Category Archives: food52.com

Celebration time!

It would really be puzzling if I began a celebratory post  with the words ‘It was a dark & stormy morning’.. but believe me it was. The day was Oct 29th, the weekend after Diwali and I had organized a ‘Festival of Lights’ potluck to commemorate the release of Food52’s new cookbook.
Food52, for those of you unfamiliar with the site is a community sourced cooking website/blog. Founded in 2009 by Amanda Hesser ( whose first book ‘The Essential New York Times Cookbook’,  won a James Beard award earlier this year) & Merrill Stubbs,  its a stunningly gorgeous,  informative site on all things culinary. The best part, its a group effort with inputs from home cooks & chefs across the world, quite unlike other sites which can be intimidating with inputs from celebrity chefs and the like.
The book itself consists of 140 recipes crowd sourced over 2 years, through a weekly contest that focused on a single theme. (which varied from season to season). Its not published in the usual format, i.e, appetizers, main course, sides, … but instead, it delightfully weaves between light appetizers to heavy roasts, crisp green salads to decadent desserts. If you’d like to order a copy, just follow this link.
Food52 had asked their members from all over to organize potluck parties showcasing recipes from the site and  generously sponsored wines from Lot18, as well as signed copies of the book and gadgets (julienne and serrated peelers)  from Oxo. I had invited a group of friends (along with their husbands & kids )whose common interest was food. This was a great introduction to Food52 for them & their enthusiasm was contagious!
Of course Murphy’s Law kicked in ( the one that says, if anything could go wrong, it will) via the weather. Oct. 29th was also the day the horrid freak snow storm hit the North East. I had luckily finished my cooking by the time the power went off (yes thanks to the electricity getting knocked out, the event literally transformed into a ‘festival of lights’ party) and the guests were already well on their way before the storm really turned bad. This was the sight that greeted my guests, with the entry completely blocked by a horizontal tree!
While the kids got their favorite dish (Pizza & juice), the rest of us feasted on the cornucopia of Food52 offerings.
The list of dishes (linked to the recipes from food52.

Image credit: Shaila Ballal Nigam
Image credit: Shaila Ballal Nigam
Sampling the delicious quinoa tabouleh after adding the salt before serving!
Image credit: Shaila Ballal Nigam
Mujadarra with spiced Yogurt.. (we had two of these, attesting to the ‘Yumminess’ factor of this awesome middle eastern rice dish)
Image credit: Shaila Ballal Nigam
Image Credit: Shaila Ballal Nigam
Dessert was a simple Pear crisp with crystallized ginger served with (melted) vanilla Ice cream!
Before…
and after… (image credit: Shaila Ballal Nigam)
Last but not least, the goody bags (along with a copy of the book and a lovely peeler from Oxo): 
and Spiced Shortbread for the goody bags
and the best part of the party, the awesome home cooks who made the party rock!
L to R: Jyoti, Shaila, Suchitra, me, Neeta & Vasudha

As we enter the thanksgiving week, remember that you really do not need to stick to supposedly traditional offerings to have a great time, there are plenty of AWESOME dishes that will make your celebration an unforgettable one!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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4C shortbread

Shortbread traditionally has always been a Scottish biscuit, the ‘Short’ is indicative of shortening or the fat used in making these delicious & calorie rich treats.

Personally, I love making these since they do not involve the use of egg ( Don’t get me wrong, I’m fascinated by these protein packed globes that pop out from a hen’s rear end, but have this odd avoidance/ phobia about working with them.. It had something to do with a mildly traumatic incident involving my 8th birthday cake, a broken window… Someday If I write my biography, I’ll tell the tale!)

Food52 my favorite community blog, had this contest with coffee as the theme ingredient last week. & the  number of fabulous recipes that were sent in was simply amazing! The enthusiasm itself was worth creating a tribute dish for & the 4C shortbread was my contribution! The Inspiration came from 3 individuals and the dishes they had submitted for the contest.  Bevi, a food consultant from Vermont who had a fabulous recipe for a versatile shortbread with many options, Tiggybee from California with a fabulous recipe for a spiced Iced coffee and Pauljoseph from Kerala, who is an amazing source for wonderful recipes & morsels of amazing trivia related to food. You simply HAVE to check this wonderful site out! Something that everyone on food52 looks forward to, is Pauljosephs photographs of spices, herbs, fruit & veggies we so much take for granted in daily life, yet, know little of about how they look in their native habitat.

The spices and flavorings used in this recipe are are found in God’s own country, Kerala, Cardamom, cloves, coffee & Cream… it seemed fitting that these four terms should come together to form the ‘4C’ (which incidentally, is also a term used to describe quality in Diamonds! speaking of Diamonds… here’s a lovely ad for those shiny bits of coal… Disclaimer: Tanishq is NOT involved in Iyer n’chef!). The bonus is that my kitchen started smelling like I was brewing a cauldron of rich creamy coffee, that alone was enough for a wonderful buzz!!

For this ridiculously easy snack you need:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules (taster’s choice french roast worked for me)
  • 6 pods cardamom,
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons light cream
  • 1 1/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt 
  1. Using a mortar & pestle, crush the cloves, cardamom seeds & the coffee granules to a smooth powder.
  2. Cream the butter & sugar till well combined. add the spiced coffee powder & cream, whisk a little longer till light & fluffy.
  3. Sift the all purpose flour and the salt. fold the flour into the creamed butter and work till the flour is incorporated completely and the mixture comes together into a ball. wrap in plastic wrap & chill for an hour in the refrigerator
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness (using extra flour for dusting). Using a cookie cutter, cut out the dough and place onto a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for ~ 10 minutes or until the lower surface of the cookies starts turning a golden brown. remove & cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight jar.
  7. Serve alongside a hot cup of…..tea or hot chocolate!!