Today is my birthday! I have never been big on celebrating my birthdays. I love planning surprises for others, but hate being surprised myself. So year after year, I am extra cautious and even a little sneaky, and try to detect surprise plans so I can ruin them. Yes, I know! I am horrible. But this year, my very clever friends, along with my sneaky husband managed to surprise me by throwing me a party two days before my birthday! Devious, I say! I didn't have a clue what was happening and walked right into it! I ended up having a nice time with everyone, and even had a lovely homemade birthday cake baked my friend who knows exactly what I like. A yummy butter cake with fresh strawberry glaze and more fresh strawberries on top. She was so embarrassed that the cake had a small 'accident' and cracked down the middle, but I didn't care! It was so yummy! She is such a good cook and baker, that I think she should consider blogging too - just to share her gorgeous recipes with the world!
Homemade cake is the best kind, isn't it? :)
Congrats to my husband, and all my friends for managing to pull this one off! :) Oh - and thanks, too! Then, last night at midnight, I was woken up to find another bunch of friends from church hiding in the dark waiting to surprise me with a cake. I was very touched that they took the time and effort to come at that part of the night in the cold. Very sweet! I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. I pray to God that I never forget that. And that I never stop being thankful.
This year, I resolved that I would celebrate my birthday on my blog with all my new friends. God has been exceedingly good to me, and I thank God for adding another year to my life.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, this month is also my blog's birthday, and I cannot believe that a year has flown by already. The best part of starting this blog has been the wonderful friends I've made since I've started, and one of the best friends I have made in the blogosphere is the wonderful Jill Colonna. She is one of the nicest, funniest, most genuine people I have had the honor of meeting. She has been so supportive through some tough and challenging times I faced this year. I am so grateful for Jill! She's awesome. And I don't have to tell any of you what a fabulous writer, musician, cook, baker, blogger, wife, mom and all-round champ she is! Undoubtedly the Queen of Macarons, her blog on the Mad about Macarons website also features many more amazing, mouth watering recipes from Jill's kitchen. I still can't believe I'm friends with a celebrity and best-selling author! :)
It is totally an honor for me to have Jill guest-posting on my blog for my birthday! I am so honored! She has made something totally amazing, and I think I will stop rambling and let Jill take over. Ladies and gentlemen, Jill Colonna! :)
Mango, Orange and Ginger Tarte Tatin: Guest Post by Jill Colonna of Mad about Macarons
Tatin! Joyeux Anniversaire from Paris, Marsha!
I just couldn't make this tarte big enough for my lovely friend, Marsha. You see, it's her birthday. It's also her first blogoversary approaching this month, and shehas given me the total honour of being a guest on The Harried Cook, to join her birthday celebrations.
Marsha is the sweetest blogger I've virtually met. She's adorable (I'm saying that with a French accent, so imagine it as adorrrraaaaable, with a rolled 'R'- it sounds so much better) and fun. Can you imagine her lucky husband and daughter, sampling her latest creations such as honey and sesame bread, and lemon-lime meringue pie (another great egg yolk recipe!) Speaking of which, do you remember her Mad About Macarons guest post to use up these egg yolks with that incredible Strawberries and Cream Mousse Pie, using a Pâte à Bombe method? Marsha says she's harried, but I admire how she juggles her job and home life, plus manages to fit in moving house like a warm Indian breeze.
What is this for a birthday cake, you ask? Well, in our house we don't really eat cake.We eat macarons... and right now we're eating so many tarte tatins. It's the season, as the humble apple is the basis of the classic French Tarte Tatin. It's our winter version of eating the recommended daily portions of fruit. I guess it's healthy, even if there is a touch of butter and sugar - just to carmelise it, you understand.
When I was newly married, my French Mother-in-Law would produce the most sumptuous Tarte Tatin for dessert. I was in awe. It sounded grand and looked complicated. How could I possibly return home and make this for Antoine without goofing up? She had given me the recipe and told me it was dead easy. Hey, am I supposed to believe everything she tells me? So, I went home and made anything but Tarte Tatin since I had no courage. Then one day I saw it in a French magazine and saw how quick it was to make. A no-brainer. That's me. That's my Tarte Tatin. It's the same syndrome as macaron-making, don't you think? Picture Julie Andrews singing, "I have confidence in me"!
The Tatin sisters, who ran a restaurant at the start of last century in the Sologne region, gave the dessert its name. The story goes that as the apples were cooking they realised they'd forgotten the pastry, so they simply stuffed the pastry on top then flipped the tart upside down and Mon Dieu, look what turned up?
For Marsha's Tarte Tatin, I picked mangoes, as they're now appearing on our market stalls, although Marsha quite rightly told me the best ones are from India (these ones are from Peru.) And as the oranges are at their best just now, I couldn't resist adding a touch plus a glow of fresh ginger to spice up our present sub-zero temperatures around Paris.
Mango, Orange & Ginger Tarte Tatin Recipe
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
- 2 mangoes, firm but sweet
- 1 tsp orange juice
- 125g light brown sugar
- 70g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp zest from an untreated orange
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 ready-prepared round of puff pastry
- A good non-stick cake pan that can transfer to the oven (I just used a non-stick frying pan with removable handle)