I wasn’t sure whether to call this a cake or a bread. Americans tend to call cakes baked in a loaf pan breads. Where I come from pumpkin bread, gingerbread and the such would be considered cakes. Either way and whichever name they go by, we love those seasonal favorites. This one is moist, dense and delicious — wonderful, wonderful at teatime.
Eggnog minus eggs and cream sounded like a great idea to me. It meant I could have my dessert and my eggnog this holiday season without having to pass up one or the other. When I made it the idea made even more sense because a healthy drink turned out to be as delicious and festive as I had hoped.
Happy Early Saturday Morning! And Happy First Day of December! Can you believe it’s already here? I don’t know about you but I’m all about the holidays already. The tree is set up, gift lists are created and I’m already thinking about holiday baking and recipes.
Yesterday I made this warm potato and asparagus salad and thought it would be perfect as a holiday side. It is warm which everybody welcomes on a cold December night. It copiously serves six but with some simple math can easily be made to feed twelve or twenty-four even. And, well, it is delicious with its warm shallot dressing and hint of anchovies.
P.S. If you like anchovies, by all means use more than a hint.
P.P.S. This potato and apple salad.
What have you been up to? A lot of feedings and diaper changes around here. They say you have to feed and change a baby every two to three hours but I think it’s really more like every hour and a half. Sometimes it seems like that’s all I’m doing all day long.
“You know, you’ve done it before…”, said the nurse at the hospital checkout. “But I forgot…uh, it’s been a while!”, I replied. I really did forget so many things. It’s feeling like the first time again and I’m as clumsy as ever trying to handle a tiny, delicate baby without squeezing him too hard or breaking him.
But between feeding and changing him, I have been finding time to do things such as cooking, writing, exercising and light socializing. I’ve worked out a (forever changing) schedule of sorts so that my routine includes a little more than continuous mothering. It helps that James sleeps between sessions.
It was between feedings that I thought I’d revisit the kitchen for some cooking. I had enough Thanksgiving meat leftovers for about a week but nothing to go with them. The only problem is I hadn’t done any grocery shopping lately and had to just see what’s available in my pantry and work with it. There were three boxes of whole grain instant couscous on the middle shelf, a can of olives on the bottom shelf, aging carrot and celery sticks left from a holiday appetizer tray in the fridge, and plenty of condiments to make it all taste good.
Please allow me to introduce a very special little man.
James John Adam Bowes.
James joined our family on Wednesday, November 14th at 12:50 in the morning, weighing 6 pounds and measuring 19 ½ inches. We are thankful for him and for how smoothly everything went. Okay, laboring for twenty-two hours and getting an epidural weren’t fun (I think I may have been the nurse anesthetist’s very first patient, argh…) but everything else was textbook perfect. We are also very thankful for your friendship and kind comments and emails along the way and as we welcomed our little bundle of joy.
There is halva made from tahini and there is halva made from semolina. Which do I prefer? Very, very hard for me to say. I love both so much. The first one is hard and more candy-like, the second one is dense and bread pudding-like.
I’m sharing with you the semolina halwa today. Butter is warmed up until bubbly. Semolina is then toasted in it until golden. Honey-sweetened hot milk is stirred in and the mixture is left to thicken. The result is a delightful, rose-scented, purely Levantine delicacy that can be served with all kinds of delicious toppings. I like it slightly warm with fruit and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
This past weekend I cleaned and cleaned and organized and cleaned and organized and cleaned some more. My hand-wash pile is done, my rooms, closets and car are rid of all superfluities. Nesting?…highly likely, I suppose. The house looks almost like a temple but I know it won’t be long before my laundry is piled up again and my car has more empty water bottles than a recycling bin.
All that hard work made me feel like I was ready for D-day. It made me feel strong and worthy. It made me feel good. It also made hungry for something very hearty. I had all I needed to make stuffed cabbage leaves but those are no walk in the park. Making them is a multi-step process that could easily keep me on my feet in the kitchen for a good hour but I was supercharged with some sort of mysterious new energy. I would have made them even if I knew they would take longer. I knew they would be worth it.
There is making the sauce. Then there is cooking the rice, seasoning the meat, blanching the cabbage, stuffing the leaves and baking them. Had I planned ahead I would have had a couple of steps done beforehand, and this dish could have been a breeze. I know it has the potential for it.
Good thing I love blogging because it can be a lot of pressure. Pressure of time, creativity and pressure to always make new dishes. I have some favorite recipes on this blog and sometimes I just want to remake them but feel that I have to make something new for the sake of the blog. But you know what, I always end up with a feeling of satisfaction after stepping out of my comfort zone and creating something new. Marriage, friendships, parenting, jobs and most things we’re passionate about in life all come with a certain degree of pressure, don’t they?
The idea for this recipe came from a desire to make this classic Moroccan tagine easier and quicker so that you and I can enjoy it more often. The taste is not compromised the least bit by opting for a simple tray bake that’s cooked in 30 minutes.
Got some preserved lemon? Make this your next chicken dinner!