To Live, Love and Learn: A Cookworm's Tale
Christmas, is like no other time of the year. And yet, the cold winter nights (foggy, not the snowy white kind) in Delhi, far away from home and a kitchen can be so depressing. Last year, I was lucky to be home in Calcutta. I was working on a project and appearing for an exam on the 28th (really, how messed up is UGC, ruining both Christmas and New Year’s like this every year?). I took three days off both to dedicate my time to the creation of Christmas meals. Things went wrong quite often and cooking for 3 straight days was tiring. But it was worth it, because of the company and the food. This year, standing at the beginning of another December in Delhi, I’m looking back at Christmas 2013.
This post is all about 24th December 2013.
It turned out to be a long, long day. The first thing I did after waking up was to get the eggs out. Eggs at room temperature cook best. Breakfast was my version of Donna Hay’s Eggs on Toast (http://www.thehomechannel.co.za/eggs-on-toast/). I took a regular brown bread slice, cut a hole in between with a round cookie cutter, buttered both sides of the bread and placed it on a flat-bottomed non-stick pan. Once the bread was toasted enough on one side, I turned it, added a small blob of butter in the middle and cracked an egg into the hole. The idea is to cook the egg to your liking and then add salt and pepper for taste. I had to cook three different types of eggs to please me and my family (my mother frowns very deeply at runny yolks!).
This is a fast and light breakfast. Fast and light is also what I needed to continue with the day.
I had marinated the chicken for the roast chicken dinner the evening before, so I didn’t have to worry about it. The roast chicken I cooked last year was inspired by my long discussions with Prof. M.S.S Pandian about rosemary as a refreshing herb for roasts, spice combinations that work with rosemary and other accompaniments.
The marinade was mostly rosemary, lime juice, cinnamon, paprika and port wine. I can’t live without ginger and garlic paste or butter, so in they went with salt to taste. All that was needed for the roast (which I put in the oven around 4pm) was the stuffing and trussing. A few rosemary leaves with a whole orange and a lime went into the chicken cavity, orange and rosemary first, the lime sticking a bit out of the cavity. Oven preheated at 230 degrees Celsius, chicken in and cooked at the same temperature for 15 minutes, then temperature down to 175 degrees Celcius for another hour and 15 minutes. My roast was ready by 6.30pm.
So what did I do all morning?
I did not panic. I enjoyed the day by baking quick cinnabuns and preparing the twice cooked potatoes.
For the cinnabuns, I followed Rachel Allen’s recipe (http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/610076), with two exceptions: seasonal dry fruits (walnuts, almonds, sultanas and apricots) instead of just pecans, and no icing.
For the potatoes, I used small sized potatoes (I just picked up the small ones from a huge lot without bothering to find out what kind they were) and parboiled them for 15 minutes. I drained the water and left them to dry. Once dried, I added dried rosemary, lemon rind and salt. A lot of butter went in. I refuse to specify the amount, but for all the butter-lovers like me out there: it was just a little shy of enough (it never is enough though). For the health freaks: evidently, roasted potatoes my way are not for you. The potatoes, dripping butter, roasted in the oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 20-30 minutes.
To go with the roast chicken and potatoes, I steamed baby carrots and beans and sauted some bell peppers. The macaroni and cheese in white sauce was a little quirky addition of mine. Its not your traditional accompaniment with roasts, but it was slightly sweet and cheesy, which went well with the spicy roast.
My mother baked her version of Christmas fruit cake, the recipe for which will be in my next blog along with all the other cakes we baked last December. Here’s a little teaser, feel free to drool!
The Christmas Eve dinner was perfect (for my family at least), and a good change from the previous ones where I had panicked about the amount of food that was getting cooked and half ruined most things. I learned a little more patience and a lot more about timing. Here’s hoping your Christmas cooking experience is just as anxiety free and merry!
This blog is written in the fond memory of Pandian sir, whose legacy for me, personally, is the much appreciated one liner –
“Unless you cook, history is not possible.”