Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Cranberry Sauce3Happy Thanksgiving! I’m sure you’re getting ready to celebrate with your family and friends this week. I love all the planning, anticipation, preparation, and cooking that leads up to a grand Thanksgiving dinner. Most of all, I like that, around this time of the year, I’m reminded to reflect on my blessings.

There are three very important people in my life – my daughter, Jyoti, my son, Sanjay, and my daughter-in-law, Dharti. Each one brings to the table their own unique strengths, energy, and love that makes our home complete. I am thankful for them. I come from a close-knit family and I love and adore each one of them. I’m thankful to have friends that have cried, laughed, and grown old with me! And, of course, I am so thankful for my blog readers and commenters! I hope you will join me in counting your blessings. You’re welcome to jot them in the comments section.

I’d like to share two recipes that are going to be on our Thanksgivings table this year – Cranberry Sauce and Sweet Corn Pudding. Just click on the links below to get the recipes. I hope you will enjoy them as much as we will. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed time with your family and friends.

Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Corn Pudding

Thomas Keller’s Bouchon

Bouchon2 Having two of my favorite cookbooks, The French Laundry Cookbook and Bouchon Bakery sitting proudly on my bookshelves wasn’t enough for me. I’ve always wanted to eat at one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants. The opportunity presented itself last week. I went to Las Vegas for the FoodFightWrite blog conference and my son was there for a technology conference. We decided to have dinner together at Bouchon Bistro located in the Venetian hotel. White linen topped tables, little candles, dimly lit table lamps, mosaic floors, dark cherry wood, a huge hand-painted mural, and waiters in French uniforms made the restaurant warm and classy. Our server seemed to be new but she was attentive and a pleasure.

We nibbled on a wheat sheaf shaped crisp French baguette, butter, and warm pistachio nuts while pondering over the menu. I decided to start with Soupe à l’Oignon – sweet onions that were caramelized and slow cooked in beef jus, poured over a slice of country bread, and topped with Comté cheese. The broth was rich and delicious. My son had the Oeufs Mimosa – four creamy, buttery deviled eggs.

I wanted classic French so I ordered the Steak Frites as my main course. The pan-seared prime flat iron steak was topped with caramelized shallots with a pat of maître d’hôtel butter and served with French fries. I loved the dark charred parts of caramelized onion on the steak. It was by far the best Steak Frites I had ever eaten. I almost finished the whole steak. My son had the Gigot d’Agneau – roasted leg of lamb with flageolet beans, garlic confit, and thyme-scented lamb jus. He wasn’t “oooing” and “ahhhing” as much as I was!

Even though we were really full, passing up dessert at Bouchon was out of the question. We shared profiteroles – French cream puffs or choux à la crème. They were filled with vanilla ice cream and soaked in a luxurious chocolate sauce. Yum-eeee!

As we walked out of the restaurant, the waitress handed me a box of macarons. My dream of eating at one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants had just come true. I was ecstatic and the butter-soaked meal was totally worth it.


Aloo Mattar Pilaf (Potato and Pea Pilaf)

Aloo Mattar Pulao2I love to play with food and you’ll see that I’ve done just that by garnishing my Aloo Mattar Pilaf (Potato and Pea Pilaf) with a beautiful rose made out of mango peel. Cooking is fun and as they say, you eat with your eyes first. So, take a few minutes to garnish and make your food appealing.

Pilaf, also spelled pilav or pilau or pulao, is rice cooked with spices in a seasoned stock. In India, we add vegetables, fish, meat or dried fruits to our pilaf. Pilaf is a dish that is found in the cuisine of many different countries. Each pilaf is distinctly different from the other.

You’ll find aloo mattar curry on the menu of most Indian restaurants and that’s what gave me the idea of trying a similar recipe in a pilaf style. It turned out to be a hit with my family, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. It pairs well with a simple cucumber and yoghurt salad. I ate this for lunch yesterday and I was very satisfied!

Here are a few points for you to remember before you start cooking. Parboil or cook the potatoes partially, peel and cut each into four wedges. Make sure you don’t overcook the potatoes. I used peas from a local Indian grocery store, as they are less sweet. Cook the peas in boiling water, drain and shock them in ice so they stay green.

Thanks to those of you who try my recipes and post your pictures on my Facebook page. I  love seeing your results so keep them coming!

Aloo Mattar Pilaf (Potato and Pea Pilaf)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-5

2 cups Basmati rice
3 tablespoons ghee, (or coconut oil)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 bay leaf, (torn in two)
8 cloves
2 star anise
6 green cardamoms, (lightly bruised)
1½-inch piece of cinnamon, (broken in two)
10 whole black pepper corns, (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium potatoes, (parboiled, peeled, and cut into quarters)
3 green chillies, (slit down the middle, optional)
2 Roma tomatoes, (blanched, peeled, and cut into quarters)
1½ teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder, (optional)
3¾ cups water
1 cup green peas, (cooked, drained and shocked in ice)
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

Wash and drain the rice.
Place a large non-stick pot on medium-high heat. Add ghee and when it shimmers add onion. Cook for two minutes or until the onion turns translucent. Do not let the onion turn brown. Turn the heat to low, and add the spices – bay leaf, cloves, star anise, cardamoms, cinnamon, pepper, and cumin seeds. Stir for a minute and then add the potatoes. Turn the heat back to medium-high. Fry the potatoes for two minutes. Next, add the green chillies, tomato, turmeric, chili powder, and salt. Cook for one minute. Add rice and stir gently, until the water from the rice evaporates. Add water and when it comes to a boil, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas and cilantro on top of the cooked rice. Turn off the heat and let the rice remain covered and undisturbed for five minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.