Folks, I am contemplating whether it makes sense to run a little Kickstarter for the Vegan Serendib cookbook. Originally, I hoped the profits from Feast would just cover the production costs, but the pandemic kind of shattered that hope — not anytime soon, anyway.
We’re not doing a print run, just POD, so I don’t need to raise a large amount of money in advance, thankfully. But there ARE some costs — aside from my time (ha ha), there’s Stephanie Bailey’s time editing and producing the book, the cover artist’s cost, etc. I feel like I JUST ran a Kickstarter for the podcast, and maybe my readers have Kickstarter fatigue from me? But maybe this is a completely different set of readers, and I shouldn’t worry about it?
I think we’d keep it very simple — essentially, Kickstarting it would be letting you pre-order it at a small discount — probably free shipping (plus possibly getting it a few months early).
Production costs are something like $3000 or so, so at $40 for a hardcover, 75 people pre-ordering through Kickstarter would cover it. Thoughts?
Why am I making ice cream in the dead of winter? Well, we’ve almost finished eating all the ice cream from the summer, and we wanted more ice cream. Also, I had a lot of mango-passionfruit curd (made because I had a lot of egg yolks left over after making chai meringue kisses), and I wanted to try something, hence: mango-passionfruit ice cream. It is VERY good.
This did push the capacity of my little ice cream maker, so you might want to reduce quantities a bit. But this is what I made.
Mango & Passionfruit Ice Cream
2 c. heavy cream
2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 c. mango-passionfruit curd (plus more for topping)
1. Prepare ice cream bowl the night before (mine requires freezing overnight.)
2. Whisk all ingredients except the curd together until the sugar dissolves, pour into ice cream bowl and churn following manufacturer’s instructions.
3. After about 10-15 minutes, it should be starting to look ice cream-ish. Add in passionfruit curd. (Could you just add it in at the beginning? Probably, but I didn’t try that, so no guarantees!) Continue to churn until you reach soft-serve consistency — generally 25-40 minutes total.
(Alternately, you should be able to make the vanilla ice cream, transfer it to a container, add the mango-passionfruit curd, then use a knife to drag it through, creating a ribbon of curd through the vanilla ice cream. I haven’t tried that yet, though!)
4. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze. (When I pulled mine out the next day, it was a soft frozen consistency, easy to eat with a spoon, creamy and delectable.)
5. Serve with a little more mango-passionfruit curd dolloped on top. Whipped cream and/or hot fudge would also go very nicely.
NOTE: For a Sri Lankan-style ice cream sundae, consider this ice cream with plenty of fresh mango, banana, avocado, a little drizzle of lime-ginger syrup to tie it all together, and some salted roasted cashews on top!
I doubled the amount when I was making this, because I had PLANS for my passionfruit curd. But this is probably an appropriate amount for reasonable people. Fabulous topping for vanilla ice cream (or mixed in while making your own, to create mango-passionfruit ice cream), equally fabulous on a scone, ideally with a bit of clotted cream or butter.
(Honestly, sometimes I just open the fridge, grab a jar, and help myself to a spoonful straight up. It’s fruit! And eggs! Surely that’s good for you…)
Recipe adapted from Nik Sharma’s recipe for passionfruit curd. Sharma uses fresh passionfruit for his, so has lovely little seed flecks; you can certainly do that as well, if you have fresh passionfruit on hand, though it’s a bit more work and does change the texture. A food thermometer is very helpful for making curd of any kind, though not a requirement.
2 large eggs plus 2 yolks
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. passionfruit puree
1/2 c. mango puree
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1. Make a double-boiler: fill a medium saucepan with about an inch of water and bring to a simmer; place a large heat-proof bowl over the saucepan. (The water shouldn’t touch the base of the bowl.)
2. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl and whisk about 6-8 minutes; mixture will thicken and turn pale yellow (around 151F). (You may want to use an electric beater, to save your arm.)
3. Whisk in the passionfruit puree, mango puree, butter, and salt until combined. Switch to a silicone spatula, and from this point on, stir constantly, scraping the sides of the bowl regularly. Cook until the mixture thickens, about 10-12 minutes (to about 165-170F). You’re aiming for a thick, custard-like consistency. Congrats, you’ve achieved curd!
4. Remove and transfer the curd to a container — if you’ve whisked and stirred well, there shouldn’t be any scrambled egg bits. If there are, you can strain the curd through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth.
5. Cover (a piece of plastic film pressed against the surface will avoid a skin forming) and refrigerate at least 4 hours until chilled. Keep refrigerated and use within one week. (It never lasts that long here.) You may also freeze it for up to one month.
Experimented a little with edible rice paper decorations for cookies (found on Etsy). It definitely has a tendency to curl, so will need to work on it some more to learn how to do it right. And apparently you can’t refrigerate or freeze them, as the moisture will affect the color, so that means I can’t make a batch of cookies weeks in advance the way I normally might for sale.
We’ll be doing a Valentine’s Day sale (watch this space), but I really don’t know yet if I’ll be able to include these vanilla-rose sugar cookies. But still, fun experimenting, and the kids didn’t seem to mind the curling on their first-day-of-the-semester cookies.
You should be proud of me that I did not buy myself an edible rice paper printer. I don’t actually run a bakery; I really don’t need such a device!
I gave Kavi the little village cake mold to use for her chocolate cake, and so I HAD to put them out in a snowy sea of meringue. I was tempted to try to make little trees out of chocolate and add them to the scene, but we’re not actually having a party, of course, and I have courses to prep for — classes start on Monday. So I think I will stop here.
I made meringue kisses yesterday. I’ve been meaning to try making them for a while (I’ve mad a big meringue for a pavlova, but never little kisses), but somehow never got around to it. I finally motivated yesterday; I’m planning to stop by L!ve Cafe and drop some off for Reesheda and her staff.
Little kisses, not the prettiest; I have little patience for piping, so these are just spoon-dropped onto the parchment. But tasty. I did two kinds — straight vanilla, and vanilla chai. The chai ones, I included a little pepper, which is often used in chai, but not so typical for meringues. I like it, though — makes them not quite as simply sweet as normal. Definitely a matter of preference, though, so feel free to skip the pepper!
Vanilla Chai Meringue Kisses
(15 minutes + baking time, makes dozens)
5 egg whites
1 t. vanilla
1 t. lime juice (or lemon, or 1/2 t. cream of tartar)
1 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground cardamom
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. white pepper (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 220 F.
2. Beat egg whites on high. Add in remaining ingredients, and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.
3. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
4. Bake for one hour, then turn off oven and allow meringues to sit for another hour, or overnight. Store in an airtight container.
Kavi baked yesterday — she asked if we could make a cake, and I had a bunch of work and meetings, so I hesitated, but then I remembered that we had box cake, so I handed it to her and said go to. I did hang around to answer questions, but basically, she baked a cake by herself, and it was good. I dug out some of the ice cream we made last summer — passionfruit & redbud. A little spring and summer in the midst of winter. Good.
This recipe may not quite match up to the photos, since when I was making biryani for New Year’s, I used leftover lamb curry as my base. But it’s basically the same concept. So luxurious — fit for a maharajah’s table.
Lamb Biryani (or Goat, Beef, or Chicken)
Biryani, derived from the Persian word berya, which means fried or roasted, is a rice-based dish made with spices and either lamb, goat, beef, chicken, egg, prawns, or vegetables—your choice! It is generally more strongly spiced than a pilaf (though closely related), and commonly layered as part of its preparation. Sri Lankan biryani is spicier than Indian, and generally served with curries and sambols.
This has a lot of ingredients and may look a bit intimidating, but it’s actually quite straightforward—mostly, you’re just adding everything to one big pot, step-by-step. It isn’t usually everyday food, given that it does take a while to cook, but if you have a special occasion to celebrate, biryani is an impressive crowd-pleaser. It will come out a bit dry, so I would serve it with a curry, or something else that offers a gravy. Even a yogurt raita would work!
Tip: If you don’t have an oven-safe dutch oven, you can start this in a regular large pot and transfer it to a baking dish for the final step.
2 cups basmati rice
2 lbs lamb (or other meat / poultry)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBL vinegar
4 TBL butter or ghee
1 cup cashew nuts
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
3 sliced onions
8-12 curry leaves
6 cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon, broken in 3-6 pieces
1 cup thick coconut milk
4 boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half
1. Cook rice via usual method and set aside.
2. Cut lamb into cubes and season with coriander, cumin, black pepper, and curry powder, together with salt and vinegar and set aside.
3. Melt butter or ghee over medium heat and lightly fry the cashew nuts and sultanas, stirring, and set aside.
4. In the same pan, fry the onions, curry leaves, cardamom pods, and cloves until golden brown.
5. Add the lamb to the pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is cooked through and the liquid has cooked off, about 20 minutes.
6. Add the rice and stir gently; add coconut milk and cinnamon, mixing gently. Simmer over a low flame for about five minutes, until well blended.
7. Serve on a flat dish and decorate with fried sultanas, cashew nuts, and boiled egg halves.
Note: For a fancy preparation, I’ve read that some chefs fry papadum, cut it fine, until it resembles straw, and then use that to concoct a nest; they nestle the biryani with it, and mold chickens out of a combination of mashed potato, butter, and egg yolk. But I’ve never seen or tried that!