Thursday, November 20, 2008

Green beans and a coconut milk sauce

A Thanksgiving dinner with a twist... that's what I did last year... I like to spice up holiday meals with a different sauce or side dish. The coconut milk sauce is usually served with fish and shrimp, but I think it adds a dash of spice to the tradition and it is a great combination to go with any vegetable dish... including green beans!

This is my entry to the last day of the "Giving Thanks" celebration over at Kelli's blog. Thank you Kelli for hosting this wonderful event.
Green beans with basil and almonds
Adapted from Taste of home

1 pound fresh green beans
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
2 oz sliced almonds
Salt to taste

Place beans and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook for 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Coconut milk sauce
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon curry powder or saffron
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion until garlic is fragrant. Stir in coconut milk, curry powder, red pepper flakes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with vegetables or fish.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Thanks - A pumpkin cheesecake

Last year I made a pumpkin cheesecake instead of the traditional pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving dinner and I think it was a winner, because I have already received requests to make it again this year!

The pumpkin cheesecake is actually a combination of two classic recipes, the cheesecake and the pumpkin pie with a chocolate crust.
Kelli at There is no place like home is hosting the Giving Thanks week. Please join this celebration with recipes or anything related to Thanksgiving!

You can check my posts from last year here.

Pumpkin cheesecake

For the chocolate crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 320°F (160°C). Mix all ingredientes and press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

4 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
3 tablespoons flour

1) With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and the vanilla until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition. Add pumpkin and mix until smooth. Stir spices into batter.

2) Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake 55 min. to 65 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cover with another pan or foil so your cheesecake won't crack... Cool before removing rim. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

I decorate the top of the cheesecake with whipped cream and candied orange.

Source: Kraft foods - Pumpkin swirl cheesecake

Friday, November 7, 2008

Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style - A too good to eat fruitcake

Thanksgiving approaches... then suddenly we realize that holiday season is just around the corner! It is so nice that the 3rd Holiday Cooking recipe exchange at Overwhelmed with Joy is here already so we can start collecting recipes! This year I am sharing the best ever Christmas cake I have ever had!

The combination of saffron and honey is just out of this world... This is a light cake and so easy to make. You can make it ahead of time or at the last minute! The recipe was adapted from the British magazine Good Food, that I received as a gift from a friend.

All recipes I tried from the December 2007 issue were a hit with my family!

The conversions are rounded up or down as appropriate. I use grams and cups... but many people use ounces. For the dried fruits, you can get 2 handfuls of mixed fruits and it will work great, no need to be precise...

Honey saffron Christmas cake
2 tbsp brandy
A pinch of saffron powder (about 1⁄4tsp strands)
1 cup (8oz/225g) golden caster sugar
2 sticks (8oz/225g) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups (225g) plain flour
2 oz/50g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
11 oz/300g raisins or sultanas
4 oz/100 g apricots, sliced
4 oz/100g cherries, halved
4 oz/100g dates, sliced
3 oz/85g mixed peel (I used candied orange peels)
2 oz/50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
 2 oz/50g walnuts, pieces

 To soak
3 tbsp brandy
2 tbsp honey

1) Heat oven to 360°F/180°C. Grease a round, deep 8inch/20cm cake pan. -> I used a ring mould and it baked more quickly.

2) Heat the brandy in a small pan, then add the saffron and leave to infuse off the heat for a few minutes. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl, then beat together until creamy and smooth. Mix the fruit, nuts and brandy saffron mix into the batter and stir well.

3) Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour if using the ring mould.

Or... if you like a darker cake... you might want to cover loosely with foil to stop the top over-browning. Turn oven down to 280°F/140°C and cook for 1 hour more OR until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan then, while it's still warm, prod the cake all over with a skewer.

4) Mix the honey (microwave honey for 15s) and brandy together and spoon over the cake. Garnish with confectioner's sugar, pipe some whipped cream and dress up with fruits in season. I washed the fruits and coated them with confectioner's sugar.

You can wrap up the plain cake in foil and keep it in an airtight container until Christmas, feeding with more honeyed brandy every so often. Well, I made one last year on Christmas Eve and decorated right away... and still... it tasted great!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style - calling all blogs!

Overwhelmed with Joy is hosting her annual recipe exchange on November 7th and is inviting everyone to participate! She will give one set of 20 personalized recipe cards to one lucky winner! I can't wait to join!

My post from last year is here.