July 22, 2010
I’d like to make an exhortation, if you’ll indulge me.
Go have the conversation nobody wants to have; talk to the people in your life about how you do and do not want to die. Get them to do the same for you. Be clear, even if it’s painful. Put it in writing and get that writing notarized. Make sure everyone knows where the papers are. Please. Do it right now.
These things are hard to think about, or talk about, or plan for. But I speak from experience when I say that they are among the greatest gifts you can give your family, even as you vehemently hope they will never have to use them. Because four years ago, I did.
I miss my dad; I don’t think that’s ever going away. But I also know that my mother and I were able to make the medical decisions that he would have wanted us to make. We did not have to guess, or wonder. And while there is much else painful about the way I lost my dad, that certainty is a clear patch of bright relief.
So there you have it—the only piece of advice I’ll ever dispense on this blog. It is what seemed right, more than anything else, on this day.
Subhash Chander Mehra
April 27, 1942 – July 22, 2006
ALMOND ORANGE TEA CAKES
adapted from a recipe I clipped from Martha Stewart Living years ago
This may have been my dad’s favorite thing that I make. These little cakes are decadent (hello butter!), a little fussy (you can omit the candied orange peel, but I wouldn’t), and go perfectly with a cup of tea, all qualities my dad valued.
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
1 cup almonds, toasted
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup flour
6 egg whites, slightly beaten
zest of 2 oranges, chopped fine
1 T orange blossom water, also called orange flower water (optional)
¼ tsp. salt
pans: mini loaf pans or ramekins, buttered & stored in the freezer
Grind the almonds to a near-paste in the food processor. Turn out into a large bowl, then stir in powdered sugar, flour, salt, & zest. Whisk in egg whites, then slowly stir in the melted butter and orange blossom water (if using).
Pour batter into pans, then place on a baking sheet for easy transfer. Bake until the dough just begins to rise, about ten minutes. Reduce the oven to 400˚ and continue to bake another 8-10 minutes or until the cakes brown. Turn the oven off but leave the cakes in for another 10 minutes. (I know this seems like a crazy method, but it works. Trust me.)
Cool the cakes on a rack, then turn out and serve warm or at room temperature, with a dusting of powdered sugar and/or strips of candied orange peel (recipe follows).
CANDIED ORANGE PEEL
zest of 3-4 oranges
Cover the zest with water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, drain the zest in a colander and repeat the boiling process. Do this a total of three times, to remove the bitterness from the pith.
Rise out the saucepan, then add 1 ½ cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, letting the sugar dissolve to make a simple syrup. Add the zest and let the strips of orange simmer in the syrup until they become translucent.
Cool, then store the zest in the fridge, with or without the syrup. I like to use the latter in cocktails, especially margaritas or Cosmopolitans.