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 🙂

 

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

My first cooking class/pop up supper club was a lot of fun and a big hit.  The students loved the cooking class.  Everyone enjoyed the food, wine pairing and the goodwill generated during the event.  The best compliment I got was that the food, wine and service were like a five star restaurant, but the camaraderie was the best thing of all.

I am thankful to my guests for their goodwill and donations to the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  We were able to raise $600 to help our community.  Not bad for a first trial run event.

OUR NEXT EVENT WILL BE ON SEPTEMBER 28th.  This time the menu will be Indian Cuisine.  I will post the menu by the first week of September.  The event will be open to 20 people and will be held in my cooking school house on my ranch.

Here is the Italian profile menu that was prepared and served for this event.  It was all delicious, gluten free and Keto friendly.  I was also able to provide vegan and vegetarian options.

BCEFP Event 2

THE AMUSE-BOUCHE

AUTUMN DAL–I served a sample of the soup that I made for the 2019 Bastrop County Empty Bowl Project.

THE APPETIZER

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER–topped with shaved Italian cheeses, pine nuts and a drizzle of homemade pesto.  I have not yet posted this recipe on my blog, but I will soon.

The cooking class students enjoyed making and eating this dish.  It was a class favorite.

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The pesto that topped the cauliflower was easy to make, fragrant and oh so yum!!!

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My friend, Melinda thought it smelled divine.

By the way,  Melinda has been very supportive of my cooking endeavors.  She made me promise that when I do my first cooking class, I have to call her so that the event can be scheduled at a time when she will be able to attend.  True to my promise, she was the first one to be invited.

A NO WASTE TIP–when we prepped the cauliflower, we saved all the stalks and leaves.  We used them as part of the base for the stuffing in our main course.  I wanted to show that no part of the vegetable has to go to waste. I always use it all one way or the other.  In this case I used it in the soffritto that makes up the stuffing for the Dover Sole.  The cauliflower stalks taste like a cross between celery and fennel, so they make an aromatic addition to the soffritto.

 

THE SALAD

MIXED GREENS–with house made balsamic vinaigrette.  I bought some organic greens at grocery store, but the ones you see me washing were grown by my hubby.

The main reason that I wanted to make a salad was to show my students how easy it is to make salad dressing.  It is basically 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, an emulsifying agent, salt, pepper, herbs and spices.  Here I used Tuscan Extra Virgin olive oil, White Balsamic vinegar from Modena, soy sauce as the emulsifying agent, thyme and my Italian Spice Mix.

I will write a detailed post on the basics of making salad dressings in the future.  I never buy commercial salad dressings because most of them have ingredients that are not good for you.  Also the home made dressings are easy to make and taste so much better.

THE MAIN COURSE

STUFFED DOVER SOLE–with artichoke hearts and onion, served on a bed of BUCKWHEAT PILAF surrounded by BLISTERED TOMATOES.  On the right you see the vegan option, where roasted cauliflower was substituted for the fish.

I picked this dish for my first cooking class because it was the first dish I posted when I started my blog.  I was so lucky to find wild fresh caught Dover Sole at the store.  For the full recipe please click on the links above.

Here are a few more photos from the cooking class.

 

THE DESSERT

CC 1 Zabaglione Whip
Photo by Gabby Silva

BERRIES AND FENNEL SCENTED ZABAGLIONE

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Zabaglione is an Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet Marsala wine.  The eggs came form our own chickens, making this custard extra special.  I played around with the traditional zabaglione recipe to find a way to cut down the amount of sugar used.  The classic recipe calls for a table spoon of sugar for 2 egg yolks along with a table spoon of sweet Marsala.  I was able to cut the sugar down to 1 tea spoon by adding a pinch of fennel powder. In the future, I will write a post showing the recipe step by step.

THE TIP HERE IS THAT FENNEL POWDER ADDS THE ILLUSION OF SWEETNESS SO IT ALLOWS YOU TO DECREASE THE AMOUNT OF SUGAR.  The fennel powder also adds great flavor.  I use this same trick in my marinara sauce.  An Indian cooking trick carried over to Italian Cuisine.  I really like that.

I was a bit nervous because this was my first cooking class.  However, everything went smoothly.  All the food was timed correctly.  We started the class at 1:30 with 5 students.  The class ended right on time at 5:30.  The dinner guests arrived at 6 pm and my husband served everyone a cocktail.

Above you see him making his Pear Martini.  It is a very popular drink.  The pears come from our tree.  If you want to see the recipe please click on the link.

Each course was perfectly matched with a Texas wine from Messina Hof.

 

Thanks to everyone who helped to make it a great event!

CC 1 Group Photo
Photo by Gabby Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I am finally doing my first cooking class/pop up supper club to benefit the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry.  This is event is a trial run for a small group at my  home.  I am opening a cooking school on my ranch in September and am planning to do a larger event for Hunger Action Month.

As stated on  feedingamerica.org,  “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 spread the word and take action on the hunger crisis, and dedicate ourselves to a solution.”

My trial event is this Saturday, July 27th 2019.  I will be featuring an Italian menu paired with Texan wines from Messina Hof.

BCEFP Event 2

I am happy to say that the event sold out before I even had a chance to send out e-mail invites.  Believe it or not, besides being delicious, the whole menu is gluten free.  The main course is the first recipe that I posted on my blog, Stuffed Dover Sole.

I am in charge of the food and my husband is in charge of the drinks.  In addition to the wine, he will be making cocktails and mocktails.  Some of our guests don’t consume alcohol, so we want to accommodate everybody.

Tresha Silva, the director of the food bank, has kindly offered to help me serve.  I am very excited that I finally managed to make time in my life to do this.  There is a lot of work to do between now and the event.  I will let all of you know how it went.  I have never done a cooking class/pop up supper club before.

WISH ME LUCK !!!

Grilled Rabbit “Stew”

This Grilled Rabbit “Stew” is my husband’s creation.  I am a pescatarian, but my husband is an omnivore.  We both eat a lot of vegetables and now follow a Ketogenic Lifestyle.  My mom was a vegetarian and raised me that way.  However, my dad does eat meat and I learned how to cook meat for him.  I myself was a vegetarian until about 20 years ago when I started eating fish.  Most of my recipes tend to be vegan, vegetarian or seafood.  These days my husband cooks meat for himself and I cook the other dishes.  If grilling is involved, I may do the marinade, but the grill is my husband’s territory.  He made this dish and I have decided to let him write up his recipe.

INGREDIENTS:Grilled Rabbit Stew Ingredients

  • 1 red onion halved and sliced
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes cut into 8ths
  • 2 medium sized green peppers cut into 6ths
  • 1 jalapeno sliced including seeds, leave the seeds out if you don’t want it spicy
  • 1 zucchini cut lengthwise and sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Shiner beer, I used a mango kolsch, I drank the rest.
  • 1 rabbit cleaned and cut into 8 pieces

Someone gave me the rabbit, if you don’t have rabbit you can use chicken, skinned.

PREP:Grilled Rabbit Stew Prep

  • place a sheet of tin foil in an aluminum roasting pan
  • drizzle olive oil on the sheet of tin foil
  • lay the veggies on the sheet
  • drizzle more oil and add salt and pepper
  • add the rabbit and add more oil and salt and pepper
  • put your grill on medium heat and start the cooking with grill lid open
  • when it starts sizzling add the beer
  • close the grill lid and cook for about 40 minutes
  • turn up the heat to high to finish the dish and add color to the rabbit. Cook on high for about 10 minutes.

When the rabbit is browned and cooked through it is ready to eat.

Grilled Rabbit Stew Cook

You will find a delicious golden gravy under the veggies to pour over the dish when it is served.

Grilled Rabbit Stew Feature

 

Curried Baby Turnips (tops & all)

Curried Baby Turnips, is the first in a series of six recipes inspired by Vegetables From Down The Road.  The baby turnips from our neighboring farm were so fresh that I decided to use them tops and all.  This is a classic Indian dish which is usually made with cilantro.  Here I substituted the tender, fresh turnip tops for the cilantro.

INGREDIENTS:

 

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  • 2 bunches of baby turnips (each bunch had 5 turnips)
  • 3 peppers (use whatever variety you have on hand–here I used a Fresno, a sweet orange pepper and a fiery hot green scotch bonnet pepper.)  Mixing up the type of peppers results in a more complex flavor.
  • 2 inches of ginger root
  • 2 inches of turmeric root (if you cannot find fresh turmeric, use 1/2 tsp. of powder instead)
  • 8 ounces of frozen peas
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp. chili flakes (optional if you want to make the dish more spicy)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. garam masala (I make my own, but you can purchase it at an Indian grocery store or a spice market)
  • 2 Tbsp. grape seed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Curried Baby Turnips Prep

  • Trim off the turnip bottoms and tops.  Leave the skins on.  Cut the turnips in half and then slice them into thin moon shapes.
  • Roughly chop the turnip tops.
  • Finely dice the chilies and ginger.

COOK:

 

  • Coat a large stainless steel skillet with grape seed oil and place on medium heat.
  • Add the turnips, chilies and ginger.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sprinkle on the cumin, black mustard and nigella seeds.  Add the optional chili flakes.
  • Using a micro plane or mini grater, grate the fresh turmeric at this point.  If you are using powdered turmeric, it will be added later in the recipe.  If you add it now, it will burn.

 

  • Saute the turnips until they are translucent and the added seeds begin to pop.  You will be able to hear them popping.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low.
  • Add the tomato paste and smoked paprika.  If you are using powdered turmeric, add it at this point.  Continue to saute for another 2 minutes.

 

  • Add the chopped turnip tops and saute until they wilt.  This should take 2 or 3 minutes.

 

  • Add the peas and sprinkle on the garam masala.
  • Add additional salt and pepper as needed.
  • Toss everything together.
  • Turn off the heat and cover with the lid.

Leave the turnips on the stove without removing the lid for about 10-20 minutes or until you are ready to serve.  This process is called “DUM” in Hindi.  It allows all the flavors to marry and become one harmonious flavor. This is a very important step in traditional Indian cooking.

As a side note.  At the end of February 2019, I found out that I have high blood sugar.  For the past 4 months, I have been following a ketogenic lifestyle along with intermittent fasting.  I have been successful in controlling my blood sugar and I also lost 30 pounds.  I will write more about this in a separate post.  This recipe just happens to fit a keto lifestyle.  Turnips are a great substitute for potatoes on a keto program.  Try this recipe because it is delicious.  Let me know how it turns out in the comment section.

My First Event–helping to raise money for the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry (photo by Karen Kahan)

Every year the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry (BCEFP) hosts the EMPTY BOWL PROJECT to raise funds for our local food bank.  It is their biggest fundraiser for the year.  Local restaurants and caterers volunteer to make soup to be served at the event.  People in the community buy tickets to taste the soups and vote for their favorites.

In addition, local artists create ceramic bowls that are part of a silent auction.

All proceeds from the silent auction and the tickets go directly to our emergency food pantry.  The goal for this year was to raise $30,000.  I am very happy to report that we exceeded our goal.  700 people attended at $20 a ticket–so that was $14,000.  The rest came from the silent auction, donations, and business and individual sponsorships.  It was so much fun!!!  Thank you to everyone who contributed.

This year, I was asked if I would like to participate by serving my Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale).  I have never made soup for 700 people, so I was a bit nervous if it would come out right.  But I went for it and said yes.  If you read my welcome page, you will see that I promised that there would be some community projects associated with this blog.  I have always wanted to give back to my community, so I was thrilled to have my first opportunity to help.  I will be doing more projects with the BCEFP.  I will blog about them as I do them.

The timing of the 2109 EMPTY BOWL PROJECT was very special to me.  It just so happened that my family was visiting me from Chicago during the week that the event was taking place.  The Empty Bowl Project turned into 4 generations of soup for me.

BCEBP DEDICATION The recipe started with my Nani-ji (grandmother), then my mom, then me and now I am passing it onto my niece, Leilani.  She wanted to help me make the soup and I was grateful for her help.  Leilani painstakingly spent two hours cutting up the greens.

BCEPB PREP LK

I really enjoyed making the soup with Leilani.  She was so eager to learn and help.

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My dad helped me serve the soup.

BCEBP DAD

It was a HEARTWARMING family and community experience.  I look forward to doing it again next year.

Vegetables From Down The Road

On Saturday, my husband went down the road and brought home these beautiful vegetables from our neighbors, Fruitful Hill Farm.  We a lucky to have such nice neighbors.

I was inspired to make 6 dishes.  I did a marathon cooking session which included creating, testing, cooking and photographing the 6 dishes.  I will be posting one dish per week for the next six weeks.

Here is a list of the dishes I created:

  1. CURRIED BABY TURNIPS–TOPS AND ALL
  2. SWEET POTATO AND KALE TIKKIS (CUTLETS)
  3. CARROT TOPS AND CORIANDER CHUTNEY
  4. CARROT TOPS AND PARSLEY PESTO PASTA
  5. COLLARD GREENS AND CHICKPEA STEW
  6. MUSTARD GREEN SAAG PANEER

Nothing went to waste.  I used every part of the vegetables.  I also made Roasted Carrots but I did not list it because it is a recipe I have already posted.

I had so much fun doing this marathon cooking session.  I am looking forward to sharing the dishes with you.  Please look out for them.  I hope you like them.

A big thanks to the folks at Fruitful Hill Farm for growing the vegetables!!!