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Every Thanksgiving for the last 14 years that we’ve lived in the U.S, we’ve always spent it with family and friends. It was a little sad going into this year knowing we would be spending it by ourselves as the regulars have all moved away. But little did I know that I would be sharing with a bigger crowd; all of you who are reading this.

                                                                                                                                                 Ironically our very first TG, we went hungry! We along with two other families decided to take advantage of the long weekend and head out to Washington D.C from Indiana where we were living at that time. We were fresh off the boat as they say, we had just made our own ‘pilgrim’s journey’ from England and did not know E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G would be closed on TG day. We were driving for about 11- 12 hours, the roads were deserted and nothing was open and that’s how we all came to celebrate our very first Thanksgiving. On the road; hungry, cold and tired! Of course we got smart by the time the next year rolled around and we dived right into all the TG shopping festivities like true locals.
Our TG meals are of course vegetarian but no tofurky, thank you very much. Somehow a bread stuffing has become a keeper year over year but everything else changes and I have a lot of fun creating dishes with all the familiar flavors and themes of Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                                                  This year I felt like going with the ‘less is more’ theme. I made a corn dish as a nod to the grain[maize] that was a staple to native Americans, my ‘bread stuffing’ took the form of a ‘stuffed bread’ and some salad greens from my garden. The roasted sweet and red potato was made entirely by ‘numero uno’ who would be my first born, sibling to ‘second to none’ . It is best I give them some anonymity so they can be protected from my blabbing!  A maple flavored dessert to end the meal and that’s how simple our TG lunch was.

Menu

Sparkling Cranberry/ Apple Cider

Corn Au Gratin

Stuffed Roll Pull Aparts

Oven Roasted Sweet And Red Potatoes

Salad Greens With Cranapple Dressing

Maple Syrup Pudding

Will post some of the recipes in the next few posts.

Thanks for dropping by

Best, S.

                                                                                                                                                                  I

I am not a baker and never will be one, as I am missing the ‘Perfectionist’ gene. I mean, I do on rare occasions stick things in the oven that do not involve careful measuring. I generally don’t stock eggs so basically it is mostly savory dishes or the occasional birthday cake that I bake. You are probably thinking it should bode well for our waist lines but no, it hasn’t worked out that way!

I do experiment a lot with buttermilk and yogurt as substitutes for eggs. See here for my eggless spinach pancake recipe. Last couple of weeks I have been working with strained yogurt in baking. I developed a  super simple recipe and it has passed the taste test of a bunch of kids who stayed over after a Harry Potter movie viewing this past weekend.

                                                                                                                                                           For the Pomegranate Yogurt Custard/Pudding

1/4 cup strained yogurt + 2 tablespoons {Fage 2%, you can use homemade strained yogurt or Labneh}

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons of pomegranate juice {I used freshly squeezed}

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Preparation

 Preheat oven to 350

Line a mini muffin pan with cup cake liners.

Keep an oven proof glass baking dish larger than the muffin pan ready.

                                                                                                                                                          Whisk  the first three ingredients thoroughly to blend. Then add the seeds. Pour a tablespoon and a half of the mixture in each of the cupcake liners. Place the muffin pan in the baking dish. Pour water in the baking dish such that water comes up to less than half way up to the muffin pan.

                                                                                                                                                           Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. The custard/pudding will begin to get firm. Gently remove the pudding cups from the muffin pan and place on a tray and allow to cool. Refrigerate it for at least three hours. The pudding will have firmed up. Serve as is or peel the liner off very gently and plate it. Decorate with pomegranate seeds if you wish. These taste like little cheesecake bites and you’ll never know it is eggless or made from yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                            Sending this off to Monthly Mingle “Fruit in Baking’ Event hosted by baker extraordinaire Deeba of  Passionate about baking.

Another variation of my yogurt pudding, Maple infused with a walnut, maple sauce. Just substituted maple syrup for the pom juice.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                           Food Notes

  1. If there is too much water in the yogurt {not strained enough} you might see clear liquid pooling around the yogurt bites. Just  move the pieces onto another plate. Fresh pom juice being very thin, dilutes this recipe, so you might see some pooling around this recipe too. With the maple pudding I didn’t see any, probably because the syrup is not as runny.
  2. You can also bake these directly in ramekins and serve it chilled.

Thanks for dropping by.

Best, S.

 

Don’t you think pumpkins and squash with their interesting shapes and colors make great subjects for still life art?

                                                                                               

  I don’t know a lot of  people who would say that winter squashes are their most favorite vegetables but these knobbly, wobbly veggies are so versatile that it is such a pleasure to cook with them. You slowly come to see their potential and in turn begin to love them.

I was at a Moroccon restaurant last year and one of the dishes I ordered was a vegetable stew. It had big pieces of pumpkin, squash, potatoes and carrots in a very bland sauce served over the couscous. My Indian palette having been assaulted with spices and fiery heat since birth needed some oomph to spike the stew. The waiter gave me this exotic spice paste called Harissa which had me at Hello! and it totally transformed the dish.

 So here is my creation inspired by that visit. I found it interesting that the vegetables were steamed. A very healthy way to prepare vegetables and I am doing this more often now. I diced the vegetables to bite sized pieces instead of the very chunky pieces served at the restaurant. Made a tomato, onion gravy, added the Harissa paste and the steamed vegetables and what a colorful, flavorful way to prepare winter vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                           The soul of this dish is the North African spice paste which I am sure has as  many variations as there are people preparing it. The key ingredients being chillies, garlic and caraway seeds. However cumin and coriander are among some of the other spices that can also be added to the spice paste.

Autumn Vegetable Stew

For the Harissa

7-8 Kashmiri chillies [available at Indian stores, these chillies are very mild but give an intense red color, can substitute another chili pepper with similar characteristics]

2 cloves of garlic

2 teaspoons roasted and powdered coriander seeds

2 teaspoons roasted and powdered cumin seeds

1 teaspoon roasted and powdered caraway seeds

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the vegetables

1/2 cup of diced potatoes

1/2 cup diced sweet potatoes

1/2 cup diced acorn squash

1/2 cup diced white acorn squash

1/2 cup of diced butternut squash

{Skin peeled. I left a little bit of skin on. Consuming the skin is good for you and it looks pretty to boot}

1/2 cup carrots rounds

1 tablespoon of light olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped red onions

1 cup of roughly chopped red juicy tomatoes

A couple of pinches of cinnamon[optional]

Chopped parsley/ cilantro for garnish

Preparation

 Soak the chillies and garlic in hot water for 15 minutes. Grind the chillis and garlic with all the spice powders and a tablespoon of the soaking liquid.  Add the olive oil to the paste and set aside. This is your Harissa paste. {if storing for later use add salt to taste}

Set up a steamer and steam all the veggies. Carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes take 9-10 minutes. The rest take 7-8 minutes. You can steam all the vegetables in a double tier steamer at the same time. The veggies should be a little undone in the center.

                                                                            

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

                                                                                                                    Remove  the vegetables from the steamer as soon as they are done, so steam does not condense on the vegetables and make them soggy. Spread them out. At this stage, after the veggies have cooled you can store them in the fridge along with the Harissa paste for upto two days before proceeding to the next stage.



                                                                                                                                                           Heat a pan and add 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the onions for a couple of minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes and cook in a moderate flame till the tomatoes break down and you have a homogenous tomato, onion sauce. Add 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of Harissa paste and mix into the sauce. Add the 3 cups of steamed veggies. Add salt to taste. Gently work the gravy to coat all the veggies, and add the cinnamon powder. Put a lid on the pan and let the veggies cook in the gravy for about 5 minutes. If the gravy is drying out add some water or the soaking liquid from the chillies. The veggies are done when the spices, flavors and salt have permeated the veggies. Check for salt and consistancy. Add water if you want it runnier. Garnish with your choice of herbs. I served it with lentils and couscous.




                                                                                                                                                          A dish using seasonal vegetables and reflecting the colors of the season, just perfect for Thanksgiving.

Thanks for dropping by.

Happy Thanksgiving, S. 

 

 
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