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Dinner for 40


tammylc
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They were just regular red skinned potatoes.

Tomorrow's meal should be pretty relaxed, so I will do my best to take some pictures for you all.

The menu:

Oven-baked tilapia with peach-tomato salsa and blueberry-corn relish

Parsleyed potatoes

Green salad

Dessert TBD - anybody want to make a suggestion? I'm thinking chocolate rather than fruit, because I'm already using peaches and blueberries in the savory part of the meal. But I'd also like something cheap, since the fish is relatively expensive.

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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First I've ever heard of such a thing. What's the story behind a Texas Sheet Cake? The recipes look good and way easy.

The only problem is that I'm going to be using the common house sheet pans for cooking fish on. But I do have a couple at home I could loan...

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Tammy, I just read from page 1-7 and I am bleary-eyed to say the least. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these, and I am so glad you have been posting all your meals. I have been cut and pasting them into a folder for future reference. Thanks!

"Reminds me of my of safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water." W C Fields

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First I've ever heard of such a thing.  What's the story behind a Texas Sheet Cake?  The recipes look good and way easy. 

The only problem is that I'm going to be using the common house sheet pans for cooking fish on.  But I do have a couple at home I could loan...

Get yer Texas Sheet Cake info here

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Tammy, I just read from page 1-7 and I am bleary-eyed to say the least.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these, and I am so glad you have been posting all your meals.  I have been cut and pasting them into a folder for future reference.  Thanks!

Thanks so much! I can't believe you read it all straight through!

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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First I've ever heard of such a thing.  What's the story behind a Texas Sheet Cake?  The recipes look good and way easy. 

The only problem is that I'm going to be using the common house sheet pans for cooking fish on.  But I do have a couple at home I could loan...

I make Texas Sheet Cake all the time when I need a dessert for a large quantity. I use the cooking light recipe( you can find it and a picture on my food blog on July 30, 2005). I've succesfully baked the cake in a 9x13 pan, but obviously you wont get as many slices. For a "light recipe", its still pretty rich. It uses cocoa too and a small amount of pecans. Everyone I've ever made it for loves it.

Ive added the link to my blog. Click texas sheet cake above.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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I have enjoyed reading also and have some experience as I feed some where between 30 & 40 for all of our tail gates in the fall and since I supply every thing you can believe that I budget well! I picked up some great hints and tips. I am some what constrained in that cooking out side I do not have an oven so must do every thing either on grills, stoves, or similar which can be interesting and some what limiting.

I do not know how practical it would be for you but have you thought about doing prep work for a Sunday on a Th? If you have fridge or freezer space it might work for some of those stews & marinades and would save you all the prep time on your own (I do not know how fair it would be to your assistants to do prep work on TH for a Sun). If you plan on some thing relatively simple for a Th dinner it would free time for getting things ready. Just a thought.....

And I can sympathize w/ you on a couple of things. There will never be enough mashed potatoes. No matter how well you plan there will be a monkey wrench thrown in to the mix at the last minute.

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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I do not know how practical it would be for you but have you thought about doing prep work for a Sunday on a Th?  If you have fridge or freezer space it might work for some of those stews & marinades and would save you all the prep time on your own (I do not know how fair it would be to your assistants to do prep work on TH for a Sun).  If you plan on some thing relatively simple for a Th dinner it would free time for getting things ready.  Just a thought..... 

I have occasionally done some advance work. But I only get work credit for four hours, so I try to limit the amount of time I spend to somewhere in the that ballpark... And I usually only cook two Thursdays in a month. That Thursday/Sunday back to back was unusual, and caused by my trading off shifts with someone.

Managing cooking space is definitely one of the big challenges of this kind of cooking - sounds like you've got it even tougher than I do!

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Doh! I totally forgot about my promise to try to take pictures. Which is really too bad, because tonight's dinner was particularly colorful.

I had 28 meat eaters, 3 vegetarians and 15 kids signed up for dinner. The total cost was $143.93, which worked out to $4.96 per adult (including the pantry fee).

The menu was baked tilapia with two fruit salsas - peach-tomato and blueberry-corn, boiled potatoes with parsley and olive oil, salad, and Texas Sheet Cake for dessert.

My neighbor works for Zingerman's, and there's been a Zingerman's partners meeting at the common house that morning, so I was the lucky recipient of a couple of their lunch leftovers. One was a big bowl of cucumber salad with feta and mint. The other was a half bowl of peaches with chiles. Instead of buying peaches for the salsa, as I had planned, we just chopped up the peaches from this instead, and mixed them with tomatoes, green onions and lime juice. It turned out okay, but didn't have the bright fresh flavor I had been thinking of. But on the other hand, I didn't have to pay for peaches!

The blueberry-corn recipe is one I got right here on eGullet and it was the surprise hit of the night. It's very simple - just corn cut off the cob and quickly cooked, blueberries, chiffonaded basil, and a vinaigrette of olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Crunchy and fresh - definitely more than the sum of its parts.

I got 12 lbs of tilapia, because I had to order a couple days in advance, and I expected more people to sign up. So there was definitely enough for everyone, and some leftover. I baked it in the oven, and that worked out great - much less work than standing over the stove pan frying like I do for the pecan-crusted tilapia! In fact, I expected that with two big sheet pans of fish in the oven, it would take extra time, but in fact, it was all cooked in about 15 minutes! So I actually rang the bell for dinner early, because when fish is done, it's done! I'll know for next time, if I do it again. The fish itself is quite mild (which is good for the kids), but the salsas made it much more interesting.

For the vegetarians, I used some flying saucer squash that were leftover from the Heartland Gathering this past weekend, and made an interesting stuffed squash recipe. The veggies seemed to like it, and the little bit of filling I tried was tasty, and that was before I added the manchego.

I also had too much Texas Sheet Cake - I made two, and probably could have gotten by with just one. Of course, people are usually happy to take leftovers home. (My husband tells me that there was some left when he was done cleaning, though - so I'm going to go get some to snack on.) But people liked it, and it sure was easy!

I don't cook again until September, so I've got a lot of time to plan my next meal...

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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In fact, I expected that with two big sheet pans of fish in the oven, it would take extra time, but in fact, it was all cooked in about 15 minutes!  So I actually rang the bell for dinner early, because when fish is done, it's done!

I've been curious about dinner times. I assumed that there's a set dinner time and people just show up at that time. But, what happens when dinner is ready early or late? Are you just being metaphoric or is there actually a bell to ring to let people know when dinner is ready?

Your co-housing community sounds like a great place to live.

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In fact, I expected that with two big sheet pans of fish in the oven, it would take extra time, but in fact, it was all cooked in about 15 minutes!  So I actually rang the bell for dinner early, because when fish is done, it's done!

I've been curious about dinner times. I assumed that there's a set dinner time and people just show up at that time. But, what happens when dinner is ready early or late? Are you just being metaphoric or is there actually a bell to ring to let people know when dinner is ready?

There is an actual bell. The kids vie for the opportunity to ring it. It's only somewhat helpful, because it's not loud enough to be heard if you are inside with your windows closed, for example. But in the summer, when I'm outside playing with my son before dinner, it's great!

If dinner is just a few minutes late, then people just hang out in the common house and wait, pitching in if that's helpful. If a cook knows that dinner will be especially late for one reason or another, then they might send an email message out to let people know. When a meal is ready early, the food generally just sits and waits until people arrive.

The last couple weeks it's seemed like people are really drifting in slowly, so sometimes half the people don't show up until 6:30. That's annoying for someone like me, who works hard to make sure things are being served at optimal temperatures.

Your co-housing community sounds like a great place to live.

I certainly think so. If you (or any other reader, for that matter) are every in the neighborhood, let me know - I'd be happy to have you come to dinner and check it out!

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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A couple of things that might work for you. Have you done crepes? Chicken or sea food work exceptionally well and it is a great way to stretch either and use any "left overs". You can purchase the pre-made crepes and they are not that expensive then make a standard chicken or sea food filling. Serve them over rice w/ a basic white sauce. Another thing I like to make (& ovens would make it that much simpler) are chicken "cakes". I use smoked chicken as I like the flavor better but any chicken will work (when I smoke chicken for dinner I just smoke an extra and shred it then freeze but you can get the rotisserie birds if easier). Shred it and make like you would a crab cake (eggs, bread crumbs, &c) then scoop and bake in the oven--or pan fry if desired). I serve them w/ a creole mayonnaise but you could be inventive. You could do vegetarian versions of either w/ little trouble and kids tend to like crepes and "cakes" just b/c they are different.

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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Tammy, are community meals served every night?  If so, how often do you participate?  What do other people fix?

Common meal is served Sunday through Thursday. Two Thursdays per month we invite our neighboring community, Sunward, to eat a Great Oak. Two Thursdays per month we Great Oakers are invited to eat at Sunward. Fifth Thursdays we either cancel the meal or do serve it ourselves, depending on different factors in the schedule. Twice a month we have community meetings, and for those we just order pizza or other takeout so that there isn't noisy cleanup happening during the meeting.

We eat dinner at the common house most nights, although we don't go over to Sunward when meals are there. There are a few cooks we usually don't go to, just because they don't make food we like, or they tend to run late, or their meals are too expensive.

Some recent or upcoming meals:

Pasta Primavera

Moroccan Couscous and Strawberry-Spinach salad

Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, sausages, yogurt, fruit)

Pad Thai

Various kinds of "bars" - salad, sub/sandwich, burrito

Our website has a spot on the front page that shows the next few days menus:

http://www.gocoho.org/

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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  • 1 month later...

After a long break, I'm back cooking common meal this Thursday. It's going to be a bit of a crazy day - I was up to my limit of 64 people when I got a phone call asking me to add 4 more. There's a facilitation training group made up of people from the three cohousing communities, and the are meeting this weekend. They usually eat altogether on Thursday night and use that as a sort of orientation, but by the time some of them got around to signing up, the meal was full. So of course I said "sure, what's a few more?" Then I came home to an email from one of the cleaners for that night, begging me to sneak him in as well. So we're up to 69! Not my biggest meal ever, but we'll definitely be busy.

Fortunately, I have an easy meal planned. I'm making Fish Algiers from the Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd cookbook. Fish fillets, topped with sliced tomato, then a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, freshly toasted and ground cumin, and garlic. Bake until done, serve. Should be easy. Because I have so many people I'm planning to cook whatever I can fit in the ovens, then put a second load in once I take those out. Fish cooks so quickly that I figure by the time people are looking for seconds, the next trays will be ready to come out of the oven.

There's only one small hiccup, which is that I forgot to place an order for 20 lbs of tilapia with my fishmonger early in the day yesterday. By the time I remembered, it was almost 6 pm. They will be calling me this morning to let me know if they will be able to get it for me. If not, I'll still be able to pull it off, but I'm likely to end up with a hodge-podge of fish from different suppliers. (Although there is a fish wholesaler in a nearby town that I will call as my second choice. I'm willing to go with a non-tilapia option too, it's just that my fishmonger gives me such a good deal on tilapia that it makes it more affordable for common meal.)

The other thing I'm a little worried about is having enough rice. I don't think one rice cooker full of rice is going to be enough for 69 people. And I put brown rice on the menu, so it will be hard to have enough time to do a double batch. I think I'll call over to Sunward and see if I can borrow their rice cooker tomorrow - they're eating here, so they won't need it.

The other items on the menu are steamed broccoli and salad. And for dessert, a ginger plum cake from a recent Fine Cooking.

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Okay, good news from the fishmonger - no problem getting my tilapia tomorrow. Phew.

Now I'm going to put a call out to the community to see if anyone has an excess of tomatoes from their garden that they'd like to contribute. It's been rainy and cool for the last several days here in MI, so probably not, but I figure it can't hurt to ask.

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Fish Algiers

Well, that had to be the easiest meal I ever cooked for 72 people. And one of the prettiest.

gallery_7436_3595_59284.jpg

Even with that many diners, we had plenty of time to wash dishes, etc.

The 72 people breaks out as 50 fish eaters, 7 vegetarians, 4 kids and 11 little kids. I spent a total of $244.10, with $5.94 of that being for staple items. Which works out to $4.63 per adult. Here's the rundown:

Fish

20 lbs tilapia (at the wholesale price of $7.50/lb)

2 bags lemons

1 big head garlic

8 lbs of tomatoes (a combination of donations from people's gardens and purchase from the Farmer's Market)

olive oil (pantry)

cumin seeds (pantry)

Stuffed Squash

5 acorn squash

2 cans chickpeas

tomatoes (from the 8 lbs above)

~1 lb feta cheese

Sides

5 lbs brown rice

8 heads of broccoli

2 lbs salad greens

3 pkgs Mac and Cheese (for the kids)

Ginger Plum Cake

1 lb butter

4 plums

24 oz sour cream

fresh ginger

eggs

flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, etc (pantry)

I did go in early this afternoon to make the cakes. The recipe is from the September issue of Fine Cooking - I made the Blueberry-Cornmeal cake for a meal earlier this summer, and this is another cake from the same article. I made 4 times the recipe, but cooked it in two 9x13 pans instead of the 9 inch rounds the recipe calls for. It may not be much to look at, but it was a very tasty cake - moist and gingery. I'd definitely make it again.

gallery_7436_3595_119152.jpg

Once I had my assistant cooks dinner was really easy. The sauce for the fish is just 2 cups each lemon juice and olive oil, a whole head of minced garlic, and a LOT of freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds. Like 3/4 of a cup of cumin seeds for the quantity I was making. Wow. The fish recipes is from Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd. It was sized for 32 portions and 12 lbs of fish, so I had to multiply it by 1.5, but that's still better than the usually crazy multiplication I need to do of recipes.

I took some of the sauce for the fish and tossed it with the chickpeas and a couple of cut up tomatoes, and used that to stuff squash halves that I'd cooked earlier in the day. I cooked it for a while by itself, then topped with a generous amount of feta cheese and baked for a while longer, until I needed the oven for the fish. The vegetarians reported this as pretty tasty, which is good, since I figured it out on the phone with a friend on my way to the grocery store. All I'd posted in the menu was "stuffed squash" with no details and no plan.

My assistant cooks sliced the tomatoes and I split the fish, then we got a little assembly line going to top the fish with tomato slices. The pictures were taken before we topped it with the sauce, which was just before putting it in the oven. It took only about 15 minutes to cook, and when it was done we put it on platters and topped it with fresh chopped parsley. It was beautiful! Such a big difference just because we used two colors of tomatoes. The first picture below only shows most of the fish - there were another 2 pans on another table.

gallery_7436_3595_62026.jpg

gallery_7436_3595_286570.jpg

I could only cook 2 pans at a time (and realized at the last minute that one of my ovens had been accidently turned off!!!) so I just cooked and plated what I could, then put the rest out for refills as they finished cooking. Quantities on everything were just about perfect. Even though my assistant cook was awestruck at the quantity of broccoli, there wasn't a bit left at the end.

It was fun cooking too. Some of our community members have a band, and they were rehearsing for the first 90 minutes of our cooking session, so we had live entertainment. Very cool.

I hope you all enjoy the pictures! Here's one last shot of the dining room, full of happy eaters!

gallery_7436_3595_398127.jpg

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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I made 4 times the recipe, but cooked it in two 9x13 pans instead of the 9 inch rounds the recipe calls for. 

Tammy, not much to say here except that I really enjoy your posts about your community meals. You may not get many responses on this thread, but that doesn't mean that no-one is paying attention.

Those of us who have attended the eG Heartland gatherings know that kitchen well. It's certainly well equipped , but the reference to the 9x13 sheet pans reminded me of one slight shortcoming. You've got professional grade dishwashing equipment, and powerful gas burners, but your oven doesn't accommodate full-width sheet pans! When I went rummaging through the equipment pantry looking for a full-sized sheet pan to support my Silpat (for slow-drying the Michigan cherries for the beef dish that NancyH and Bob were making), it eventually dawned on me that there weren't any full-sized sheet pans because the ovens don't accommodate them . I think that Palladion may have taken a snapshot of my Silpat curled up on the edges to fit in that oven.

Many (many! :shock: ) years ago I cooked for a coop community at Oberlin College. There were "issues" around the various eating preferences (disorders?*) of various members, but my overriding memory is of the joy that came from cooking a meal for and with people who actually pay attention to what they're eating. My big claim-to-fame (at least amongst the menu planners), was that I could properly clean and cook short-grain brown rice without rendering it into library paste. That's a talent in certain quarters.

The folks I met from your community seem like really cool people. Thank you for sharing your cooking experience.

* Nina Planck could probably shed some light on this aspect of OC life. :hmmm:

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I'm back to cooking for about 40 people.

Last week I did A dual soup and seared bavette with Chimichurri marinade, pan roasted potatoes.

This sunday I'll be making a pasta with 8-hour tomatoes, tomatoe essence and herbs, some sort of fig and apple salad....probably going to go simple on it, but I might jazz it up a bit. I haven't decided on any other additions or sides, but I'll be playing it by ear, I have been itching to make socca recently, but I'm leaning toward something not carb-centric.

Dessert will probably be some play on the Olive Oil Cake, with a cinnamon infused oil to go along.

It's a little bit of a challeng because there is 1 person who is celiac, casein, shellfish, and egg allergic.

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I made 4 times the recipe, but cooked it in two 9x13 pans instead of the 9 inch rounds the recipe calls for. 

Those of us who have attended the eG Heartland gatherings know that kitchen well. It's certainly well equipped , but the reference to the 9x13 sheet pans reminded me of one slight shortcoming. You've got professional grade dishwashing equipment, and powerful gas burners, but your oven doesn't accommodate full-width sheet pans! When I went rummaging through the equipment pantry looking for a full-sized sheet pan to support my Silpat (for slow-drying the Michigan cherries for the beef dish that NancyH and Bob were making), it eventually dawned on me that there weren't any full-sized sheet pans because the ovens don't accommodate them . I think that Palladion may have taken a snapshot of my Silpat curled up on the edges to fit in that oven.

Actually, we do have 2 full size sheet pans. (In the picture where you can see all the fish laid out and watiting, they are up on the butcher block - they look smaller because of the perspective of the shot.) They were just MIA on the day we were cooking in the kitchen. They fit into the ovens, but only just barely.

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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I'm back to cooking for about 40 people.

Last week I did A dual soup and seared bavette with Chimichurri marinade, pan roasted potatoes.

This sunday I'll be making a pasta with 8-hour tomatoes, tomatoe essence and herbs, some sort of fig and apple salad....probably going to go simple on it, but I might jazz it up a bit.  I haven't decided on any other additions or sides, but I'll be playing it by ear, I have been itching to make socca recently, but I'm leaning toward something not carb-centric.

Dessert will probably be some play on the Olive Oil Cake, with a cinnamon infused oil to go along.

It's a little bit of a challeng because there is 1 person who is celiac, casein, shellfish, and egg allergic.

Your 40 person meals are definitely more elaborate than mine! I assume you're operating under a different set of parameters...

Although I have recently learned that dual soups are WAAAY easier than they look. Maybe I'll incorporate one the next time we do a "Dinner at the Great Oak Bistro" night (what we call it when my foodie friend comes in to cook with me, and we serve a plated dinner instead of the usual family style or buffet.)

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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they sound fancier than they are....essentially it was meat, potatoes, and soup.

The soup was corn and pepper: Corn pureed in milk, steeped, strained, heated, and roasted peppers done much the same way in water. Added spices to taste (whatever I felt like at the moment, but I really just wanted that pure corn and pepper taste), and drizzled with some balsamic and apple juice reduction. The challenge was just getting the soups to be the same viscosity so they wouldn't flow into each other in the bowl.

The meat was marinated in a puree of red onion, garlic, parsley, basil, red wine vinegar, and EVOO (lots of EVOO). and seared on cast iron griddle plates.

Potatoes were an assortment of new potatoes, sliced thin on a mandoline, and spread evenly on a sheet pan with some EVOO, sprinkled with a lot of fresh thyme, thin discs of garlic, and sea salt, put into at 425 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until some of the thinner slices with brown and crispy.

edit: When I have a lull I do one plating so people can see what it should look like, and then I set up a buffet line for people.........I've learned that 90% of college students out their, when hungry, don't give a damn what the food looks like on the plate, as long as it tastes good, so I don't try for fancy dinners where I plate everyone's food. On the upside, considering how many of the people here have grown up eating out at fast food, I'm sure many of them are at least appreciative of having food on a ceramic plat.e.

Edited by s_sevilla (log)
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      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
       
      Directions
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By loki
      Vietnamese Pickled Eggplant
       
      These use tiny white eggplants that are nearly impossible to get here.  I tried to grow them without success (this time).  I did not have these so used unripe cherry tomatoes.
       
      Ingredients
      2 lb eggplant (tiny white SE Asian types) or green cherry tomatoes.
      1/4 cup salt
      1 TBL galangal root
      1 TBL ginger root
      12 green chilies - thai peppers or serranos
      6 cloves garlic
      1/2 cup onion finely chopped
      2 cup Granulated sugar
      2 cup water
      1/4 cup fish sauce
       
      1. Rinse off eggplant and pierce with a knife - or cut in half if larger than 3/4 inch in diameter.
       
      2. Put eggplant into jar and add salt - and water to top of jar.  Cover with plastic lid and cover loosely.  Let ferment for 7 days.
       
      3. Take out eggplant and drain.  Rinse with water.  Put into jars again.
       
      4. Chop ginger, galangal, chiles, onion, and garlic.
       
      5. Boil water and sugar, add spices and onion, and heat for 5 minutes.  Add fish sauce.
       
      6. Pour over eggplants making sure the spices and onion get all around (might have to take out some eggplant and return).
       
      7. Cover with plastic lid, and refrigerate.
       
      8. Ready in several days.  Will last a very long time in the refrigerator.
       
      Notes:  Good alongside other SE Asian dishes, or even alone with rice.  The green tomatoes are not the same texture as the eggplants, but are quite good.  The eggplants are very crispy.
       
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