Simple, sweet, and totally indulgent, these figs will be the talk of your party… even though they will be the easiest appetizer to make! Pungent robiola cheese can be substituted with brie, ricotta, or any other soft cheese in this simple no-cook appetizer.
Makes 15 Individual Figs Ingredients:
1 pint fresh figs (about 15 figs), stemmed
8 ounces of soft cheese, like robiola cheese, rind removed, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds
Dill sprigs, for garnish
Working from the stem end of each fig and using a paring knife, cut an “x”, about halfway toward the base; set aside. Mix robiola, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Spoon filling into a piping bag with a plain 1⁄2″ tip; pipe about 1 teaspoon into each fig. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and dill sprigs and serve.
Adapted from Christina Arokiasamy The Spice Merchant’s Daughter, 2015
Curry puffs are very popular tea time snacks in Malaysia. Prepared like Indian samosas, golden curry puffs are lightly spiced, drawing flavors from sweet potato, potato and chicken. For this recipe, Chef Arokiasamy has chosen to use frozen puff pastry for convenience—it is available at most supermarkets or you can wrap the filling in our Malaysian Raya Brand or Kawan Brand Paratha.
Makes About 2 Dozen Pastries
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 pound frozen puff pastry
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato,peeled and diced
1 small Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 springs curry leaves finely chopped
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 Tablespoons Madras curry powder
3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
Thaw the peas in a medium bowl filled with warm water for 10 minutes. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and set aside to thaw. Preheat the oven to 400°F .
Meanwhile, set up a steamer by bringing a couple of inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place carrots, sweet potato, potato and peas in the steamer insert and set the insert over the boiling water. Cover and steam for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the curry leaf, ginger and garlic and fry until the garlic is golden and the spices release a fragrant scent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken and curry powder and cook, stirring as needed until the meat is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.
Add the steamed vegetables, season with the sugar and salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the ingredients are well combined. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
When you are ready to make the curry puffs, lay one pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to increase by about 1 inch all around and thin it slightly. Cut the puff pastry sheet into 3-inch discs circles. Repeat with the remaining pastry. You will need about 22 circles.
Lightly brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon of the cooled filling in the center of each circle and then fold over the dough to form a semicircle. Gently seal the edges with a fork and place the curry puffs on a baking sheet. Brush each pastry with egg and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
There is nothing like exploring a country through it’s food, culture and traditions.
Last year, I ventured into Italy with dishes to celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes with family and friends. This year, given my obsession with the Starz Television Series, “Outlander” inspired by the novels written by Diana Gabaldon, I decided to take a tour of Scottish foods that celebrate Hogmanay.
So, I know you are asking, “What is Hogmanay?”……..
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations begin with a massive torchlight parade. Photo Credit: Jeff Mitchell/ Getty Images
Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Years Eve and can last for days. And no one celebrates the eve quite like the Scots. The origins of Hogmanay are unclear, but it is believed that the Scots inherited the tradition from Norse and Gaelic observances and celebration of the shortest day of the year. However, many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned by the Protestant Reformation in Scotland at the end of the 17th century and not celebrated until 400 years later in 1958, New Years Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and the excuse to drink whisky and eat good food. And what is a party without a great Scotch Whisky…..
Hogmanay food includes all the traditional foods of Scotland, so expect to find warm hearty dishes as befits this time of year. There are many customs and traditions surrounding the evening which include gift giving and the centuries-old custom of First Footing, the greeting of first guest of the New Year into one’s home.
It has to be Whisky in Scotland. Scotch Whisky is world renowned and what better time to drink it than Hogmanay. Nobody knows exactly when the art of distilling was first practiced in Scotland but it is believed it was the Ancient Celts who first practiced the art. Uisge Beatha – the water of life – as the Celts call it evolved into Scotch, a drink made only in Scotland, but enjoyed around the world.
Check out About’s Guide to Cocktails Colleen Graham has great info on Whisky and if you don’t like it neat, some great Whisky Recipes.
Keeping the dishes light and simple, a green salad, brie and red onion tartlets and a rich leek soup with bacon croutons are served.
Red onion and Brie tartlets
Simple Green Salad
Celery and Leek Soup
Savory classics such as a hearty, substantial fare like Venison Pie with a side dish of either Rumbledethumps or delicious classic Tatties and Neeps. Salmon coulibiac also makes a decadent showpiece dish for your guest to enjoy. Braised beef cheek with roast Orkney fillet, champ mash, carrots and a wild mushroom sauce is also an excellent choice for a main course.
Venison and Onion Pie
Braised beef cheek with roast Orkney fillet, champ mash and a wild mushroom sauce
Roasted artichokes and broccoli can be a gluten-free option that goes well with beef. Although green beans and pickled baby bell peppers are not a traditional Scottish dish, it offers a nice counterbalance to the proteins being served.
Rumbledethumps is a traditional dish from the Scottish Borders. The main ingredients are potato, cabbage and onion. Similar to Irish colcannon, it is either served as an accompaniment to a main dish or as a main dish itself.Cooked leftovers from a roast meal can be used. However, to make fresh rumbledethumps one needs to lightly sauté the shredded onion and cabbage in butter until the onion is translucent and the cabbage wilted, then add some potatoes mashed with butter, salt and pepper; after thoroughly mixing the ingredients, they are placed into an oven proof dish, and cheddar cheese placed on top, if desired. This is then baked until golden brown on top.
For the sweet-toothed Shortbread is always eaten at Hogmanay and sometimes served with cheese and there will most certainly be Scottish Cranachan – toasted oatmeal, Scottish raspberries whipped cream and a touch of whisky.