Monthly Archives: November 2009

Challenge 5: Meat Breyani

For this challenge, I decided to bring something traditional. I wanted my friends to experience something truly cultural. It is a meat breyani/biryani. I did not find many good recipes online, so I used one that my mom has made before. I have to warn that if you are willing to make this recipe, it takes a lot of time!

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Eid ul-Adha festivities

Muslims all around the world celebrated Eid-ul-Adha on the 27 November 2009. I thought that I would share some of how we celebrated this particular Eid this year. Eid-ul-Adha is really to mark the end of the holy Haj, which is a compulsory 5 day pilgrimage to Mecca for those who can afford it. For those of us not on Haj, it is strongly recommended to commemorate the day by following the ritual of the prophet Abraham and his son Ismail, a Qurban and spend the day with family and friends.

The day started early with the Eid service starting at 6am. It is the only prayer where it is recommended to be performed outside. We joined a large gathering on a field for the service and the prayer. We were fortunate to have beautiful weather. The service lasted about an hour or so and we were home by 7:30am. We had a quick breakfast and made our way to a farm so that we could participate in following the ritual of Abraham and his son.

As we drove up to the farm, we realized what we had been missing for the last few years. There were about 5 of these farms on the road we were driving on, and all of them were packed with families all with the same purpose. With all the people there still dressed for mosque, it created a community atmosphere which we were glad to be part of. We even ran into old neighbours of ours and had some time to catch up. The farm that we had chosen was quite well organized under the circumstances. We were there all of 2 hours, but in the end we were satisfied with the help we received. My family had decided to have all the meat donated to charity.

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Non Holiday Feasting: Baby Octopi with Red Wine and Rosemary and Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

Among my co-authors I am the only one who did not have a holiday to celebrate, but that does not mean it is an excuse not to feast. Well I did not exactly feast since the two recipes I am including have been made on different days. The common thing between them is that they are both first timers for me.

The first is baby octopi, the second is gnocchi. I have tried both before in restaurants or at friends, but I never made them myself.

The experience with gnocchi varied from the Italian perfection at Piazza Navona in Rome, with two streets dancers performing a tango on a dolent melody, to the extreme flop in a supposedly good local restaurant, where it seemed reprehensive to laugh.

The octopi experience has always been pleasant to me so I had no bad memories to compensate, so I was able to experiment.

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The Thanksgiving Experience

I thought I would share a little blurb about my Thanksgiving this year to give readers a feel for what the holiday entails for us in the states. As you can imagine, I was quite busy with organizing, traveling, and keeping the kids occupied as is normal this time of year. Despite all of the chaos that will ultimately ensue as with most family celebrations, I managed to find some peace in the cool autumn morning at my parents’ place before the feast.

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Sofficini Success!

I finally had the chance to make the sofficini today. I ended up making three dishes! I made saucy chops and potatoes for dinner and the sofficini. I also had left over béchamel sauce, so I cooked some macaroni, and made a quick mac and cheese for my lunch.

At Viviane’s suggestion, I made my own pasta sauce as well as béchamel sauce. She had explained how to make them both. I made the pasta sauce first, which I found quick and easy. I had never made béchamel sauce. I had previously made cheese sauce, but cheated, using the microwave. So Viviane insisted that I try and make the béchamel on the stove as it is meant to be. I found it quite intimidating, as I know a great white sauce is not that easy to make. But, in the end I managed it well and ended up with a thick sauce.

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So this is Sofficini…

Prior to this challenge, I can’t say I had ever tried or even heard of Sofficini. I am always looking to learn and experience new things, so this challenge had an air of excitement to it for me. Of all the things I could fill these with, I decided I would use a favorite cheese combination of mine I normally use to stuff ravioli and manicotti.

After dropping the kids off at school, I set out to buy my missing ingredients. I went into the grocery store I had worked at while going to college. This way I knew right where everything would be, and seeing old friends often sets the day off to a decent start. I had thoughts of bringing some of the sofficini back to the store with my well wishes, but later I thought better of it being as how this was my first experience making these.

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After Work Sofficini

I set myself to make the Sofficini today.

I have had the tomato sauce prepared a while ago. I am against buying what you can easily prepare yourself. I also had some very ripe tomatoes.

Not to mention a basic tomato sauce could always come in handy in a wide range of recipes.

Here is how I make it: I brown diced onions and crushed garlic then when they get a golden color, I add the cored and peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Some add some sugar but I prefer the acidity of tomatoes, so it is a matter of taste. Then I let it simmer till it becomes a little less thick than a paste and blend when cold.

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