Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sri Lankan Christmas Cake

Sri Lankan Christmas Cake is is not your typical fruit cake.  Yes, it has some fruit and nuts, but it's got so much more rich and delicious ingredients that it's bursting with flavor.  A small piece is all that is required for any sweet tooth.  
My mother and I took this Christmas cake journey together.  I have helped her make this cake once before, but never quite paid attention like I did this time.  This time we did not simply follow a recipe that told us what we needed.  This time we created many of our own ingredients and then created our own version of this cake.  
The traditional cake has a few ingredients that are hard to come by in the US.  Even in Sri Lanka these ingredients are mostly store bought and never made from scratch.  So we created these ingredients with the raw fruits/vegetables found in the Asian grocery store.  The process took us a couple of weeks to get everything ready before we could actually put a cake in the oven. 

This is not a cake you can simply whip up together at the last minute.  This is a cake that takes some thought, patience and planning.   That's why this cake is served at a time that is so joyful and full of celebration.   Christmas is a time that things should slow down and you serve your family the best you can offer.  This Christmas Cake is a perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.


Chop and Marinate these ingredients:

1lb Pumpkin Preserve (recipe here)
1lb Ginger Preserve (or crystallized ginger)
1lb chow chow (recipe here)
1/2lb candied peel (orange, lemon peel no citron)
1lb unsalted cashews
1lb raisins
1/2lb golden raisins (sultanas)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove powder
1/2 cup Brandy
3Tbs rose water
2 Tbs honey
1 16oz jar plum jam
1 cup golden syrup (see recipe here

Cake Batter Ingredients:
1/2lb semolina (lightly roasted)
2oz all purpose flour
1lb unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1lbwhite granulated sugar
15 egg yolks
10 egg whites (whipped)

Day 1: Use a food processor and chop the pumpkin preserve, chow chow, raisins, golden raisins and candied peel until they are small pieces (but not into a paste).   Then chop the cashews into small pieces.  Add all the ingredients together then flavor with the cinnamon powder, nutmeg, clove powder, cardamom powder, honey, golden syrup, plum jam, brandy and rose water.  Mix all ingredients together really well and allow to marinate covered in a cool dark place overnight (or a few days)

The day you are going to bake the cake:
1. On medium low heat, roast the semolina until golden color and fragrant.  Then sift with the all purpose flour and set aside. 


2. Separate 15 eggs and whip 10 egg whites until they reach soft peaks.  Set egg whites aside.   Note: Save those extra egg whites.  You can make freeze the egg whites, make an egg white omelet or even meringue kisses.

3. Use a mixer to combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Then add egg yolks one at a time until fully mixed together.


Now you have all your ingredients ready to mix together for the cake batter:  

1. Marinated mixed fruit and nuts
2. Roasted semolina and flour (sifted)
3. Egg Whites whipped to a soft peak
4.  Creamed butter/sugar and egg yolks

 Mixing the Cake Batter: 

In a large bowl (this will make about 10lbs of batter) with a strong wooden spoon place the creamed butter/sugar and egg yolks. 

Slowly add a heaping cup of the marinated fruit/nut mixture and stir until combined.  Then  add a few tablespoons of the semolina/flour mixture and stir again until combined.  

Then follow up with a scoop of the egg whites and fold in.   Repeat by adding these three components to the cake one at a time and stirring well between each addition until all the ingredients have been used.

Preparing the pan for Baking:  


Heat oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit and prepare baking pan with 2-3 layers of parchment paper and apply some cooking spray or butter.

Pour batter into pan and place pan on a large baking sheet for stability as well as keeping the bottom from getting too dark.   Bake for 3-4 hours until cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. 

Note:  If top is becoming too dark, cover pan with foil on top to shield the cake.  Allow cake to set in a cool place overnight before serving.

 Serving and presenting the cake:
Cut into small squares (about 1-2 inch squares) and serve on a platter.   

They can also be individually wrapped in wax or oil paper.  Then wrapped again in Christmas wrapping and served.


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Roasted Butternut Squash Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing


Roasted Butternut Squash, Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing is a wonderful alternative to the usual bread or cornbread stuffing most families eat at Thanksgiving.   The stuffing has small bite-size pieces of roasted butternut squash and browned sausage with lots of celery, onion, sage, thyme and quinoa to create a wonderfully flavorful stuffing that will make your Thanksgiving table very inviting. 

The grocery store is abundant with all kinds of squash during the fall months and I had to grab a few butternut squashes and make a recipe for Thanksgiving.  I made this Roasted Butternut Squash, Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing as an easy stove-top and gluten-free alternative to making  regular bread or cornbread stuffing on the Thanksgiving table.  It still has the sausage I love in stuffing and all the flavors of stuffing, but roasted butternut squash and quinoa is the base of this recipe so it's healthy too. 

I made this stuffing a few days ago and there was was no turkey or other sides to join it.  I actually loved it just as it was as a main dish.  So, I definitely will not be waiting for Thanksgiving to make this again.  Of course I added extra spice to mine because I love everything extra spicy.

If you have not worked with butternut squash before, it's very easy.  I see a lot of folks at the grocery store buy the prepackaged cleaned and cut butternut squash.  If you can peel a potato, you can definitely work with a butternut squash.  I really love roasting the squash to bring out all the sweetness and give it more depth of flavor.  

I also love quinoa and don't fret if you think it's hard to cook.  I cook it all the time on the stove and it comes out perfectly every time with with my method.

 Thanksgiving is almost a week away... I can't wait to dig in!  

Directions on how to clean and roast butternut squash:  
Step1:  Wash squash and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin off the butternut squash. 
Step 2:  Cut the squash in half by cutting at the base to remove the "round bulb" as shown above.  The seeds are only in the round base part of the of the squash. Use a spoon to scrape out all the seeds. 
Step 3: Cut butternut squash into the size of pieces you want. 
Step 4:  Place cut pieces of butternut squash onto a baking tray (I lined mine with parchment).  Season with salt and black pepper and add 2 Tbs of canola oil and toss well to coat all the pieces.  Then Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25-35 minutes or until the squash is roasted to your desired texture.  

Roasted Butternut Squash Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing 
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer

4-5 cups of cooked Quinoa (cooking instructions here)
1 large butternut squash/3-4 cups roasted small diced pieces
1lb hot sausage browned well
1 large onion finely diced
2-3 stalks celery diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1-2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
red chili flakes to taste
2 Tbs fresh sage finely minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and black pepper to taste

Step 1: Roast butternut squash per directions above.

Step 2:  Cook quinoa. Here are my cooking instructions for quinoa.

Step 3: Brown sausage well.  If you have more than 2-3 Tbs of oil, drain excess fat out of the pan.  Then add the onion and celery to the browned sausage and cook for several until they soften.

Step 4: Then add the dried herbs, garlic powder, fresh sage, red chili flakes, salt and black pepper. Saute for another few minutes and add the chicken stock. Next add the roasted butternut squash and toss well. 

Step 5:  Finally add the cooked quinoa and toss with all the other ingredients in the pan.  Taste for salt and seasoning and adjust as needed.  Serve warm or hot. Enjoy. 

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mexican Meatball Soup (Albondigas)


Cold weather is just around the corner for us and it's back to my favorite soups like this Mexican Meatball Soup called Albondigas.  
I crave soup when it's cold and chilly outside because it's a perfect way to warm yourself from the inside out. 
My version is full of black beans and veggies... and you can't forget those yummy meatballs.  My kids love this soup because they can never resist eating meatballs.  
So, if you are looking for something warming, comforting, healthy and fun to eat... pour yourself a bowl and slurp away!

Mexican Meatball Soup (Albondigas)
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer

The Meatballs: 
1lb of lean ground meat (I used lean ground chicken)
2-3 slices bread soaked in some milk and crumbled
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Soup:
1 large onion chopped
2 carrots diced
2 small zucchini diced
1 large green bell pepper diced
2 large jalapenos seeded and diced
1/2 inch piece cinnamon stick (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chili flakes (or to taste)
1-2 Tbs chili powder (used in chili con carne) or taco seasoning
1 drained and rinsed can of black beans
1 drained can of corn
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of salsa
salt and black pepper to taste

For the Meatballs: 
Mix all the ingredients well and form walnut size meatballs.  Pan fry the meatballs to brown the outside in some oil  then remove until later. 
 To start the Soup:  
Saute all the vegetables in the soup pot with a little oil the oil used to brown the meatballs. Season with some salt and black pepper.  
Then add the garlic, all the ground seasonings and cinnamon stick.    Then add the corn, salsa, diced tomato and black beans.  Next add 8-10 cups of chicken broth or stock.  
You can do this several ways: use homemade chicken stock, use canned chicken stock or use water that you have added chicken bullion cubes to flavor. Once liquid is added, bring soup to a simmer.
Now add the meatballs to the soup.  Simmer on the stove for 15 minutes.   Taste for seasoning.  Just before turning off the stove add the juice of half a lime to the soup.
Serves 6-8 people.  Serve  hot with jalapeno slices, lime wedges and tortilla chips.  Enjoy.  
Note:  If you enjoy cilantro, please feel free to add it to the soup as a condiment.

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.