Blast From the Past: Cakes Men Like

Sometimes it’s the little things that just make my day. I came across the silliest and corniest cover for this little cake booklet from 1953 and instantly became obsessed with it. It's so hilariously awful and so perfectly vintage, I knew that I had to find out more! Turns out these babies were printed in the early fifties for either GM or Western Electric employees. Cakes Men Like is actually part of a series of "how to please your man" cookbooks. Some of the other titles include Pies Men Like, Desserts Men Like, Meat . . . Men Like. Men, men, men! Man, I am sooo glad that I did not have to put up with that crap and am able to laugh about it now.

I don't know how well they researched these cakes, though. Apparently, they think that midcentury men like pink cakes. Would Don Draper request a pink cake from Betty? Does Betty know how to make a cake? Hmmm. Find out in next week's exciting episode! Click here to get a free copy of Cakes Men Like on Scribd. Enjoy!

Todd Terry Presents Martha Wash & Jocelyn Brown - Keep On Jumpin' (Tee's MT Freeze Radio)(1996)

Todd Terry Presents Martha Wash & Jocelyn Brown - Keep On Jumpin' (Tee's MT Freeze Radio)(1996)

Steamed Fish, Asian Style

I grew up eating fish whole, on the bone. Small fish, like tilapia or galunggong (mackarel scad), simply fried and eaten with soy sauce or vinegar. Bigger fish, like lapu lapu (grouper) or apahap (sea bass), baked or steamed for special occasions. Oh sure, we also had fish in fillets and steaks (fillets I like, but I mysteriously cannot abide by steak cut fish), but there was something special about having a whole fish. To this day I prefer whole fish over fillets and other cuts.

I love the simple perfection of a fish rubbed with salt and then fried exactly right, the outside and edges crisp, the inside tender and moist, eaten hot and with my hands. Maybe with a dipping sauce of vinegar with just a touch of soy and some crushed bird’s eye chilies…or maybe not. I work through it precisely but slowly, savoring every bite, missing nothing. When I’m done there is nothing left but a pile of clean bones that not even a skilled cat could get more out of.

This is another wonderful way to have whole fish. Healthier too, but no less delicious :)

Steamed Fish, Asian Style
  • One whole 3/4-kilo (approx) Bisugo (threadfin bream), Maliputo, or Lapu-lapu (garoupa), scaled and gutted
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • Half a lemon, sliced
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • Optional: 1 cilantro root (if the bunch of cilantro you use has them, and it should)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil

- Line a bamboo steamer with parchment so it comes up over the sides. Line the parchment with the onion slices, some ginger slices, and one slice of lemon. Lay your fish on top of these aromatics. Stuff the inside of the fish (inside the belly as well as inside the head) with most of the remaining ginger and lemon, lemongrass, some of the leeks, a few stalks of cilantro, and cilantro root. Top the fish with any ginger and lemon you have left, the rest of the leeks, and the most of the cilantro (saving a few stalks to garnish fresh once the fish is cooked). Top everything with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. I’ve made the amounts above flexible as this really depends on your taste and the size of your fish. Fold sides of parchment over the fish – it doesn’t have to cover it completely – and cover.
- While you are arranging your fish, fill a wok with enough water not to touch the steamer when you lay it inside. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower to a fast simmer.
- When the fish is ready and the water in the wok is at a fast simmer, carefully place steamer on the wok.
- Steam fish for about 20 minutes. You may need more or less time depending on the size of your fish so check for doneness before taking it off the heat. Simply open the steamer (carefully! Steam burns!), and insert a small knife into the fleshiest part of the fish – if it flakes easily it’s done.
- Turn of the heat and remove the bamboo steamer from the wok – do this carefully with your hands protected as very hot steam will escape when you lift the steamer from the wok. Place the steamer on a plate and serve directly! Tear the remaining cilantro over the newly cooked fish.

This is my basic framework for our favorite Asian-style steamed fish. The fish stays moist and the aromatics infuse it with their crisp, fresh flavors. The soy, fish sauce, and sesame oil pool below the fish where the onions have gone all melty to make a delicious sauce. This recipe is adaptable and forgiving. Add, take away, or replace some of the herbs as you like (not everyone is a cilantro junkie like me I suppose) or as available (I’m going to try a version with Kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil next!). Use your favorite fish or try a new one from the market. Fillets would work here as well, although I implore you to try this with fresh whole fish as there is really nothing quite like it!

Llanfair Waterdine, Ludlow, London

An unstoppable crime trio have reaped havoc in the sleepy village of Llanfair Waterdine. Only Chris Sansom can stop them.
A nice mossy tree carpet.
Ludlow kicking it Tudor style.
The Thames with a Simspon sky. Perfection.
Postcard memories.


No birthday is complete without; a gigantic stuffed Canadian Moose,

...and a feast.

What a day.

Sweet Testing: Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie

I have had a craving for a Peanut Butter and Banana Creme Pie for a long time, ever since I first heard about it last year, so I was really happy when my father picked this as his dessert of choice during a recent visit. I was doubly happy when I searched the internet for a recipe and discovered that my favorite bakery, Baked, has their own version of this delicious treat! And let me tell you . . . it was soooo good!! I cheated a little bit and used a Whole Foods brand gluten-free pie crust, which I highly recommend for people with gluten allergies. Usually, I don't really care for store bought pie crust, but this one is a definite winner AND it's gluten free! So, because I wanted to make the pie edible for people with gluten allergies and because I was short on time, I didn't end of making the vanilla wafer crust that goes with this recipe, but I'm sure the pie would be even more amazing with that added element, although it was pretty damn good without it! For that reason, I can't really speak to the ease of the crust preparation, but the filling was super easy to assemble and came together quite quickly. Easy and a total crowd pleaser. What's better than that?

(p.s. For Baked fans, another teaser video for the new cookbook has been released. It features one of my favorite things: baked goods with miniatures. To watch it, click here.)

(p.p.s. Sometimes I feel like every recipe I make is from Baked. Someone seriously needs to hide their cookbooks from me!)

You can find the complete recipe after the jump.

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie (Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit. This recipe will also appear in Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, which will be released October 1st.)


vanilla wafer crust (I used a Whole Foods brand gluten-free pie crust instead)
•6 ounces vanilla wafer cookies
•6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
•2 tablespoons sugar
vanilla pudding filling
•1/3 cup sugar
•1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
•1/8 teaspoon salt
•1 cup heavy whipping cream
•1/2 cup whole milk
•2 large egg yolks
•1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
•1 tablespoon unsalted butter
•4 firm but ripe bananas, peeled, divided
•3 tablespoons orange juice, divided

peanut butter layer
•3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
•1/2 cup powdered sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
•2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream


vanilla wafer crust
•Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in processor; blend until mixture resembles moist crumbs, about 1 minute. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish and press mixture onto bottom and up sides (not rim) of dish. Bake crust until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven; press crust with back of spoon if puffed. Cool crust completely.
vanilla pudding filling

•Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan until no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in cream, then milk. Add yolks and scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; whisk to blend. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until pudding thickens and boils, about 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Spread warm pudding in cooled crust. Chill until filling is cool, about 1 hour.

•Thinly slice 3 bananas on diagonal. Combine banana slices and 2 tablespoons orange juice in medium bowl; toss to coat. Transfer banana slices to paper towels and pat dry. Arrange enough banana slices in single layer over vanilla custard filling to cover completely.
peanut butter layer

•Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla, then peanut butter. Beat cream in another medium bowl until firm peaks form. Fold large spoonful of whipped cream into peanut mixture to loosen, then fold in remaining cream in 2 additions. Spread peanut butter layer evenly over bananas. Chill at least 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

•Thinly slice remaining banana on diagonal. Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice (to prevent fruit from browning), then pat dry with paper towels. Arrange banana slices around top edge of pie.

Not Just Vegetable Soup

A number of you have commented that you wouldn’t mind seeing more of what I’m feeding little C. Although I seriously doubt the interest in preparing limited ingredient, zero-seasoned dishes, it is heartening to see such concern in what we put into our little ones. And really, although I was advised otherwise, making your own baby food isn’t as difficult or as complicated as it may at first seem.

After the first months of solids (which shouldn’t really be called solids at all since most of the food is mushed!) I was given the green light for chunkier foods. “Yay!” I thought. Finally some change of pace. I decided to make little C’s very first vegetable soup.

No fixed recipe for this but here is what I did (more or less): I peeled and chopped 1 small carrot, 1 small potato, and added some chopped butternut squash (roughly the same amount as the carrot). Place everything in a saucepan with 1 sprig of parsley (tied in a knot) and a finger-sized rib of celery. Add water until just covered. Bring to a boil and then simmer until vegetables are soft (soft enough to be mashed easily with a fork or baby gums). Add a couple of heaping tablespoons of cooked rice and simmer until heated through. Discard parsley and celery. Allow to cool to a baby-comfortable temperature before serving (you can do this quickly with an ice bath – place some of the soup in a bowl and place the bowl in a bigger bowl with ice water). Depending on the age and teeth-situation of your baby you can mash the veggies roughly or finely with a fork.

The soup is quite versatile in such that you can use whatever vegetables your little one (or you) prefer. If you have frozen pureed veggies that you haven’t used yet you can mix them into this at the last moment. It goes especially well with pureed broccoli (which adds a touch of green and reminds me a bit of minestrone with pesto). You can make this soupier if you wish but I keep it fairly chunky as it acts more like a main meal than an actual soup.

Little C loved this and I think this may become one of her favorites (along with yogurt and avocado)! And, not one to feed people something I wouldn’t eat myself, I had a (very restorative) bowl of this drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper…basic, comforting, and delicious. I’m sure it would be even better with some grated parmesan cheese on top…something that little C will be trying once I get the go-ahead for cheese!

Have I bored you with all this intense blathering about what is essentially some boiled vegetables? But this isn’t just vegetable soup you see…it’s a stepping stone to that meal of foie gras, oysters, and chocolate tart that I promised little C we would have when she becomes a “big girl” ;) All in good time my sweet girl!

p.s. If you haven't already noticed, I've done a little fixing up here :) After 5 years (!!) with the same blogger template, I think we can all agree that some changes were in order. Nothing major league here -- this is still a blogger template (and until I can find a cute html geek who will work for cookies, blogger templates are all I can aspire to) -- but it's nice to have a change of scenery! High time too! :)

Mi familia (de verdad)

A special child.
My nana
My padre
Madre photo to be uploaded shortly.

Bienvenida a CALLY

I found myself smiling on the Stanstead express. I couldn't help myself.
Watching the BT tower, the gherkin and east london high risers as the train crawled into the city, I became that person who sits alone, grinning on public transport. I quickly stopped, and put on my london face.

The smile returned however, on viewing this sweet and random sign in Cally tube station.

El dia 16 de agosto

My 21st birthday was celebrated thusly;
Paella for breakfast.
A good dosage of Disney Channel.
Swimming in the sea
Sailing around the harbour with Martine.

A ridiculously fun day aided by my favourite square pant clad sponge, a fabulous norwegian aupair, an abundance of chocolate ice-cream and a hot sea captain.

Monday was great.
Self timer on an abandoned beach.
Photographic evidence of the hot captain doesn't exist, this nice flag will have to suffice.
Two old ladies crocheting under a palm tree. I like their style.
Santander is dulce.

Sunblock - I'll Be Ready (Radio Edit)(2005)

Sunblock - I'll Be Ready (Radio Edit)(2005)

Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme (Radio Edit)(2004)

Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme (Radio Edit)(2004)

La Pâtisserie des Rêves

First of all, I can't believe that I have written anything about Philippe Conticini's La Pâtisserie des Rêves yet! I've been meaning to do a post on this pastry shop since it opened last year in Paris, but, alas, like many things, it just kept slipping out of my memory. Anyway, I am in love with this shop! Not only are the desserts gorgeous (and I've heard tasty), but it's the way that the food is displayed that really gets me. At La Pâtisserie des Rêves each delicious pastry is treated like a work of art or, perhaps, a science experiment, and displayed beneath a bell jar. Each of the jars is temperature controlled based on the sweet contained inside, while a pulley system attached to the ceiling allows the jars to be raised and lowered. What fun! It's also a much easier way to view the desserts than having all the customers crowd around a display case at the counter. It really is a unique and creative shop, a fact that is not all that surprising when you consider that in 2005 pastry chef and owner Philippe Conticini wrote a cookbook titled Sensations Nutella, which is devoted entirely to, you guessed it, Nutella. For more info on La Pâtisserie des Rêves, click here.

Dj Tonka - Security (Club Mix) (1998)

Dj Tonka - Security (Club Mix) (1998)

Losing the Spice of Life

I really like spicy foods. When I was kid, I used to get the "suicide" chicken wings at Elmwood Taco. Those of you from Buffalo know what I am talking about. You also know that no one in Buffalo calls chicken wings Buffalo wings, because there is only one kind of wing. A super hot one with lots of blue cheese dressing. Or what about a hot chicken finger sub smothered in blue cheese from Jim's Steak Out? But, I digress.

I don't just like hot stuff, I like things that have a lot of flavor. I like all kinds of ethnic spices too. Mexcian. India. Well, let's be honest, all food really.

So here's the problem. Although my family memebers have very spicy personalities, they have the blandest taste buds ever. I seem to have married the only hispanic man that does not like spicy food. Max's only complaint about my cooking is that "it's too spicy". How, I ask you, can something be too spicy? But Mateo and Nico have followed suite and declared that "this food has too much spice!"

I have tried to tone it down, for everyone's sake. But still find myself making things that are rejected due to "too much spice". Many times, I don't even realize that what I am preparing is too spicy until it is too late.

Here's an example. The other day, I made a meatloaf that had some mild enchilada sauce and chili powder in it. Nico took a bite, gagged, spit it out and said definatively, "No! Hot!".

Mateo replied, "It's okay, Nico. You can do it. You just have to eat it like this. Watch." He then proceded to show Nico how to take a miniscual bite of the meatloaf and immediately chase it with a huge slug of apple juice.

Ok, maybe that was a little to spicy. I guess even mild enchilada sauce can be spicy. And oh yeah, the chili powder. I see that now. But, they are getting older. When is one old enough for some spice? I mean what do people in Mexico feed their kids? I bet the 5 years olds there eat chile rellenos every day.

I may have to accept that my boys have inherited their father's bland taste buds. At this point, my only hope is Daniela. But if she also rejects my spicy food, I may be doomed to live a bland least when it comes to food.

The kids are alright.

Alicia and Marina after our face painting workshop. Luckily there is no photographic evidence of how my face turned out, but what should have been a Bird of Paradise ended up looking remarkaby like Harry Potter as a French waiter. Gracias chicas.

Aupairing is by no means a dificult job, it isn't easy either though, and so, should any future/present aupairs stumble upon this blog here are some tricks that have proved very helpful;

  • Mini Festivals- facepainting/dressing up/make a playlist of party tunes (wierdly enough spice girls still go down really well with 6 year olds!)

  • Youtube nursery rhymes with the lyrics posted up

  • Make bedtime a competition- literally such a good trick- First one to fall asleep is the winner!

  • Find out what makes them laugh and refer to it often (children don't seem to get bored of the same joke), here, refering to something e.g. a fly/basket full of socks as 'your neighbour' always gets a good laugh.

  • When in doubt, musical statues.

  • Stick post it notes with english words around the house, shout the word and the winner is the first person to find it...extra points if they can act out the word- e.g. for a monkey by making monkey sounds.

  • Randomly shout out colours and make them run around to find something with that colour.

  • Remember that a 5 minute walk for a normal person is about a 30 minute walk for children as they are easily distracted by just about everything, and have tiny legs.

...Make sure that you spend a good couple of hours without them, other wise they may well start to despise you!

Whilst jogging I often see these chicos who try to sell me cakes or sing a little song which goes,
'Feliz en tu dia, mmmm, Feliz en tu dia' etc.

I'm not sure what their names are, but they are too sweet for words.

O Porto. A shambolic beauty.

A selection of pictures, in no particular order, of sights I saw in the city of Porto.
Love birds in the Sunday bird market.
Cool, and questionable grafitti outside my future apartment.


A one eyed cat and some nice crockery.

Porto has a wonderful bridge. It isn't just pretty, it sort of looks like a huge metalic spider streching across the river. Impressive and also slightly sinister.

Porto is a jigsaw puzzle of the extremely beatiful mixed with the decrepid, and downright scruffy.
One of many blue tiled churches.

Raggedy buildings climbing the hillside.

Unfortunately, I didn't capture any decent photos of the awe inspiring shops and shop fronts in Porto, and believe me, they need to be done justice! One bookshop, aside from having the typically beautiful wooden shelves and ladders, also housed a series of spiriling staircases which twisted their way around the centre of the shop leading to a bridge from one bookshelf to another! ...And not only the bookshops are quaint and lovely, in Porto even skateboarding shops have extravagent barroque facades.

Some shops however, are madly creepy. Take this wedding dress shop.
The sign says, 'This is a refuge- You don't have fear'

I really wanted to get a portrait of the shop owner. He was just sat alone in his dusty, old shop surrounded by wigs. A very interesting character.

A beast dog.

Today I had breakfast in Madrid. I found a market, bought the largest peach I had ever seen, and...

enjoyed the view from my park bench.

Oh dear.