Saturday, 29 November 2014

Cooking: Thanksgiving potluck

No, I'm not American but yes, I love all types of celebrations -- they always provide the right setting for a gathering, for meeting old and new, for putting the blandness of everyday life aside for a few hours of laughter, joy and insanity!  On this particular occasion, there was also a good reason to actually agree with the theme of the evening:  we should all have something to be thankful for:  our families, our friends, our health...

My friend Jessi, Über-mistress of ceremonies, was the proper person to undertake the extreme task of gathering close to 30 people for a Thanksgiving dinner:  just looking at the quantity of meat was enough to scare even the toughest male contender among the guests ...  The rest of the meal, however, was actually potluck:  from all corners of the world, but with a distinct American flavour, several side dishes provided the perfect background in honour of the Bird!  My contribution:  something with corn and something with pumpkin as per instructions - and I complied:

Creamy cheesy corn bake
(adapted from FiveheartHome)

300gr cream cheese
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
2x400gr cans crispy corn 
150g diced antipasti peppers
1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard
salt/pepper to taste

150g shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oven at 180 degrees C fan.  Over low-medium heat, slowly melt the butter in a deep casserole (I like using as few utensils as possible).  Remove from stove.  Add cream cheese, milk, corn, peppers, mustard and stir.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  Pour in oven dish and sprinkle with cheddar.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown... Delish warm or cold!

Pumpkin cream cheese truffles
(adapted from Erin's Food files)

For the filling:
120g white chocolate chunks
200g digestive cookie crumbs

250g pumpkin purée
2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
200g cream cheese
pinch of salt

For the coating:
500g white chocolate chunks

(Almost) no cooking required:

For the filling:
In a bain-marie, slowly melt the chunks.  Remove from stove (I used only this bowl to prepare everything).  In the bowl, add the crumbs, the pumpkin purée, the sugar, the vanilla paste and the cream cheese.  Stir well and add the pinch of salt.  Form in little balls and place in a lined cookie sheet.  Leave in refrigerator until hardened (I did this in the morning before work, and left them in the fridge until my lunch break).  

Now for the coating:
Again, in a bain-marie, melt the chocolate chunks.  The original recipe calls for dipping the pumpkin balls in the mixture.  I did not dare - what I did instead was to pour spoonfuls of the chocolate goodness over the balls, trying to cover them as much as possible.  Leave once more in the fridge until the chocolate is hardened (at least 2 hours).  

I think the result was not bad at all...


Why this Thanksgiving dinner was special:  good friends (old and new) all around, celebrating the arrival of two babies, meeting two pairs of parents, there to (help and) share the joy across the tables and -- putting everything into perspective, realising what is important in life and concentrating on this.  Thanks Jessi for a unforgettable celebration!

This post is my entry into Weekend Cooking, a weekly event hosted by Beth Fish ReadsFor more information, see the welcome post.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Again, a book that I would probably never have read were it not for my book club:  Americanah, a present-day story about growing up without prospects, about how enchanting certain parts of the world may seem, of how race is indeed an issue among us whether we like it or not, and finally, about how blogging may keep people sane (yes...)

I was hesitant to start this book because of the horror stories I've read over time about people forced to seek (political) refuge in new, strange countries and the sacrifices and ordeals they go through for a better life.  



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