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.
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 large sweet potato or 2 big carrots (optional)
- 1 handful parsley
- 1 handful spinach (optional)
- 2 leeks (optional) – white part only
- 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
- The parsley, spinach, and leeks should be soaked in cold water, drained, and dried with a salad spinner or a clean kitchen towel.
- Wash and peel the potatoes and sweet potato. Cut the potatoes into big cubes and put into a pot with a steaming basket for about 15 minutes. Cut the sweet potato in half and add to the pot. Continue to cook the potatoes and sweet potato until the potatoes are soft – about 5–10 minutes. The sweet potatoes don’t need to be soft. If you don’t have a steaming basket, boil the potatoes and sweet potato on medium-low heat.
- Put the soft potatoes into a large mixing bowl, and mash them with a fork. Add the eggs, and beat together with a wooden spoon until well combined.
- Preheat the oven to 380°F and line a small dutch oven or a round oven-proof dish with baking paper.
- Slice the leeks into ½-inch rounds. Sauté in a wok or a medium skillet for a few minutes. Add the spinach and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Add to the potato mixture.
- Chop the parsley finely, and stir into the mixing bowl.
- Stir in the baking soda, white pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Slice the sweet potato into ¼-inch rounds, and place them on the bottom of the dutch oven or pan.
- Pour the oil into the Dutch oven, and add the batter. Put it in the oven for about 45 minutes. To check if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick in the middle; if it comes out clean, the cake is ready!
The best Alex can get.