Little Baobab


We said goodbye to my friend Helen a couple weeks ago by celebrating at a Senegalese restaurant, Bissap Baobab– a funky, vibrant spot that served West African food with bold flavors paired with refreshingly sweet yet tart tamarind based drinks.

Bissap Baobab is not unlike my friend Helen—funky, vibrant, refreshing, sweet and sometimes tart—but only when you irritate her.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about Helen.  I admire her for so many reasons—her courageous spirit, her compassionate soul and most of all her strength of character.  She’s a fierce tennis player, gifted artist and a nurse that is the best embodiment of nursing I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and eventually befriending.  As we were saying our final goodbye before her move to North Carolina—I whispered to her that after all the heartfelt speeches and tributes offered by her friends, what I didn’t get a chance to say was that Helen above all else was a badass.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’m pairing this memory of my friend Helen with a cocktail I had that night, the Little Baobab.   It was really a perfect complement to a perfect evening.  I fell in love with it mostly because of the tart tamarind flavor.  If you’ve never had tamarind, I suggest you Google it before you put it in your mouth.  It’s unexpectedly sweet and tart and pulpy and it’s used mostly in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. It is the base for the Little Baobab and nicely balances with the sweet passion fruit syrup.

So for you, my dear badass Helen, I raise a glass of Little Baobab.


3 oz Grey Goose vodka
3 oz coconut water
2 tsp tamarind paste*
2 pumps Torani passion fruit syrup

*I procured the tamarind paste from a friend but you can probably find it at a Mexican grocery store.


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.  Shake it like the badass you are.  Enjoy.


Mango Butter Mochi


Nothing says summer to me more than Hawaii.  As I’ve written in quite a few blog posts, it is a rare summer that we don’t visit the islands.  We’re skipping Hawaii this year so I am trying to bring some of that island vibe to my cooking.

Mochi is a chewy dessert that you’ll probably find at most luaus, church picnics, family parties throughout Hawaii mostly because the ingredients are easy to find and the mochi so very easy to make.  In fact, it’s best not overthink the butter mochi and appreciate it for its rich, chewy and sweet simplicity.  I added the mango just because I had a couple on hand that were starting get overripe.   The mango gave it a fruity tang that managed to cut down its buttery richness.

Tip: You’ll find that the slightly burned and caramelized corners are the best part of this dessert.


16 oz box sweet rice flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 ripe mangoes, chopped
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz evaporated milk
13.5 oz coconut milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all the wet ingredients until combined.  Add the mochiko flour and baking powder and stern into the wet mixture until there are no more lumps.  Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 1 hour, until top is golden brown and set.  Cut into squares and enjoy.