Cooking For Others: Partner, Meet Partner

Posted by on Monday Oct 5th, 2009 | Print

EVENT: A Breakfast Meeting
VENUE: Cara’s Apartment, Park Slope
PARTY SIZE: 3
TYPE: Casual Brunch
MENU: Free-Form Samosas with Apple-Cranberry Chutney; Soft Scrambled Eggs; Squash Rings

There are a lot of obstacles that conspire to keep friends apart now that we’re young professionals. Back in college, there was hardly anything so important it couldn’t be put off in favor of some face-to-face time. But now, jobs and other obligations get so steadfastly in the way that a month can go by without so much as a glimpse of my closest friends. As if we were penpals, sometimes our friendships are reduced to emails—witty, clever emails, but writing all the same. Now that Phoebe and I are partners in addition to friends, I think our correspondence alone could make Google rethink its gift of infinite email storage capacity.

Despite being co-authors of the blog, Phoebe and I are not exempt from the too-busy-to-see-your-friends rule. We talk on the phone, text, and gchat about recipes, dinner parties, nights out, and quarter-life crises, because we often find ourselves in different states for months at a time. And yet, because we had a lot to catch up on, and an important introduction to make, Phoebe recently trekked to my apartment on a Sunday for brunch.

I’ve mentioned Alex in the blog before, and so Phoebe has read many drafts that refer to him and to the meals we’ve eaten together. But schedules had conspired so she had yet to meet him, many months down the road. He wasn’t the only enticement: we had a lot of work to do, too. But before she and I got down to the business of blogging, the three of us chatted, ate samosas and eggs, and listened to tales from Phoebe’s horse camp, which she’s finally healed enough from to talk about (direct quote: “It’s nerdier than band camp.”). I listened eagerly, partly since they were stories I hadn’t heard before, and partly out of relief that Phoebe had decided to regale Alex with embarrassing tales from her past, rather than from mine, which has not exactly been the case when I’ve introduced Alex to some other friends and family members.

We ended the meal with a brief photo shoot, complete with pears, squash, and weird faces, just to have proof that we had indeed been in the same space at the same time.


From my kitchen, where I’m lucky enough to cook for my Phoebe (and my Alex), to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipes**

Freeform Samosas
Makes 8 pastries

In my latest attempt to overload on carbs, I combine seasoned potatoes with pastry dough.

I call these “free-form” because I had a hard time forming the samosas evenly. I cut right-angle triangles and equilateral ones, but I felt like I was reinventing the wheel each time I filled a pastry. Luckily, once they were baked, their golden brown crusts seemed to mask their unruly shapes.

Ingredients
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons water

For the potato filling:
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked potatoes, in about a 1/4 inch dice

For assembling the samosas:
1 egg

To make the pastry, combine the flour and the salt. Stir together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir to form a dough, then knead with your hands for about a minute. Form into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate at least an hour, or until ready to use.

To make the potato filling, warm the oil over medium heat in a large cast-iron pan. Add the onions, stir for a few minutes, then add the ginger and garlic. When they are fragrant, add the salt, cilantro, and spices, then add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are nicely browned and have absorbed the seasonings, 10-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Beat the egg in a small bowl.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll it out on a flowered surface to about 1/8-inch thick.

Cut into triangles roughly 4″ x 6″ x 8″. Brush the edges with egg. Fold the smallest edge over to the second-smallest and pinch them together. Fill the resulting cone with potatoes. Fold the flap over to seal, then pinch together the remaining edges and trim any extra dough. Repeat with the remaining pastry, forming scraps into a ball and rolling them out again as necessary.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping once until the samosas are golden and crispy.

Apple-Cranberry Chutney
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Ingredients
1 large or 2 small apples
1/4 cup dried cranberries
juice from 2 lemons
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
2 tablespoons walnuts

Core, peel, and dice the apple. Toss it with the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 25 minutes, until the apples have basically fallen apart. Bring to room temperature, then refrigerate until about 30 minutes before serving.

Soft Scrambled Eggs
Serves 3

This is the way my mom always made scrambled eggs—soft curds that form over a long cooking period atop very low heat.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Beat the eggs well with the salt and the pepper. Over very low heat, warm the eggs, stirring constantly with a fork or spatula. Keep cooking until small curds are formed, and there is no liquid left. This will take at least 10 minutes. Just before serving, mix in the cilantro.

Squash Rings
Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients
1 delicata squash
olive oil for brushing
salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Wash the squash well. Cut the squash into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the seeds out of each slice. Brush with oil. Roast for 15 minutes on each side, then sprinkle with salt.

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  • Kate

    This sounds like my ideal meal! The samosas sound so easy to do, I had always been skeptical to make them at home, but this breaks them down and now I can't wait to try them. The chutney doesn't sound to shabby either!

  • Sophie

    This all looks so yum. So yum that I'm going to go eat lunch now.

  • Katherine

    My goal in life is to overdose on carbs so I will definitely be trying this recipe out!

  • The Blonde Duck

    I totally understand. I rarely see friends now–by the time the weekend comes and goes, I feel like I have just breathed!

    But these samosas sound like a fabulous reason to call them up…

  • Jessie

    Mmmm.. samosas for brunch. I would have never though to make them myself, but these sounds delicious!

  • Kate Kenner

    Trying out the squash rings tonight… let's hope i dont mess up the one step. It all looks amazing!!

  • Anonymous

    To make traditionally shaped samosas, you cut the dough into half-circles. Fold into a funnel shape, so that the cut edge overlaps itself, and seal that edge. Spoon in the mixture (careful not to put too much in) and then pinch the top together into a straight line.

    You can see a diagram here: http://www.indiacurry.com/appetizers/a004samofilling.htm (the traditional fold)

  • Anonymous

    Tip on samosas: go to an indian grocery store and you can buy a little samosas mold. My Indian grandmother has been using hers for years