November 28, 2010

Our Thanksgiving, Part 1

We were at Juli's parents' place from late Wednesday through breakfast Saturday.  We celebrated Thanksgiving with her parents, sister and brother-in-law, my son, her son and her son's fiance.  As usual, we had quite the Thanksgiving feast.   More than one, really... there was lots of good eating this Thanksgiving.

On Thursday morning, I got up before a lot of the others were awake and started preparing a double batch of Blueberry Pancakes, using the recipe first presented in the July 2003 Cook's Illustrated.  I've used this recipe before.  It's reliably great, and the pancakes turned out wonderfully on this occasion.  They were a real hit, with several people commenting on their fluffiness and wonderful texture. 

After breakfast, Juli and I started work on the parts of the Thanksgiving meal for which we were responsible.  My son, who is also interested in cooking, chipped in as well, which was neat.   It provided me a good opportunity to share with him some of the cooking tips I've picked up over the past few month. 

The first thing I prepared was Gingered Cranberry Sauce, from the Closet Cooking blog.  It was a big hit, though a couple people commented on the heat of the ginger when taking a spoonful of the sauce on its own, as opposed to having a bite of turkey or stuffing along with the cranberry sauce.

Once the Gingered Cranberry Sauce was done, I started in on my second dish, a Vegetable and Fruit Curry.  My son, Alex, helped me quite a bit on this one.  He's a vegetarian, and this dish was added to the day's menu in part to give him more to choose among.  As it happens, it was a big hit with everyone, even though (as I realized only later) I forgot to add one ingredient (the peas).  

The original version of this dish appeared in The Complete Step-By-Step Cookbook (Salamander Press, 1998; as far as I can tell, the book is long out of print, but used copies are available).  I'd made that version previously, but this time around I changed around several details - some different ingredients, different amounts and, most importantly, making it a one-pot recipe, save for briefly toasting a couple ingredients in a small skillet - to make it my own.

Vegetable and Fruit Curry

yield = six main-dish servings, or approx. 12 side dish servings

1 1/2        teaspoons coriander seed
1 1/2        teaspoons cumin seed
2/3           cup whole raw cashews
3              tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
1              large onion, chopped fine
3              carrots, peeled and chopped
2              large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
3              teaspoons minced garlic
4              teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1              teaspoon curry powder
1              teaspoon powdered turmeric
1              pound tomatoes, chopped
1              can (14.5 ounces) vegetable broth
2              mangoes, peeled and chopped
1              Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
1              cup frozen peas
1              can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1              tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, whole or chopped

In a small skillet, roast the cumin and coriander seeds.  Stir often and cook until fragrant and slightly browned.  Cool, then grind in a mortar or spice grinder.  Set aside.

In the same small skillet, roast the cashews until slightly browned, stirring often.  Cool, then finely grind 1/3 cup of the cashews.  Set whole and ground cashews aside separately.

In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil to medium-high.  Cook the onion an carrots for 5 minutes, stirring often, then add the potatoes and continue to cook until the onion is well browned, approximately 5 more minutes.  

Push the vegetables to the sides of the Dutch oven, then pour the remaining tablespoon oil into the middle of the pan.  Allow it to heat for a minute, then add the ground cumin and coriander, garlic, ginger, curry powder and turmeric.  Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute, then stir in tomatoes.  Cook for about 2 minutes, then add vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered 10 minutes. 

Add peas, apple, mango, ground cashews and coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered 10 more minutes or until thickened.   Transfer to a serving bowl, top with whole cashews and cilantro, and serve.

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