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Showing posts from April, 2014

Saag Aloo

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Lo those many years ago, I, a transplanted Mid-Westerner, was introduced by a worldly DC resident to Indian food while I was studying Salt Lake City. Prior to college, I didn't know that garlic came unpowdered and that Cool Whip didn't count as cream. Certainly, my hometown did not boast any Indian restaurants, and as we haveestablished, my mother was not exactly a culinary adventurer. 

Thus, the discovery of Bombay House led to one of those transformational moments where you cannot believe what a hollow shell your life once was. I walked in, a mere girl uninitiated in the seductions of curry, and walked out, a woman ready to sing its praises. We ordered as many vegetarian dishes as we could eat, along with a couple of different naans and papadum.  What I left with is multi-fold:
A lifelong love of Indian food.The belief that a woman could survive on papadums alone.A particular affinity for saag aloo.A very, very full belly.
Since then, I have introduced the niece to Indian f…

Flan

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I have been reading The Luminaries, this year's Man Booker prize winner, this year's present from my secret santa, who happened to be my dear friend who lives in North Carolina, and this month's book club selection. At first, this epic seems a 19th-century detective novel that will reveal itself as you go further into the story; however, six hundred pages in, and the detective story seems less compelling than the sheer artistry of Elizabeth Catton's narrative. Certainly the artifice of astrology plays heavily into her construction of the narrative, as each section wanes into half of the one before it.  Opposing characters face off (just as they would in their astrological signs) and keep the luminaries orbiting, leading me to wish that I had taken notes from the get-go with this book; however, by the time all is said and done, the revelations and betrayals of the narrative aren't what keep this book going; it's not even the characters themselves.  Instead, Cat…

Ottolenghi's Semolina, Coconut and Marmalade Cake

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"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman, and a ride home." 

This week I did two very important things: I made Ottolenghi's Semolina, Coconut and Orange Blossom Cake and I rewatched The Outsiders. These two events are not related; however, they were both delightful.




Let's start with the cake, shall we? This cake is a light-in-texture-but-heavy-in-flavor take on the ubiquitous Eastern Mediterranean semolina cake. From Greece to Syria, Egypt to Turkey, this cake, well, takes the cake. Call it revani, basbousa, shamali, harisi, mix in yogurt, coconut, rose water instead of orange blossom water--no matter what, you're going to do all right.  Ottolenghi's version adds coconut and marmalade to a large dose of sunflower oil and semolina. He also serves it with a dallop of Greek yogurt freshened with orange blossom water. However, this is the kind of recipe where you get to put yo…

Mushroom Risotto

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It has been raining north of here, which means many, many mushrooms.  Of course, we are not eating personally harvested mushrooms.  No, no.  Without our transplanted back to the Mid-West mycologist-cum-farmer to guide us through a forest foraging, the husband trusts himself to gather one mushroom and one mushroom only--the chanterelle. I applaud his restraint.  However, that doesn't mean that we don't delight in finding (and photographing) mushrooms of all sorts.  And lucky for us, the redwoods up in Fort Bragg provide plenty of opportunity:








While I recognize that all of those mushrooms are probably poisonous, I once had a friend who owned a mushroom farm in Pennsylvania.  I met him while I was in Ireland, and upon my return to the states, he invited me to his mushroom farm in, I kid you not, the Mushroom Capital of the World (or so the Wikipedia page proclaims).  Sure, I was fascinated by all of the growing rooms, the sheer amount of button mushrooms in a a row, the proper way…