For the first post of this new year, our blogger du jour is someone you’ve already heard a lot about: husband, father, and ice cream creator extraordinaire, Marc. He has a lot of nice things to say, and he planned a really great birthday weekend for me. But there were a ton of poppy seeds in the house; he just didn’t know where to find them. And the absence of chana masala at my Indian food birthday party was totally deliberate — he let my successful cholent masala from last week have the last word. Also, he does not do the potato dish justice. It was that good.
Well. It’s about time. Miriam wrote her blog for just over a year, and now she’s handing it off. To us. First, to me. And that means I get to dish!
First things first. One. Miriam didn’t make any of the recipes she talked about for a year. Not a single one. It was all Chefbot 3000. Which she didn’t even buy for herself. It was sent to our address by mistake and she thought we should “just keep it.”
Two. There’ve been a lot of people coming through our house this year, and we’ve gone to a lot of other people’s houses. So straight out, who are our favorite people? [edited]
Three. Aliza happens to love the blog, and she usually likes (at least the smell of) the standard Chefbot options, but she thinks that the WordPress interface leaves a lot to be desired.
All right. On to this recent weekend. It was Miriam’s birthday! Hooray!
I wanted to take the opportunity to help make her life the way she wants it to be. Which of course we try to do for each other all the time, but a birthday is a good time to redouble efforts. And, as pertains to this current article, that includes meals.
Friday night, I hoped to prepare something reminiscent of Miriam’s meals growing up: a recipe I learned from her and her mother, fried tuna patties with rice. It’s basically tuna salad with bread crumbs and/or wheat germ / and eggs, fried in patty shape. (I used stuffing and wheat germ this time). [Miriam’s note: previously referenced as salmon patties here and here. And for future reference, this is how you’ll know something’s actually edited. Hi Marc! Thanks for writing!] We only had one egg, which wasn’t enough, so they mostly fell apart. To try to redeem the (admittedly yummy) tuna chunks, I put cheddar cheese on them and baked them in the toaster oven. This at least made something “new” — tuna melt patty stuff — instead of something that missed the mark (falling apart tuna patties). This process falls under the advice, “if at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.”
For Saturday, Miriam requested the company of Beverly and Naomi. And they went for it. Great! Beverly just got back from Israel this week, and we hardly ever have such a small meal. It’s hard not to start to include more and more people, but when you make an effort – a real effort – a small meal is possible. Indeed, the progression of meals went from 2 (me and Miriam, described above), to 4 (me, Miriam, Beverly, and Naomi) to 16 (Saturday night, to be described below.) This means the next meal would have to have had 256 people, and the one after that, 65,536 Yikes. Have you ever tried cooking for 65,536? This is beyond the means of even Chefbot 4000. Especially for soup.
I’m just kidding about Chefbot. Thanks for being a good sport, Miriam! [Any time!]
So Saturday day, we had tacos. It’s easy – just put out taco components, and tell people it’s a meal. It’s like opening your refrigerator and saying “enjoy the fusion buffet.” Even better, change out the fridge light for a colored “party light” and play some techno in the background and they’ll line up.
All right. Saturday day very pleasant. Then a nice walk around town, pleasant weather. Funny for January 7, but very nice. Thanks, weather.
And then, home for the big birthday bash: Indian food! Weeks before, Miriam requested “Indian” food for her birthday. I knew she meant the subcontinent of India, not Native American cuisine, mainly because we eat and enjoy Asian-Indian food now and then, but never Native American cuisine. (Save for popcorn, OF COURSE).
I had sent out an email asking people to bring Indian food if they wanted. I called it something like a “Malava Malka Birthday Party.” Malava Malka is a fun meal after Shabbat. Having a meal after Shabbat time is a lot less stressful than Shabbat meals in some ways — people can cook, use appliances, buy ingredients they forgot, ring the doorbell, put on music. And, Saturday night is still very much the weekend in these parts, so both observant and non-observant people are typically in a pleasant, non-work state of mind. Saturday night is as far from work as one typically gets. So it’s the best of both worlds!
In addition, I planned to 1) microwave a bunch of prepackaged Indian food bags, and 2) cook some things after sundown (after sundown so observant people could join in the cooking fun). I ran across a nice-looking Indian cookbook and bought it, and asked Miriam to pick out one recipe that we would make. She chose “Alo Korma.” I love Alo, and I love Korma (usually chicken), so this sounded great! Earlier in the week, we went to the Indian/Pakistani grocery on forty something and Walnut near the Restaurant School where I used to teach and picked out relevant ingredients. I got the rest from Whole Foods, and Saturday night, it was on!
Rebecca brought ingredients to replicate last week’s Champagne Punch. Mattea, who brought Roti, helped a ton cutting potatoes and measuring out and roasting spices, and Ilana and Ariel relieved in about the fifth and successfully closed. I made a huge heaping ton of rice; Yael and David-Zvi brought some yummy potatoes and peas; and Ilana brought an excellent rice pudding, the leftovers of which are the most recent thing I’ve eaten at the time of writing.
Here’s the Alo Korma recipe from Rocky Mohan’s The Art of Indian Cuisine
1lb Potatoes, drawn and quartered (really, washed and twelfthed, approximately)
1/2 cut Yogurt (I tried to make my own the night before, but was disgusting, so I used Cabot Greek Yogurt from the store)
Dry roast and grind to a paste with a little water:
3 Tbsp Almonds, blanched, peeled, and sliced (bought, from Whole foods, slivered)
3 tsp. Coconut, grated (bought, from Whole foods)
3 tsp Poppy seeds (we didn’t have enough poppy because we tripled the recipe; substituted sesame)
3 tsp Coriander seeds
3 tsp Red chilli
1/2 cup Ghee (bought, from Whole Foods; we didn’t have enough for triple recipe, so substituted otherbutter)
1/2 cup Onions, chopped (Miriam chopped them!)
2tsp Ginger paste (bought, from Whole Foods; from China; with HKK heksure)
2tsp Garlic paste (also Whole Foods)
salt to taste
and I added Cayenne at the end, to taste.
1. Whisk the yogurt with the roasted paste. Mix well.
2. Heat the ghee; reduce the heat, add onions, ginger, and garlic pastes. Fry until golden brown.
3. Add the potatoes and ry until golden brown. Add the yogurt mixture and salt. Cook for 5 minutes and add 3/4 cup of warm water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are tender and the gravy is thick.
Miriam loved it. And we’re about to eat it as leftovers. And then more rice pudding. [Miriam’s note: Marc also got me MFK Fisher’s The Art of Eating for a birthday present, so we both expect a lot more food-related inspiration coming up.]