Two Sri Lankan cuisine questions

Two Sri Lankan cuisine questions:

a) I’m making seeni sambol buns and beef curry buns (mas paan) for the Bite Nite event on Friday. I’m thinking of using a food processor on the (already cooked) seeni sambol to chop it a bit, so the onions are a little less stringy in texture. Is that going to lead to disaster? I haven’t seen a recipe that calls for that, but I think it might be good. Thoughts? (In retrospect, it would be better to just finely chop the onions if you’re going to do that, but I didn’t think of that beforehand, and now the seeni sambol is made, so…)

b) Are there other common vegetarian fillings for these kinds of buns that I’m not familiar with? I have jackfruit, for example, and could make a jackfruit curry filling, or jackfruit and potato. I could also do chickpea curry. (I could do lentils, but I think I want something more savory and robust in flavor, with that tomato component, rather than a creamy coconut milk lentil in a bun.) Thoughts?

Sunday dinner was lovely

Sunday dinner this week was actually a full meal! Yay, us! We had crudité! We had bread! And it only took 15 minutes or so to prep together (aside from the ice cream) (plus baking time).

Admittedly, we bought a bag of frozen brown-and-serve rolls, so making bread was mostly a matter of sticking those on a tray and adding it to the oven ten minutes before the chicken was done, but hey, I’ll take it. 

This week’s menu:

• crudité with carrots, bell pepper, ranch dip, hummus (set out in advance, so hungry people could nibble while cooking / waiting, and get some vegetables into us — Anand said, “I’m so hungry, even raw carrots taste delicious!” Yes, that is my sneaky plan, child.)

• baked chicken thighs wrapped in prosciutto and topped with mozzarella (no need for anything else in the baking dish, since the prosciutto and cheese give plenty of salt, and the chicken gives off liquids that it cooks in, making a beautifully moist result — just bake in oven @ 400 for 35 minutes). Kevin grated the mozzarella (you could use pre-grated, but Kev is picky, and if he’s willing to grate it, that’s fine with me!), and the kids helped with wrapping the chicken and sprinkling the cheese. The cheese did get a *little* browner than ideal, so you might want to cover with foil for the first half of cooking if you’re being fussy, but definitely remove it after that, so the liquids can cook off and the cheese can brown.

• asparagus roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper (Kavi did most of this, with a few reminders of process along the way; I’m determined to get the kids really used to roasting vegetables before they start high school, so they can do it easily for themselves once they leave us — we prepped it along with the chicken, but waited and added it to the oven along with the bread, about 10 minutes before the chicken was due to be done)

• warm, crusty rolls, served with a) olive oil & fresh grated Parmesan (for Kavi), b) olive oil & balsamic vinegar (for me and Kevin)


• two varieties of homemade ice cream (vanilla with chocolate chips / passionfruit with fresh berries, made by Anand and me the Saturday afternoon before)

It was lovely.

(And I love that photo of Kevin’s hands working, and Kavi’s hands beside him as she watched and learned.)


We added something new this time — we went around with “Rose, rose, thorn, bud” first, which was a little awkward since none of us had done that before, but if we do it a few more times, I’m hopeful that it’ll help get the kids in the habit of pleasant dinner table conversation.

The main goal of that is to get them used to actually taking turns leading the conversation, asking people questions about the good and hard things in their lives, not interrupting too much, etc. I would like to raise socially adept children, if possible, who can adapt to different conversational styles, be welcoming and inclusive, etc., though it does take a little extra work given neurodiverse frameworks. (And of course, if we learn more about their lives and what’s going on with them, that’s good too.)

And then we played Geography until we were done eating, and everyone helped clear the table and clean the kitchen.

Passionfruit homemade ice cream

Mmm….this is my kind of ice cream — passionfruit. Basic vanilla recipe + passionfruit puree. It is v. tangy!

(The chocolate chips are because it’s the second half of the vanilla w/ chocolate chip ice cream I made for the kids; I just added the passionfruit puree to that. I wouldn’t really recommend doing that! Though a drizzle of chocolate syrup would be lovely with this fruity ice cream.)

Kavi did think the passionfruit ice cream was just a bit *too* tangy on its own (is there such a thing?), and maybe she’s right. (I mean, she’s still happily eating bowls of it, so take that critique for what it’s worth…)

I think the ideal form of this ice cream might be swirled with vanilla ice cream, or even better, swirled with vanilla & rose ice cream. I’m going to try that next, I think. 

Alternately, you could use half as much puree, if you didn’t want to bother with swirling a second batch, and I think that might be a more generally popular version, for those people who aren’t quite as addicted to tang as I am. (I’m the person who eagerly reaches for the lemon cake, and then is so often disappointed because it isn’t lemon-y enough…)

But I loved this ice cream as it was, and I’m having a hard time not just eating an entire batch out of the tupperware with a spoon! Especially when graced with appropriate complements:

• If you like the summer beach classic treat of mangoes with chili and lime, passionfruit & vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cayenne is in that same flavor family. Mmmm…

• And at least as good — passionfruit ice cream with fresh strawberries. It reminds me of being in Sri Lanka, in the hill country, eating strawberries with Karina from a roadside stand. And now I’m homesick…

I think passionfruit is my favorite flavor right now. I’m obsessed. 

Homemade Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

For our first batch of homemade ice cream, Anand requested chocolate, which is a little dull to try to make with an ice cream maker, but okay, might as well start with a simple classic, except it turned out that we were inexplicably out of cocoa (actually, I’m sure we’re not, but I can’t FIND IT, gah), so we made vanilla instead, and dropped in some chocolate chips, and it was pretty good, though the chips were too big, everyone agreed, and mini chips would’ve been better. But nonetheless, experiment #1 with the new ice cream maker = success, and it was all eaten up by the end of the day.

(Side note: we didn’t read the instructions carefully enough — you’re supposed to have the plastic top on before you pour anything into the frozen ice cream bowl. It didn’t cause disaster or anything, but wanted to note that the first picture is technically wrong.)

Online shopping cart advice?

Shopping cart advice? We’re realizing that the PayPal ‘shop’ buttons and the set-up of our Feast page isn’t ideal; it’s a lot of scrolling, etc. I’m wondering if we should set it up in a different kind of way, maybe an Etsy shop or something else? Recommendations welcome! I’m mostly selling print goods, but also digital rewards and occasional soaps, etc.

Additional Feasting: Full photo gallery is now online!

Here’s a fun bit of additional Feasting — the full-color digital photo gallery is now online! This is particularly relevant to people who bought the paperback, which doesn’t have photos in it (to keep cost down). Also to anyone who’d just like to page through the pretty pictures. All the photos from the hardcover are now up in this gallery — please enjoy!

My plan is to keep adding more process photos, video, etc., as I continue to make and re-make the recipes, so that eventually, each recipe will have a rich supplement of online material, to make it as clear and easy as possible to make these dishes yourself.

You can find a link to the gallery at (Scroll down the page just a bit to find the link.)

A Valentine’s Day present from me to you

My GOD, these are luscious. Here’s a Valentine’s Day present from me to you, folks. Thanks for reading all my babbling so patiently.

The marshmallows themselves are fluffy and tangy and fruity and delectable — then, when you add the creamy white chocolate (and a sprinkling of pink hearts and sparkly sugar), it just takes it over the top into pure decadence. I like these best of every confection I’ve ever made.


“I Plight Thee My Troth” Marshmallows
(rose, passionfruit, and vanilla / love, passion, and home)

3/4 c. passionfruit puree
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. rosewater
butter (for greasing the pan)
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar for dusting (about 1/2 c.)
about 1 – 1/2 c. white chocolate chips
pink hearts and sparkly sugar for decorating

1. Empty gelatin packets into bowl of stand mixer (whisk attachment), with passionfruit juice. Stir briefly to combine.

2. In a small saucepan (a bigger one will be heavy and hard to hold steadily at a later stage) combine water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees if you have a candy thermometer), approximately 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat; if it continues, it will swiftly turn into hard candy.

4. Turn mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. (Be very careful with the sugar syrup, as it is scaldingly hot and will burn you badly if it gets on your skin.) Once you’ve added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

NOTE: The volume is a little more than usual for my marshmallow recipes, as I wanted these on the fluffy side, so have a dishtowel or splashguard ready in case of need; once the mixture starts thickening, you shouldn’t need it anymore.

5. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 minutes. Add food color if desired — if not, they’ll be white. I added a bit of pink, for the romance of it all. Add vanilla and rosewater.

6. While it’s whipping, butter a large 9 x 12 pan. Prepare an oiled spatula. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly (and swiftly) with the oiled spatula.

7. Dust the top with enough of the powdered sugar to lightly cover. Reserve the rest of the powdered sugar for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

8. Turn onto a board, cut into squares, and dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining powdered sugar, using additional if necessary. (They are very yummy as is, so feel free to stop at this point.)

9. Melt white chocolate using either double boiler method, or at half power in the microwave (stirring every 30 seconds after 2 minutes until melted). Dip marshmallows and turn over to sit on parchment or wax paper.

10. Decorate with hearts and sprinkles before the chocolate sets up. Let set. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, or frozen (in a flat layer, with sheets of wax paper between).

Beautiful comfort

I brought some chocolates over (along with rice and curries) to a friend going through a tough time last night. Is it any wonder that I love cooking so? You get to make beautiful objects, and also feed people. What could be better?

I have a bunch of computer work to do today, but Kavi and I have an after-school date to experiment with mango creams in milk chocolate. She’s not a dark chocolate fan yet, so this round of passionfruit-ginger-cashew dark chocolates has been a tiny bit frustrating for her.  (Anand is happy to eat the dark chocolate scraps left over….)

Most of these chocolates are intended for Bite Nite next Friday, but I have 5 sets put aside to sell (last pic). Still have to figure out pricing; maybe they just get sent along with cookbook orders for a week? But what about the poor people who already bought cookbooks? They should get to buy chocolates too…. We’ll see.


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!