Sunday, July 12, 2015

Eating Cake on the Rooftop

On at least three separate occasions I have been asked if I’m still doing Meals with Morri. The short answer is yes. The longer answer obviously has more to it than that. 


When I first started, I was cooking and posting and writing on the regular, and in doing so I learned how to cook and post and write. I met a lot of talented and amazing people along the way. Companies and publishers reached out to me to write reviews for their products and cookbook authors. I learned to be picky, and when to say no.

But with the evolution of Meals with Morri, particularly the person behind it (i.e., yours truly), I started to become very critical of my art. If it wasn’t something I thought people wouldn’t like, it wasn’t posted. If the photos I took were not good enough, the recipe itself would have to wait. This doesn’t particularly bother me, because I have really blossomed with the food I’ve made, and the stories I’ve written about them have refined. The problem I am facing now is the realization as to why I love to cook, and why Meals with Morri has been lacking in recipes per month recently.

My motivation in making food is just that: making food. Not for me, but to share with others. Eating the same food with other people is such an important ritual for me. It’s a sacred act of connecting with others at the table. I had experienced a similar revelation while I was in Malta. When I lived alone, I just made food. There was nothing more to it than insuring I was eating enough. But when CK and I visited each other or I made food for the office, suddenly the creative juices were flowing in overdrive. And perhaps the underlying reason is to validate my art, to see that Meals with Morri was doing something positive in person. But really, I’ve come to realize that, like my previous aspirations to be a chef, I really love it when people eat and enjoy the food I make for them. 


Living with my parents after over a year of not doing so has meant that what they eat and what I eat doesn’t mesh as often as it used to when it was my responsibility to make dinner for the family. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but not sharing food I make with other people has affected my motivation to create and share recipes online. I like there being a reason for my art, and I want to experience that shared moment in person, in real time. CK and our two dear friends H and J have risen to the challenge in helping me see that it's equally important for me to enjoy my art, and are more than willing to help give me ideas in what to make (thanks, guys).

Last night, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party, and although I wasn’t asked, I made a cake that I knew I’d be able to eat. It was a rooftop party, one that overlooked other Washington, D.C. apartments and offices, the Washington Monument blinking lazily far away. The already present cupcakes had been eaten, and to my surprise, my cake was used to sing to him “Happy Birthday” (which I unashamedly conspired with his girlfriend in making happen). The cake was said to be quite good, and only a few people knew that it was gluten free. 

Rooftop Carrot Cake with Honey Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake
120 g White rice flour*
1/2 tsp. Baking soda**
1 tsp. Cream of tartar**
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
150 ml olive oil
200 g coconut sugar
5 Carrots, grated

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease (I used butter) and flour (I used the white rice flour) one 9-inch pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together the rice flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, sea salt and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a larger bowl with a hand mixer), combine the eggs, olive oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla, and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is slightly frothy.
Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture in small increments, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula each time.
Stir in the grated carrots, mixing until combined, and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (for me, this was 50 minutes).
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a parchment lined wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, decorate the cake with frosting and other toppings you may enjoy (such as unsweetened coconut shavings).

Makes 1 cake, or 12 slices.

For the frosting (courtesy of this recipe)
8 oz package or 240 g Cream cheese, softened
56 g Unsalted butter, softened
85 g Honey
Unsweetened coconut shavings, as topping (optional)

Whip the cream cheese in a standing mixer until soft, then add the butter and honey to blend.
Mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Makes 12 – 18 servings.

* NOT to be confused with sweet rice flour. If you do, you’ll get a mochi-like consistency.
** The baking powder equivalent is 1 1/2 tsp.