For festive beverages, you can't beat frothy eggnog or fresh ginger ale (with a platter of crisp pakodas on the side).
If you are ready for something savory, there's a piping hot bowl of sunny bell pepper soup, cheesy brown rice cakes and some golden moong dal chillas. For the entrees, you get to choose from savory bread pudding and pasta with roasted vegetables and feta.
Next, we have some dishes that feature Indian regional cuisine: snow white ghaavne from the Konkan coast, egg masala dosa from Kanyakumari and a complete traditional Andhra meal. Finally, there are the comforting home-style dishes, including our daily bread, chapatis, Mummy's rajma and dal fry.
Sometime in the first week of December, I decided that I wanted to make fruitcake this year. This was a little late in the day since many recipes want you to soak the fruit in booze for weeks, and then soak the cake in booze for several more weeks and so on. I asked for fruitcake recipe recommendations on this post and so many helpful people gave me great suggestions. I ended up going with Manisha's pick, Alton Brown's recipe for fruitcake; a couple of other people also recommended the same recipe.
I liked Alton Brown's recipe because it seemed really easy to put together. It all started on Dec 12th with a shopping spree to get the long long list of ingredients. The reason fruitcake is so maligned is often because of the horrid candied fruit in lurid colors, and this recipe instead calls for lots of "real" dried fruit. I love the selection of dried fruit in Trader Joe's and got everything I needed, except that I used dried plums (OK, prunes) instead of currants. Then I went across to Target and came out carrying copious bottles of brandy and rum (got to love a store where the hard liquor and dish detergent are in adjacent aisles). The other ingredients in the recipe- flour, butter, eggs, sugar, spices- are pantry staples.
Since I was going to the trouble and expense of making the fruitcake, I decided to double the recipe and make it in 4 loaf pans, to share at our workplaces and keep some at home.
The recipe came together very easily:
1. In the evening, I chopped up the fruit and macerated it in rum overnight in a big stockpot.
2. Next morning, I gathered the ingredients together.
3. To the boozy fruits, I added apple cider, butter, sugar (I use a little less than the recipe calls for) and spices and cooked up everything into a thick slurry.
4. Once it was cool, the dry ingredients went it to make a thick batter and then the cakes were baked.
My only reservation was that the blueberries bled into the batter making it an unappetizing gray colored mess. But the resulting cakes looked fine in the end. Since the cakes were baked on 13th December, I have been basting them with a good dose of brandy every 2-3 days.
I am so thrilled with the results. The fruitcake tastes wonderful; everyone who has tried it loves it. It is rich and boozy and a real holiday treat.
Here it is, Recipe #8: Fruitcake
My sweet downstairs neighbor stopped by yesterday with a very thoughtful gift: a rosemary Christmas tree. It is just tiny and perfect. We dressed it up with cork elves and lights and the best part is that I have plenty of fresh rosemary on hand for herb breads and soups.
We have a White Christmas today; you can see the snow starting to pile up outside the window.
To all my friends who celebrate it, Merry Christmas!
And now, we are meeting up with friends for a movie (Sherlock Holmes) and Chinese dinner, also a Christmas tradition for some!