Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Birthday Party

I had a little birthday get-together on Sunday to celebrating turning 24.  Such a frankly boring age definitely deserves a delicious potlucked meal.

I tasked my guests with each bringing a dish that was "international."  Everyone went above and beyond the call of duty, bringing delicious and very photogenic food!!

Personally, I provided 2 cakes, some mango kesari and some dolmas.
My favourite runner K. brought a Turkish-inspired lentil stew/warm salad.
 Behind it are my stuffed grape leaves, or dolmas, which contained basmati rice, chickpeas, lemon juice, parsley, spring onions, dill, mint and tomato paste.  The recipe was based on recipes found at various sources, including Eat Peace Please and Fat-Free Vegan.
H. provided two loaves of bread, one with rosemery and one with whole cloves of roasted garlic.  They were also quite delicious, especially when smeared with her homemade hummus or used to mop up ruptured dolmas and dressing from A.'s salad.
 
Which brings me to the salad...
Look at those darling salad tongs on the right!  They look like giraffes!  And her salad was absolutely delicious--chunks of cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and whole olives all in a herbal sort of vinaigrette.  Delectable!  C. and M. brought pizza--two of them, which was fortunate because we demolished it!  Mushrooms and... artichokes, maybe? Onions... oh, I don't know, I was far too busy shoving it down my piehole to pay attention to the finer details!  Point being, it was a very moreish pizza.

C. brought a Medditarean-inspired cous-cous salad which was, obviously, delicious.  In the background, you can see some mango kesari I made.  Very non-traditional kesari, I will admit.
Mango Kesari
Dry roast 1 cup polenta along with 1 cup of AP flour in coconut oil until it is beginning to smell slightly nutty and is browning a bit.
Add 1 cup brown sugar (you can use jaggery if you want to be more authentic) and 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice.  Stir it all together well, making sure none of the flour is burning on the heat.
Turn on your oven to 350 degrees at this point and make sure you have a rack in the center.
Mix in 1 cup of mango pulp and 1 cup of soy milk and stir together vigorously.
Add water until the mixture forms a fairly thin, pourable consistency.  Keep over heat, stirring regularly, until it begins to thicken.
I was aiming for something akin to the batter of an oil-based chocolate cake, if that makes sense.  While I was waiting for the thickening, I added a few pinches of crushed saffron as well as some freshly ground cardamom and a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt.  Thanks, Trader Joe's for your exotic-sounding ingredients!
Once the mixture is adequately thickened, pour it into a greased 9x13 pan. I simply used a pyrex pan that I borrowed from H.
Top with roughly chopped cashews. (Or pistachios or almonds or really anything your heart desires.
Bake for 40 minutes; if it begins to brown excessively, tent foil around the sides as far as is needed
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before cutting it into diamonds.

NOTES: 
Since this really isn't leavened, it's difficult to test it.  Just go by the consistency; you want it not jiggling at the center but you also don't want any cracks to form.  Luckily, it's so liquidy that it's pretty forgiving and difficult to dry out
I was aiming for something akin to the batter of an oil-based chocolate cake, if that makes sense.  While I was waiting for the thickening, I added a few pinches of crushed saffron as well as some freshly ground cardamom and a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt.  Thanks, Trader Joe's for your exotic-sounding ingredients!
Finally, here are photos of my two birthday cakes. 
One was based on smittenkitchen's Walnut Jam Cake but I switched out the walnuts for hazelnut flour in the same weight, increased the flour a bit, replaced the eggs with tofu sour cream (about 2 tbsp) and 3 Ener-G eggs annnd a few tablespoons of soy milk
The other cake was a basic coconut layer cake with orange-blossom-scented cream cheese frosting and thinly-sliced strawberry rounds for the filling and with a general sprinkle of shredded coconut on the top and sides.  It was prettier before the heat inside the house ran the frosting down the sides of the cake.  Still, getting infused with frosting made it unbelievably moist!

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