Ordering lip balm supplies

Locals, if you have requests for particular scents or designs for body butters ($8), soaps ($5), lip balms ($3) to pick up from me at Colorful Holiday (at L!ve Cafe, Sat the 21st, 10-2) let me know? If I have your orders in advance, I can set those aside for you to pick up then (or do porch pick-up if that’s easier). Also books, curry powder, recipe postcards, etc.

I guess this goes for out-of-town people too, assuming you’re willing to pay shipping? Still figuring out the best way to handle orders for that, but maybe I just take requests for whatever I’ve made so far, or am making, and keep a list, tell you how much PayPal will be? A little chaotic, but perhaps manageable!

#blog
#serendibkitchen
#serendibhome
#colorfulholiday

Ruby-Passionfruit Bark, with Pistachios

Ruby-Passionfruit Bark, with Pistachios

These are pretty perfect. I love that I’ve found a good use for the off-cuts from the trays of passionfruit marshmallows, and the way they complement the tang of ruby chocolate? Mmm…. I did these with cashews before, which are tasty, but I love the tiny little edges of green contrasting the pink and white on the pistachios. The pink-green-white colors make it very tropical-Christmas appropriate, I think.  I didn’t really measure, so this is only an approximate recipe, but hopefully enough to give you a sense of it.

1. Melt ruby chocolate chips in a microwave at half power, stirring until liquid and smooth.

2. Gently stir in chopped passionfruit marshmallow bits and chopped pistachios. (Recipe for passionfruit marshmallows at the Serendib Kitchen site.)

3. Spread on a sheet of parchment paper and let set (faster in the fridge). Cut into pieces, sprinkle with flake salt, and serve!

Cinnamon-peppercorn soap

A lot of my soaps so far have been tipping towards the feminine side — rose and jasmine, for example. Which is good, don’t get me wrong, and I encourage people of all genders to enjoy florals. 

But there’s some definite gendering of soaps in stores, and there are clearly some ‘manly’ soaps meant for ‘manly’ men. Thought I’d experiment a little bit, esp. since I’ll have some items at Pem Hessing‘s Colorful Holiday Fair in a few weeks, so this is a cinnamon-peppercorn soap. Spicy! Those flavors go together well in my recipes, so why not in soaps?

I did these in nice neutral tones, but I admit, there’s some subtle sparkly mica throughout. Even a manly man (or a manly woman, or a manly nonbinary person) can enjoy a little sparkle, say I.

I also gave these soaps a name, “Spiced Nights.” Fun, eh? Seems suitable for a holiday stocking gift to your sweetheart. I’d like to come up with more interesting, poetic names, if I end up doing more blends. We’ll see. 

#serendibhome

Spiced chocolates

Spiced chocolates. Nothing fancy here — melt some dark chocolate chips at half power in the microwave, stir in cinnamon, cloves, and fresh-grated nutmeg (would’ve added ground cardamom if I had any on hand), pour into molds and leave in fridge to set.

Definitely faster and much less labor-intensive than making them into individual truffles, though I’m not sure I love the shiny finish on these — it mars really easily, for one thing. But the little paisley shapes are v. cute, and sprinkling with flake salt is both delicious and camouflages any little imperfections.

Grilled shrimp spread

This was ALMOST very frustrating. I grilled these beautiful jumbo shrimp with chili-salt-lime, thinking I’d make a sort of mango-shrimp salad with them. The shrimp themselves were fabulous; I ate three of them straight off the grill pan because I just couldn’t resist. But when I chopped them up and combined them with chopped mango, the result was v. disappointing. The mango was quite green, and somehow the end version was just meh. I hate eating meh food. It was late by then, so I went crabbily to bed, complaining to Kevin that I’d ruined the shrimp.

But in the morning, I took another stab at it; I pulled the chopped shrimp and mango out and put them in the food processor, figuring I’d aim for more of a spread, rather than a seafood salad. I added some mayo and processed a bit — better. But the seasonings seemed off — it needed more lime, more salt, and something sweet. Mango jam to the rescue — mango chutney would’ve been even better, I suspect, but I was out of that, and I had a bit of the jam left.

I don’t have a picture of it, but the end result was respectable enough that people at brunch were complimentary and asked me what was in it. Whew. Rescued! This is the result of 20+ years cooking, you know — ten years in, I don’t think I would’ve had a hope of knowing how to fix this dish, which would have been very sad!

Ginger-Garlic Chicken Salad

This ginger-garlic chicken salad was the biggest success of the bagel experiments — I would totally serve this either on a bagel (it was great on sesame) or wrapped in lettuce. Or honestly, just straight up on its own, or in a sandwich with a hearty French bread, etc….

Ginger-Garlic Chicken Salad, with Cashews and Cranberries

1. Make my regular ginger-garlic chicken (see Serendib Kitchen website for recipe).

2. When it’s cool, run through food processor with some mayo (maybe 1/2 – 1 c.?), careful to pulse and leave some shreds, rather than turning it into puree. Transfer to big bowl and clean out food processor bowl and blade.

3. Chop cashews in food processor, and then combine with chicken.

4. Add dried cranberries and stir to combine. (Sultanas would be more traditional, but I love both the color and the tang of the cranberries. V. autumnal!)

SO GOOD.

Daly Bagel Collaboration Brunch

Amanda Daly took some great photos at our Collaboration Brunch today.  So good to get some of her bagels; it’s been too long!

(I, um, may have eaten three so far today, and am eyeing a fourth….)

I was too busy talking to folks to take many photos — a great group for today’s Daly Bagel brunch, and a particular shout-out to my high school friend, Carmela Diosana, all the way down from Madison.  Great to see you again and delighted to pass your Feast of Serendib orders to you!

Lovely brunch all around. Much fun foodie conversation!

For today’s brunch, Karina had suggested a kithul treacle & strawberry shmear, which we’d seen at a fancy hotel in Sri Lanka that had a bagel bar in their Western section. That gave me an idea — I had some sugar pumpkins that had come in our imperfect produce order, that I hadn’t figured out what to do with yet. So I split one in half and roasted it, then scooped that out and combined it with whipped cream cheese and kithul (palm) treacle. Makes a great bagel shmear, as it turns out — I had mine on an Amanda Daly chai bagel. Mmm….

My standard Sri Lankan curried salmon + cream cheese = yummy curried salmon shmear with a little bite to it. The shmear bites back. 

Daly Bagel Benefit Brunch

Having fun prepping for the little Daly Bagel benefit brunch tomorrow. Amanda Daly and I are doing a little fusion bagel + Sri Lankan brunch (10-12 on Sunday), and I’ve been working on the menu. (Ticket link in comments — a few more spots available, until midnight tonight. $60 each, and you’ll be helping open up Amanda’s bagel shop!)

It’s super-interesting thinking about what Sri Lankan flavors would go well with bagels. 🙂 Amanda’s bringing chai bagels, also plain and I think sesame.

So far, I’m thinking:

a) green chili, onion, and vegetable frittata
b) curried salmon spread
c) Sri Lankan-style grilled jumbo shrimp (nice on a bagel sandwich with a little whipped cream cheese and some sliced tomatoes and red onion, maybe a little avocado?)
d) kale mallung (like a salad) with coconut, lime, and pomegranate seeds
e) curried chicken salad with mango and cashew
f) passionfruit & cream cheese spread (which I think might also be nice for tea sandwiches) — with a little mango w/chili and lime on the side, in case you’d like to add that

And then I’ve got some apple cider with ginger to mull, some mango kefir, and a little Sri Lankan arrack to add to the eggnog (if you like) because it’s the holiday season, after all. And Amanda was going to bring mango juice and prosecco.

I’ve just finished a batch of milk toffee too, so will put that out with the mulled apple cider marshmallows. Good? Good. 🙂

Now I need to think about what guests will get in their goody bags. I’m thinking some recipe postcards, rose & sandalwood bath salts, some jasmine & lime soaps, and batches of homemade curry powder, of course!

Plus $5 off if they’d like to buy a cookbook too. 🙂

#serendibkitchen
#dalybagel

Early pre-sales of Feast at Jake’s Place Books!

My Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, is coming out in bookstores next March, but we’re doing some early sales right now (we started shipping today!) for those who want to order before the holidays. We’re offering hand-roasted Sri Lankan curry powder too! Just got our first major review, from Publisher’s Weekly, and it’s glowing.  I’d love to do signed / personalized copies for your gifting needs, or for your own cooking pleasure.

Buy the cookbook: http://serendibkitchen.com/shop/
Locals: Copies are also available now at Jake’s Place Books, 142 Harrison Street! You can also request porch pick-up from Serendib House, at 332 Wisconsin (near Harlem and Washington).

Join the cookbook club on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj
Visit the cooking blog: http://www.serendibkitchen.com
Subscribe to the newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/mohanraj

*****

“Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), a literature professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, introduces readers to the comforting cuisine of Sri Lanka in this illuminating collection of more than 100 recipes. Waves of immigration from China, England, the Netherlands, and Portugal influenced the unique cuisine of Sri Lanka, Mohanraj writes, as evidenced by such dishes as Chinese rolls (a take on classic egg rolls in the form of stuffed crepes that are breaded and fried); fish cutlets (a culinary cousin of Dutch bitterballen fried croquettes); and English tea sandwiches (filled here with beets, spinach, and carrots). With Sri Lanka’s proximity to India, curry figures heavily, with options for chicken, lamb, cuttlefish, or mackerel. A number of poriyal dishes, consisting of sautéed vegetables with a featured ingredient, such as asparagus or brussels sprouts, showcase a Tamil influence. Throughout, Mohanraj does a superb job of combining easily sourced ingredients with clear, instructive guidance and menu recommendations for all manner of events, including a Royal Feast for over 200 people. This is a terrific survey of an overlooked cuisine.”

— Publisher’s Weekly

*****

And here’s a sample recipe; this one’s popular with children.  I make it at least once a week!

Ginger-Garlic Chicken
(30-90 minutes, serves 6-8)

The timing on this is so variable because you can either do it the long way described below, the way my mother recommends, which is definitely a bit tastier — or you can do a much faster version, where you mix the spices with the chicken, skip the marinating, and then just sauté the chicken in the pan on medium-high until cooked through and serve. I use both methods, mostly depending on how much of a hurry I’m in. Regardless of which method you use, this dish is best served fresh; if it sits, the chicken will tend to dry up and not be as tasty.

NOTE: This is my daughter’s favorite chicken dish, and one she always greets with delight; she started eating it when she was about five, with no added chili powder. Over time, I’ve added a little more chili powder when feeding it to both kids, serving with milk to help them along; you can also use black pepper if you’d prefer.

1 heaping tsp ginger powder
1 heaping tsp garlic powder
1 heaping tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
12 chicken thighs, about 2 lbs., deboned and cut bite-size
vegetable oil for frying
1/2 to 2 heaping tsp red chili powder (to taste, optional)

1. Mix first four spices in a large bowl; add chicken pieces and rub with your hands until well coated. Marinate 1/2 hour.

2. Heat oil on high; add chili powder (if using) and cook 15 seconds, stirring.

3. Add chicken and sear on high, turning to brown all sides.

4. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook approximately 15-20 minutes, until meat is cooked through.

5. Uncover and cook until all the liquid is gone.

6. Tilt pan and push chicken pieces to one side; allow excess oil to drain to one side for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to dish and serve hot.

NOTE: If reheating a day or two later, I recommend reheating in a pan with a little coconut milk; just simmer 5-10 minutes, enough for the milk to thicken with the spices into a nice sauce. Or serve dry chicken with a nice coconut-milky vegetable curry, like carrot or beetroot curry.

*****

(likes / comments / shares appreciated for visibility!)

Pacing Feast packing

It’s tempting to just power through and pack everything and ship everything at once, but this is a part-time business and has to be fit into the interstices of the rest of our lives. We spent the morning on packing, primarily, and now Stephanie is off to pick up her son from preschool.

 

She’ll ship several orders out this afternoon, including the one for my parents (Navaratnasingam Mohanraj). There might be a few extra treats stuffed in that one. 🙂

Stephanie laughed when I threw a blanket over those boxes, but those are the ones that are all done and just need a label from her and to be taken to the post office. I don’t want the kids messing with them! Out of sight, out of mind…

 

As for the dining room, well, we did a bunch of order packing, and got all the packages up off the floor today, so that’s definitely progress. I’m going to pause (and give my back a bit of a rest) for lunch of kanavai curry with a piece of toasted naan, then sit in a nice comfy chair and work on the very overdue Wild Cards story. If I need a break between drafting scenes, though, there are plenty of orders left to pack…