Saturday, November 26, 2011

Prawn Kebabs

This appetizer is a crowd pleaser—shrimp on the barbie with tons of flavor and nice kick of heat.

Soak a handful of wood skewers in water.

  • 1T Garam masala
  • 1/2t cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1T pressed garlic (~3 cloves)
  • 1T minced ginger (~1 inch)*
  • 1t salt
  • A few T olive oil (enough for the above to have a light paste consistency
  • 1kg/2lbs fresh prawns, peeled, tail-on, deveined and butterflied**

*Use a spoon to peel ginger, it works marvelously.
**Butterflying just creates more surface area for the marinade to get into.

Mix everything, let marinate for 2 hours in refrigerator. Put onto skewers and throw on a hot BBQ. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes per side..

Garnish with minced cilantro/coriander leaves and fresh lime juice. Serve hot.

Betty Coe's Thanksgiving Dressing

This recipe comes from my grandma, Betty Coe.

2 large loaves of good white bread, sliced. Lay out on platters or trays for 2-3 days to dry. Cut into squares.

2 onions (2 1/2 -3” in diameter) chopped.
8 ribs of celery, chopped.

Sauté onion and celery in 2 sticks of butter (may sauté the day before & refrigerate overnight).

3 eggs, beaten.

Add to taste:
3 Tablespoons ground sage
3/4 - 1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix in the celery/onion/butter with eggs/bread/spices. Add turkey stock until bread is moist but not soggy (at least a cup; you have to go by consistency says my mom).

Bake uncovered in two pans, 9x13" and a smaller one. 350ºF/175ºC conventional / 120ºC forced fan for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Notes for next time: I used a very delicious white sourdough from the market. The loaves were bigger than a store-bought loaf, and I should have used 50% less bread. I used a rushed stock that didn't have much flavor…I can do much better than that.

Pumpkin Pie…Made from a Pumpkin

This Thanksgiving I'm out of the States*, and canned pumpkin isn't available. What's a guy to do? Roast a pumpkin, of course.


I found a Sweet Grey pumpkin at the Market, sold as a 1kg half. Placed face-down in a baking pan (so that it steams itself with its own moisture), roasted at 180ºC in a forced fan oven for 30 or 40 minutes, until a knife easily slipped through the flesh from the outside.

Once roasted, the thin skin peeled off easily and I mashed the insides; yielded approximately 4 cups. I was concerned about the wateriness of the mash, but I shouldn't have been. I should have taken a picture of that. On to making the pie.

The Pie

I evaluated a few recipes for similarities. There seemed to be two families: evaporated milk with sugar, or sweetened condensed milk. They all agreed on eggs to make a custard filling. The final spice mix is also a source of debate. Here's where I landed. Makes 2 pies.

  • 4 cups roasted pumpkin mash
  • 2 cans (14oz/395g each) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs**
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt

**I added two egg yolks because I had them lying around. Don't know if it mattered.

Whisk all ingredients thoroughly. Pour into two pie shells. Place into a 220ºC/425ºF conventional oven / 160ºC forced fan oven. After ten minutes lower temperature to 175ºC/350ºF conventional / 120ºC forced fan. Cook for another 30 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick in the center. Rotate a half turn once during cooking.

Let cool on a rack for an hour or two before refrigerating.


*Cooking in ovens where convection/forced fan is common, and where they're labeled in Celsius has been a challenge. As a general rule, I reduce the temperature or time by 30% and keep a close eye it. I usually lower the temperature and keep the time as written. 

Notes for next time: Is there a recipe that uses cream and not canned milk? Try this one with cream and honey.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bringing Lunches to Work

I've recently found myself back in the corporate world, which means dealing with the uncertainties of lunch. Eating out while avoiding excess grains and starches can be challenging, so I opt to bring my lunch at least four days a week. To make things easy, I do some prep work on Sunday evening. The goal is simple: in the mornings before work, making my lunch should be as easy as grabbing handfuls of ingredients--no prep, cutting, or dirtying dishes.

To that end, the first picture shows all of my little containers of deliciousness. Clockwise from the top: lettuce, baked boneless chicken thighs (topped in seasoning & olive oil, then diced and mixed back in with its drippings), avocado, red capsicum/bell pepper, feta, marinated olives, raw onion and tomatoes. The mix varies a bit from week to week, but you get the idea.

Assemble, top with oil, and off I go to work. An hour of prep on Sunday means making a lunch takes five minutes each morning.