Christmas Baking

The last few weeks have been pretty busy between school, exams, work, and getting ready for Christmas.  I don’t have a lot of shopping to do exactly, but am in charge of practically all the christmas baking for our family and am organizing some stuff at work as well.

 

Christmas Baking List

Sugar Cookies – done!

Gingersnaps – done!

Banana bread – done!

Pumpkin cake – done!

Fudge – done!

Peanut butter balls – not done, need icing sugar

Peppermint patties – not done, need crisco

Peanut Butter Cups – not done

Chocolate Toffee – not done, need butter

 

Lots to do in the next few weeks.  I’ve been working on a curried roasted potato recipe but don’t have any potatoes left to try again and it’s not quite right yet.  Tonight I’m making lamb and chickpea curry because that’s basically all I can make with the ingredients I have at home.

Mother’s Day Plans

Mother’s Day is in a week.  Normally our family goes out for a meal, sometimes it’s brunch, sometimes it’s dinner, it really depends on our schedules and when we’re doing my brother’s birthday which is normally the same weekend.  This year is different.  This year is unique.  My brother is not going to be around.  My brother is off to New York City for a bachelor party.  I told him I don’t have to get him a birthday present if he’s not in the country.  He agreed.  Since I’m going to Altona for that weekend (and have even booked monday off so I have a long weekend) I figured I could do something fairly elaborate. 

My Mom was interested in trying the veggie curry I made earlier this week, despite the fact that she doesn’t like spinach.  So I’ve decided to do an indian meal for her mother’s day supper.  Now my parents have very little spice tolerance, which I think will be ok as both curries that I’ve made haven’t been spicy enough for me, but I think they’ll be good enough for them.  This is my menu so far…

Naan

Butter Chicken

Veggie Curry (going to skip the spinach and add cauliflower to my veggie curry recipe)

Lentil Daal

Steamed Yogurt with Raspberries (I’m not sure on the dessert part…)

I’m thinking about making a mango chutney of some kind, but I’ve never had chutney before and am not sure about it.  Of course I’ve never made butter chicken or naan before either.  Any other suggestions or ideas are appreciated!

Veggie Curry

Ever since I made the lamb and chickpea curry I had been hankering to make a curry that involved chickpeas, spinach and potatoes.  Lacking decent motivation to cook until today, it got put on the back burner.  My work schedule is pretty awesome for the next 2 weeks and this has provided me the chance to cook before I feel like passing out.  I wasn’t planning on posting this until tomorrow, but my ipod ran out of batteries while I was laying in bed and reading so I’m attempting to charge it before I go to sleep since I can only fall asleep with music on these days.  Aaaaanyways…here is my tasty veggie curry.

Veggie Curry

4 red potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp canola oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1″ piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

5 tsp curry powder (I think my curry powder is mild…)

2 dried whole red chilis

2 tsp cumin powder

1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

3 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp salt

1. Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Boil about 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Drain and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in the oil untill the onion is transparent.  Add ginger, cumin, chili’s, curry powder, and salt.  Saute for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach, potatoes and coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer, add garam marsala and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Serve with basmati rice or naan.

Homemade Garam Marsala

Here is the recipe I used to make my homemade Garam Marsala for my Curry last weekend.

Garam Marsala

2 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp cardamom pods

2 tbsp black peppercorns

1 (3-inch stick) cinnamon, broken into pieces

1 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp saffron (optional)

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.

Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Garam Masala keeps for 3 months.

Yield: Makes about 1/2 cup

I only had green cardamom pods, I don’t know how it would’ve been different with black ones.  I also don’t buy saffron cause I’m cheap like that so it was omitted, and I couldn’t find whole nutmeg so I had to use pre-ground nutmeg.  It smells WONDERFUL, very aromatic.

Lazyness and Curry

The last 10 days have been incredibly stressful and generally not so fun.  My roommate hopes were dashed when the guy who was all set to move in never showed up to pay his damage deposit and refused to answer his phone or emails.  Since then I’ve had people email me about the room, but 75% of the people who make an appointment to come see it never show up.  I’ve stopped attempting to contact them when they don’t simply because I’m not going to chase after people anymore!  This has left me rather strapped for cash and stressed out to the point where I’m having migraines and haven’t felt like doing anything, including the exercise I started two weeks ago and anything remotely resembling cooking or baking. 

This weekend was different tho.  I felt an urge to create something.  I’ve never really cooked Indian food, but wanted to try something different…something spicy and warming.  I searched through allrecipes.com and found a lamb curry, which was perfect as I have so much lamb in my freezer and don’t really know what to do with it.  I also went to chapters and found an indian recipe book in the bargain section and so I decided to try the lamb curry from there.  It is Indian Food Made Easy by Anjum Anand.  I also don’t have the recipe in front of me and I made changes to the recipe so I will do it from memory for now.

Lamb and Chickpea Curry

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 bay leaf

4 cardamom pods (2 green, 2 black (I only had green))

1 large onion, minced

1lb Lamb stewing meat (bone in if you can, mine wasn’t)

1tbsp ground coriander

1tbsp garam marsala (I made my own using this recipe)

1tsp tumeric

2 dried whole red chili’s

salt to taste (I didn’t add any)

1 can stewed tomatoes

1 can chickpeas ( or 2 cups cooked)

2 cups water

1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet (I used my wok).  Add the cardamom pods and bay leaf, cook for about 10-15 seconds.  Add the onion and cook till brown and soft.

2. Add the lamb and spices, stirfry for about 2-3 minutes or untill it’s dry.  Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil.  Let it boil for 10 minutes or untill the marsala has released the oil.  Add the chickpeas and water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 35-45 minutes or untill lamb is tender.  Serve over rice or with roti. 

What I like about curry is that it only gets better as it sits.  The 2nd day it was spicier and we’ll see how it is today!

Indian food…yum

I was invited out for supper on Saturday and we ended up going to this East Indian restaurant on Pembina.  It’s called “City Heart: East Indian Cuisine” and it’s a really good buffet.  I hadn’t had Indian food since I was in the UK in 2003 and while the entire restaurant smelled like my apartment 3 days after my roommate finishes cooking, it was very tasty.  I have no idea what any of it was called, but they had a goat dish, lentils, spinach, fresh naan, pickled veggies, curried potatoes, and rice to name a few.  Everything was nice and spicy, and one of the biggest disappointments was that they were out of some stuff (like samosas) and didn’t refill it till we were just about to leave.  We found out later that they had been catering a party for 300 people that evening so the missing dishes were understandable.  One other issue was that their dining room is terribly small and very drafty.  Overall I’d be interested in going again, but might just do take-out next time.