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.

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 Company 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 🙂

 

Pan Seared Scallops and Squash

I first got the idea to make this dish when I was with my dad at a farmer’s market in Chicago.  I found these beautiful sunburst squash and I just had to use them.  I told dad that I would make scallops and squash for our dinner.  Dad told me that he doesn’t like scallops, but he was excited about the squash because it was so fresh and reminded him of an Indian squash called Tinda.  Tinda is also called “Indian Baby Pumpkin.”  I told him that I would season the scallops with Indian spices and cook them just right so that he would like them.

Dad was willing to try it, so here is the recipe.  He loved it, by the way, and now has become a scallops fan.

INGREDIENTS:

Scallops and Squash Ingredients

  • a dozen large scallops
  • 6 small squash (you can used any small squash that is just a bit bigger than the scallops in diameter.)  Here I have used patty pan squash.
  • 3 Tbsp Indian Spice Mix.  The Ingredients for the spice mix are shown in the small bowls.  For full list of ingredients and how to make the spice mix click on the link provided.
  • Grape seed oil to drizzle over the scallops and squash.
  • 2 pats of butter for cooking the scallops.
  • Freshly ground pink Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste.  My dad likes a lot of black pepper.

PREP:

Scallops and Squash Prep

  • Pat dry the scallops.  If there is a little piece of adductor muscle attachment on the scallop remove it.  It is called the foot of the scallop.  It peels off easily.  It is the tough tendon that attaches the scallop to its shell.  Please remove it because it is not edible.
  • Sprinkle on 1 Tbsp of Indian Spice Mix.  Drizzle on enough grape seed oil to coat.  Toss gently until well coated.  Do not add salt until right before cooking.  Place in the fridge, uncovered, while you prep the squash.
  • Cut the ends off of each squash.  Then cut in half.  You should have pieces of squash that are one inch thick.  Again sprinkle on the Indian Spice Mix.  Also add salt and pepper and coat with grape seed oil.  Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.

COOK:

Scallops and Squash Cook

  • Start the squash first.  Coat a large skillet with a Tbsp of grape seed oil.  Place on medium-high heat.  When oil is hot place the squash slices in a single layer.  Cook until golden brown on first side and flip.  While the second side is cooking, start the scallops.  The second side should cook for 3 minutes.  At the end of 3 minutes turn off the heat.
  • Place two pats of butter in a non-stick skillet.  Place on medium-high heat.  While the butter comes up to a foam, season the scallops with salt and pepper.  When you see the butter foaming, placed the scallops in the skillet.  It will take two to three minutes to develop a dark crust.  Once the crust has formed, flip the scallops over and take them off the heat.  Wait 2 minutes for the carry over heat to cook the scallops through.

PLATING:

Scallops and Squash Plated

Above is a photo of my plating when I enjoyed this dish with my dad.  He likes red wine, so we served this with a Shiraz.  Shiraz is the original wine grape from the Middle East.  It goes very well with any spicy food.  In my opinion, it goes very well with Indian food.

When I recreated this dish at home, I came up with fancier plating.

Scallops and Squash Feature

I served it as a first course for a dinner party.  Each piece of squash is topped with a scallop and then garnished with a dot of home made mint chutney and a mint leaf.  I will post the recipe for the mint chutney in the future.

NOTE: On May 23, 2020 – I posted Carrot Tops & Coriander Chutney.   This is the same recipe as the mint chutney, but carrot tops have been substituted for mint.  

Hope you like it.  My dad loved it 😊💕

Please write your thoughts in the comments section.  I always appreciate your support and feedback. 😃