Thursday, June 16, 2016

Taking a break from cakes - a riff on carrot halwa

Just to remind people that I don't just do cake type desserts, and also because I had a dearth of quickly spoiling carrots, I decided to try my hand at 'Gajar Ka Halwa' - an Indian carrot-based dessert that is absolutely delicious. Of course, as soon as I decided to do that I realized that I had almost none of the most common (according to the internet) ingredients, except for the carrots and a bit of cardamom powder (I really need to restock my spice rack).  So what follows is my last-minute, use what I had on hand, riff on Carrot Halwa. 

A week or so ago my housemates came home with over 2 lbs of organic, fresh out of the ground carrots, put them in the refrigerator, and from what I can tell promptly forgot about them (to be fair, I've done the exact same thing many times after going to a Farmers Market on an empty stomach).  I pulled those out, washed and peeled the good ones, and tossed the rest.  I also had about half of a 14 oz container of sweetened condensed milk left from my last attempt at a mirror glaze, some coconut milk, light brown sugar, regular butter, craisins (dried cranberries) and roasted/salted pistachios still in the shell. These were the closest items in my pantry to ingredient lists that come up when I searched for recipes online.

~2 lbs of fresh, peeled carrots
~7 oz of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of coconut milk
1/8 cup whipping cream
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup rough chopped roasted/salted pistachios

I still don't own a food processor and grating 2 lbs of carrots sounded way too tedious so I dumped the milks and cream into a blender with the carrots and pulsed it on high until it was roughly the consistency and size of rice.  Then I drained the liquid into a pot and set it aside. In a nonstick skillet I cooked the carrots over medium heat (electric stove) for about 10 minutes. I added the carrots to the milk along with sugar and cooked it over medium heat until it began to separate from the edge of the pot and the liquid had reduced by about half (approximately 20 minutes), stirring constantly.  I added the butter, dried cranberries, and the cardamom, and continued to cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
At this point, I suggest tasting it to see if the consistency and sweetness are to your preference. I liked it a little less sweet and a bit more al dente, so I took it off the stove and mixed in the pistachios.  So, so tasty.  It was good hot off the stove, it was good somewhat warm, and - as I eat leftovers from the fridge - I can tell you it is good cold as well.

For the following information, if you find any mistakes please, please let me know so I can make sure I correct it. I don't want to be spreading misinformation, and this is only what I gleaned while researching recipes for halwa, and thought was pretty neat.

According to Wikipedia (yes, I know it's not a reliable academic source, but there are some interesting links at the bottom of the page) - gajar ke halwa is a sweet dessert pudding popular in Northern India and Pakistan, and often served during Indian festivals like Diwali ('Festival of Lights' that takes place over several days during the fall). Served hot during the winter months, it is usually made with nuts, milk, sugar, khoya, ghee, and grated carrot cooked into a pudding form and is also popular because it is light, nutritious, and vegetarian.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

*Cough**Cough* - random updates while I recupe from another cold

With a lack of recently decorated cakes, culinary experiments, or progress on either my Circus Tent BB-8 Droid projects, I have been left with something of a lull in updates. The persistent cough, newly developed allergies, and my increasingly busy academic schedule are definitely not helping matters.  I am determined however, to get back into a more regular posting schedule. So to kick June off on a bright note, some fun news!

Filming on a new Netflix Original Series began in my area, and I got called up to be an extra (so I may or may not actually make it into the background, but hey, paying work that is also fun!).  The show is called "Thirteen Reasons Why" and while the premise is definitely not unicorns and rainbows (it's about a girl who commits suicide and sends 13 tapes as her suicide note), I have heard that the book it is based on of the same title is really good.  I'll admit, I went to the casting call on a lark because my Dad and a friend were interested. I didn't actually think I would get a callback.

Edits on my adventure fiction book are coming along well, and I have received positive reviews from a few people that make me confidant in the direction it's going. Also in the book world, I have begun collecting my culinary experiments into a makeshift cookbook. I'm thinking I may get it self-published just because I can and I know at least some of my family may be interested in what goes in there. I would, of course, also include the handwritten recipes of my late step-mother so there's some sentimental value in the collection.

Next up in the culinary/cake world is my attempt at Death By Chocolate Cake, loosely inspired by a recipe in this cookbook: Of course, as with everything that comes out of my kitchen, I have put my own spin on things.