Brussels Sprouts with Candied Pecans, Lime and Rosemary

Brought this over to Deb and David’s for Thanksgiving, where there was such an amazing spread of beautiful dishes and a majestic queen of a turkey.

I came up the recipe a day earlier, determined not to look at existing recipes because, let’s face it, I have never had a brussels sprouts dish that I enjoyed.

The sprouts have been sliced purely for aesthetic reasons, and were bought for the same reason – I spotted them sprouting fetchingly out of a long stalk at Trader Joe’s. (more…)

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November 29, 2009. Tags: . Autumn, Festive, Salads, Vegetables, Vegetarian, winter. 1 comment.

Thanksgiving Breakfast is.. Upma!

I had a much-needed lie-in today after weeks of early wakings (deliberate) and sleeplessness (unintended). Came downstairs to find husband and kids watching the Thanksgiving Parade on CBS , on which a commentator, doing the easiest job on TV, refers to Spiderman as Superman.  One superhero wears his underpants on the outside and a big S on his chest, the other’s in tights – not too hard to differentiate. But she got Pikachu right – the chubby yellow fellow in the Pokemon series (I would have guessed his name was Pokemon).

As I was reluctant to make pancakes or waffles (our Sunday regulars), and no one was in the mood for the weekday cereals, yoghurt or fruit, my kids and hubby voted for upma – an Indian pudding made of durum wheat. Great idea,  I thought!  It could well have been breakfast for the pilgrims and native Indians, being made of wheat, fruit and nuts and a pinch of salt.  (more…)

November 26, 2009. Tags: , . Asian, Breakfast, Brunch, Festive, Indian. 2 comments.

One Calamity, But a Perfect Pastry Emerges

The pear and almond tart turned out so beautifully that I reproduced it at the weekend, but this time also did the pastry from scratch. I am a bit of a pie purist and truly believe that the effort of one’s hands makes for a tastier pie, and gives you control over the ingredients. As you probably know, one normally makes shortcrust pastry by cutting up cold butter into cubes, turning that into a breadcrumby mixture with sugar, processing everything with flour and a hint of salt, then possibly adding an egg yolk and/or water to bring it all together. This dough then sits in the fridge an hour to relax before it’s rolled out, placed in a tart pan, pricked with a fork and baked.

Enter the no-roll, no-fridge, no-processing, quick-mix pastry.

A friend in France said that she knew some baking types to bake the butter and sugar first when they prepare tart dough. I’m familiar with how you introduce heat to the making of choux pastry  (the butter is melted first with some sugar) but not for tarts, so I did some research and was intrigued by David Levovitz’s account of how he observed Paule Caillat, who teaches cooking in Paris, make tart dough by baking a butter/oil/sugar mixture in the oven for 15 minutes, then adding flour.

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November 25, 2009. Tags: . Autumn, Baked Goods, Desserts, winter. 1 comment.

Mint and Lime Panna Cotta with Balsamic Berries

Panna Cotta is an Italian milk pudding, made of milk, cream or a combination of both, with gelatin as the solidifying agent. No eggs are used, differentiating it from custards and creme brulee.  A well-made panna cotta is a silky smooth, quivering mound of creamy beauty. It’s delicious plain, or flavored with vanilla. I came up with this zesty, minty version as a post-dinner palate cleanser, and since I love fruit with mint, added the berries.

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November 20, 2009. Tags: . Desserts, Italian, Uncategorized. 4 comments.

It Ain’t Just Bangers and Mash in Britain

One of the fun things about having lived in many places is that you get to know the food intimately. Add to that decades of cooking and fearless eating, some severe myopia and moderate deafness, and the result is an unusually acute sense of smell and taste. Should you be afraid? I used to be able to smell a flatmate approach my apartment door the second he was out of the elevator (he wasn’t particularly inoffensive-smelling) – it would hit my nose the very moment my cat’s ears would prick up in interest. Back when smoking in pubs was obnoxious but legal, I would be unable to get to sleep afterwards until I’d had a hot bath and washed and dried my hair twice. And, while pregnant, the mere suggestion of some scents would make me gag.

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November 17, 2009. Tags: , . British, Musings, Stories. 3 comments.

Pear and Almond Tart



(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

Almonds add a pleasant flavor, aroma and chew to many things that needs baking, and the combination of almonds and butter is one I can’t resist. I have made similar tarts with apples and blackberries and raspberries – it seems to make sense to combine fruit and nuts, and all the outcomes have been delicious. (more…)

November 14, 2009. Tags: . Baked Goods, Desserts. 1 comment.