Happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

Sunday is Mother’s Day.

You can buy her chocolates or carnations, but wine reviews…

I believes a hug, a kiss and a homemade cake will show your appreciation much better.

Up until the day I became a mother, I did not know the meaning of a mother’s unconditional love.

The first time I held my baby, wrinkled and red like a little hairless monkey, emotions ran riot. There was love and fear mingled with trepidation and lofty hopes.

And then my eyes turned to my own mother, who had stayed beside me throughout the long and difficult labor. For the first time in my life, I was truly thankful for her, and to her.

My baby son is now a strapping man who towers above me and he lives a full and independent life, with just the occasional hallo for his mother through a text message or an email. We live 1,000 km apart, but the bonds are close.

My mother, too, is almost 80, a little lady with a head of silverwhite hair whose feisty spirit still fuels her drive for life as she city-hops among her three children in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

There is also my mother-in-law, who loves me like her own child, and for whom I have the greatest affection and appreciation.

Both my mother and mother-in-law went through pretty tough times, bringing up their children as single parents. For my mother, it was through choice, but fate had left my mom-in-law widowed at a young age.

Whatever the reason, nothing changes the fact that both women exhibited the indomitable traits of motherhood – apparent in the relative success of their offsprings.

Being a mother these days is becoming more challenging. Don’t believe everything you hear about the Asian Tiger Mother. We’re practically de-clawed these days, having to put on velvet gloves to handle our children.

You cannot demand blind obedience any more, and you have to be mother, friend, confidante and fashion consultant all in one.

You need to have IQ to deal with increasingly smart youngsters whose weapons are logic and the art of debate. But mainly, you have to have the EQ to guide them through Internet love aff airs, bewildering career choices, competitive office politics and finally, have enough wisdom to let go when they have found their own spouses.

Motherhood is like learning how to cycle. It becomes second nature once you know how to, but you spend the rest of your life wondering how to master the art of negotiating heavy traffic without accident.

In contrast, cooking is much simpler. So to all mothers, for all mothers, here’s a cake for you – a cake that is traditionally made for Mothering Sunday, but which I think is timeless, like a mother’s love.

One of the ingredients used is almond paste, and as we all know, almonds keep the complexion young and youthful. In traditional Chinese medicine, almonds nourish the lungs (which must have suffered for all that yelling at the kids) and are a mild and nurturing tonic.

I have also included a really simple salad, which is very pretty but easy to do, and full of springtime flavors – easy on the eye and a real palate pleaser for the modern mom. Prepare this salad for your mother as a special treat and God knows we all need an occasional pampering.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Recipe : Simnel cup cakes

Ingredients (makes 12):

Almond paste:

250 g fine sugar

250 g skinned almonds

2 eggs, beaten

Cakes:

200 g butter

200 g soft brown sugar

200 g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp mixed spices

300 g mixed dried fruits (raisins, orange peel, cherries, cranberries)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Glaze:

1 egg, beaten

Method:

1. Place the sugar and almonds in a blender and blitz to a fine powder. Add the beaten egg and mix to a thick paste. Knead until the paste becomes soft and silky.

2. Divide the almond paste into three portions and wrap in plastic film to keep it from drying out.

3. Prepare the cake batter. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, adding the beaten eggs slowly so mixture does not curdle.

4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the butter mixture.

5. Add the dried fruit and lemon zest. Stir well to distribute the fruit evenly.

6. Prepare a 12-hole muffin pan and drop paper cases into each.

7. Take one portion of almond paste and divide into 12 little balls. Flatten each into a disc that will fit the muffin pan. Do the same with another portion, making the discs a little large this time. Finally, divide the final portion into 12, and roll each into a little ball.

8. Drop a tablespoon of cake mixture into muffin pan and top with a disc of almond paste. Cover with more cake mix. Smooth the top and add a disc of almond paste. Glaze the top with beaten egg.

9. Bake cupcakes in a pre-heated 160 C oven for about 1 hour.

10. When the cupcakes are done, set a little ball of almond paste on top of each cupcake, and then place the cupcakes under a medium grill until the balls are lightly browned.

11. If you like, dust with icing sugar for a final finish.

Food notes:

If you think the almond paste is too difficult to make, take a shortcut to the nearest large supermarket or baking supplies shop and buy a large roll of marzipan. This is ready-to-roll almond paste. You can also find marzipan on sale at baking supplies stores or hop on online shopping sites, such as Taobao.com. Remember to knead the store-bought marzipan so they become softer and more pliable.

Recipe| Tuna spring salad

Ingredients (serves 2 to 4):

1 can chunky tuna in water or light brine

1 red bell pepper

4 ripe red tomatoes

1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped (substitute coriander if you cannot get parsley)

A few sprigs thyme, chopped

Cracked black pepper

1 tbsp lemon juice

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and fresh black pepper

Method:

1. Remove tuna from can and drain. Reserve juices from the can.

2. Cut tomatoes into wedges and bell peppers into strips.

3. Break up tuna chunks and toss together with cut vegetables. Place on a serving platter.

4. Add lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil to can juices and mix to form a dressing. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

5. Drizzle dressing over the tuna salad and top with a generous handful of chopped herbs.

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