Innovative food course, last fall

I meant to post about this last fall, but in the harried I didn’t manage it, but better late than never, and I just want to say that it was a pleasure and a privilege being part of Professor Anna Guevarra‘s innovative food course.

Honestly, when I saw what she was doing, I was both impressed and a little jealous that I hadn’t thought of doing something like that — you totally could, on the literature front, as well as with the sociology approach she takes, using food as a way in to cultural conversations and analysis. Although it’s also a lot of work, how she does it, and I’d need to do a lot of prep to be able to do it nearly as well — maybe someday!

Structurally, it’s set up really well; she spends part of the class on the more academic side, and then part of it with students cooking and serving food from different cuisines, then connecting that to the lecture and readings.

Just a terrific model, and I’d love to see more of this kind of teaching in the academy generally; I think the students get so much out of the real world, concrete manifestation of what can otherwise be rather abstract ideas. And of course, they get to eat delicious food, which is never a bad thing!

Sunday (Monday) dinner: broccoli and ginger-garlic chicken

Our Sunday dinner was a little harried this week, because I was still sick on Sunday, so we pushed it to Monday since there wasn’t school, and then I forgot that Kavi had an orthodontist appointment, plus I was finally making good progress on my revision after much procrastination, and Kavi was super-tired, so we ended up pulling back on the planned menu, skipping the roti and the roasted broccoli / cauliflower I had planned, and just having Kevin and Anand cook steamed broccoli to go with ginger-garlic chicken.

But Anand prepped broccoli for the first time, and also cut up chicken for the first time, and even seasoned the ginger-garlic chicken too. And we sat down and lit a few candles and ate together for at least 15 minutes, and even played a game of Geography over dinner, and we had the mango pudding that Kavi and I made on Saturday, so I’m going to call it success.

#serendibkitchen
#sundaydinner

Love is slicing eight onions

Love is asking if he can slice four medium onions for you, and then realizing that aside from the slicing, it’s just as easy to do a double batch, and asking if he’d mind slicing eight medium onions instead, and he may sigh a tiny bit, but when you come back downstairs, there they all are, waiting. SO MANY ONIONS.

And now I have enough seeni sambol to make plenty of buns for Bite Nite next week, with probably a fair bit left over for just eating too. Seeni sambol on buttered toast = such a satisfying breakfast.

(It was a little sad leaving the Maldive fish out of this batch, but I did want them to be vegetarian for Bite Nite. There’ll be plenty of fishy goodness in future batches.)

Link to Seeni Sambol Recipe

Thank god for banana bread

Anand came downstairs saying, “I came down because it smells so good!” Another round of chai-spiced banana bread, with dried cranberries stirred in. I’ve finally cleared the rather immense backlog of overripe bananas, which is good, because we are about to have some more to toss in the freezer. The kids go through phases of banana eating — sometimes we can’t keep up with the demand, and sometimes, they’ll just stop, for no real reason, for a few weeks. Thank god for banana bread.

Banana Bread Recipe Link

More filled chocolates, with white chocolate decoration

Another round of the Ginger, Passionfruit & Cashew Chocolates I made yesterday, this time in a small dome mold. These molds don’t have the intricacy of the patterning of the previous mold, which means they’re perfect for adding additional decoration. (And hey, maybe I did tempering okay after all, because those chocolates have a nice shine to them, don’t they? Cool.)

I tried pink luster dust first — it was nice, but not particularly visible on the dark chocolate. It might work better on white chocolate? I ended up going with drizzles — one pass with white chocolate, and one pass with white chocolate tinted pink. Funfun.

I can’t decide whether I like it better with the drizzle on top of the dusted chocolates or the un-dusted — they’re both good, I think, depending on what kind of look you’re going for. My drizzling is not particularly even, but that is okay. Drizzling is a forgiving art. 

If I get a nice set of chocolates ready, I’ll sell them here in a week or so. Galentine’s Day is just around the corner, after all. (I can only sell food in the U.S., sorry!)

Mango Fluff

Kavya: “But mango fluff is so delicious and making it was so easy! Why don’t we make this all the time?”

Me: “Well, now *you* can make it all the time if you want.”

[I taught her how to make it for this week’s Sunday dinner. Video forthcoming shortly.]

Kavya: “Hm. Maybe I will invite my friends over and I can teach them how to make it…”

Me: “Good idea, kiddo.”

Also me: [my clever plan is working, ha ha ha ha ha…]

#serendibkitchen
#sundaydinner
#mangoeverything

*****

Mango Fluff
(15 minutes cooking time, plus time to set, serves 8)

Mango fluff was a popular dessert for kids at Sri Lankan parties when I was little, and is tremendously easy and quick to make; my kids love it. It also helps satisfy my mango craving when there are no ripe mangoes to be had for love or money. There are lots of variations on it, some with real cream instead of Cool Whip, some without gelatin, some with eggs, some with flavored jello, some with diced tinned fruit added in. Pineapple fluff is a popular variation in Sri Lanka. I encourage you to make it your own.

30 oz can mango pulp
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature, or will curdle!)
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 envelopes of gelatin (plain)
1/2 cup water
8 oz Cool Whip

1. Beat cream cheese and 1 can sweetened condensed milk in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, on high. When it’s all clear, with no white pieces, then add the mango pulp, and mix.

2. While it’s mixing, empty two gelatin packets into a microwave-safe container with the half cup of water and soak the gelatin, stirring gently until wet through, then microwave it for thirty seconds. Pour liquid gelatin into the mango mixture, and mix a few minutes more to combine.

3. Fold in the Cool Whip gently, transfer to a serving dish (or a set of dessert glasses for a pretty dinner party presentation), and refrigerate until set (at least four hours or overnight). Can be made a few days in advance.

Ginger, Passionfruit & Cashew Dark Chocolates

Ginger, Passionfruit & Cashew Dark Chocolates

This is actually a reasonably healthy chocolate, I think? I was aiming for something that might be almost as healthy as trail mix, in terms of nutty protein and dried fruit, but indulgent-tasting. It came out really well! I’ve never made filled chocolates before, but it turns out that making the chocolate shells is surprisingly easy, and even fun. 

I used passionfruit and ginger, because I love that combo, but you could sub in any dried fruit you liked.

NOTE: Even though there’s a photo here that shows big pieces of dried fruit in the food processor, I don’t recommend trying that, as you’ll likely just jam up your food processor and have to stop it and take everything out and reset it, the way I had to. Chop (or use scissors to cut) some first — big pieces of dried fruit are very gummy!

Ingredients:

2 c. dark chocolate chips, melted (ideally tempered in a double boiler, but microwaving at 1/2 power and stirring every 30 seconds ’til melted also works)

Filling:

• 1 c. dried passionfruit, chopped fine
• 1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped
• 1 c. roasted salted cashews, chopped
• 2 T honey
• 1/2 c. cocoa powder, sifted
• 1/2 tsp coarse salt
• zest of 1 orange
• zest of 1 lime
• 3 T mango juice

1. Fill mold with melted chocolate to the top, then turn it over the pan and let the chocolate drip out again. It should pour out quickly, and then you can flip it over and let what remains in the mold dry, creating a chocolate shell.

2. Combine chopped passionfruit, ginger, and cashews in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and mixed. Add remaining filling ingredients and pulse until well blended; it should resemble a thick paste.

3. Once the shells are dry and set, add a little bit of filling to the center of each chocolate. Pour in enough melted chocolate (re-melting or re-tempering as needed) to fill them again.

4. Let dry and set, then pop them out. Enjoy!

NOTE: You’ll have extra filling left over, quite possibly. You could make more chocolates.  But I think this would also be very nice to spoon into a brownie batter, and I might try that if we have any left over.

Wild Sweet Orange tea, with fresh ginger, honey, cloves, and a slice of clementine.

Made it home, Thai takeout for dinner, because between me being sick and Kevin covering for me at home, plus the first week of classes, we’re both wiped, and the kids are tired too. But I *was* feeling well enough to go down just now and make myself a cup of tea to soothe my cough.

Wild Sweet Orange tea, with fresh ginger, honey, cloves, and a slice of clementine. Sipping it now while I watch the super-dramatic Master Chef TV show. (First season in America, so from some years back.) I swear half the show is dramatic pauses. But I did love watching Sheetal Bhagat compete. 

She made it most of the way, and I just googled and found that she now has a spiced tequila line: Spice Note — the article I read said that her tequilas come in Cinnamon and Cumin. Cool — I’m still a novice cocktail person, but I want to try it out for Serendib Kitchen. Once I’m over this cold!

Let us boldly go onward into a restful & restorative weekend!

Chocolate is basically medicine, right?

I am starting to feel better enough that I no longer convinced that I HAVE to lie in bed and rest and someone posted here that chocolate is good for coughs and I have been meaning to try making some chocolates and surely it’s fine for me to get up out of my sickbed and spend a few hours experimenting in the kitchen if it’s in the service of making delicious chocolates which are basically medicine and yes, this is what the inside of my head is like…