Sunday, July 20, 2014

Upside Down Mango Cake

I know that it has been a while since Square Meals has posted anything; please accept our apologies. I have been self diagnosed with a cook’s block (like the writer’s block) and have not made anything new for a while. I had baked this cake earlier this month, when our friends had visited us but did not get around to posting it.
Upside down cakes sound very fancy and tough to make, but trust me they are super simple. You can substitute the mangoes with any fruit of your choice. Head out to the farmer’s market, pick the freshest seasonal fruit, and get baking. I have had upside down cakes with pineapple, have made it with apple and have seen recipes for pear, plum, orange, and cherry cakes. The possibilities are endless, and it is all up to your choice.


Cake Batter
  • Wheat flour - 1 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt – ¼ tsp
  • Honey – ¼ cup
  • Milk – ¾ cup
  • Oil - 3 tbsps (I used olive oil)
  • Nutmeg – a pinch

For Upside Down Mangoes

  • Mangoes – sliced into long pieces, enough to cover the bottom of the baking dish
  • Light/dark brown sugar – ½- ¾ cup
  • Butter – 2-3 tbsps


Preheat the oven to 350 F.


Heat together the butter and sugar, one low heat. Once the sugar and butter have melted completely, allow the mixture to simmer for about 3-4 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile grease your baking dish and keep ready.
Arrange the mango slices on the bottom of the greased baking dish. Make sure you cover the entire bottom. Take the butter-sugar mixture and pour over the mangoes.

Cake Batter

In a bowl, mix all the wet ingredients. In a different bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Pour into the prepared baking dish and make sure the batter covers the mango slices well. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. I would recommend checking after about 20 minutes. If a toothpick or knife comes out clean, then your cake is done.
Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. The cake should slide out easily, because the dish has been greased but you can run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Take the platter onto which you wish to remove the cake, place it on the baking dish, and carefully turn it around. Bon Appétit.

There was a time when my mother used to make copious amounts of ice cream at home and our relatives would flock to our home to devour it, along with her other specialties. When mangoes were in season, she would serve vanilla ice cream with diced mangoes. In tribute to that awesome combination, I served the cake slices with a scoop of ice cream.  Bon Appètit!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 4th Weekend and Catching Up With Friends

We hope that you all had a lovely July 4th weekend. We did…the whole week was extremely exciting. We got to meet two of our closest friends in the span of three days. We met one group at our home and the other at Sequoia National Park. It was a fun reunion. Driving to each other’s place seemed out of the question and that’s when Gomathi and I decided to pick a spot that neither of us had seen. The planning began a month in advance and we booked a cottage, fully equipped with a kitchen and accessories. So we decided to carry raw materials to cook at least one meal a day. Where is the fun without food, especially when foodies go on a holiday!
By the time we were packed for the trip, my husband had a very genuine doubt, ”Are we going there to eat or to see the place?” We truly had more food than anything else. But trust me, it was all worth it. When we finally met, the husbands had a gala time making fun of us, saying that they were expecting some classic Bollywood style drama…of me calling out to her from the parking lot and a slow-mo. run to greet each other :-). We are not drama queens, FYI.
After the meeting and greeting was done, we explored the park and returned to the cottage by late evening. Dinner comprised a simple fare of rice, rasam, and chips and we retired for the night. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast of bread and eggs, we headed back into the park. Our first destination was Moro Rock, a huge dome shaped rock equipped with a flight of 400 steps all the way to the top. It was an interesting climb with a narrow stairway, lots of people going up and down and us huffing and puffing our way through. By the time we returned to the foot of the rock we were all famished. A shuttle dropped us off at Wuksachi Lodge, an amazing restaurant inside the park premises. Even though the food took some time to come out, it was worth the wait. We had a pesto gratin and caprese for starters, corn chowder, pasta with marinara, chicken quesadilla, a kid’s meal with mac n cheese, and a vegan wrap. Everyone was so hungry that we attacked the food as soon as it came and I was left with only two photos of our lovely lunch. 

Vegan Wrap
                                We completed the meal with a subtly flavored honey-lavender ice cream, which was delicious. We did a little more exploring and returned to the cottage in time for dinner. All the climbing and walking had made us super tired, but were looking forward to an interesting dinner. Here’s what we had:

Paneer-Bell Peppers-Onion Skewers

Grilled Corn
Smores (After)
A long weekend is never long enough and our vacation was nearing its end. The next morning saw all of us lazing for a while. While sipping on my coffee, I glanced through the kitchen window and realized that we had had an intruder in the night. The garbage can filled with paper plates and scraps of food had been left outside and it was now on the floor with everything strewn about. We also found some paw prints but could not identify our wild visitor. We cleaned up the space, got ready and finally checked out at about 11.00. After a quick picnic (thanks to Subway) at a nearby campground, we were ready to part ways again. We let down out husbands’ expectation of a weepy Bollywood style goodbye and soon were driving away in opposite directions.

Lots of walking, copious amounts of delicious food and good old gossip sessions…I say those are pretty good ingredients for an awesome vacation!!!