Indian Carrot Pudding with Raisins and Pistachios

Recipe: Indian Carrot Pudding with Raisins and Pistachios

Confession: I’ve never eaten carrot halwa in India.  Yet it is one of my favorites – and a dessert I’ve been making for nearly two decades.  It’s a good thing I live with someone who knows how it ought to taste and can veto any adaptations that go too far. But I still think it’s safer to call my version carrot pudding.

Indian sweets are a special treat. A few of my favorites include kalakand, laddu, pesta barfi, and peda – we don’t buy them very often, (though there are local sources) and I have yet to attempt to make them. When my Mother-in-law comes to visit with a box or two, we cherish them till every bite is gone.

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Irish Soda Bread And A Food Legend

I’ve made a lot of bread in the last month. I am, again, working on my sourdough bread baking skills. Every few years I seem to give it another try. Right now, I’ve got a great starter going, and the crumb isn’t bad. But I’m still challenged by many of the frustrations that William Alexander describes in 52 Loaves  – not yet able to produce those wonderful, irregular holes that make good bread something great.

I’m working with three different flours, weighing the ingredients (most of the time), and struggling to master Baker’s Math.

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I’d Love To Make Rugelach Or Schnecken – For You

All the delights of cream cheese were waiting for me when I hit the East coast at the age of 17: cheesecake, bagels with cream cheese and lox, and of course, rugelach –the subject of this week’s Tuesday’s With Dorie challenge (I know, I’m running a day late.) My freshman 15 was made of cream cheese.

I think of rugelach as a pastry, rather than a cookie – a rich, not-so-sweet- cream cheese pastry that almost melts in your mouth wrapped around a sweet jam filling. When I worked at Rosie’s we sold them by the pound – and I ate them by the pound too.

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Baked Beans: The Next Generation

Recipe: Smokey Sweet Beans and Quick Chicken Sausage

It’s miserable outside; 34°F, snowing, windy and cold.  I was drenched walking the dogs this morning, in spite of all my wet weather gear. I know the snow won’t stick, and I’m grateful for the crocuses, cherry blossoms, extra day light and the early tulips at the farmer’s market. But spring still feels a long way away.

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Baking with Dorie and Julia

Challenges you define for yourself are luxuries. Training for a marathon, reading the Brothers Karamazov, writing a novel in thirty days or learning to bake a loaf of bread – it all falls under the category of luxury.

My new challenge is unquestionably an indulgence. I’ve joined the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group in their new incarnation – working their way through Dorie Greenspan’s 1996 book, Baking with Julia, the companion to Julia Child’s last PBS cooking series.

It’s going to mean a lot butter, flour, sugar, yeast and learning. And that I might finally make a decent loaf of bread.

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Potatoes with Tart Lentils, Winter Greens and Controversy

Recipe: Potatoes with Tart Lentils and Winter Greens

My dog Max has a passionate love for seafood; salmon, trout, shrimp, lobster, and especially tuna.  The only time he indulges in countertop surfing is when we have fish on the menu. He once jumped into the back of fisherman’s truck parked on the street. When my cousin Mark made sushi in our kitchen a few years ago, Max was never far from his side.

I’m like that about Indian potato dishes; K.M.’s  black pepper potatoes, and the aloo dom (pressure cooked potatoes in yogurt sauce) I had in Darjeeling more than 10 years ago, and still dream of. The first time I made a successful aloo gobi (check out the video from Bend it Like Beckham), I felt like I had finally achieved novice status in Indian cooking.

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Valentine’s Day for many more than two: Red Velvet Cheesecake Layer Cake

Recipe: Red Velvet Cheesecake Layer Cake

Many things in life are a hassle: doctor’s appointments, any kind of encounter with government or corporate bureaucracy, opening plastic packaging. Making a cake shouldn’t fall into that category.

I don’t need it to be fast – or easy. Just not frustrating or aggravating. Many culinary tasks have a learning curve – boning a duck, stuffing a sausage, even chopping an onion. You won’t (or at least I didn’t) get it right the first time – but by the forth, you’re relaxed and confident. No more tears.

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It’s Legit: Satsuma Apple Marmalade

Recipes: Satsuma Apple Marmalade and Dark Chocolate Almond Marmalade Tart

Marmalading: it really is a word. The Oxford English Dictionary says so, citing C.S. Lewis’s diary. Granted, the entry is marked as a rare usage, but still. That’s what I’ve been doing this week – making marmalade.

At first, I was afraid I wasn’t actually making marmalade at all, since my recipe doesn’t involve first boiling orange seeds to release the pectin contained within. Rather, (Satsumas are nearly seedless oranges), I chopped up an apple, tossed it in the pot, and hoped for the best.

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Snow Days and Cheese Soup

Obatzda Beer Soup with Black Bread Croutons

Snow has mysterious power here in Seattle. Politicians panic. Kids of every age, dogs and TV weathermen rejoice. We don’t drive in it if we can possibly help it – in fact, some people actually abandon their cars on the road at the first sight of flakes. We usually don’t even have to shovel it – only once in 10 years does it stay on the ground that long. No one owns a snow shovel, anyway.

I was lucky enough to have a cheese soup planned for the first real winter day of 2012.

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Salad Days and Sustainable Seafood

Recipe: Lemon Shallot Shrimp Salad

Sometimes, nothing beats a salad for dinner; on hot days, in August for instance. Or in January. I love roast chicken, tagines, chili, lasagna and cheese, all the typical comfort foods as much as anyone – more, probably.  But I take comfort in salad, too.

We’re lucky here in the Puget Sound. Greens grow abundantly pretty much all year round. Last week I came home from the farmers market with a huge bag of arugula and bundles of kale and rainbow chard.

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