On Monday we celebrated Alex’s fifth birthday with my own version of a South American tres leches, which I had a feeling he would love, because this year he didn’t want a chocolate cake (?!?) And to make him feel even more pleased, I put my health concerns on the side and I put some (natural fruit-colored) jelly beans around the cake to make it colorful, just how he likes.
Upon the little sugar addict’s request, I also made meringue kisses, just like the ones he saw on the cover of the Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine. To make sure I didn’t change anything, he said,”Mommy, but the same!” Poor kid, he knew I would modify something in the recipe. As they say in India, “same-same, but different.” I made them the same, but a different color – because artificial colors are not an option and because I couldn’t find a natural yellow or orange at Whole Foods, plus the red one they have was pretty expensive, so I juiced my own fuchsia. Beets produced the most vibrant and beautiful pink-purple color. When Alex saw them he forgot all about the yellow and orange.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been eating and sharing a lot of sweet recipes. Unfortunately, when I overdose on sugar, my health gets compromised. So if I can’t make any sweet cakes, I’ll make different kind of cakes. Machamar is a Moroccan fluffy cake (pashtida in Hebrew) that my mother always makes. The basic original recipe is much more simple, but I like to play with it. It is an excellent vegetarian main dish. You can add all kinds of vegetables, like zucchini, leeks, peppers, sweet potatoes, or spinach – either mixed in, on top, in the middle, or on the bottom.
Same version that I made with the only two small carrots I had in hand… But you have to admit, the pattern still looks nice.
Steaming the potatoes make them absorb less water and become less soggy then boiling them in water – if you can’t steam them, cut the potatoes in half and boil them in water until they are tender.
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 large sweet potato or 2 big carrots (optional)
- 1 handful parsley
- 1 handful spinach (optional)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- Wash and peel the potatoes and dice them roughly. Put them into a pot with a steaming basket, add water to the pot, and steam them for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato and cut in half. Add them into the steaming pot and continue to cook the potatoes and the sweet potato is tender – about 10 – 15 minutes. The sweet potato doesn’t have to be very tender.
- Soak the parsley, spinach, and leeks in cold water for a few minutes to remove sand or bugs. Then drain and dry with a salad spinner or a clean kitchen towel. Chop the parsley finely and set on the side.
- Preheat the oven to 380°F and line a small Dutch oven or a round oven-proof dish with baking paper (it’s much easier to remove the cake this way).
- Put the spinach into a medium skillet and cook over medium heat for 2–3 minutes.
- Mush the tender potatoes until they are pretty smooth (bumpy is okay). Add the eggs and mix together until the eggs are blended in.
- Stir in the baking soda, white pepper, salt, parsley and lemon juice, and mix until all the ingredients are blended in.
- Slice the sweet potato into ¼-inch rounds, and place them onto the bottom of the lined Dutch oven.
- Pour the oil over the sweet potatoes. Add half of the batter into the pot, then arrange the spinach on top and put the rest of the batter over it. Put the Dutch-oven in the oven for 45 minutes, until the top of cake is golden brown. To check if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick in the middle; if it comes out clean, it’s ready!