First of the Party Pics: Nargisi Kofta

Finally have a little time to go back and post our holiday party pics — these are nargisi kofta, aka Scotch eggs, made with quail eggs so they’re appetizer-sized. They were VERY popular, and I should’ve made at least twice as many — I’ll know for next time! If you actually manage to have any leftover, they also make a great day-after-party sandwich, on bread or naan with a little red MD sauce. 

Note that I was doing them in a hurry (never cook in a hurry if you can avoid it), so forgot to do the trick to center the yolks, and regretted it! This recipe gives you the sauce too, in case you want to curry them and serve them at dinner with rice or naan.

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Eggs in Meatballs / Scotch Eggs / Nargisi (Narcissus) Kofta
(2 hours, serves 6)

This elegant dish made its way down to Sri Lanka from India, where it was a favorite in the Mughal court. Known as Scotch Eggs in Europe, the British store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented this dish in 1738, but given how prevalent kofta are throughout South Asia and the Middle East, it seems more likely that the dish travelled from East to West, rather than the reverse. They take their name from the white-and-yellow varieties of narcissus flowers (a.k.a. daffodils).

Nargisi kofta lend themselves to different variations — you can use chicken eggs or adorable little quail eggs, you can use lamb or beef, you can gild them in saffron for a fancier presentation and a subtle added flavor, you can fry them and take them along whole on your picnic, or you can slice them and serve them in a curry sauce, rich with tomato, yogurt, and cilantro. All the options are good!

Meatballs:
14 quail eggs or 7 chicken eggs
1 lb twice-minced* lamb or beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder (or garam masala)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup water
3 TBL chickpea flour (may substitute regular flour)
oil for frying
1 tsp saffron powder for gilding (optional) (grind threads to make powder if needed)

Curry sauce:
2 TBL ghee or oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 – 1 cup yogurt
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, to garnish

* Your butcher can twice-mince the meat for you, or you can do it at home in a food processor; I recommend chilling the bowl and blade first. Your goal is a fine, even mince, with the fat distributed well through the meat.

1. Boil 12 quail eggs (or 6 chicken eggs). (If you stir them constantly for the first five minutes of simmering, that will help center the yolks, making for a prettier presentation.) Let cool, then shell and set aside.

2. Combine meat in a saucepan with onion, garlic, ginger, salt, curry powder, turmeric, and water. Stir well and cook on medium, covered, until meat is well cooked, about 20-30 minutes. (If there is a large amount of oil, you may want to skim some off at this point.) Add flour and continue cooking until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let cool, and mix with your clean hand until very smooth.

3. Beat remaining egg(s) and mix in saffron. Mold meat mixture around hard-boiled eggs (I find that one meat-enclosed quail egg just fits into my small hand). Dip kofta in beaten egg and fry in hot oil until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Cut in half and serve hot — or reserve while you make sauce.

4. Sauté cumin, mustard, onions, ginger, and garlic in oil until onions are golden. Add curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, and stir for a minute. Then add tomatoes and salt, and cook on medium until well blended and sauce textured (about 15 minutes). Add yogurt to taste. Serve hot with sliced-in-half kofta, garnished with cilantro. Delicious with rice or bread.

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Cooking Video with Jed

So, as part of the Kickstarter, I promised to do some cooking videos. I’m working on them now — I recorded one with Kavi yesterday, making bombatoast, and one with Jed today, making beet curry. Kavi’s going to show me how to edit them (at least the basics), and we’ll get them up soon. But she’s also making a TikTok of today’s.

So far, she’s cut 48 minutes of teaching video down to 6 minutes of teaser, which is what I have here. Jed points out that 6 minutes is too long for a teaser, which yes, I know.  This is also probably somewhat different content than what’ll be in the edited video, because a TikTok isn’t actually about teaching. So some of this may not make it into the final teaching video.

Next Kavi’s going to try to cut it down to maximum 1 minute, because that’s the top limit of how long a TikTok can be. I haven’t even watched this yet, but I thought I’d post it, as part of documenting the process.

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(Kavi is watching me type this and says: “That’s a long post!” I said I knew. She said, “Are people really going to read all that?” I said yes. She said, “If this were on Instagram, people would see this and just tap on by!”)

((Now she says, “Really? You’re adding *another* paragraph?))

(((“Hey, Uncle Jed! She’s adding a *fifth* paragraph!” Jed says, “That’s practically tiny for a Mary Anne post…”)))

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Decorating Together

We were very tired last night, but we wanted to do something Christmas-y with the kids, so the kids put on their new Christmas pajamas (traditional Christmas Eve present), cut open a tube of cookie dough, and pulled out the sprinkles and M&Ms. Too tired to even make royal icing! The end results were mostly not beautiful, and honestly only marginally tasty, but it was fun decorating together, which was the point.

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Banana Bread Gets Fancy

Banana bread gets fancy.  Made in a bundt pan, sprinkled with powdered sugar, plenty of dried cranberries and crystallized ginger stirred into the batter, and graced with fresh chopped strawberries and raspberries.

My recipe for chai-spiced banana bread is here: http://serendibkitchen.com/2019/12/13/chai-spiced-banana-bread-recipe/

#serendibkitchen — in Oak Park, Illinois.

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Cordial Cherries

I have a deep desire to make cordial cherries, because I loved them as a kid, but these days, the chemical-y taste of the preserved fruit displeases me. Tips, recipes?

My plan is to do two varieties — one with cherries soaked in hard liquor (already soaked and ready, in a mixture of arrack and brandy), the other non-alcoholic. I’m using frozen cherries, as fresh is not easy to find around here. I have the chocolate and I think molds that will work (although they’re not as deep as classic cordial cherries, so I think I can fit about a half-cherry in each mold).

Mostly wondering about whether I should try to make some kind of sweetened cream to go with the cherries themselves, or just do cherries enrobed in chocolate?

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PDF of Feast

I’ve sent Kickstarter backers the PDF of Feast! WOOT! ePub and Kindle editions coming later today!

I’ll just note this again, in case any of them are reading here and miss it in my e-mail, that backers should please feel free to download an extra copy to gift to a friend or family member.

Happy Holidays, and thanks so much for your patience!

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Exhausted Joy

And Jed has finished the Kindle and ePub versions of Feast, and I have sent them to the Kickstarter backers, and the cookbook is officially, y’know, done. Whew.

Off to collapse in a heap now.

Well, collapse for twenty minutes, and then wrap presents, but you know what I mean…

Here’s some sleepy, sparkly #spacecats for you; that seems about right for this Christmas Eve.

BIG MOOD. Exhausted joy.   

(Oh, and booksellers and librarians can now order the book — it’s in Ingram’s system and ready to go. So, y’know, tell them to do that, if you like!)

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 — in Oak Park, Illinois.

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The dining room table has been cleared!

Today I dragged Jed around with me to Walgreens and the post office and Paper Source and Scratch ‘n Sniff, and while he kind of collapsed at the last one (he’s not used to marathon holiday shopping sessions, poor thing) and had to step outside into the quiet fresh air for a bit, I think I may be actually DONE with holiday shopping.

We do stockings for everyone here, a tradition inherited from Kevin’s family, and we also sit around in a circle on Christmas morning, after coffee / fruit, and before brunch, and open them one by one, making sure in advance that everyone has the same number of them, plus an orange in the toe, and a candy cane hanging on the stocking.

I do *not* do my own stocking, unlike Kevin’s mother. The men are responsible for mine right now, and contribute to the other stockings, though I do manage the count and do the bulk of the shopping (which I find mostly fun). Soon the kids will be helping with stockings too. (Stocking gifts are from Santa, so it’s the last tiny vestige of pretend magic here. They can have another year or two of that.)

Everyone this year is me, Kevin, Kavi, Anand and Jed, plus Kat and her kids, plus a few little things for the dog and cats, so it’s many small gifts. Everyone gets some food treats and most people get socks; the rest are a bit more individualized. Slinkies have been big in the past. (The adults get their stockings filled out with post-its and pens and other such useful items.) So it’s kind of a lot, but also delightful; it’s one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Next step, of course, is the wrapping. I’m thinking I may simplify / greenify wrapping this year by cutting up a bunch of cotton fabric into squares (I have plenty of scraps in the fabric bins) and encouraging wrappers to use either rubber bands or knotting as a fastener. And then save all of those squares to re-use in future years. Tiny steps towards sustainability, and honestly, it’s probably easier too! It won’t be as beautiful as the traditional Japanese knotted fabrics used for such things (furoshiki), but it will be functional, at least.

The real accomplishment of the day was the post office, though. I think I have now officially mailed out EVERY SINGLE Kickstarter thing I had to mail out physically, EXCEPT FOR ONE PERSON WHO DIDN’T GIVE US HER ADDRESS (Sophie, this is you, if you’re seeing this, because all of our e-mails to you have failed to reach you). The dining table is clear of Kickstarter items, and tomorrow, we’ll be cutting out snowflakes there instead, which will be a nice change!

Physical fulfillment of a Kickstarter with well over four hundred orders is just a wee bit time-consuming, it turns out. Especially when they are exceedingly varied, so it’s not just tossing the same book into the same envelope over and over again.  Thanks to Stephanie, though, and her meticulous tracking, we have had almost no errors in the process, which is frankly kind of astonishing.

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Stocking stuffers for last-minute shoppers

We can’t be the only ones still counting up stocking gifts on the 23rd, right? So a last-minute Stocking Sale, hooray! Running until Christmas Eve midnight, for porch pick-up in Oak Park. A cookbook + curry powder makes a delectable gift!

I’m happy to have non-locals ordering too, but won’t ship those out until 12/26.  No food items sent out of the U.S., sorry! Shipping calculated after you tell me what you’d like to order, but usually in the $8 – $15 range in U.S.

Quantities will be updated as they’re ordered!

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VARIETIES:

Pomegranate Vanilla: 4 oz. body butter, bar soap, 4 oz. bath salts, lip balm

Chocolate Chai: 4 oz body butter, 8 oz. bath salts, bar soaps, flying dragon soap, dragon eye soap

Scheherazade (jasmine, rose, and vanilla): 8 oz bath salts, 8 oz body butter, 4 oz. body butter, bar soaps

Mango, Vanilla & Lime: 8 oz body butter, 4 oz body butter, bar soaps, lip balm

Vanilla Lime: 8 oz. bath salts, 4 oz. body butter

Sandalwood: 8 oz. bath salts

Sandalwood Rose: bath salts minis

Rose: bath salts minis

Fairy soap

Lime dragon soap

Chai Spice dragon soap

Curry Powder Jars

*****

PRICES:

8 oz. Bath Salts – $8
4 oz. Bath Salts – $4
Bath Salts mini sample – $1
Lip Balm – $2
4 oz. Body Butter – $12
8 oz. Body Butter – $20
6 oz. Hand-Roasted Sri Lankan Curry Powder (in either wide or narrow spice jar) – $8 (not spicy; add cayenne to your taste)

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BOOKS:

And okay, they won’t easily fit in a stocking, but I do still have some books on hand, any of which I’m happy to sign / personalize:

• A Feast of Serendib: A Sri Lankan American, hardcover ($35)
• A Feast of Serendib: A Sri Lankan American cookbook, paperback ($20)
• Bodies in Motion, immigrant literary fiction, hardcover ($15)
• The Stars Change (science fiction, $12)
• Perennial (a little gardening romance, set in Oak Park, $12)
• Survivor (uplifting anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories centered on trauma and survival, $15)

*****

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