boils take the stew off the stove top, cover with lid, and stick in a 170C oven for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, remove pot from oven and add potatoes and olives. Give this a stir, cover, and return to the oven for another hour, or until meat is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed (you may need to add more salt).
- The sauce should be rich and thick and coating the meat. If it isn’t, just cook it further on the stove top again until it reaches a consistency you like.

It goes without saying; only use a wine that you would also drink. If you don’t like the way it tastes in the glass then it won’t do your dish any favors either. Then drink the rest of your bottle with your meal…or while cooking it, I won’t tell ;) As with all stews and braises, be patient and you will be rewarded. These dishes cannot be rushed. If the meat isn’t tender after two hours, then just give it a gentle stir, cover, and return the pot to the oven until it is. If you don’t have farcelettes, any bouquet garni will do.

The local wagyu fared excellently in this dish! So soft and melty with the added unctuousness only a good marbling of fat can give. C and I were won over, absolutely and unequivocally, ignoring the sweat on our brows and the incongruity of the moment…digging deep into this bowl of cold weather food on a warm summer night.

***Please excuse the quality of my was already dark and I had to rely on the lightbulb in the room instead of the natural light I prefer. It really does taste so much better than it looks --- like most beef stews :)

SOME NEWS: 80 Breakfasts is mentioned in the Blogs We Love! The is a website under the esteemed Summit Media publishing group...a huge local publishing house that is responsible for titles like Town & Country, Martha Stewart Weddings, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and Yummy magazine just to name a few. I'm thrilled to be mentioned!

Devil's Food White-Out Cake w/ Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting

I've been wanting to make this cake since the day I bought Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Quite honestly, it's the main reason that I bought the cookbook in the first place! So, when my sister's bday came around this year, I sent this cake, along with a few others, as possible choices for her cake. As you've probably already guessed by now, she picked this one! She did have one condition, though. Do not use the marshmallow frosting because, in the words of my sister, marshmallow is kind of yucky.

Luckily, Dorie states right in the recipe that you can use any sort of thick frosting for this cake, so, at my sister's suggestion, we went with a Bailey's frosting, instead. Well, actually my mom went with the Bailey's frosting, as she was the one who actually made the cake. I was, well, let's just say that I was not in a baking mood at the time. It all turned out well, though, because this cake was awesome! Sooo good! For some strange reason, my mom's cake was not nearly as high as Dorie's. Maybe the frosting wasn't as thick or sturdy. Regardless, it was mighty tasty! It's booze and chocolate! What's not to love? Btw, this doesn't taste like liquor, at all, but you can always add more Bailey's, if that's what you're into. :-)

You can find the complete recipe after the jump.

Devil's Food White-Out Cake (with Bailey's Irish Cream frosting)

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the cake
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
For the filling and frosting
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

TO MAKE THE CAKE: Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. When it is fully incorporated, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. At this point, the batter will be thick, like frosting. Still working on low speed, mix in the boiling water, which will thin the batter considerably. Switch to a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Don't worry if the tops have a few small cracks. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

When you are ready to fill and frost the cake, inspect the layers. If the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. With the same knife, slice each layer horizontally in half. Set 3 layers aside and crumble the fourth layer; set the crumbs aside.


1 cup butter
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup irish Cream

Cream butter, beat in powdered sugar, gradually beat in salt and Irish Cream until light and fluffy.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Put a bottom layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a long metal icing spatula, cover the layer generously with frosting. Top with a second layer, cut side up, and frost it. Finish with the third layer, cut side down, and frost the sides and top of the cake. Don't worry about smoothing the frosting -- it should be swirly. Now, cover the entire cake with the chocolate cake crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs into the filling with your fingers.

Refrigerate the cake for about 1 hour before serving. (If it's more convenient, you can chill the cake for 8 hours or more; cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.)

SERVING: I think the cake is best at room temperature or just cool, but many people prefer it cold (the texture of the cake becomes fudgier after it has been refrigerated). No matter the temperature, the cake is so pretty it should be cut at the table, so bring it out on a platter and cut it into generous wedges using a serrated knife and a sawing motion.

STORING: The frosted cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days; let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving, or longer if you have the time.

Brown Sugar Roasted Pineapple

Summer is back on my island. Or what I like to think of as my island, when in reality I live in a city at least a couple of hours from the nearest beach…even more if you are looking for the pristine shores you see in travel magazines. That being said, I am still a part of this archipelago and thusly take island life as my birthright. As I take tropical island fruits as my birthright.

Mangoes, bananas, mangosteens, guavas, papayas, chicos, rambutans, jack fruit, star apples, and pineapples…I love them all. Sweet, creamy, or juicy…they tell tales of warm sunny days and clear blue skies under which they basked with nary a care in the world. When the weather turns steamy, as it is unapologetically doing right at this minute, my thoughts and my market basket turns to these fine specimens of the tropics.

Mangoes, as I have already mentioned, are at the top of my list. I thank God every day that I live amongst the finest. Pineapples are a close second – its toe-curling sweetness and sticky juiciness heralds summer in with pomp and promise. Even succeeding in distracting me from the heat for the few glorious moments I am enjoying it. My favorite way to have pineapples is the same as with mangoes – straight from the fridge. There is nothing quite like chilled tropical fruit on a hot hot HOT summer day.

Although this isn’t bad either…

Brown Sugar Roasted Pineapple
  • 1 small pineapple
  • about 4 tablespoons brown sugar (I used demerara sugar with large crystals)

- Slice your pineapple as I did here, but leave the slices thick.
- Lay pineapple slices on a baking sheet or pan and sprinkle with brown sugar. Depending on the size of your pineapple, and your penchant for sweets, you may need more or less.
- Roast in a 200C oven for about 20-30 minutes or until edges are caramelized.

I know roasting fruit in the heat of our Philippine summer seems counter intuitive, and adding sweetness to an already perfectly sweet fruit may seem pointless, but hear me out. Sometimes one needs variety, even in the blinding heat of summer when all you want is to lay still with cold wet towels all over your body. Yes, I know that eating pineapple straight from the fridge is all you can fathom doing right now. But just try…try to get your flip-flopped feet to the oven and give this a go. It is too easy to even warrant a recipe, even if I did try to eke one out for you here. It is infinitely adaptable and forgiving (use as much or as little sugar as you want, use less or more than a whole pineapple, grab that bottle of rum and add a splash). And when you pile a couple of caramelized slices in a bowl with some vanilla ice cream you will be glad you took the little effort it takes to make this :)

If you are one of my co-islanders, hang on, as this is looking to be one of our hottest summers yet! If you are on the other side of world, perhaps in a place where it is as cold as it is hot over here, I’ll trade you some of this pineapple for a box of fresh snow!