George Loaned Me His Chef

George is really very sweet about helping to promote other writers’ work — even if that writer is writing a cookbook and not an epic fantasy novel. šŸ™‚ He even loaned me his personal chef for the party — I’ve never worked with a professional chef before, and it was really interesting seeing Andrea Abedi’s approach to food prep.

We were all a little harried, so we didn’t get to talk food quite as much as I would’ve liked, but I’m hoping to go back to Santa Fe soon, maybe at the end of the summer — Andrea and her partner are opening a community kitchen, The Kitchen Table Santa Fe, so we thought we’d do an event there for Vegan Serendib when it launches. That’d be fun!

Funny side note: Kavi helped make the passionfruit marshmallows for the party, and was amused to tell her friends that she had made marshmallows for George R.R. Martin . šŸ™‚

I Want Cake

This weekend:

Kavi: I want cake.
Me: So have some cake.
Kavi: Do we have cake?
Me: No, but we can make cake.
Kavi: Do we have cake mix?
Me: No, sorry.
Kavi: That’s so complicated.
Me: Not really. [pulls out tea party cookbook and starts paging through]
Kavi, seeing lemon roulade: Oh, I want that one!

Me [not mentioning that I have never made a roulade before and I’m pretty sure we don’t actually have all the ingredients for one]: Sure.

*****

So we made the cake, and we didn’t have heavy cream, but between the lemon curd, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and coconut cream, we got to an approximation of a filling — well, more of a sauce, really. But we spread the sauce on the thin cake, and then we tried to roll it up, and it only cracked a little, which isn’t bad for the first attempt.

And we sliced it, and admired the spiral, and poured more sauce over it, and ate some, and it was just fine. A little claggy, perhaps, but satisfying the immediate need for cake. (Kavi and I did agree that it was not lemon-y enough, as lemon desserts so often aren’t, disappointingly, and we need to come up with our own recipe someday that will be lemon-y enough to satisfy us).

Then today, I had fresh strawberries on hand, and we had a few servings of lemon-coconut roulade left, definitely on the soggy side now, which to me, can only mean one thing — TRIFLE. Or at least, the sort of approximation of trifle that you get when you add fresh berries to cake and pour more coconut-lemon sauce over it. And Reader, let me tell you — it was DELICIOUS.

Cooking Experiment Went VERY Well

Cooking experiment that went VERY well — my recipes for shrimp curry and cuttlefish curry are basically the same, though they end up tasting different due to the flavor of the base seafood. I happened to have a bag of shrimp and a bag of cuttlefish (aka squid, aka calamari) on hand, and I thought I’d try combining them. Reader, the end result was DELICIOUS.

Main concern is not cooking the seafood so long that it gets tough. So you essentially want to build the base sauce and get it to a good stage, add the shrimp and cook for 4-5 minutes, add the squid and cook maybe a minute more, and that’s it, you’re done! TASTY.

Buying all the seafood raw but already cleaned makes it easy. Be sure to thaw and drain if frozen — if you throw them in frozen, you’ll mess up the cooking times.

Cute Little Quail Eggs

Cute little quail eggs, which I made for the Santa Fe retreat, planning to make Scotch eggs with them, aka nargisi kofta — and then I completely forgot them when packing! Alas!

It’s okay, they made good egg salad sandwiches when I got home…

Dishes to Share

I was, of course, fretting about not having enough food at George’s Sri Lankan feast, so Roshani came to the rescue — she donated a beef curry for me to freeze and take down to Santa Fe, and then *she* was worried that there wasn’t enough of it, so we decided we’d reheat it with a little extra liquid and cook down some chopped potatoes in it when I got there. Worked great!

And really, it’d just be weird to have one person contributing all the dishes for a Sri Lankan feast. When my mom cooked for a big party, generally lots of the aunties and family friends brought a dish to share.

Little Videos for TikTok

Emmanuel‘s been asking me to make more little videos that my Serendib peeps can use for TikTok, etc. This is lentil curry, aka dal, aka paruppu.

If you’re going to learn how to make one vegetarian Sri Lankan dish, this is the one I’d recommend — nutritious, delicious, and a staple across the island. You could live on paruppu and rice — and a lot of people do!

There are a lot of different preparations — mine is thick and luscious with plenty of coconut milk, like a porridge in consistency. Sometimes I eat it straight up with a spoon. šŸ™‚

 

Iā€™m Going Back in Time a Bit

I was a little rushed getting lots of dishes cooked to freeze and take to Santa Fe for the Feast party I promised to throw for George. Well, it was more that I promised to provide a Sri Lankan feast (in thanks for giving me a place to run away from my life and write for a week), and told him he could invite people, and then he threw the actual party, but you know what I mean. šŸ™‚

So over the next day or two, I’ll post some photos from party prep. If for some strange reason you’re planning on throwing a party for up-to-40 people in another state, it might help to know what freezes well, so I’ll start with this one — pol (coconut) sambol freezes beautifully.

Tip for freezing:

– try to squeeze as much air as possible out of the Ziploc bags when sealing
– try to freeze dishes hard (so at least the night before travel, earlier if possible)
– freeze in flat layers for ease of getting them out of the freezer (you don’t want them to have molded themselves around your bag of frozen peas), and for ease of packing
– don’t try to freeze potatoes if you can avoid it, especially bigger pieces! they go all mealy and weird.