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Category Archives: Holiday Ideas

Besan and Nariyal Barfi (Indian Confection Made with Chickpea Flour and Coconut)

November 13, 2020

Here is one of my favorite Indian sweets! Happy Diwali! Enjoy..

  • 1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 4 to 5 green cardamoms (seeds taken out and crushed)
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • Sliced almonds
  • Pistachios, chopped

Heat a medium frying pan and add the coconut oil. Add the besan and sauté on medium heat for at least 30 minutes (or more) till the mixture turns a light caramel color.
Add the ricotta, coconut and cardamom seeds. Mix well and let the moisture from the ricotta cook out- about ten minutes.
Turn the heat off and add the sugar. Mix well until all is incorporated.
Spread the mixture on to a shallow platter with edges. Smooth with a spatula and sprinkle the almonds and pistachios and press down with fingers. Keep in fridge for half an hour to set. Take out and cut into small squares and serve.

Irish Soda Bread

March 15, 2020

3 cups all purpose
¼ cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mixture of raisins, cranberries and currants, chopped
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed or powdered
4 tablespoons super cold butter, cut into little pieces
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400.
Grease a large cast iron skillet or a 10 inch cake pan.

Transfer the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a mixing bowl, whisk together. Add the butter and mix briefly with fingers, incorporating the butter. Add the raisins mixture, zest and fennel seeds and mix well. Mix the buttermilk and egg together in a small bowl and whisk well and refrigerate until needed (the key is to have this liquid as cold as possible) Add the liquid slowly to the dry mixture while mixing it with a fork. Once all the liquid is incorporated, gently mix everything with your fingers and form an 8 inch round loaf and transfer to the cast iron skillet or cake pan. Mark the top with an ‘X’ with a knife about ½ inch deep.
Bake for 20 minutes in the oven and check if the top is getting too brown. If it is, then top with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. Take out of oven and keep the foil on till it cools off.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup with a Smoked Paprika Cranberry Compote

November 26, 2019

This soup has yummy Latin flavors and it can be a great addition to a fabulous holiday menu…

  • 4 to 5 medium sweet potatoes, skin pierce with a fork

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet and roast till cooked, about half an hour to forty minutes. Take out and let cool. Take the skin off and roughly chopped.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Zest of a lime
  • Juice of half a lime

Heat a heavy saucepan and add the olive oil. Add the roasted cumin seeds and sauté for 20 seconds on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, chipotle pepper, brown sugar and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend the mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer back to the saucepan and add the half and half and milk. Mix well and add salt. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and turn the heat off. Add the lime zest and juice. Mix well and check for seasonings.
Serve the soup with a dollop of compote.

Smoked Paprika and Cranberry Compote

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Bring the cranberries, orange juice, zest, smoked paprika, salt and brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Simmer, covered for about ten minutes or till the cranberries burst open. Check for seasonings and cook uncovered for another two to three minutes. Turn heat off and add the cilantro.

Fig and Apricot Compote

November 25, 2019

Fig and Apricot Compote I made this compote for Thanksgiving. Our tradition is to open wine sometime in the afternoon- while I am still cooking. Around 3 I take the cheese and crackers out. I usually make a fig compote cooked in red wine, brown sugar and fresh thyme. It is delicious, especially with some aged goat cheese. We also drink Kir Royale with the cheese and crackers. I love the tradition and look forward to it every year.

The other thing I did different was the compote. I made this one with dried figs and apricots. I decided to use orange and lemon juice with honey. I served it with a variety of Spanish cheeses including manchego, an aged goat cheese and another one- can’t remember the name.

Definitely make this for your next holiday get together. It is quick, easy and delicious. You can make this in advance and keep it in the fridge. Enjoy!

  • ½ cup dried mission figs, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup dried apricots, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, add the figs, apricots, orange juice, lemon juice, honey and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and turn it down to a simmer. Reduce the liquid till the compote is thick and syrupy. It will take about 15 minutes. Taste for seasonings and serve with cheese.

Manchego and Smoked Paprika Mashed Potatoes

November 21, 2019
  • 4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small squares
  • Salt
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ to 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cups shredded Manchego cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup green onion, chopped

Add the cut potatoes to a deep pot and cover with water. Add at least 2 tablespoons salt and the garlic cloves. Place a lid on the potatoes and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and garlic and put them through a food mill and add back to the hot pot. Add butter, half and half and smoked paprika. Check for seasonings, add pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool all the way. Add the grated cheese and mix well. At this point, the potatoes can be refrigerated and made at least a day in advance. Once ready to bake, take out of fridge at least 30 minutes in advance. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or till heated through. Garnish with green onions and cilantro.

Garam Masala and Cilantro Roast Turkey Breast

November 20, 2019

This was voted the best turkey we have ever made. I cooked this delicious turkey breast the same way I have been for the last few years. I like to make a compound butter for under the skin; I like to add bacon on top and I like to stuff the cavity with some citrus. I made the compound butter with garlic, lemon zest, garam masala and cilantro to keep with the Indian theme. It made the turkey super flavorful and delicious!

  • 1 8-9 pound turkey breast
  • ½ stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • Zest of two lemons, save the lemons for the cavity
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons garam masala
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 to 4 bacon strips
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 large onion, cut into quarters
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, skins on
  • 1 to 2 cups homemade turkey stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (preferably convection)

Mix the butter with the garlic, lemon zest, salt, garam masala and cilantro. Loosen the skin of the turkey breast and carefully spread the butter under the skin. Salt and pepper inside and outside of the turkey breast. Stuff the cavity with the lemon pieces. Place the bacon strips on top of the turkey breast and place on the stand.
Add the carrots, onion and garlic to the bottom of the roasting pan. Add the stock. Place the stand into the roasting pan. Let turkey sit for 2 to 3 hours before roasting in oven.
Roast in the oven till the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. Half way through the roasting process, take the bacon (when bacon is well done) off and continue cooking. Take out of oven onto a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. In the meantime strain the juices out of the roasting pan. Separate the fat and add the juices to the gravy pan.
Slice the turkey and serve with hot gravy.

Moroccan Spiced Roast Turkey Breast

November 19, 2019

Spice Rub

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Mix the spices, divide in half and keep aside.

Compound Butter

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ of the spice rub
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and keep aside.

  • 1 7 to 10 pound turkey breast
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 orange, cut into eight pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut into eight pieces
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken broth
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 carrots, chopped roughly
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped roughly

Have your gravy ready either the day before or the morning of. Transfer it to a large saucepan and keep aside.

Preheat convection oven to 325 degreed F.

Place the turkey onto a rack in a roasting pan. Turn the turkey over and place the cut up orange and lemon inside the cavity. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally and turn it breast side facing up. Loosen the skin and carefully spread half the compound butter. Spread the rest all over the skin. Sprinkle the spice rub all over the top. Pour the broth, juice and sherry to the bottom of the roasting pan. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Keep aside.

Roast till internal temperature reaches 158 to 160 degrees F. Take out of the oven and place onto a platter and cover with foil to rest for at least 20 minutes. While the turkey is resting, take the drippings from the bottom of the pan and pour them into a small glass bowl. Let the fat separate, remove from top and pour the liquid into the prepared gravy and bring to a boil. Check for seasonings and heat the gravy through. Serve with the turkey.