Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms – gluten free & keto

I was inspired to create this recipe when I found these gorgeous cremini mushrooms at our neighborhood farmers market, which is held every Saturday morning in the beautiful Parque de Los Enamorados.

I love the mushroom stand set up with a variety of mushrooms that I buy every Saturday.

Ingredients:

  • 12 medium sized cremini mushrooms (they are also called Baby Bella)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium red onion
  • A variety of veggies can be used, such as, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes. Here I have used a red and an orange bell pepper.
  • 1 serrano chili, is optional, if you want to add a spicy kick.
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • A handful of any herbs you like. Here I have used Italian parsley.
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Use your favorite melting cheese. I usually buy a block of the best cheese I can find. Then I get my husband to grate it for me. However, the Italian cheese in the photo, was on sale and it had no additives or anti-caking compounds, so I bought it.
  • 2 teaspoons of my Italian Spice Mix for sprinkling over the mushrooms and 1 teaspoon for the filling. The Italian Spice Mix consists of garlic powder, onion powder, chili flakes and dried oregano.
  • Olive oil – enough to coat the pan and drizzle over the mushrooms.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prepping The Mushrooms:

Clean the mushrooms by carefully wiping off any dirt with a moist kitchen towel. Then remove the stems by gently snapping them off. Hollow out each mushroom with a grapefruit spoon. Set the stems and the mushroom innards aside in a bowl. We will use them as part of the mushroom filling. Nothing goes to waste around here!!! Place each prepped mushroom upside down on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and my Italian Spice Mix. Then drizzle with olive oil. Turn the mushrooms over and repeat the sprinkle and drizzle.

Turn the oven to 400F or 200C. Place the seasoned mushrooms into the oven and bake until they release their juices, as seen in the photo below. This should take about 10 minutes.

Let the mushrooms cool for about ten minutes. Then pour out the juices, that are full of umami flavor, into a small bowl. My motto is “SAVOR EVERY FLAVOR 😋” We will use this umami bomb as part of the mushroom filling. Umami is the savory or meaty taste of foods. It corresponds to the flavor of glutamates in foods. That is why monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used as a flavor enhancing agent. My husband and I are both very sensitive to artificial MSG, but mushrooms have a high concentration of natural glutamates which don’t produce the reaction that artificial MSG does.

TIP – By extracting the mushroom juices we accomplish two things:

1. Dehydrated the mushrooms so they will not be water-logged when they are stuffed and baked again.

2. Created a mushroom extract that is an umami bomb.

Prepping The Filling:

Finely chop all the veggies and herbs. Place each one in a separate bowl because they do not all go in to the pan at the same time.

Cooking The Filling:

Coat a heavy duty stainless steel pan with olive oil. Place the pan over a medium-low flame. Add the onion and a teaspoon of the Italian Spice Mix. Sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic. Continue sautéing until the garlic is soft. This should take about two minutes.

Add the peppers and the chili. The chili is optional if you want to add a spicy note. Add a dash of salt. Sauté until the peppers are soft.

Add the mushrooms. Sprinkle a dash of salt and a grind of black pepper over the mushrooms. Also drizzle a small amount of olive oil. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are soft.

Create a hot spot in the center of the pan by pushing the vegetables to the outer edge of the pan. Place the tomato paste in the center of the pan. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the tomato paste. Stir the tomato paste in the center of the pan and let it cook for a minute. Then stir it into the rest of the vegetables.

Once the tomato paste is incorporated into the vegetables, deglaze the pan with the vinegar and reserved mushroom juices. Cook for about a minute and turn off the flame.

Add the herbs and stir them in. Taste the filling and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. The filling is now ready. Transfer the filling to a bowl and let it cool so that you will not burn your fingers while stuffing the mushrooms.

Use a teaspoon to stuff each mushroom.
Top each stuffed mushroom with freshly grated cheese.

These stuffed mushrooms are very popular at our cocktail parties. They pair especially well with red wine. They are easy to make for a party because they can be made the day before. Just fill them but don’t top them with cheese. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator overnight. An hour before your guests arrive, top them with cheese. As your guests start arriving, pop them in a 350F or 180C oven for 5 to 10 minutes to melt the cheese. Before serving garnish each one with a little basil leaf or oregano leaf.

I often make these stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer to take to parties. I prepare them to the point where they are topped with cheese. Then I put them in a covered casserole dish so they transport well. When I get to the party, I pop them in the oven, so they are piping hot when put on the buffet table.

These stuffed mushrooms are very flavorful. I have been asked for this recipe so many times. I finally found time to write this post to share the recipe.

Sometimes I have filling leftover. It can be used for making omelets or a quiche. I used the leftover filling to make mini stuffed cremini mushroom quiches. They turned out so cute and delicious. I will post the quiche recipe for my next post.

In the meantime, please enjoy the stuffed mushrooms with your favorite glass of red wine. 🍷😋💕

OVEN ROASTED ASPARAGUS (Part of A Farmers Market Lunch)

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I was so thrilled to find a big, fresh brunch at our local farmers market, which is held every Saturday from 9AM to noon in the beautiful Parque de Los Enamorados.

This beautiful asparagus was grown by Debbie of Chinaberry Farm. She also grew these hydroponic lettuces.

They are the best lettuces I have ever had. I also love that they look like a bouquet. I overheard a woman at the market say that she would like to have one of these lettuces as a bridal bouquet. I thought that was a great idea.

Debbie has these lettuces every Saturday along with a variety of seasonal vegetables. Yesterday, her San Marzano tomatoes and sweet Italian basil caught my eye, so I bought those too. These ultra fresh ingredients inspired me to make this simple salad. When I have such great produce, I keep things simple in order to let the ingredients shine.

I just hand tore the lettuce and basil. Sliced the San Marzano tomatoes and tossed the salad up with an olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing. The dressing is easy to put together. Take a mason jar and add 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 table spoons of red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can add in your favorite herbs and spices, such as, chili flakes, dried oregano, thyme, garlic powder and onion powder. Once all the ingredients are in the mason jar, close it tightly with its lid and shake vigorously.

After I left Debbie’s booth, I walked around and saw a lady, AnDy VZ (on Facebook), selling farm fresh eggs from her own chickens. I just had to buy some of those. I thought to myself, that I could make a pistachio pesto omelette stuffed with herb goat cheese that I have at home. The pistachio pesto came to mind because I had the fresh sweet Italian basil from Debbie and I had a bag of pistachios in my pantry. Most of my recipe ideas come from the ingredients I have on hand.

The omelette would go great with the salad and oven roasted asparagus. There it is. My farmers market inspired lunch. It was delicious if I do say so myself.

I am going to show you how I made the asparagus in this post. The omelette is easy. I made classic pesto, but substituted the pistachios for the pine nuts. I broke open 2 eggs, added a table spoon of the pistachio pesto along with a splash of cream. I whisked everything together and added it to a warm pan with melted butter. When the eggs were almost set, I placed some crumbled herb goat cheese in the center and folded the eggs over to form the omelette.

If you want my pesto recipe click on this link for Pesto Eggs “Benedict”. I show how to make the pesto on my eggs benedict post.

Ingredients for the Oven Roasted Asparagus:

  • 2 table spoons of my Italian Spice Mix
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus
  • 3 table spoons of olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepping The Asparagus:

Snap the end of the asparagus. Do not throw the ends away. I will show you how they can be used.

Some of the asparagus was thick and some was thin. In the photo above the thick stalks are in the glass baking dish on the left and the thinner ones are on the right. The ends are in the glass bowl. The reason I sort out the sizes is that the thick ones will take longer to cook. If you put them all in the same baking dish they will cook unevenly.

Once the stalks are prepped sprinkle them with the Italian spice mix, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss so the asparagus is evenly coated.

Preheat the oven to 400 F or 200 C. Place the seasoned asparagus in the oven and roast until the asparagus tips are browned.

This can take 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalks. Halfway through the cooking time turn the asparagus over with tongs. I like to cook them so they are tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Do not overcook them because they will loose their lovely green color and turn mushy.

As for those asparagus ends. Slice them into discs and store them in the refrigerator. They can be added to soups, sautéed up with onions for an egg scramble or used in place of peas in any recipe that calls for peas. I am sure you can also think of other uses.

In order to minimize waste, It is best to slice each stalk individually because each stalk gets fibrous at a different point.

The fibrous portion is the stem of the asparagus and is not edible. When I had my own chickens, I used to feed it to them. I hope to have my own chickens again, but for now I am buying the eggs from Andy at the local farmers market.

The whole purpose of this post was to show you how I get recipe ideas from the local ingredients I find. I love going to the farmers market not just for the great produce, but also for the camaraderie with the people I meet there. I feel very lucky to have such a great community.

Happy Halloween

Happy Holidays everyone. I consider Halloween to be the start of the holiday season. The table setting above could be used for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Last year we had a fun start to the season by hosting an event for the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry. I posted about the event but I did not get a chance to share many of the photos taken by my friends.

The menu was Italian with a Halloween flare. All the recipes can be found in the recipe index. You can also just click on the recipe links provided in the text of this post.

We started the class off by making the Cranberry Tiramisu first, so we could give it time to chill and set before serving. Here are a few photos from the cooking class as we made our dessert.

The Cranberry Tiramisu was served with a Cranberry Champagne Cocktail, made by my husband.

The cranberry cocktail turned out to be the favorite drink of the night. We also ended up serving it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Once our dolce was completed, we started on the antipasto, Italian Stuffed Vegetables . My intention was to serve stuffed mushrooms, but two diners did not like mushrooms, so I also prepared some stuffed zucchini and tomatoes. Here is a photo of the students as we began to make our antipasto. I just posted the recipe for the Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms. Click on the link to see the full recipe.

The stuffing that we made during the class is a little different from the one in the posted recipe. I found fresh shaved brussel sprouts so I used them. You can vary the stuffing depending on what you like and what you have on hand.

I showed the class how to stuff the vegetables. Then we all worked together to prepare the dish.

Here is a photo of all of us enjoying our antipasto paired with a local Texas Italian style wine from Duchman Family Winery.

The next thing we made was the insalata, which consisted of a Golden Beet Salad topped with crispy goat cheese. I decided to serve the salad in maple leaf shaped bowls to fit with a fall theme.

This is an easy salad to make. All the steps are laid out in the recipe. The trickiest part is making the crispy goat cheese croutons. I did a demo for the students and then let them try making them.

Next we got started on the primo which usually consists of a pasta or risotto. I decided to make Pumpkin Gnocchi with Collard Greens. It is one of my favorite dishes. The collards are cooked with onions, garlic, spices and parmesan.

The pumpkin gnocchi is toasted to a golden brown and then added to the collards.

Again, I decided to use the maple leaf bowls for plating, to continue the fall theme.

The next dish we made was the secondi. It consisted of Pork Piccata and Roasted Squash Medallions. You can click on the links provided to get detailed step by step recipes. My husband removed the silver skin and prepared the pork medallions.

Here are a few photos of us making the piccata sauce during the cooking class.

Since I do not eat meat, I seared off a few scallops to make Scallop Piccata for myself. I will share the full recipe for this later. The spicing is a bit more delicate because the scallops are more delicate than the pork.

Lastly we made the Cheesy Cranberry Pistachio Crostini while my husband made the Jack-O-Lantern Cocktail.

We usually do a cocktail hour between the cooking class and supper. This allows the students to change clothes and relax before the main meal is served. We also have guests who do not participate in the class but join us for supper. We like to welcome them with a cocktail hour.

In our circle of friends, we usually also have themed trivia and dance parties. We were supposed to host an 80’s themed party, but had to cancel due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. At the end of the night our guests spontaneously broke out into an 80’s trivia competition. It was a lot of fun.

My husband and I worked hard to make this a fun and productive event for our community. We ended up raising $1,175 for The Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, We were very happy to be able to help our community and make a toast with all who participated.

Halloween Italian Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry

Cooking With Love and Spices is so excited to be able to do another event in support of The Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry. The event details are shown in the flyer below. All the recipes, except for the surprise Halloween cocktail, will be posted ahead of the event. I am doing this because many of the students, who attended the previous cooking classes, requested that I post the recipes in advance.

In May of 2020, I did an event planning survey, to find out what my students and guests would like for the next event. Most people wanted the next event to be Italian cuisine. So I have created an Italian menu with a Halloween flair.

We will start off with cocktails and crostini to honor the Italian tradition of Aperitivo. Aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink and small snack. My husband will be making his Chili Cherry Bourbon and an additional Halloween cocktail. The “ghoulicious” Halloween cocktail will be posted on Saturday October 31, 2020, on Halloween Day Of Course. 😈

The cocktails will be served with a very easy to make Cheesy Cranberry Pistachio Crostini.

Next we will be having an Antipasto (appetizer) consisting of Italian Stuffed Vegetables. The vegetable will vary depending on seasonal availability, but I will post the recipe for stuffed squash on October 10, 2020 to show the basic recipe for stuffing vegetables Italian style.

For the Insalata we will be having Golden Beet Salad topped with crispy goat cheese croutons. If you want to see the full recipe, click on the link above. This recipe was posted on January 13, 2018.

Following the salad, will be the Primo, which means first course in Italian. It usually consists of a risotto or pasta. We will be having Pumpkin Gnocchi with Collard Greens. This recipe was created in 2017 for our family’s Thanksgiving Dinner. For the full recipe, click on the link above. This recipe was posted on December 13, 2017. I just realized that was my dad’s 84th birthday. He loved that Pumpkin Gnocchi 😊

After the pasta course we will be having the Secondi, which means second course in Italian. It is the main protein course which consists of meat, poultry or fish. I created a very special gourmet Berkshire Pork Piccata for the main course. The Berkshire pork is supplied to us by our neighbors at Peach Creek Farm. Since I am a pescatarian, I don’t eat pork, so I will also have a fish piccata option. The full recipe for the Pork Piccata will be posted on October 17, 2020.

All of the above courses will be paired with local Texas Italian style wines from Duchman Family Winery. My husband will be selecting the wines for each course. We like supporting our local producers. For the last two events, we served wines from Messina Hof. This time we decided to work with Duchman.

Last but not least, to celebrate the Dolce Vita (sweet life), I created a unique dessert called Cranberry Tiramisu. It is made with Texas South Wind Cranberry Fruit Wine. The full recipe will be posted on October 24, 2020.

I am very proud of the Cranberry Tiramisu. I did a test low carb recipe. I invited a friend to come over and taste test it. If I do say so myself, it turned out so yummy that I just had to eat it. As written in my post entitled, “My Personal Story of Recovery,” I have been leading a ketogenic life style since February of 2019 so that I can control my blood sugar without medication. In all that time, this is only the third dessert I have eaten. I save my dessert eating for low carb, high quality desserts that are very special. I tested my fasting blood sugar the next day and it was fine. I was so happy. 😊

Just for the record, the first dessert I had was in May of 2019 in Killarney, Ireland. It was a fresh out of the oven, pear and almond custard tart. Still warm with a buttery crust, very flavorful and not too sweet. The second dessert I had was in November 2019 in Amritsar, India. My home town. It was Firni, a rice powder custard flavored with saffron, cardamom and pistachios. For special occasions, the top is garnished with silver leaf.

My grandmother used to make this all the time, so it brought back a lot of childhood memories. I will have to post the recipe for this some day.

Getting off memory lane and back to the event, the Cranberry Tiramisu will be paired with a champagne cocktail created by my husband. It will be a combination of Messina Hof Almond “Champagne” and the Texas South Wind cranberry fruit wine that I used in the dessert.

I had a lot of fun creating this menu. I hope everybody enjoys it. 💕

Event Planning Survey For The Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry

CWLAS JPEG Version

EVENT PLANNING SURVEY FOR THE BASTROP COUNTY EMERGENCY FOOD PANTRY

Hello.  I hope everyone is keeping safe and as positive as possible during this difficult time that we are all going through.

Last year I did 2 cooking class/pop-up supper club events to raise funds for The Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  Thank you to everyone who attended.  I really appreciate your support.

This year, Tresha Silva, the director of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, and I were planning to do a larger event in September for Hunger Action Month.  Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 situation, all future plans are up in the air.  I plan on doing another event in my home when all this is over.

To prepare for the next event, I have designed this survey so I can get an idea of what people would like for the next cooking class/pop-up supper club.

  1. What did you like best about the event(s) that you attended last year?
  2. What could I do to make the event more enjoyable for you?
  3. For the next event, would you like Indian Cuisine or Italian Cuisine?
  4. Do you have any particular dish you would like to learn?

I would appreciate it if you would leave me your answers or ideas in the comment section.

I have already surveyed many of the students and guests who attended last year’s events.  Here is a tabulation of the survey results:

  1. What people liked most about last year’s events was that, not only was the food and wine pairing amazing, but that it was served along with great company and conversation.  People really appreciated the atmosphere of camaraderie and good will while preparing and eating supper together.
  2. When I asked people what I could do to make the event more enjoyable, they asked if I could make some time for breaks during the cooking class portion of the event.  I will make sure we have breaks next time.
  3. As to what cuisine to serve next time, most people said Italian.  So Italian it will be.
  4. When I asked if there is a particular dish they would like to learn, most people just wanted me to pick the dishes.  They liked the uniqueness and creativity of my menu.  That brought a smile to my face.  I usually create the menu based on what is fresh and available.  I also provide a wide variety of dietary options.

I spoke with Tresha Silva to ask her how things were going at the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry during this current health and economic crisis.  She told me that the need now is greater than ever.  During the first week of the Covid-19 Pandemic crisis there was an 80% increase in the number of people who needed food assistance as compared to this time last year.  Many people were having to ask for assistance for the very first time in their lives.  Its heart breaking.

The food pantry lines have been longer than ever before.  The food pantry staff and volunteers have been working long hours.  The pantry has modified their service so that they can provide curbside distribution.  Also they have been working with the Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Program by assigning volunteers to deliver food to seniors, since they are the most at risk during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

I am looking forward to be able to do another event to support our food pantry, but if you are able to make a donation at this urgent time of need, it would be greatly appreciated.

God Bless!!!  This too shall pass.  We will all get through this together. 💕

 

My Grandma’s Yoghurt-A Story of Hope

I want to share with all of you, a yummy blackberry parfait and a story of HOPE, to help bring a smile as we go through these difficult times.

Blackberry Yoghurt Parfait Copy

Hope all of you are keeping safe during this world wide pandemic.  I have been keeping busy by catching up on all the tasks that I had not found time to do.  I have been losing track of the days as they pass by.  I just realized that I have not even taken a step out of my house in 10 days!!!

Ten days ago, when I went shopping for supplies so that we could shelter in place, the shelves in our local supermarket were bare.  There was not even one bottle of milk.  I asked my husband to go to a local dairy farm, The Jersey Barnyard, to see if he could find some milk to bring home so that I could make yoghurt.

I usually make yoghurt weekly, from the best milk that is available to me.  I still have the live yoghurt culture that my mom started.  I love keeping her culture alive because then I always have a part of her with me. 💕 Click on My Mom’s Yogurt, to get step by step instructions on how to make yoghurt.

My husband brought back a gallon of Raw Jersey Cow’s Milk from The Jersey Barnyard.  This milk had just come fresh from the cow.  Jersey cows have the best milk.  Jersey milk has a higher fat content (4.9%) than Holstein milk (3.7%), so it makes a creamier yoghurt.  In addition, Jersey milk has the original A2 protein instead of the mutated A1 protein.  A2 protein is easier to digest than A1 protein.   Lately, I have been using A2 milk from the grocery store, but this local, raw milk is even better.

It reminded me of the milk I used to go get with my grandma when I was a little girl.  We used to go to the dairy very early in the morning.  My grandma would inspect the cows.  She would especially look at their eyes to make sure they were clear, which meant that the cow was healthy.  Once she picked the cow she wanted milk from, she would give her bucket to the farmer to fill up with fresh, hand-stripped milk.  Straight from the cow into the bucket.  When she made yoghurt from this milk, it always had a thick layer of cream on top.  That creamy top layer was my absolute favorite.  I loved being the first one to break into a batch of freshly made yoghurt.

To my delight, when I made yoghurt from this farm fresh raw milk, it came out just like my grandma’s.  You can see the thick layer of cream in the photo below.

Grandma's Yoghurt Feature

Here are side by side photos of yoghurt made from the Promise Land Milk (left) and Raw Jersey Cow’s Milk (right).

You can see the difference in the two.  The raw Jersey milk yoghurt has a thick layer of cream on the top.  This is the creamiest, most flavorful yoghurt.  My husband has decided that this is the only yoghurt he wants from now on.  So the milk bought because there was none on the shelves, during this pandemic, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It resurrected a childhood pleasure moment that I shared with my grandma.  I consider it A SIGN OF HOPE.

I used it to make a delicious low carb Blackberry Parfait.

Blackberry Yoghurt Parfait Copy

I layered my grandma’s yoghurt with blackberries, pistachios and my homemade chai spice mix.  You can substitute a mixture of fennel and cardamom powder for the chai spice mix.  The parfait tasted similar to a dessert that I used to eat when I was little, but this one has no sugar.  It fits my Ketogenic lifestyle.

Let me know if you have any STORIES OF HOPE.  We could all use a little cheering up😊

A big thank you to my Nani Ji (grandma) and my mom.  I will love them always.💖💖

Results of My Second Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry

My second cooking class/pop supper club was a lot of fun.  The students were eager to learn how to make Indian food.  Everyone enjoyed the food, wine pairing and the camaraderie generated by the community getting together to help a good cause.

Buffet Line

I. Enjoying Kachumber
Photo by Gabby Silva

I am very thankful to my guests for their goodwill and donations to the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  We were able to raise $775 to help our community.

Here is the Indian Menu that my students and I prepared.  Just like the last event, it was delicious, gluten free and Keto friendly.  Vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian options were available to include a wide variety of dietary preferences.

Cooking Class 2 Menu

THE APPETIZER

F. Plated Kachri
photo by Gabby Silva

AUBERGINE KACHRI is my dad’s favorite appetizer.  My mom used to make it for him frequently.  It consists of spicy slices of sauteed eggplant served with a yogurt mint sauce.  For the full recipe, please click on the link above.

Indian cooking takes some advance preparation.  Some of the students joined me the Friday before the event to help me with the prep and learn some extra tips.

The eggplant has to be sliced and salted overnight to draw out excess moisture.  Drawing out the moisture allows the eggplant to cook evenly and not absorb excess oil.  This is a tip I learned from my mom.  Below is Rose, one of my students, showing the eggplant we sliced and salted.

A'. Prepping Kachri

The cooking class began on Saturday at noon.  The first thing we did is dry the eggplant slices and season them with my Indian Spice Mix.

We let the seasoned eggplant slices sit in the frig for a couple of hours, to let all the spices marry, before pan sauteing them.

C. Sauteing Kachri

The cooked eggplant slices were topped off with a dollop of yogurt mint sauce made with My Mom’s Yogurt.  A fresh mint leaf was added to each slice for a finishing touch.

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THE SALAD

G. Plated Kachumber

KACHUMBER is chopped salad made with cucumber, tomato, onion, mint, cilantro, lime juice and Indian spices.  In the above photo, you see it plated with a small papad.  Papad is a thin, cracker-like crisp made with lentils.  It serves as the Keto friendly crouton element.

The salad was the last thing we made so that we could serve it super fresh.  In the photo below, you will see the components of the main course staying warm in crockpots, while we prep the Kachumber Salad.

A. Prepping Kachumber

I also made a yogurt dressing, with toasted cumin and other spices, to add a creamy element to the Kachumber Salad.  I will post the full recipe as soon as I get a chance.

THE MAIN COURSE was a Trio of  Indian Curries

I want to clarify what a curry is.  Curry just means something cooked in a sauce.  In India, every region has its own variety of curries.  Indian cooks do not use curry powder.  Curry powder is a British invention.  Each curry is made from scratch with its own blend of base aromatics and a layering of spices throughout the cooking process.

I decided to make three unique curries, both to accommodate a variety of dietary needs and to show my students different ways of making curries.

Indian Cooking Class Feature
Photo by Gabby Silva

Starting from left to right, the photo above shows:

  • Riced Cauliflower Pilaf, made with freshly grated turmeric
  • Extra Kachri Slices, in case anyone wanted an additional appetizer
  • Vegan Curry, with chickpeas for protein
  • Monkfish Curry, with a coconut lime base, for the pescatarians
  • Oxtail Curry, my unique signature dish

Diners had a choice of enjoying the curries with a Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf (sitting in the pot on the back burner) or a Keto friendly, Riced Cauliflower Pilaf.  Click on the link for Buckwheat Pilaf to see the basic recipe to make any kind of pilaf.

I am a pescatarian, who leads a Keto Lifestyle, so I served myself a plate of riced cauliflower pilaf and topped it with monkfish curry.

Trio of Indian Curries
photo by Gabby Silva

It was really delicious, if I do say so myself.  Monkfish is considered to be poor man’s lobster. It tasted like a decadent lobster curry with a great depth of flavor, and was the first one to be finished.  I will definitely make it again and post the recipe.

THE DESSERT

Zb. Ras Malai Plated
photo by Gabby Silva

SAFFRON PISTACHIO RASMALAI is a classic Indian dessert, and my husband’s favorite.  Each round ball is a cheesecake bite sitting in a creamy, flavorful sauce.

Indian desserts tend to be very sweet, so my challenge was to figure out a way to make is Keto friendly.  As I was mulling over how to make a low carb version, I recalled a memory from when I was 10 years old.

I was visiting my great grandmother and I watched her make Rasmalai from scratch.  She used just a little bit of honey in place of sugar.  She told me that my great grandfather had sugar problems, so she made desserts with very little sugar, but a lot of flavor.

I did my best to recreate her recipe.  I am going to show you how I did it.  The trick is to use very high quality ingredients and lots of spices that will give the illusion of sweetness.  The spices I used in this case are saffron, fennel powder and cardamom.

MAKING THE RAS GULLAS (cheese balls)

My friend Kathy, came over on prep day to learn how to make Paneer.

  • Once the Paneer is ready, break it up with a fork, add the spices and ground up pistachios.

  • Mix everything together and gently knead it into a ball.

  • Cut the ball into 2 inch pieces, and shape into discs.

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  • Make a pistachio honey syrup scented with saffron and rose water.  I used only one tablespoon of raw local honey in the entire pan of syrup.

  • The syrup is used to cook the cheese balls and infuse them with flavor.  They are simmered for 10 minutes with the lid on.  During the cooking process the cheese balls will double in size.

  • The cooked cheese balls are cooled and firmed up in an ice bath.

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  • While the cheese balls are cooling, make the cream sauce.  The sauce consists of cream, half &half, one tablespoon of honey, pistachio powder, saffron and rose water.

W. making the cream (malai) for the ras gullas

  • Place the firmed up cheese balls in the cream sauce.  We made these on prep day so that the cheese balls could become saturated with the cream sauce overnight.

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Just before serving, I plated the RasMalai by spooning two tablespoons of Malai (cream sauce) into a small bowl.  Then I placed two RasGullas (cheese balls) in each bowl and topped them off with pistachios and goji berries for a little color.

I was proud to make this dessert.  I felt like my great grandmother was there helping me. After my husband ate this RasMalai, he said he would never eat the store bought version again.  My great grandmother’s version turned out so sublime, with a profound but delicate flavor.  I will do a full recipe post when I make it again, but for now I have posted the above photos to give you an idea of how the RasMalai was made.

I want to thank my husband for his help and his expert wine pairing.

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I also want to thank my guests for their support, and Gabby Silva for taking such great photos.

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My next event will be in September for Hunger Action Month.  Tresha Silva, the director of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, and I are planning to hold the event at the Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center.

I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or comments please let me know in the comment section below.  I would love to hear from you.

Indian Cooking Class/Pop Up Supper Club in Support of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry

I am preparing for my second cooking class/pop up supper club to support the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  The event is being held on September 28th, 2019.  The event name is “CookingWithLoveAndSpices For A Cause.  The feature image shows my new event logo.  The center of the logo is a Lotus Mandala in dedication to my mom.  My mom’s name was Kamal, which means Lotus flower.  The Lotus flower is a symbol of divine beauty, purity, enlightenment and self-regeneration because it raises from the muddy waters unstained.  Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul.

Let me know in the comment section what you think of my logo.

CWLAS JPEG Version

Here is the menu for the September 28th, 2019 cooking class/pop up supper club.

Cooking Class 2 Menu

This time I am featuring elegant Indian Cuisine paired with Texan wines from Messina Hof.  My husband decided to stick with the Messina Hof wines because they pair well with Indian Food.

I am doing this event on September 28th because September is Hunger Action Month-a month where people all over America stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger.  It’s a month to take the problem of hunger personally, and then be moved to take action on being an active part of the solution to end hunger in our own communities.  My goal for this event is to have fun while working to end hunger in Bastrop County.

My first cooking class/pop supper club in July, was a trial event at home.  This event is bigger and will be held at the cooking school house on the ranch.  Tickets will be sold on Eventbrite starting on September 6th.

For a cause event

There will be 20 spots open.  You can chose to come to the cooking class and/or dinner.  Last time, some people only wanted to come to the dinner and that is just fine.

Indian food takes a bit of prep work, so I am doing the event over a two day period.  Friday, September 27th will be prep day.  We will start prep at 3 pm.  Prep is open to cooking class students who would like to help and also learn a few extra cooking tips.  We will also have 2 volunteer staff from the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry to help us.  Then on Saturday, September 28th cooking class will be from noon to 4 pm.  Cocktails will be served at 6 pm and dinner will be served at 6:30 pm.

I decided to have a two hour break between cooking and cocktails in case anyone wants to take a rest or wants to have time to freshen up before dinner.  During my first event, some people requested a break so I am making accommodations for that.   In any case, it will give us extra time if we run behind.

Again, the menu is both delicious and gluten free.  The appetizer, Aubergine Kachri, is a dish my mom used to make, especially for parties.  It is one of my dad’s favorite dishes.  The sauce for the dish is made with My Mom’s Yogurt.

There will be a trio of curries to suit different dietary needs.  Or you can sample all three if you like.

I am very fortunate to have a local vendor sponsor me this time.  The Bastrop Cattle Compnay produces grass fed, chemical free beef.  They have been generous enough to donate the oxtail for the oxtail curry.  I have made this for other’s in the past with rave reviews.  Oxtail curry is one of my signature dishes, so I was very excited to be able to get such high quality product for my cooking event.

The pilot event in July was very successful and fun.  This one will be a bit more work, but I have help from Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry volunteers.  I will let you know how this one goes.

Bye! for now 🙂