Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cookbook Love & Strawberry Preserves

For the past several weeks, I’ve been craving something – something I just couldn’t put my finger on.  I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it needed to nourish me not only physically, but emotionally and even spiritually.  Not knowing what it was left me feeling restless and occasionally melancholy.

But I think I’ve figured it out.

Last night I made our third meal (in four nights) from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey.  So far, everything has been absolutely spectacular, even according to the hubs.  Friday, I made the Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce, saffron rice and steamed beans; Sunday, I made the Spicy Shrimp Stir-Fry (Bhuni Jhinga) with leftover saffron rice; and last night I made Goan-Style Chicken Moelho, Potatoes with Cumin and Mustard Seeds, and South Indian-Style Green Beans.  The search is over.  I am a happy woman.

Goan-Style Chicken Moelho; Potatoes with Cumin and
Mustard Seeds; and South Indian-Style Green Beans
The spices.  That’s what I needed.  Turmeric, paprika and cayenne, cumin and mustard seeds, garlic and ginger – individually simple ingredients that when blended together create layers of flavor, complex and intensely satisfying.

Now, I’m not going try to cook my way through the entire cookbook.  Such endeavors with other cookbooks have already been done.  Nor am I of the misguided impression that I’ll love every recipe in this book as much as the ones I’ve made in the last few days.  There’s a lengthy section devoted to lamb (not surprisingly) and I’m still rather ambivalent about lamb.  I’ve only enjoyed it once of the three times I’ve tried it.  Mussels do absolutely nothing for me at all, and I’m a bit iffy on squid.  I won’t get started on my feelings about okra. 

Beyond my passion for my new cookbook, there is still the matter of the seven-day strawberry chipotle preserves.  (Digression:  it’s actually six days.  Which when I discovered that made me sing to myself, ala Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show,  “In just seven days – maybe six – I can make you a jaaa-ha-ha-ha-haam.”)  On Day Two, the fruit and its juice were separated, the juice boiled and poured back over the fruit.  Days Three, Four and Five were repetitive:  the preserves were brought to a simmer and cooled twice a day and refrigerated over night.  Today is the day to finish them.  I’m going to get the jars and canner ready, but if this is anywhere near as good as it should be, I think I’ll skip the processing and just keep it in the refrigerator.  It’s warm and humid in Southern Illinois right now and I’m not overly enthusiastic about a large vat of boiling water adding to it.

The rest of the week will be occupied with cake.  I’m meeting with a couple on Saturday for a tasting in preparation of doing cake and cupcakes for their wedding in September.  They will be sampling Pumpkin Pie Spice cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream, Cappuccino Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream, Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Ganache, and Lemon Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream.  That sentence alone contains enough butter to make Paula Deen jealous.

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