Posts Tagged ‘Peter Beck’

A Simple Easter (or Passover!) Cake

Friday, April 7th, 2023

Photos by Peter Beck

Holiday cooking is often elaborate. But sometimes it can, and should, be simple.

My friend Peter Beck recently won my heart (as he often does) by sharing a cake that is uncomplicated and relatively healthy … and tastes like spring. If you want something a little dressy but not too gloppy for an Easter dessert, I recommend trying it.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that although this cake contains baking soda, it is still usable for Passover as well, although if you keep kosher you may have to seek out kosher-for-Passover baking soda.

I grew up thinking that leavening agents were forbidden during this eight-day holiday. When the Jews were finally allowed to leave Egypt, according to the Exodus story, they were in such a hurry that their bread didn’t have time to rise. Jews remember this by eating mainly matzo, unleavened bread, at Passover.

Nevertheless, the prohibition is not on leavening agents like baking soda, baking powder, and yeast but actually on the way in which they interact with certain grains, specifically wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt. Peter’s almond flour and baking soda are therefore allowable.

Peter didn’t actually design this cake for the spring holidays. He isn’t a baker in general, although I can testify that he is an amazing cook.

He loves to offer a dessert of some kind when he entertains, however. Like me, he lives in Hawley, Massachusetts, which abounds with lovely hills and wildlife but offers absolutely no bakeries. He didn’t want to have to go somewhere to purchase baked goods. He consequently decided to develop a relatively fool-proof cake.

He also liked the idea of a cake that doesn’t have icing. A number of his friends prefer cake to icing, he told me, and he wanted to make them happy. I like icing, but I must admit that I didn’t miss it in this recipe, particularly when Peter dolloped a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side of each slice of cake.

“I’m also considering a combination of cream and mascarpone,” he told me dreamily. “Just a dollop.”

“I wanted [the recipe] as simple as possible,” he said of the recipe’s development. I looked at almond-flour recipes. The egg holds the cake together and gives it some lift.”

He also liked the idea of having a small cake, he told me. This recipe fills an 8-inch cake pan and serves six with good-sized but not scary servings. The almond flour doesn’t make the final product taste like almond extract (not my favorite flavor), just like cake. And the citrus flavors sing of spring.

Peter told me that he first put the recipe together about a month ago and has made it at least 10 times. (He entertains often!)

“It’s just easy to have on hand,” he elaborated. “It’s nice for tea. One of the things that strikes me as kind of similar but I really think if you can nail it it’s great is a scone. Also, it’s such an easy thing, and people like that you’ve made a cake for them.”

I was flattered by Peter’s assertion that my own go-to desserts, fruit crumbles and cobblers, also inspired him to find a dessert recipe that didn’t entail a lot of fuss.

I firmly believe that every cook needs desserts in his or her repertoire that can be assembled quickly in the late afternoon if one learns that unexpected dinner guests are due. This cake is just such a dessert.

“After baking it one or two times, you’ve pretty much memorized it,” Peter said of his recipe. “You can put it together on the spur of the moment.”

He notes that a completely different tasting, but similar to make, cake may be constructed by substituting 1/2 cup cocoa powder for a third of the almond flour. I may try that for Easter. Or for another occasion.

When I ate it at Peter’s house, his cake was served in honor of the 40th wedding anniversary of other neighbors, Maggie Speier and Roy Lewis. Peter is camera shy so I don’t have a photo of him with his cake, but Maggie and Roy were happy to pose.

If you have no almond flour on hand, that ingredient may be purchased at many supermarkets. Peter tells me that Bob’s Red Mill makes an excellent version of this low-carb flour.

Happy Easter and Passover!

Maggie and Roy

Peter’s Almond Cake


about 1/2 tablespoon butter for greasing the pan
4 large eggs
1/2 cup local honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups finely ground blanched almond flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
any flavor profile that appeals. Peter used 1 teaspoon dried orange peel and 1/2 teaspoon orange oil when he served the cake last week. He also likes to throw in a little Fiori di Sicilia, a lovely mixed-citrus extract.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8-inch, non-stick cake pan with butter.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. One by one, gradually whisk in the honey, the vanilla, the almond flour, the salt, and the baking soda.

Use a spatula to transfer the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until the cake is fragrant and set, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes; then invert it onto the cooling rack and let it cool for 20 more minutes before slicing and serving it.

Sprinkle a little confectioner’s sugar on top if you want to. Serves 6 to 8.

Figuring Out Florette

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
Florette in the Mid-1990s
Florette in the Mid-1990s.  Thanks to Sue Stone and Dennis Anderson for sharing photos for this remembrance.
On Saturday our small community gathered to remember one of my hometown’s legendary personalities. Florette Zuelke, my neighbor in Hawley, Massachusetts, passed away in April at the age of 90. Florette will be remembered for her passion for Hawley’s history, for her sense of style, and for her strong opinions on a variety of subjects.
Florette was a mixed blessing in many ways to her neighbors. Like most human beings, she had strengths that could also be liabilities. She painstakingly created gourmet meals, but her culinary perfectionism could daunt plainer cooks. She valued creativity, but those whom she judged less than creative often felt snubbed. She charmed men but tended to ignore (and therefore antagonize) their spouses.
She was a caring friend but was frequently thwarted by her own forthrightness. She wanted the best for her neighbors and her town, but her idea of “the best” was often rigid and tended to frustrate those around her. She came up with countless brilliant ideas but usually wanted others to implement them.
Perhaps most tryingly to her neighbors, she always wanted to bring appetizers to dinner parties—and invariably arrived an hour and a half late.
Solitude and dementia claimed Florette long before death did, and she alienated many of her friends as she got older. Few of us visited her at the end of her life in the nursing home to which she had moved.
In her heyday, however, Florette was amazing. Born in the small Midwestern city of Appleton, Wisconsin, she was raised with a strong sense of self and a love of music and culture.
The Belle of Appleton, Wisconsin

The Belle of Appleton, Wisconsin

She moved to New York City to serve as executive secretary to conductor Robert Shaw at Juilliard and spent most of her professional career in music in one form or another.
She helped singers find their pitch at the Robert Shaw Chorale; worked with renowned composer/businessman Goddard Lieberson at Columbia Records; and served in a unique capacity at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, preparing lavish receptions to follow the performances of visiting artists.
Lieberson established the tradition of LPs at Columbia Records, nurtured the company’s classical department, and pioneered in recording original cast albums of Broadway musicals. I was always told that Lieberson was the love of Florette’s life, although their affair never supplanted his marriage to dancer Vera Zorina.
Florette became a close friend of composer Alice Parker at Juilliard and spent many summers renting an apartment at the Parkers’ Singing Brook Farm in Hawley. There she was a lively addition to what I remember as a golden summer community.
Back in New York, where I visited her once or twice when I was a child, she looked exactly like the chic urban career girls in movies. She was fashionable, nerveless (when she couldn’t understand one of James Beard’s recipes she simply telephoned the famous food writer), and glamorous beyond belief.
Florette in the Big Apple:  with Mitch Miller, a Mystery Man (ideas, anyone?), and Liberace

Florette in the Big Apple: with Mitch Miller, a Mystery Man (ideas, anyone?), and Liberace

In the 1970s Florette decided to retire and build a home in Hawley, which she called “Hawleywood.” It featured an eclectic Yankee-barn floor plan and a fantastic circular garden.
During a brief marriage she gave up her apartment in New York, a move that proved to be a mistake; her life’s artistry needed a grander palette than Hawley. Nevertheless, Florette threw herself into town affairs. She served as town clerk and was active in the historical commission.
She participated in the resurrection of the Sons & Daughters of Hawley in the 1980s, helping to transform the organization from a venue for annual reunions into a full-fledged historical society. She organized projects for the Sons & Daughters, helped start their newsletter, and badgered a colleague into audiotaping the memories of older Hawleyites. She hosted meetings in which she cooked ambrosial food as ideas were thrown around by artists, historians, and humanists in town.
Above all, Florette opened doors and resources to her friends and neighbors with the wave of a dramatically clad arm. She also offered amusement galore. Almost everyone I know has a Florette story.
Peter Beck, who bought Florette’s house and was a good friend to her longer than most, shared one with me recently. In the mid-1980s, according to Peter, Route 2 in Charlemont was being paved. Driving to Avery’s General Store one day (probably much too fast), Florette was stopped by a policeman on the work detail.
Unable to interpret his hand signals, she got out of her car and proceeded to instruct the man in the proper way to gesture. She dramatically swept her arms through the air to demonstrate how to signal a driver to stop or proceed.
When she had finished with the poor fellow, says Peter, she went off to do her shopping—only to return on the way home with several pairs of white cotton gardening gloves purchased at Avery’s. She distributed them to the road crew, explaining that the men should wear the gloves in order to make their now graceful hand signals more visible to motorists.
So persuasive, so daunting, was Florette that the men meekly donned the gloves. “Oblivious to the fact that road construction is dirty work,” concluded Peter, “Florette introduced style, making the project a white-glove affair.”
On Saturday we found time for lots of stories like this one, as well as a few songs. We enjoyed remembering Florette as she once was—elegant and caring; fun and funny; passionate about music, food, Hawley, gardens, and people.
When we were first planning the memorial Peter suggested “something Venetian, something Balinese, something Auntie Mame.”
The last of those ideas was perhaps the most appropriate, given Auntie Mame’s signature line, “Life is a banquet.” It’s an apt epitaph for the loveable, maddening, delicious Florette.
I can’t write about Florette without a recipe. This is the first of several Florette foods I’ll be featuring here. When we started asking friends and relatives what should be served at the party Saturday, “chili” was the invariable reply.
Florette fell in love with this recipe sometime in the 1980s and gave chili spice packets to friends and relatives for holiday presents for years after that. She also sold the packets to raise funds for her favorite charities. I am indebted to Elizabeth Pyle, who watched Florette put together the spices years ago and took notes, for the recipe.
Mixing the spices will make your house smell divine for days to come……….
For the spice mix:
1/3 cup salt
1/2 cup cocoa (packed a little)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons allspice
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cumin (packed)
5 level tablespoons crushed chili (red pepper)
3 tablespoons oregano
Mix thoroughly and whirl in a food processor to break down the red pepper flakes and combine. Makes 16 batches of chili.
For the chili:
4 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 ounces vegetable oil
2 pounds lean ground chuck
2-1/2 tablespoons CHILI SPICES
1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
2 or 3 cups beef or vegetable bouillon
2 cans (15 ounces each) red kidney beans
In a large stainless steel or enamelware kettle cook the onion, celery and garlic in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are wilted and soft.
In a separate skillet cook the ground chuck, breaking it up with a fork, until it is no longer pink. Remove any excess fat and add the meat to the vegetables.
Sprinkle the CHILI SPICES over the mixture. Add the tomatoes including the liquid, the tomato sauce, and the bouillon. Stir to blend the ingredients.
Simmer the mixture partially covered for one hour, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking to bottom of kettle. After 1/2 hour add rinsed and drained kidney beans.
Add salt and pepper if desired. Serves 10.

“Blasphemous” does not mean “extra hot.”For a “hotter” chili add a little crushed red chili pepper. For a milder chili add 2 or 3 cups of cooked spaghetti twists. The flavor improves with age and is best when chili is made ahead of serving time and reheated.
Liza Pyle, who loved Florette all her life, made packets of chili spices for the Florette party.
Liza Pyle, who loved Florette all her life, made packets of chili spices for the Florette party.
Follow-Up Note from Tinky in SEPTEMBER 2009:
Peter Beck, mentioned above, has put two posts about Florette on his own blog, Flaneur du Pays. One features a not-to-be-missed photograph of my neighbor and friend, Alice Parker Pyle, in a fixture of Florette’s home (as eccentric as she was herself), the soaking tub.

They are “Thinking About Florette” and “Florette Continued.” Do take a look!

And I also offer links to two other recipes that relate to Florette: Toni’s Salmon Mousse and Checkerboard Cherry Tomatoes.

Baked Hawley

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
The Birthday Boy surveys his dessert.

The Birthday Boy surveys his dessert.

My friend Peter Beck recently asked me to make Baked Alaska for his birthday. I was thrilled.


Like Cherries Jubilee or Bananas Foster, Baked Alaska is a showy dessert associated with “fancy” 20th century restaurants.


I pictured myself whipping it up casually in a little hostess apron, looking like Barbara Stanwyck and throwing my dinner guests into paroxysms of joy.

By the time I was finished putting all the pieces together I was a little too messy (and a little too me) to resemble Miss Stanwyck. My guests were pretty joyful, however.


A Little History


For readers unfamiliar with Baked Alaska, here is a bit of history. Caveat lector: I found this information on the internet. Some of it comes from Dartmouth College, however, which ought to be a reputable source.

Cooks of many nationalities (including the Chinese, who probably invented ice cream, and the cook in Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen) experimented with insulating ice cream with pastry and then baking it.


It was apparently the American-born chemist Benjamin Thompson who originated the exact formula for Baked Alaska in 1804. Fiercely loyal to the British in the Revolutionary War (he spied for them!), Thompson spent the rest of his life in Europe. He was named a count of the Holy Roman Empire by the elector of Bavaria for his social reform work there. Thompson chose the title Count Rumford because of his fondness for the town of Concord, New Hampshire, originally known as Rumford.


Count Rumford is best known for creating the kitchen range (known as the Rumford Range), which revolutionized cooking by giving home and restaurant cooks an alternative to hard-to-control and wasteful open fires.


In 1804 while experimenting with the insulating power of egg whites he invented what we call Baked Alaska (he called it omelette surprise)–cake topped by ice cream and meringue browned in the oven.  The name Baked Alaska came later, many say from Chef Charles Ranhofer at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York in honor of the 1867 purchase of the Alaska territory.


In his cookbook The Epicurean Ranhofer himself called the dish Alaska, Florida to celebrate its juxtaposition of hot and cold. It was first called Baked Alaska in print by my beloved Fannie Farmer.


A Touch of Rhubarb


With rhubarb on my mind these days I decided that Peter’s Baked Alaska would be no ordinary Alaska but a Baked Hawley, featuring one of my hometown’s most copious crops.


I called Gary Schafer and Barbara Fingold, who own Bart’s and Snow’s Ice Cream in Greenfield, Massachusetts. I figured if anyone could tell me how to make rhubarb ice cream it would be they. Their ice cream is always delicious and tastes homemade.


Barbara and Gary suggested that I wait until the very end of the freezing process to add the rhubarb so its liquid didn’t interfere with the consistency of my ice cream.


Of course, you don’t HAVE to use rhubarb ice cream. You don’t even have to use homemade ice cream. Many Baked Alaska recipes ensure super insulation of the ice cream by refreezing it, along with the cake below, for several hours before putting the meringue on top and baking the dish. If you want to try that method, you’ll be better off with commercial ice cream since homemade ice cream is best eaten fresh.


You may also vary this recipe. It can easily be made bigger or given a change of flavors. A brownie base with peppermint stick ice cream could be Baked Noel. Peach ice cream could be Baked Georgia. Apple Cake in autumn could be Baked Back to School (Baked Teacher just doesn’t sound friendly). And so on.


We all loved the rhubarb version, however—and I plan to make it (and the rhubarb ice cream it used) again.


I know this seems like a VERY long recipe. It’s not hard, however; it just has quite a few steps.




The Long But Not Hard Recipe




for the rhubarb ice cream:


2 cups finely chopped rhubarb

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (for rhubarb)

1 pinch salt (for rhubarb)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup milk

2 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue!)

1/3 cup sugar (for custard)

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pinch salt (for custard)


for the cake:


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, separated

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch salt

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


for the meringue:


2 egg whites

1 pinch cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar




It’s easiest to begin this recipe the day before you want to make the final product: the rhubarb and ice-cream custard will need time to cool. (So will the cake, although it will need to cool for less time so you may make it a couple of hours before you need it if you like.)


First, make the rhubarb puree. Combine the rhubarb, its sugar, its salt, and the lemon juice in a small non-reactive saucepan. Let them sit for a few hours until the rhubarb juices up.


When it has juiced up, stir the mixture and bring it to a boil. Simmer it, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb is soft, and most (but not all) of the liquid has boiled off. Set it aside to cool; then refrigerate it until you need to add it to the ice cream.


Next, make the ice-cream custard. In a small-to-medium saucepan, heat the milk until it steams but does not boil. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they thicken and turn a light yellow (about 4 minutes). As noted above, the egg whites should be kept—in the refrigerator—until the next day for the meringue.


Whisk a little of the hot milk into the sweet egg yolks; then whisk a little more. Repeat this process; then whisk the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard begins to thicken but does not boil (about 2 to 3 minutes on my gas stove).


Strain the custard into a heatproof bowl. Cool it to room temperature; then refrigerate it until it is cool (several hours or preferably overnight). Just before making the ice cream, you will whisk in the cream, vanilla, and salt.


The next day (or later that same day) make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour a small cake pan. (I used my 7-inch springform pan.)


Cream the butter, and beat in the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk, reserving the white. Stir in the baking powder and salt. Gently add the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.


In a clean bowl with a clean beater, whip the egg white until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Fold it into the cake batter, and gently spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (Using my gas oven and my springform pan this took about 30 minutes, but it may vary.)


Let the cake rest for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Let it cool.


About 1/2 hour before you are ready to make the Baked Hawley, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and get out the custard. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt to the custard, and pour it into a 1-quart electric ice-cream maker. Start the ice-cream maker. Take the egg whites out of the refrigerator so they can come to room temperature.


When the ice cream is done, add the rhubarb puree. Let it mix in for a minute or two more. Try to make your ice cream as hard as you can but still removable from the ice-cream maker.


Rinse a wooden board on both sides with cold water, and shake it dry. Cut out a piece of brown paper (I used a grocery bag) large enough to hold the cake with a bit of extra room. Place it on the wooden board while you prepare the meringue.


Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they begin to stiffen. Slowly add the sugar, and continue beating until the whites form stiff peaks. Set aside for just a minute.


Quickly place most of the ice cream onto the top of the cake (you will have a little extra to eat just as ice cream). Leave at least an inch of cake around the top edge so that the ice cream doesn’t slide down to the sides. If your ice cream is stiff enough try to pile it up in the middle to make an igloo shape. (Mine was more of a pillbox hat!)


Using a spatula spread the meringue on top of and around the ice cream and cake, making sure no cake or ice cream is visible.


Quickly pop the wooden board into the oven, and leave it there just until the meringue browns lightly, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and serve the Baked Hawley at once.

Serves 4 to 6 rhubarb fans.

Epiphany (The Color Purple)

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009


          With Epiphany only a couple of days away, I decided to try making a King Cake yesterday. I first learned about King Cake from French friends. The French enjoy a “Galette des Rois” on and around January 6. In France, the cake is mainly bought in bakeries. It is made of layers of puff pastry with almondy cream in between the layers.

          In Louisiana, this concoction became a simpler King Cake. Both cakes celebrate the arrival of the three kings at the manger to visit Jesus, born twelve days earlier. Both also contain a surprise—a bean or crown in France, a plastic Baby Jesus in Louisiana. Whoever comes across the surprise in his or her piece of cake becomes king or queen for the day. In Louisiana, that person is also responsible for bringing a King Cake to the next feast. (Natives of that state eat King Cake from Epiphany straight through to Mardi Gras!)

          Louisiana King Cake is basically a sweet, yeasty bread baked in the shape of a ring, festooned with toppings that reproduce the traditional colors of Mardi Gras–purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. I had never made King Cake before. I looked to one of my favorite sources, King Arthur Flour, for suggestions.

          I didn’t follow the recipe precisely, so I can’t blame KAF for the fact that my cake didn’t come out as well as I would have liked. (If you’d like to see the KAF recipe, visit

          Even so, I think I’ll try something a bit different next time I attempt one of these cakes. My cake didn’t rise very well, perhaps because of the cold weather. Worse yet, the overall effect was bland. My cooking may not be gorgeous as a general rule, but it is hardly ever bland!

          Although the cake wasn’t perfect, the meal during which we ate it was pretty darn terrific. My guests all cheerfully helped decorate the cake. Different people were assigned the tasks of dying the glaze purple, green, and gold. My neighbor Peter, who has a wonderful visual sense, came up with a very creditable purple. In fact, he suggested that I call this post “The Color Purple.”

          As a reward for his hard work, Lady Luck let Peter find the cake’s surprise. His piece included a quarter as I had neither a bean nor a Baby Jesus. (Don’t worry; I counseled my guests to chew carefully!) He is now King of Pudding Hollow—for at least the next day or two.

          The experience of sharing even my imperfect cake with friends reminded me of the other, equally important definition of Epiphany. The word also connotes a moment of revelation. Eating with friends and enjoying the gorgeous pinkish/purplish light of winter in New England made me feel part of something bigger, both social and natural. And that’s a perfect feeling on Epiphany.

Alice was in charge of the color green.

Alice was in charge of the color green.

The King of Pudding Hollow

The King of Pudding Hollow

A Sky Full of Epiphany

A Sky Full of Epiphany


Note from Tinky MUCH later:   I made a lovely king cake for Mardi Gras. Click here to see the recipe………..

Pilgrim Pakoras

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

          This coming Tuesday, October 28, marks the beginning of the Hindu festival of Diwali, a cross between the Jewish Sukkot and the Chinese New Year, with a bit of Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, and July 4 thrown in for good measure.

          Diwali is the Indian festival of lights, a time of harvest but also a time of preparation for the New Year. It is both spiritual and rowdy. When I was a teenager living in New Delhi, fireworks filled the sky every Diwali. I found the holiday exciting if a little daunting. The fireworks were unregulated, and timid souls like me huddled close to home, fearful of being burned. I preferred the Diwali tradition of lighting candles to the fireworks, although my mother and brother were (and still are, for that matter) firecracker aficionados.

          My neighbors in Delhi shared sweets and snacks on this holiday. Pakoras are a typical Diwali snack. I adore these spicy vegetable fritters encased in dough made from besan, or gram (chickpea) flour.

          Unfortunately, we don’t have any besan in rural Massachusetts. Today I decided to make a local version of this Indian treat using materials I had at hand. My neighbor (and photographer) Peter dubbed them “Pilgrim Pakoras,” blending my New England ingredients with my Indian inspiration. We ate our pakoras with applesauce, which Peter calls “Yankee Chutney.” They would also be lovely with Indian chutney or with pork or lamb.

          Feel free to experiment with flavor—to add more cumin or chili powder, or to mix in some garlic, ginger, and/or curry powder. Happy Diwali!



Pilgrim Pakoras


6 tiny new potatoes

2 carrots

1 smallish onion

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cumin (either ground or seeds; if seeds, try toasting them first for added flavor)

1 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons sweet butter, melted

extra-virgin olive oil as needed for frying


          Wash the potatoes and carrots, and discard any stems and spots. You won’t have to peel the potatoes if they are fresh. Grate both vegetables coarsely. (I used a box grater for this.) Wrap the shredded potatoes and carrots in a dishtowel, and leave them to dry out for 20 minutes to 1 hour.

          Peel the onion, and chop it finely.

          In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, cumin, and chili powder.

          In a 2-cup measuring cup, beat the milk and egg together; then stir in the melted butter.

          Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones, and stir in the potato, carrot, and onion pieces. This combination is your pakora batter.

          Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into a nonstick frying pan, and place it over medium heat. You will have to test your pan for heat; it is ready when a little bit of the pakora batter bubbles around the edges when placed in the hot oil.

          Spoon generous tablespoons of batter into the pan, keeping them separate. Do not try to heat more than 4 to 6 pakoras at a time. When your pakoras brown gently but crisply on one side, flip them over and cook them on the other side. Check for doneness after a couple of minutes on each side. Add a bit more oil if needed. Drain the cooked pakoras on paper towels.

          The pakoras are best when served immediately. In order to have them all ready at once, you may want to place some of them in a 225-degree oven to keep warm. Makes about 2 dozen pakoras.