* Two years in a row constitutes a tradition, doesn’t it?
[A casual luncheon table setting]
This year, the HH is off work between Christmas and New Year’s, which means he’s been home every day since December 24th. The Girls are lapping up the extra attention (not to mention the extra trail-walks), and I’m thrilled to be spending so much more time together hanging out, listening to music, reading the newspaper, or (as we’ve been wont to do over the last two days), chillaxing in front of the TV, watching the Mad Men Marathon on Bravo.
Unlike last year, the HH and I enjoyed our holiday dinner– just the two of us–at home. By the time the food was prepped and cooked, it was almost 8:00 PM (those potatoes do take much longer to roast than anticipated, don’t they?) and we were fairly exhausted. Of course, that didn’t prevent us from thoroughly enjoying the bounty of delectable dishes: Holiday Nut Roast (from the recent ACD ebook); lemony roasted potatoes (recipe to follow anon); roasted heritage carrots from our organic box (how disappointing to find that their regal purple hue is only skin-deep!); rice-based stuffing; smoky almond gravy; and homemade cranberry sauce (credit the HH for that one–he actually cooked up two versions: one with sugar for him, one with stevia for me).
Sadly, we were also so ravenous by the time the serving dishes hit the tabletop that I neglected to take photos. Bad blogger! I’ve never really learned to be one of those bloggers who regularly snaps images during the cooking process, at restaurants, at friends’ houses, and so on (in fact, I can’t even remember to take the camera along with me in those situations!). So I apologize for the lapse–but I think you’ll be even more interested in what we cooked up today.
Although the CFO didn’t spend the holidays with us this year (“Mum, will you invite her again next time? We really liked those Montreal Nylabones, you know“), we decided to continue the tradition established last December and put together an Indian feast. I adore Indian food, and with my office mate (“Ms Mate,” aka MM) from work scheduled to drop in for a festive lunch, it seemed like a great idea.
We began the preparations yesterday evening, soaking chick peas and cooking up lentil dal (because, as we all know, it’s always better the next day). After reading about them on Lisa’s blog a while back, I decided to try koftas for the first time. I mean, Indian falafel? What could be bad? Alongside the koftas I planned a favorite lentil dal from Meena Pathak’s Indian Cooking for Family and Friends, a spicy potato and pea bahji, and some simple brown basmati rice seasoned with vegetable broth and crushed mint. The pièce de résistance was a tried-and-true recipe for creamy tempeh and peas that I posted about here. I also had some spicy date chutney on hand and–what the heck–put out the remains of the cranberry sauce as a stand-in for fruity chutney.
[Oh, and this first course: my new favorite Caesar Salad, from Clean Food]
As it turned, out, we fell once again behind schedule (read: Ricki racing around frantically wiping countertops; unearthing a clean tablecloth from the linen closet just to decide no, placemats will have to do because there’s no time to iron; searching madly for a gift bag–and finding one only moments before Ms. Mate arrived; gasping in horror and re-washing water-spotted wine glasses à la Cascade commercial; finally accepting the fact that–whether occurring in this dimension or any other–there would be insufficient time to whip up the bhaji). Still, I contend, Don Draper was worth it.
Our lunch ended up extending toward dinner. It was great to catch up, hear about MM’s Christmas and plans for the upcoming semester (during which I’ll be on holiday–whoopee!), and see how well she got along with The Girls (“Mum, she was very nice and everything, but you do realize that we missed our afternoon walk, right?”). The HH and Ms. Mate drank wine while I guzzled sparkling water with a splash of unsweetened cranberry juice (thanks for the suggestion, Johanna), so didn’t feel deprived at all.
[Broth-infused basmati with a sprinkling of dried mint–perfect accompaniment to dal]
For dessert, I served up some goodies already stored in my freezer, including the remainder of the Hazelnut Melting Moments from a couple of weeks ago and some fabulously moist Marble Cake (recipe to follow). But it was my own dessert concoction–an ACD-friendly treat that I assumed wouldn’t appeal to anyone else–that proved to be the sleeper hit of the meal. It’s a mousse-like pudding that I can’t wait to share with you all in a later post.
After a filling, satisfying lunch like this one, our dinner will naturally be something quick and light. The bonus to a large meal midday is, of course, less kitchen time later on–which provides all the more hours to chillax with your loved ones.
[Stay tuned for the final Festive Freebie giveaway of 2009–next post!]
Quick and Easy Dal
adapted from Indian Cooking for Family and Friends
Once you discover the ease and versatility of a good dal recipe, you’ll want to make it regularly. I’ve added a few more ingredients to the simple formula for a dal that pulses with intense flavor (no pun intended). This recipe comes together quickly and provides a great source of protein.
1-1/4 cups (300 g) lentils (I mixed brown, green and red)
1 cup (240 ml) water
2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth or stock
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 tsp (5 ml) ground turmeric
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cloves or 2 whole cloves
2 green cardamom pods or 1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cardamom
3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) asafetida*
juice of 1/2 lemon
fine sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh cilantro, plus more to garnish
Place the lentils, water and stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes or until lentils become slightly mushy.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frypan and cook the onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add the spices and continue to cook over medium heat until the mustard seeds begin to crackle and pop, 3-5 minutes. Once the lentils are ready, add the onion mixture along with the spices to the pot and stir well. Stir in the lemon juice, cilantro and salt and continue to simmer until desired thickness is reached. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
Spicy Chickpea Koftas
(adapted from Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen)
Even though we love spicy foods in our house, I knew that Lisa likes hers even spicier. Consequently, I toned down the chilis just a bit in these koftas. If you like fiery-hot foods, go ahead and use the maximum amount.
1/4 cup (60 ml) pumpkin seeds, raw or lightly toasted
2 cups (480 ml) cooked chickpeas (about 3/4 cup or 180 ml dried beans)
1 medium potato, boiled and mashed (I used a Yukon Gold)
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp (25 ml) ground coriander
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) asafetida powder (see note)
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
1/4-1/2 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped, or 1/4-1/2 tsp (1-2.5 ml) cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) turmeric
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) fine sea salt
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1/2 cup (120 ml) coarsely chopped parsley
2-4 Tbsp (30-60 ml) coconut milk, regular or light, as needed
more olive oil or toasted sesame oil to brush on koftas
If using dried chickpeas, soak them covered in room-temperature water overnight, then drain, rinse, and boil in fresh water until soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and cool.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
In a food processor, grind the pumpkin seeds until they resemble coarse crumbs. Place in a small bowl. Add the cooked, cooled chickpeas to the processor (no need to wash it) and whir until they are also crumbled. Place about 2/3 of the mixture in a large bowl. Add the mashed potato to the bowl.
To the chickpeas in the processor, add the ground pumpkin seeds and all remaining ingredients except the extra oil. Process until the mixture comes together as a smooth paste. It should be smooth and loose but not liquid. Turn the paste into the large bowl with the chickpeas and potato, and mix well until everything is well incorporated and the mixture holds together. If you need a bit more coconut milk for the mixture to hold its shape, add it now.
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, form the “dough” into patties and flatten them on the cookie sheet. Brush the tops lightly with oil.
Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, then turn gently, brush the tops with more oil, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve with chutney or yogurt. Makes 9-10 large koftas. May be frozen.
*Asafetida can be difficult to find. I lucked out at an Indian market next to my favorite bulk store, but if there isn’t a source in your neighbourhood, many food sites tell you to substitute extra garlic (I’d say one extra clove in each of these recipes).
Last Year at this Time: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Warm Caramel Sauce
Two Years Ago: A Joy: Pot Luck Club (Vegan Tiramisu recipe)
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs