Friday, December 18, 2009


This was going to be called "holiday exhaustion" when I started it but did not finish it yesterday.

But, I took the day off to cook for a 50th anniversary party I have tomorrow at the dining club. The woman in the couple is the author of a series of books called "Eat Smart In [country name here]. She has done 10 books, so we're making a dish from each country. Fortunately, I am only doing Mexico, Sicily, India, Morocco, Brazil, and Turkey - other family members are bringing the other countries.

So I slept in, and hand-delivered some cookie boxes, and didn't do as much cooking as maybe I should have, but I feel somewhat recovered. My broken thumb is aching a bit, but right now it's the corollary ailments that are bugging me most - my left hand is tired & beat up from doing so much, and my skin is dry since it's too hard to lotion up with one hand.

The Mexican dish is a flan, flavored with tequila, and tomorrow it will be flamed with tequila after it's un-molded. It looks great so far. Sicily is what we used to called Spiedini at one of my restaurant jobs - little beef rolls on a stick with onions and bay leaf. I only made the filling so far - it's going to be meat stuffed with meat; the filling is onions, bread crumbs, a little tomato, and prosciutto and salami. They're served on a bed of fried potatoes - I boiled the potatoes, and will fry them tomorrow. Tomorrow I have to make a pineapple curry, orange salad, kale with garlic, and zucchini filo pie. I don't think it'll be too much of a problem, even though I am slow with the hand.

It's kind of fun to be cooking all this stuff from other countries - it's not buy fresh buy local, that's for sure, but reminds me of my youth in the 1970s, when it was fashionable to try to recreate other countries' food, and the experience of eating it. Maybe more politically correct than fashionable, or at least it was a liberal thing to do - looking for authentic experiences in the depths of suburbia, respect for other cultures and all that.

And things were certainly not as fusion-y as they are now - we never would have eaten this chutney in baked Brie - but that's how I'm going to use it.

2 TBLS olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
5 quarter sized slices of crystallized ginger, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced - remove some or all of the seeds to reduce the hotness
1 16-ounce bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw, if they are frozen)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cidar
1 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. brown mustard seeds

Heat the oil in a 2 quart or larger saucepan, and add the onion, ginger, and jalapeno - I ground them up in the food processor, to be easy on my thumb, but even if your hands are working fine, you can use the processor if you like. Cook until softened, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered until all the cranberries are popped and the chutney is thickened, about 20 minutes. Use as the filling in baked Brie, or serve with cheese and crackers.

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