This nostalgic snack seems to be connected to the Eastern Church origins of Kerala christianity. The native name in Malayalam seems to have originated from the shape and content of the snack which is stuffed with a coconut and jaggery mix. Here 'kozhu/kozhi' is for hen and 'katta' could be for the egg shape. This is my conjecture upon finding that the Saturday before palm Sunday has no commonly used name in Roman catholicism while it is celebrated as Lazarus Saturday in Eastern Christianity. A sweet snack named lazarkia is made in Greece and Cyprus to celebrate Lazarus Saturday. That day is simply known as 'kozhukatta sani' in our families and 'sani' of course is Saturday.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Saturday, March 27, 2021
The sheer convenience of working from home has turned me into a biriyani maker to my own surprise. It is happening mainly due to the fact that I can make a plan and prepare fried onions and raita ahead of time. Planning is more organized because of weekly online grocery shopping where I am sure of what we can have that week. So just add chicken, beef or lamb to the list, then tomatoes, cilantro and mint and you are pretty much set so long as you have biriyani rice, cashew nuts and raisins in stock. H always signs on to make papads which is one less worry. My dwarf lime tree has yielded enough for a year and the limes are preserved through freezing or simple refrigeration which covers for any lime needs. Same story with the curry leaf plant. There is always a container or two of yogurt and enough eggs in the house to round it out.
Not sure if I'd ever tried making fish biriyani before but now that it is done, there is no looking back. Absence of daily commute is essential for this activity as otherwise a quick trip to the Indian grocery store for frozen king fish (neymeen) may not happen at all. The main advantage of this fish is a single round bone in the middle which is easily discarded. A fact that was quite agreeable to my bone weary son who likes biriyanis in general. Molu seemed reluctant to fight with the fish at all but I am sure she will come around. Chicken is her goto for biriyani.
Elements of most biriyanis are the same but the protein here being fish, I didn't resort to my trusted Instapot this time. Alas, not much was lost and the final product more than made up for the sad omission of this trusted utensil. On top of recently acquired biriyani knowhow, I also referred to this vlog from salukitchen. There is a quite efficiency in this smart lady's no-nonsense yet tasty, gourmet quality and flavorful recipes with which she sustains her five person family on a regular basis. A feat not easily achieved even if one tried. Without Doordash to fill in the gaps, I am sure to be a nervous wreck by the end of the pandemic stay at home period where the distinction between work and home gets blurrier by the day. Simply closing the laptop just is not enough separation anymore I tell ya. Ok, 'nough rambling for now and let us go to our recipe for the day and see where that takes us.
Monday, March 8, 2021
I've been trying wraps, burritos and the likes with a variety of fillings. Looks like we now have a sure fire recipe that I call a breakfast burrito just to identify it with a name.
Easy to make, yummy to eat and flavorful to the hilt. No competition here. Below are the steps to make this delicious meal in a roll. Good news is the roll can be a chappathi, tortilla or any flat bread that takes your fancy. No need to roll if what you have at home is not big enough. Just fold it once, hold both ends together with your God given fingers and start attacking from one end to the other for finger licking goodness. Makes enough for 4 people.
In The Mix
olive oil - 4 tbsp
rosemary fresh- 1 tbsp
garlic - 5-6 cloves peeled and crushed
ground pepper - 1/4 tsp
shallots - thinly sliced
(you can use any ground meat like chicken, beef or turkey or even fried fish. vegetarians can substitute with chickpeas or soya chunks)
eggs - 5
milk - 1 tbsp
tomato - 2 medium
cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
lime juice - from 1 lime squeezed as needed
serrano chili - 1 seeds removed and sliced thin
cilantro fresh - 1/4 cup
salt - 1/2 tsp
grated cheese to sprinkle on top - as needed
organic wheat tortillas - as needed
How To Do
Heat oven to 425C for baking the potatoes after cooking them.
Slice 2 shallots, toss with olive oil and salt and air fry at 390C for 5-6 min on each side and mix with the baked potatoes. Can add this to potatoes while they are being baked. I just prefer the air fried version.
Eggs ** Break eggs into a cup, add milk, salt to taste and beat. Add to the pan set on medium heat, scramble the eggs and set aside in another bowl.
Microwave a tortilla for 10-15 seconds, spread the salsa mix, sausage, potatoes, eggs and sprinkle with cheese on top if you like. Fold together, take a mouthful and continue. Take another tortilla and repeat as many times as you want:-)
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
The TG-day is here but good news is, you can afford to wake up a bit late since you are a prepared cook this time around. Today we are preparing all the things that make the thanksgiving table what it is. A family feast!
Thursday : (Start around 10AM)
First thing to do is to set out 2 sticks of butter and one 8oz pack of cream cheese to bring those to room temperature.
Slice 7oz of mushrooms, chop 1tsp each of parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary and set aside. Crush and chop 3 garlic cloves. This is also the time to chop 2 onions, 2-3 celery sticks and some parsley if you are not using pre cut (~24oz) mix from the store.
Take out all shelves from the oven except one. Keep it in the middle for all cooking except for the turkey when it should be in the last slot.
Bring out the roasting pan and fat separator. Prepare some fresh sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme for the turkey.
Since we want the oven to be free for the turkey, most of today's activities are with this in mind. Make corn bread from the box following instructions. Krusteaz is my new favorite brand for corn bread. Soft and delicious every time.
Mash Potatoes & Stuffing
While corn bread is in the oven, start boiling the pot of water from yesterday. And start peeling the potatoes. Cut each into 2 or 3 pieces, add to the boiling water after adding enough salt. Cook uncovered on medium heat, set timer for 20 min and go on to the next step.
While potatoes are cooking, brown the sausage in a large pan on medium heat for ~7 min and set aside in a plate. Melt 3 tbsp of butter and add 24 oz. of onion-celery-parsley mix and cook uncovered for 10-12 min.
If the first 20 minutes of potatoes are done, then cover and cook for another 15 min or longer until you are able to come back to it. Keep an eye on the corn bread timer.
Add garlic-sage-thyme-rosemary to the stuffing and cook uncovered for another 12 min. Grease a large baking pan with 1 tbsp of butter and set aside for stuffing.
Add 1/4 cup sherry, mix well together. Add back in the sausage, and 10-16oz stuffing mix and mix together with 500-600ml of chicken broth. Add to the greased pan, cover with foil and set aside. We'll come back to it after the turkey is roasted.
Remove corn bread from the oven once done and set the temp to 425F for roasting beans/asparagus.
Drain the potatoes and add back to the same pot, mash on low heat if too moist for 6-8 min and turn off heat. Add 1 1/2 sticks of butter, 8oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup half and half and mash together. Add 1/2 tsp seasoned salt, enough pepper and fresh herbs if any, mix together and set aside in serving dish. Mashed potatoes are done!
Cut off the edges of beans, lop off an inch or two of the asparagus, wash, drain and dry on paper towels. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, place in single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet and cook at 425 for 3-5 min on each side. Keep covered in foil and set aside in an oven safe serving dish. Set oven temp to 500F which shouldn't take long since the oven was in full use up till now.
The breast meat weighed about 7 lbs this year. First combine the herb mix that came in the brine pack with some canola oil and set aside. Now it is time to take out the brining turkey, clean and pat dry it with paper towels. Rub generously with the oil mix and tack on as many sage, rosemary sprigs as possible. Cover with foil to get the shape in for later stage and remove foil.
Then roast as usual at 500F for 25 min uncovered with 1/4 cup water in the pan.
Bring oven down to 350F, add another 1/4 cup of water and insert thermometer so that the temp is measured at the lowest point in the meat (~50-60).
Cover with foil and roast again for 1 hour 45 min till the thermometer reads 160. The 1/4 cups of water added to the pan helped retain moisture and also helped to create some semblance of drippings at the end. I think I will take it out around the 1.5 hour mark next time when the thermometer showed 142 and it can continue to cook outside the oven to retain even more moisture. During this time when turkey is roasting in the oven you can quickly clean the kitchen, take that much needed shower and even start to set the table. Once turkey is done, remove thermometer, keep covered and let rest before carving.
While turkey is resting, add the stuffing pan to the oven and set to bake for 20 min. Start the gravy step at this time.
Remove the turkey to cutting board and place the pan on the stove. Will need two burners in parallel on medium-low heat. Whisk the drippings and add 8 oz red wine and 24 oz chicken broth at the same time to the pan. Continue whisking for 2-3 min and transfer to a 4cup fat separator with stopper inserted. Discard any extra liquid. Wait 5 min for the fat to settle on the top. Turn off the heat.
Check on stuffing and if the 20 min are done, remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 20 min. Add the beans/asparagus pan to the oven towards the last 5 min to warm it up. Even the mashed potatoes can be warmed up here if it is in an oven proof dish.
Back to the gravy. Once the fat is settled, remove the stopper and pour out the bottom liquid to another container bringing the fat to the bottom. Add 1-2 tbsp of the fat back to the pan and discard the rest. At medium heat, add 1/3 cup all-purpose flour by sprinkling around the pan and whisking vigorously. Now add the liquid back in small amounts and continue to whisk until blended well. Do this for 5-6 min, add salt and pepper to taste and herbs if any for flavor. Remove from heat and pour into serving container.
Remove all the items from the oven, carve the turkey and finish setting the table. You are ready to enjoy the most delicious meal ever!
Monday, December 7, 2020
I went with the turkey breast again this year instead of the full bird. The absence of the roasted bird was felt on the table when the cooked breast looked more like ham than turkey. But with enough white meat for all and comparatively less effort to clean and brine, this will be the go to from now on.
OK, now that our shopping is all done, let us start with the preparations that one can do before the actual day of cooking and dining. The best part about organizing this is the fact that Thanksgiving (TG) is always on a Thursday. So we can start with that in mind. Starting from Sunday here are the various steps you can do to prepare ahead.
Buy the Turkey
Pickup or buy the whole turkey or turkey breast on the Sunday before TG. If you are ordering online, do that a week or two before so that you can pickup on the day of your choice. Bring it home and keep refrigerated.
Buy TG groceries
Make sure to have enough space in the fridge before you go shopping. Make use of the shopping list from my previous post. Take a list with you when you go to get the turkey. The list must include a brine mix because you will need that first.
That is right. This is a step free day. Unless you want to switch today with Sunday.
Prepare the Brine
Dissolve the brine mix into 1.5 gallon of water, boil for a few minutes and set to cool. You can add some orange peel for extra flavor while boiling. Keep refrigerated once cooled. Make sure you have at least 2 trays of ice in the freezer and tell the family not to deplete it before Wednesday.
Wednesday : (Start around 6 or 7 PM)
Make Creme Brûlée for dessert (optional)
Since we are not big pie fans, we opt for various desserts like creme brûlée, snicker doodle cookies or pound cake. This one is rather easy to make if you have 8 ramekins and a butane torch. Preheat oven to 325F. Heat some water in a large pan/kettle. Now bring 1 quart heavy cream with one vanilla bean and its pulp to a boil on medium high heat and set to cool for 15 min while you whisk together 6 egg yolks and 1 cup sugar. Add the cream mix gently while stirring, pour into ramekins and place in a larger pan with hot water poured to reach half the height of ramekins. Bake at 325 for 40-45 min, take out while the middle is jiggling and set to cool in the fridge. Layer with sugar and torch the top when ready to eat.
Make Cranberry Sauce
This is the right time to make cranberry sauce if you are planning to have it homemade. Wash & drain the cranberries, boil once with 1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup of water. Add orange peel & 1-2 crushed cardamom. Keep it on medium heat and stir occasionally until jelly like consistency is reached. You can do the next step while this is going on.
My stuffing requires chestnuts so I roast 8-9 chestnuts in the air fryer after making an X on the flat side with a knife. Add these to the air fryer at 390 or oven at 425 and roast for 20 min. While chestnuts are roasting, go on to the next step.
Brine the Turkey
Line a bucket or large container with a brining bag, add half of the cold brine and some ice cubes. Then add the washed and cleaned turkey without giblets etc. and pour over the remaining brine and ice cubes, tightly close the brining bag and keep refrigerated or in the garage if it is cold enough. Make sure turkey is fully immersed with a weight on top if necessary. Keep breast meat in the net that it came in.
If the chestnuts are done, keep them wrapped in aluminum foil for 5 min while you attend to the cranberry on the stove.
Remove cranberry from heat, discard orange peel if any and refrigerate in serving container once cooled.
Wear food grade gloves and peel the chestnuts while hot because that is the easiest way to get it out. Halve the chestnuts and keep them wrapped in the foil for Thursday. No need to refrigerate.
Take a large pan, add enough water and keep on the stove for Thursday's mashed potatoes.
Make sure you have 5 lbs. of potatoes ready. Place dry sherry and red wine bottles within easy reach for stuffing and gravy needs. Keep stuffing mix (10-16oz) and chicken broth (2 boxes of 32oz) also within reach. Set hot sausage to thaw in fridge if frozen and go to sleep.