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!
So, I don’t have a recipe for you yet, because I think this version had a little too much gelatin. I did 5 packets to about 2 c. liquid (puree + water) I think, and the resulting gummies were quite firm; I want to try lessening the amount of gelatin, see if they still set and are a little softer.
But that said, they were tasty, Kavi enjoys eating them, and they’re fun for decorating a mango mimosa!
I’d hesitated to open a bottle of champagne for New Year’s, given that Kevin doesn’t like champagne much, so it’d just be me — but then I thought, well, it’s a gift that someone brought to my house in a previous year for a party, so it’ll be a nice memory of friends past, which is particularly appropriate for New Year’s (Auld Lang Syne), and I can probably convince my neighbors to take the rest of the bottle and finish it off (and they did).
The pomegranate seeds were both pretty and delicious in the mimosa; recommended!
I didn’t write down a recipe for this, but basically:
– make passionfruit gummy bears (passionfruit puree & gelatin)
– make passionfruit curd (I used Nik Sharma’s recipe, available online)
– layer with ladyfinger cookies, berries, sherry if you like, and whipped heavy cream (no need for added sugar here)
– remember to chill 4 hours or so before serving
For the fruit, I used halved strawberries to make the pretty pattern on the outside edge, and filled in inside with fruit thawed from frozen — I think it was Cascadia’s cherries, blueberries, and strawberries.
Honestly, the gummies are fun to eat straight up, but maybe not the best textural element to add to a trifle — they stand out a bit more than I want, so not sure I’ll do this again, unless it’s for a kid’s party. It did delight Kavi.
Yesterday we cleaned the first floor, at least, which isn’t quite a whole home clean for New Year’s, but it’s a win, and I’ll take it. And this morning, I fed my people something delicious — bombatoast and bacon, with plenty of fresh fruit. If you look carefully, you will spot the top of Anand’s head, as he waits (im)patiently for me to be done taking photos and call him to eat.