Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Coconut Beef Curry in a Pumpkin


When R told me he was inviting some classmates over to work on a project after school, I knew they would be ravenous at some point in the evening. But, as it was the middle of the week, I also knew that I didn't have a lot of time to make dinner when I got home from work. So, I picked a meal that I could do mostly ahead of time and just heat up for serving. 

The carrots, celery, and zucchini additions are not traditional, but I wanted more veggies in the dinner. And I figured that serving in a pumpkin was a kinda cool thing to do! 

Ingredients makes one curry-filled pumpkin 
(I doubled it for my hungry crew)

Coconut Beef Curry
  • 2 lbs beef, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 6 T unsalted butter, cut into 2 T chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
  • 1 C diced carrots
  • 1 C diced celery
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T garam masala (my homemade version included in this recipe)
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3” stick cinnamon
  • 1 C tomato sauce
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 1 T chili paste (optional)
  • 1 C cubed zucchini
  • 1 C coconut cream

Pumpkin
  • 1 organic pumpkin, cleaned with seeds reserved for another use
  • 1/2 C white wine or water
  • Also needed: heavy baking sheet

For Serving
  • steamed rice

Procedure
Pumpkin
If you are doing this ahead of time, bake the pumpkin, then let it cool and refrigerate it until you're ready to finish making the dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut off the top and scoop out the seeds. Set the seeds aside for a different recipe. Place the pumpkin on a heavy baking sheet and pour 1/2 C liquid in the bottom. I used leftover white wine, but you can use whatever you have on hand. 


Put the pumpkin in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. The pumpkin should be slightly softened but holding its shape. 

Coconut Beef Curry
In a large mixing bowl, massage the salt, pepper, 1 t chili powder, and turmeric into the beef cubes. Let stand for 15 minutes.

In a large pot, cook the onions, carrots, celery, ginger, and garlic in 3 T butter until softened and the onions begin to turn translucent. Add in the remaining butter and melt. Stir in the garam masala, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant.

Add the beef to the spiced paste and brown until cooked through, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Add in the chili paste, if using. Whisk to combine. Stir in the zucchini. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes - until the sauce is beginning to thicken. Pour in the coconut cream, whisk to combine, and simmer until that is thickened to your liking.

To Finish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour out the wine from the pumpkin and fill it with your curry. Place the lid back on your pumpkin and place it in the oven. Roast for an additional 30 minutes. The pumpkin flesh should be easily pierced with a fork.


Serve hot with steamed rice on the side. Let diners know they can scoop out some of the pumpkin flesh with their dinner. The pumpkin added a nice sweetness to the spicy dish.


I paired this with a Pét-Nat from Donkey & Goat for December's #WinePW event. Stay tuned for those tasting notes and thoughts.

Sesame & Citrus Oven-Roasted Trout


Does December leave you hurried and harried? I know it's not just me. It can't just be me.

So, when a friend gave me cleaned, frozen trout that he had caught earlier in the year, I was excited for the quick and easy dinners I saw in my future. Really. Once these are defrosted, they are on the table in just about 30 minutes. It's perfect for a crazy weekday evening.


Ingredients serves 4
  • 2 whole trout, cleaned and thawed if previously frozen
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 T soy sauce, divided
  • 4 t toasted sesame sauce oil, divided
  • juice from 2 organic lemons (I use Meyer lemon, but use what you have)
  • lemon slices from organic lemons
  • Also needed: parchment paper-lined baking sheet

Procedure
Lay your fish on a parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Sprinkle the inside cavity of the fish with salt and pepper. Place the crushed garlic and lemon slices inside. You can secure the fish with a toothpick or twine. I just folded it closed and placed it on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle the outside of the fish with salt and pepper. Drizzle 2 T soy sauce over each fish and, then, 2 t sesame oil. Place some lemon slices on the top and put sheet in the oven.


Roast for 20 to 25 minutes - until the flesh is opaque and the skin is browned and crisped. Serve hot. I served this with an Asian cabbage slaw and sautéed yellow squash. So easy!

Lemon Cardamom Nisser Cookies


This is an iced Christmas cookie that I made because D is a little nisser-obsessed. If you aren't sure what the heck a nisse is, read this post: Glædelig Jul, Nisser, and Mormor Agnes’ Æbleskiver. In any case we have nisser galore around the house and I thought it would be a fun cookie to make.


I started with a Santa cookie cutter and trimmed down the pom-pom at the top of the hat because everyone's a critic. "That doesn't look like the profile of a nisse!" Oye.


Because of the nisser's Danish roots, I made a lemon-cardamom spiced sugar cookie as the base along with a lemon icing. The nose is a chocolate-covered salted caramel ball.

Ingredients

Lemon Cardamom Sugar Cookies
  • 2-3/4 C flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest from 1 organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon), approximately 2 t
  • 1 t ground cardamom

Royal Icing
  • 3 egg whites, or more to thin icing
  • 6 C organic powdered sugar
  • juice from 1 to 2 organic lemons (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 t pure vanilla extract

To Finish
  • food dye (I used a natural dye)
  • Also needed: any round candy that you can use as a nose
Procedure

Lemon Cardamom Sugar Cookies
Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside in a bowl.

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, lemon zest, and cardamom. Mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, until completely combined.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill dough for 1 to 2 hours. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper.


Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Shape dough with your cutters, using flour to keep them from sticking. Place on a silicone mat-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 9-11 minutes, depending on size of cookies.


Cool completely on wire racks. Make the royal icing while the cookies cool.


Royal Icing
Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Beat for another minute. If the icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it's too thin, add more sugar. Divide the icing into two separate bowls. Dye one of the bowls whatever color you want for the hat; I made a light lilac shade. Leave the other bowl - for the beard - white.

To Finish
Smooth the colored royal icing over cooled cookies to make the hat. Cover the beard part of the cookie with the white icing.


Press a round candy between the hat and the beard to form the nose. Let icing set completely before serving.

Glædelig Jul, Nisser, and Mormor Agnes’ Æbleskiver #EattheWorld



Welcome to our final 2019 post for our Eat the World project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz. Here's her challenge. This is definitely one of my favorite monthly projects.


And so far this year, we've traveled by tabletop to Ethiopia, England, Georgia, Cambodia, Israel, Finland, Puerto Rico, Egypt, Ukraine, and Portugal. But, for the final installment, Evelyne just wrote: "This month we are doing a Christmas/holiday dish or sweet from around the world. Pick your own country, maybe from your ancestors or one you do not know what they serve during the holidays. Join us on December 10th, 2019 10 am with a holiday recipe."

The Other #EattheWorld Offerings

I was really torn. I thought about posting roasted chestnuts and torrone from Italy and wishing you all 'Buon Natale!' I considered going to a completely new-to-us country and researching their holiday traditions. But, when December started and Jake and D put up a Nisser Forest, instead of a Christmas tree, I just knew we were headed back to Denmark for this post!

Nisser

Nisser are Danish Christmas gnomes and D loves them. Check out the larger-than-lifesize one that he came across at Aarhus Street Food!



He is using them as the counters for his advent calendar this year. So, everyday this month, they pick a nisse to come out and play. And since we didn't have twenty-five of them, he and I made some more!


Glædelig Jul!

Last December the Mann clan flew to Denmark and spent the holidays with two different families there. The Novaks live in Lynge (we've known them since R was in kindergarten); the Frydenholm Mortensens live in Ry (I've known Rikke since I was 24 years old; we met when we were both working in Rome). We split our time pretty evenly between the two households and spent our final evening in Copenhagen on our own. We did see some sights and visited museums. But mostly, we ate, drank, played games, and spent much needed time with these friends. Here are some of our favorite Danish holiday eats...


We arrived on D's 15th birthday - after being on airplanes and in airports for almost an entire day - and Stella, Danya, and Ulla greeted him with a platter of Flødeboller, chocolate-covered marshmallow treats.


For Christmas lunch, we enjoyed smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches with everything from meats to spreads and pickles. 


Then they cooked and served a traditional Christmas feast complete with flaeskesteg (roasted pork with crackling skin), brunede kartofler (caramelized potatoes, my recipe here), rødkål (red cabbage), and more!


While the pork roasted, the kids helped make risalamande (rice pudding, my recipe here), marzipan pigs...


...and (non-edible) julestjerne.


When we went to Ry, our meals were less traditionally Danish, mainly because Rikke and I both seem to still cook mostly Italian. One evening we had the Kitchen Elves and Gnocchi Nisser make dinner.


And another night I roasted a Peruvian-inspired chicken.


But, before we left Ry, Rikke made her Kransekage a few days early for us. It's normally a new year's eve tradition. We enjoyed and lifted glasses of Italian bubbles to celebrate. I might have shed a tear or two as we said goodbye to our favorite Danes!


And just before we crashed at the hotel for our last night in Denmark, R and I ate like the Danes...from a Pølsevogn, that's a hot dog cart. Jake and D had gone back to the hotel, but R and I ordered the traditional Ristet hotdog med det hele. You can read my post about that here.

Mormor Agnes’ Æbleskiver

When I was thinking about what to share for this, the boys were adamant: Æbleskiver! We enjoyed Æbleskiver a few times while we were in Denmark last year. And I was determined to make them here in California!

Sometimes there are words in other languages that make so much more sense than in English. Take 'grandmother' and 'grandfather' as an example. When mine were alive, they were 'Grandma Meling' and 'Grandpa Joe' to differentiate them from 'Grandma Eva' and 'Grandpa Marc.' So, when Jake and I had the boys, we decided to keep it simple and have them call my parents by the Italian words for grandparents - Nonna for grandmother, Nonno for grandfather, and Nonni collectively - while Jake's parents would be Grandpa and Grandma. Actually, R started calling Jake's dad 'Poppa' when he was a toddler and that stuck; now they are Grandma and Poppa. But we still have four distinct words/names for our parents.

In Danish, the word for mother is 'mor' and the word for father is 'far'. Move one generation up and you have: mormor, morfar, farfar, and farmor. So that's mom's mom (maternal grandmother), mom's dad (maternal grandfather), dad's dad (paternal grandfather), and dad's mom (paternal grandmother). Easy...and it makes perfect sense.


So, when I posted a note to Rikke that I was ready for her grandmother's Æbleskiver recipe, she sent me this. I knew exactly whose mom's recipe it was.


Also, a quick note about the pan. There are less expensive versions out there. But (1) I trust the Scanpan brand, (2) it's actually from Denmark, and (3) I  figured I would find other recipes to not have this be a unitasker kitchen pan. I'll be trying takoyaki soon.

While most of my recipes use cups, not grams, I did pull out my scale just to make sure that I was staying true to Mormor Agnes' recipe. Rikke said she doubles the recipe, so I did the same.


Also, I was dubious when Rikke typed, "...beat the eggwhites until you can turn the bowl upside down without the eggwhites falling out of the bowl. (As a child - that was my job: eggwhite-tester!)" I pictured eggwhites all over my counter or floor. But, I trusted her and I did it.

Ingredients
  • ca. 4 dl buttermilk (14 ounces buttermilk)
  • 1-1/4 t baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 g flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t sugar
  • For serving: jam and powdered sugar
  • Also needed: Æbleskiver pan, Æbleskiver turners* (though skewers or knitting needles work fine!)


Procedure
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a bowl with the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Whisk together with the buttermilk.

In a another mixing bowl beat the egg whites until you can turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites falling out of the bowl. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.


Heat the pan until it is more than warm to the touch. Melt a little butter in each hollow.


Fill it up with batter till just below the edge. It will puff up a little bit as it cooks. If you want to add apple slices or applesauce, you should do it at this point.


After a few minutes, turn the æbleskive a quarter of a round.


And after another minute, turn the last bit, completely the round. Make sure that it is properly baked on the inside!


Of course I had to taste-test one while I was making them! Yum.


When we were in Denmark, we ate Æbleskiver with raspberry jam and Nutella. I served this batch with some apricot jam I had in the fridge.


The boys were so excited to see this on the table for breakfast. I can't wait to make them again soon.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

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