Apple-Cheddar Scones

(45 minutes; makes 16 mini scones)

You can tell I was raised in New England, because apple + cheddar is one of my favorite combos. A hearty autumn/winter scone that’s ideal for breakfast or teatime. My kids love these.

1 large apple
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
6 T cold butter, chopped
1 c. grated cheddar, divided
1/2 c. whole milk

2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Peel, core, and cut apple into big chunks (about 16), roast on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes. Let cool.

2. While the apple chunks are cooling, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl.

3. Work in the butter with your fingers to make an uneven crumbly mixture. Stir in half the cheese.

4. In a separate bowl, combine beaten eggs and milk. Add wet mixture to dry, and stir to create a fairly wet dough.

5. Cut apple pieces into smaller dice, then work them into the dough, reasonably evenly.

6. Press dough into a molded scone pan (spray first with baking spray for easy release), or spoon onto parchment paper on a baking sheet for drop scones.

7. Top with the remaining cheese, and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through, with the cheese nicely browned. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.

Starting to Schedule Zoom Cooking Classes

I’ve had some requests for Zoom cooking classes, so as we start thinking about promo events for Vegan Serendib, I’m going to start scheduling these. Questions:

a) We used some system for scheduling classes a few years ago, and I feel like it was sort of clunky and not ideal. What are people using for event-scheduling these days? Something that can smoothly accept credit cards, etc.

b) If I were teaching Sri Lankan cooking classes via Zoom, any particular recipes you’d like to request? I’m thinking the classes will be 1.5 hrs, $30, and you’d know the menu when signing up, and get a list of ingredients in advance, so you can shop and be ready to cook along.

Class would be recorded in my kitchen, Kevin probably not included. 🙂

Give a Girl a Knife

Recently finished reading _Give a Girl a Knife_. Interesting for women in the professional kitchen, for Minnesota cultural and food details, for the tension between city ambitions and country life, for homesteading practicalities. Enjoyed it.

This paragraph was one of my favorites, although possibly that’s because it’s freezing cold in Chicago right now too.

Stir-Fried Semolina / Uppuma

I had to retake some photos of uppuma for Vegan Serendib — the photo we used for Feast had a meat curry in the photo too, and we figured it’d be better to get a clean photo for Vegan. I did the super-fast version that I cooked weekly during grad school for these photos, but the full recipe is below.

Okay, now I’m hungry…


Stir-Fried Semolina / Uppuma

(20 minutes, serves 4-6)

When I was harried in grad school, I made a very fast, very simple version of this often — five minutes to boil water, add semolina with some butter and salt, stir, and serve. Served with spicy egg and mackerel curry, it’s a wonderful breakfast or dinner; the soft uppuma blends beautifully with the fish — my ultimate comfort food.

This version, which is a little more time-consuming, offers more vegetables, more interesting seasonings, and a fluffier texture — it’s tasty on its own, or with a vegetable or meat curry. Both versions are great!

2 TBL butter
1 onion, chopped fine
3 dried red chili pods
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 stalk curry leaves
1 rounded tsp salt
2 carrots chopped small
1/2 cup peas (or chopped green beans)
3 cups water

2 cups coarse semolina

1. Roast semolina in a dry pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly for about five minutes, until it’s darkened slightly. This will give the end result a fluffier texture, with less clumping. Remove to a plate and set aside.

2. Sauté onions with seasonings in butter on medium-high for a few minutes.

3. Add carrots and continue to cook until carrots are softened and onions are golden-translucent. Add peas and cook a few minutes longer.

4. Add water; bring to a boil.

5. Turn down to a simmer and quickly pour in the semolina, stirring constantly, making sure all the wheat is moistened. Remove from heat and allow dish to sit for a few minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Note: You can use farina (sold as Cream o’Wheat) instead of semolina for an almost identical result. Semolina comes from durum wheat (high in protein, produces more gluten). Farina comes from any hard wheat but durum.

Making the Uppuma

More little cooking videos for Emmanuel to put on TikTok for me. 🙂 Making the uppuma…

(Ignore the loud clicking — our stove does that sometimes when we’ve just cleaned it and the burners are misaligned. I’m so used to it, I don’t even hear it sometimes.)


What Kind of Cooking Classes Would People Like?

Locals, I occasionally teach cooking classes out of my home; will probably start that up again in April. If you’re interested, let me know — I’d love to know what kind of classes people would like.

Basic cooking skills, easy recipes to feed a family, an intro to Sri Lankan cooking, what else?

Classes are usually $25 / hr, so $50 for a 2-hr class, which includes eating a meal together, including your choice of an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. Mango mimosas, for example, if we’re doing brunch. 🙂

Picture of my daughter in our kitchen, when we were prepping to be on a Sunday morning TV show teaching cooking.

Sri Lankan Swordfish Curry

(30 minutes, serves 2)

I’m trying to start eating fish a little more regularly again — when I lived alone, it was one of my standard proteins in rotation, but Kevin doesn’t like seafood (alas), and so I’ve gotten out of the habit.

But fish is so good for you, and I do love it, so I think I’m just going to start making it more often; thankfully, Kevin’s perfectly capable of feeding himself (and the kids) as needed. The kids also aren’t so used to fish as a result of all this, aside from fish fingers, which they do like, so I feel like I need to start just including fish on the family rotation. Tuna noodle casserole, perhaps, to ease them in.

But for me, it’s hard to beat a Sri Lankan fish curry. I did a quick weeknight version of this on Tuesday, and less than 30 minutes later, was sitting down to eat fish curry and uppuma. Yum.

I just made enough for a few meals for me, so this is a pared down amount, compared to my usual recipes which are typically intended to feed 4-6 people. Dinner, plus lunch at work today, plus dinner again tonight, probably with a vegetable added. I’m thinking broccoli varai.

1 lb. swordfish (or other firm whitefish, like tuna), cubed
2-3 T oil
1 onion, chopped
1 t. black mustard seed
1 t. cumin seed
1 T garlic/ginger paste (you could chop fresh, of course, which is even tastier, but we keep a jar of the paste in the fridge for ease on busy nights — find it in the Indian store, or locals, they have it at Pete’s)
1/2 t. cayenne
1 t. Sri Lankan curry powder
1 T lime juice
1 c. water

1 t. salt

1. Marinate swordfish with cayenne, curry powder, and lime juice — this will flavor the fish and also firm it up a bit. If you have time, marinating it for 20-30 minutes will add even more flavor, but it’ll be just fine if it just sits while you’re prepping the onions.

2. Sauté onions in oil on medium, stirring occasionally, with mustard seed, cumin seed, and garlic/ginger paste. (If you’re being fancy, you could also add in a 2-inch cinnamon stick, 2-3 cloves, 2-3 cardamom pods. And 6-12 fresh curry leaves are always welcome.)

3. When onions are golden-translucent (5-10 minutes), add marinated fish, water, and salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until fish is cooked through and liquid has reduced to a nice curry sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired — if it’s too spicy for you, a little coconut milk is always a nice addition.

4. Serve hot with rice, roti, pittu, uppuma, idli, or whatever grain your heart desires. If you’re making uppuma, you can do it in 5 minutes while the curry sauce is cooking down. Efficient! If you’re looking for an accompaniment, a bright mango pickle will go nicely.

You Know How British Cooking and Detective Shows Are Great?

So you know how British cooking shows are great, and British detective shows are great? Well, I just finished watching an old series, Pie in the Sky (on Acorn), and it’s a British cooking + detective show, and it’s also great. But the one problem is that after pretty much every episode, I kind of wanted to have a pie — a steak & kidney pie, a shepherd’s pie, a fruit pie, etc. and so on. And mostly, I did not have pies on hand. Sadness. Woe.

But a few nights ago, I finally cracked. I remembered that I had some frozen Pillsbury pie crust that we’d bought for something at least a year ago and never used. And there was this chicken soup I’d made the other day, which was really closer to a stew than a soup, with plenty of potatoes and carrots in with the chicken, and that seemed like it was basically a chicken pot pie filling waiting to happen.

So I pulled out the pie crust and let it thaw for an hour, set the oven to 425F, and used a glass to cut out some circles and molded those into a muffin pan. Spoon some chicken stew in each one, stick them in the oven, and about 20 minutes later — slightly messy but yummy open-face chicken pot pies! Very nice with a bottle of rosé cider.

And I still had some pastry dough left, so I asked Kevin to cut up some apple into little cubes for me, and I rolled out and cut out more circles, into the muffin tin, pile in the apples, sprinkle some shredded cheddar on top, bake for 20 minutes again, and yum. Little apple & cheese pies!

My only problem is that we have now eaten all the little pies, I am now out of pastry dough, and I don’t have the patience to make my own anytime soon, I suspect. But on the other hand, I’ve finished watching the series, so it’s probably fine. 🙂 I’ll cook something else!