Welcome May — my favorite month of the year! It is showering and dreary as I'm composing my column, but May is a gentle month when rain is greeted in anticipation of the flowers and foliage it brings forth soon to be followed by the butterflies and busy bees. The sunshine and warmth of May is like no other — perfect! The air is fresh and there is an ethereal pastel glow as the young leaves on the trees emerge — yes, perfect! May awakens my senses, restores my energy and revives my spirit — perfectly!
May is also the beginning of a season of food and festivities. This week alone we can celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the 5th, for those who should know, a reminder that it is mom's birthday on the 6th — hint, hint! — the Kentucky Derby on the 7th and Mother's Day on the 8th.
Keep the celebrations going with an occasion every day of the month. Check out foodimentary.com, a fun website that lists celebrations for every day of every month of the year. My favorites are the National Liver & Onions day on the 10th, National "Eat What You Want Day" on the 11th; National Fruit Cocktail Day on the 13th, and National Grape Popsicle Day on the 27th. May is National Egg, Hamburger and BBQ month while the 3rd week in May is American Craft Brew Week and the 20th is National Pick Strawberries Day.
Here's a favorite dessert perfect for any day in May.
No-Bake Lady Finger Torte
20 oz can crushed, pineapple packed in juice
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
12 oz cream cheese
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 pint heavy cream
3 pkgs lady fingers
Mix pineapple, sugar, cornstarch and cook over medium heat until thickened. Cool completely.
Separate lady fingers. In a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom then sides with lady fingers. Beat cream cheese with sugar and vanilla. Whip cream and fold into cream cheese mixture. Spread 1/3 of pineapple on lady fingers then half the cream mixture on top; put another layer of lady fingers; repeat pineapple and cream layers then top with any remaining lady fingers, then top with remaining pineapple. Chill several hours or overnight before releasing sides of pan. Before serving, pipe extra whipped cream around the edges, allowing pineapple to show and garnish as desired. Mint is always a nice way to top it off.
Any fruit filling can be substituted for the pineapple. Fold lemon zest into the cream filling, replace pineapple with lemon curd, add a sprinkling of chopped pistachios to garnish — my favorite version of this torte.
Robin Anish is a former caterer who lives in Lenox, where she continues to cater to her enthusiasm for cooking. She can be contacted via The Berkshire Eagle at 75 South Church St., Pittsfield MA 01201.