Food + Wine

Second Time’s a Charm

We didn’t have a Fourth of July last year. OK, that’s misleading. Of course July Fourth came as it always does, with its giant beach tote full of fireworks and sparklers. But what I mean is that, last year, we didn’t have the luxury of enjoying anything out of that tote…not even the Fourth of July Yogurt Pie. My entire Three Person Family Unit came down with a severe case of the Rotavirus over the holiday. And all of our friends and my folks were out of town on vacation (of course). Our then 1 year old son got it first on July 3rd, then I got it on the 4th and my husband got it on the 5th. By the 7th I was in the hospital getting gallons of saline pumped into my veins with my still-sick husband by my side. I then got multiple, secondary infections to boot (hooray). My life-saving cousins came and scooped up our still-sick toddler to stay with them for the night. Without them, we couldn’t have survived. My husband and I were at the ER for 8 hours…(could you imagine having an infectious toddler there for that long?) Two days later my life-saving cousins and their entire household came down with the virus as well. Yes that’s right, if we’re going down-we’re taking the whole town with us.
Other than the 2 weeks that our newborn son was in the NICU, that week was the hardest time of our lives. But that was last year and we’re knocking on everything wooden to get us through this year without a bug. So far so good.
So with our fingers tightly crossed, we decided to have our dear friends and neighbors- Annie, Josh and their precious baby, Kai over to our house for dinner. Annie is nursing Kai, who has several major food sensitivities. So naturally poor Annie is having to put a lot of restrictions on her diet as well, (Ahh, the things we sacrifice as mothers!). They’re staying away from all dairy, soy, and meat, although chicken and salmon are OK. My family will eat anything and everything so even though I was a bit nervous at first to create a tasty menu with restrictions, I soon realized this is sort of what I live for… a great, big challenge!!
The last thing I wanted was for them to feel that they were out of place in my home because of what they couldn’t eat. Many might disagree, but it is my personal belief that when you invite someone over to your house with dietary restrictions or even general aversions, it is your duty, as a good host, to provide them with food and beverages that fit into their desired lifestyle even if it’s not how you like to do things. I didn’t want to make food that forced me to say things like, ‘Oh don’t worry! I took out the milk and butter in this and substituted it with blah, blah, blah….’ I wanted the menu to simply be without the things they couldn’t have.
For a starter I made a simple raw corn, mango and avocado ‘salsa’ with lime and chili powder that we ate with tortilla strips. And we had a lovely dinner of salmon & plantain kebobs, chicken & cherry tomato kebobs and mixed vegetable kebobs on the grill, and a delicious quinoa salad (compliments of Annie). I brined the chicken overnight in a quart of brewed and cooled orange pekoe tea and apple juice flavored with a few cloves and peppercorns, a bay leaf, some orange rind, and 3 tsp each of sugar and salt before skewering and grilling them. (side note-I had forgotten to put the chicken in the brine last night before bed so I awoke in a panic and ran downstairs, in my birthday suit, to brine the chicken at 12 o’clock in the morning. I think I may have given our neighbors an early firework display.) The salmon and plantains were rubbed in whole grain mustard, brown sugar and sea salt before they hit the grill. We all sat outside and there wasn’t an ounce of worry or stress to be found. The only bugs were the mosquitoes and even they seemed happy to be there. The tiki torches were lit, the sparklers on stand-by and the deep red, spiked-strawberry-cider flowed like lava. It was a perfect Fourth of July in our new home with new friends. At the end of the evening my Three Person Family Unit sat in the driveway, drank champagne, and witnessed the best firework show we’ve ever seen, (my personal show excluded, of course).
For desert we ate a cake I developed just for the occasion, it’s very similar to an Italian Olive Oil Cake…I decided to call it Kai’s Cake since he and his precious, little tummy were my inspiration.
–For the Cake…
-1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
-2 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1 cup white sugar

-3 large eggs
-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 cup coconut milk

-2 tsp lemon zest (1 large lemon’s worth for me..reserve the lemon for the syrup)
–For the Syrup…
-1/4 cup of powdered sugar
-1/4 cup of lemon juice (if your lemon doesn’t produce that much juice, bulk it up with fresh grapefruit juice, you will need some for the icing anyway)
–For the Icing…
-1 cup powdered sugar
-3 TB of fresh grapefruit juice
-Grease and flour a 9in, round spring form pan. Preheat oven to 350*
-Mix together dry ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside.
-In the bowl of your standing mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat eggs with sugar.
-Add zest, then coconut milk, then oil. Make sure to beat in between each addition to fully incorporate.
-Switch to paddle attachment and slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, beat until smooth.
-Pour batter into prepared pan and try to get as many air bubbles out as possible.
-Bake for 25-30min or until a toothpick placed in the middle comes out clean.
-Allow to cool 15min in the pan and then remove the outer ring of your spring form pan and poke the top of the cake with a fork several times.
-Slowly pour the syrup over top of the cake and allow it to seep through the holes.
-Let cake cool for 30mins before icing. (Now is when you can freeze it, and just ice it as your thawing it before serving it at room temperature).
-Garnish with julienned piecees of crystallized ginger and mandarin orange slices.

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  • Reply Tinky July 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    My goodness, you ARE indeed up for a challenge (rather an odd group of things not to eat, but then we all have friends with odd eating habits). It sounds pretty terrific! Well done. And happy post Fourth of July…….

  • Reply Tinky July 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    My goodness, you ARE indeed up for a challenge (rather an odd group of things not to eat, but then we all have friends with odd eating habits). It sounds pretty terrific! Well done. And happy post Fourth of July…….

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