As I mentioned in a previous post, the CFO came to visit over the holidays, and we had a truly lovely time together, chillaxing (I can’t understand why that word has evaporated from the lexicon. I mean, it just seems to capture so perfectly the concept its meant to convey), laughing, watching movies*, laughing, shopping, playing with The Girls, laughing, and eating far, far too much. I’m happy to say that my sister also bonded with both of our furry babies, who have been wandering aimlessly around the house since she left this morning.
(“Mum, what do you mean, ‘she left’? Doesn’t she live with us now? Where did she go? And, um, who will rub my belly tonight?”)
It does seem like ages since I’ve written on this blog, when in fact, it’s been just a few days. I’m just fascinated by the science fiction-like relative quality of time at the holidays: the space-time continuum stretches infinitely as you wait for the Big Day (or Days, depending on your belief system); then, like the Big Bang, it’s over in a flash.
Not to belabor the physics theme or anything, but I think my stomach has taken over the role of a black hole this holiday season. Truly, I didn’t know it was possible that so much food could be sucked into that abyss in so short a span. Ah, if only time could stretch as infinitely as my appetite (and if only the waistband on my pants could do the same. . . ).
Ah, what the heck, it’s the holidays. While the CFO was here , in effect, we enjoyed two major feast meals: the first on Christmas Day, a semi-traditional repast that blended the Judeo-Christian cuisines; then, the following night, an Indian-themed feast, because we felt like it.
Although neither my sister nor the HH is vegan (or even vegetarian), the bulk of the menu accommodated my dietary restrictions, so that we could all enjoy freely. And despite much good-natured ribbing in both directions (the CFO pooh-poohed almost every recipe I suggested on the grounds it was “too Veeee-gan”, while I countered by calling her a “rabid anti-Veegite“), it was the dish about which she was most skeptical, the wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free pumpkin bread pudding, that turned out to be the star of the show.
For the holiday meal, I relied on several tried-and-true recipes such as herb-roasted root vegetables, balsamic-dijon brussels sprouts and roast on the 25th, plus (in keeping with the Hannukah theme I started with those latkes the other day) an apple-noodle pudding (or kugel). Even though this was a sweet kugel and more of what I’d consider a dessert, it did work well with the other dishes, offering a bit of luscious creaminess punctuated by tart cherries, along with the similar sweet-tart contrast in the brussels sprouts. In fact, this noodle pudding would be perfect for breakfast, I’d venture.
[Apple-Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries]
The bread pudding my sister so loved began with a pumpkin bread (recipe from Simple Treats), soaked in a pumpkin “custard” based on the mixture I used in my French Toast Soufflé. I baked the puddings in individual ramekins, but you could easily do a single pudding in a loaf or square pan and scoop it from there. I topped the puddings with a homemade caramel sauce–a concoction based on a sweetened condensed milk experiment that went awry–that I’d kept warm.
[A bite of pumpkiny-caramelly bliss.]
The result was spectacular–warm, slightly crisp on the outside but moist and spongy on the inside, über-pumpkiny, slightly spiced, and with the smooth, glossy thickness of warm caramel blanketing the whole affair. This is a chic, stylish dessert, yet one that was really simple in its preparation.
We certainly didn’t need any additional desserts after that finale, but since I had loads of tester recipes in the house that I’d recently done up for the cookbook, I put out a tray with Glazed Almond Bars, Dalmatian Cheesecake Brownies and Hazelnut Mocha Cookies; as well as leftover Marzipan-Topped Shortbread, Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies, and Chocolate Macaroons. All were CFO-approved, I’m happy to say.
The next night, though still full from the Christmas dinner, we managed an incredible follow-up with an Indian feast that, we decided, will go down in the annals of Most Memorable Meals in the DDD household.
The menu included a lentil dal recipe I first saw about a week ago on Lisa’s blog; peas in a creamy sauce (adapted from a recipe I once borrowed from Gemini I); an aloo saag (well, not really–I just don’t know the word for “kale”) that combined potatoes and shredded kale in a spicy tomato sauce; coconut brown basmati rice; and homemade chickpea pancakes from Meena Pathak’s Indian Cooking for Family and Friends. I can tell you, there was a symphony of lip-smacking, lentil scooping, potato spooning, and sauce sopping going on, as well as a mellifluous refrain of friendly chatter and wine-glass clinking that evening. Very chillaxing.
I promise to share the goodies from our Indian feast in a future post, but rather than inundate you with so many recipes at once, I thought I’d start off with the lovely Apple Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries. This alone would make a great light mid-week supper–and I, for one, could certainly use some lighter meals these days.
Also: I’m a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but wanted to mention a charity drive put on by Katie over at Chocolate Covered Vegan. In honor of the season, Katie is offering to donate 20 cents to the Enough Project (an organization that works to counter crimes against humanity) for every comment she receives on this post. How sweet is that? It’s incredibly easy to help out this way–just hop on over and leave a comment!
*Christmas Day: that classic chestnut, White Christmas. The CFO and I, while sisters ourselves, bear no resemblance to either Rosemary Clooney or Vera-Ellen (well, perhaps my wrist bears a resemblance to Vera-Ellen’s waist).
Boxing Day: taking advantage of the nearly-empty theaters, Seven Pounds. What I learned from watching this movie: 1) Will Smith is (still) preternaturally gorgeous; 2) Will Smith is an extraordinarily talented actor; 3) that is one whacked reason to keep a jellfish as a pet.
Yesterday: The Dark Knight. I agree that Heath Ledger deserved an Oscar for his performance. Not only that, but also a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for being able to unravel the convoluted structure of the multi-pronged plot in this movie. (Okay, perhaps a not-entirely fair assessment on my part, as I couldn’t bring myself to watch the violent scenes. Which means I missed about 94% of the movie.)
Apple Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries
Unfortunately, I can’t recall the original source of this recipe, which I copied from a magazine several years ago in the BB (Before Blog) era of my life. Nevertheless, I’ve added several elements and changed others over the years, so I consider this my own variation on the original.
4 ounces (about 120 grams) long noodles (fettucine, linguine, spaghetti, etc.–I use kamut linguine; for a GF option, use gluten-free noodles)
1 large or 2 small tart apples (such as Granny Smith) washed, cored and grated fine (you can leave the skin on)
1/3 cup (80 ml.) dried tart cherries, cranberries, or raisins
1/3 cup (80 ml.) natural raw almonds
1/4 cup (60 ml.) natural raw cashews
1 pkg. (about 12 ounces or 375 g.) aseptically-packaged, firm silken tofu (I use Mori-Nu)
1/4 cup (60 ml.) agave nectar, light or dark
2 tsp. (10 ml.) cinnamon
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground ginger
1/8 tsp. (.5 ml.) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) pure almond extract
1 tsp. (5 ml.) pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9 inch (22.5 cm.) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a large pot, boil the noodles according to package directions and drain. Place the drained noodles in a large bowl and toss with the grated apple, cherries, and pecans.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend the almonds and cashews until they resemble a fine meal (take care not to over-blend, however, or you’ll end up with nut butter). Add the tofu, agave, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, salt, almond extract and vanilla and process gain until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the tofu mixture over the noodle mixture in the bowl and stir well to blend and distribute the tofu mixture throughout. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly, smoothing the top.
Bake in preheated oven about 50 minutes, rotating once about halfway through, until golden brown on top. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes four brunch servings or 9 dessert servings. May be frozen.
Last Year at this Time: Brussels Sprouts Even My Honey Will Eat
© 2008 Ricki Heller
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