Happy All-Hallows Eve and All Saint’s Day!

Today was my first day of work at Salaam, so that is why I am late wishing everyone a happy Halloween. By the time I got home, went to the grocery store to pick up candy for the trick or treaters, went on another errand, then got home, got together with Zak, Morganna and Kat to carve Jak, whom you see pictured above, and then made dinner and ate it, and then went back out to the grocery store to pick up the frozen waffles Morganna needed for an art project, it was already All Saint’s Day.

So, hence my late All Hallow’s Eve greeting.

It was a great day at work–it is good to be back in a restaurant kitchen. I am going to have fun making up dinner and lunch specials and putting them together. It will be nice to make stuff that I think would be great, but which are just not going to fly here at home because of limitations on what folks like. (Stuffed eggplant or squash–uh, no way, not here. At Salaam, though, such things are all to the good!)

The best part of the day, however, was carving Kat’s first pumpkin, named Jak. It was a very messy, very fun, family activity in which we all participated–even the cats.

When he was done, as you can see, Kat had to hug him.

This weekend, I will post more pictures of the action, but for now, I will leave you with these two images. Just to whet your appetite, so to speak.

Oh, and the lunch special today was none other than Moroccan Pumpkin Soup. Dennis made it, and it turned out fantastic–rich, smooth and filled with flavor. We garnished it with toasted fennel and nigella seeds, which added a texture, color and flavor contrast–the sweet fennel and oniony nigella were perfect with the rich, velvety smooth pumpkin soup.

I’ll have to copy down the recipe Dennis used and make it here–because I bet Kat would like it. She kept trying to eat bits of Jak–I think she thought he smelled good. Unfortunately, he didn’t taste nearly as good as that lovely soup. (Guess what I had for lunch!)


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  1. Nigella seeds are onioney?

    I’m soooooooooo going to grow some next year!!

    Not only do I love seeing Kat, but I show her photos to my sons as the perfect template for the red-headed girl I didn’t have and now plan for them to father.

    Comment by wwjudith — November 1, 2007 #

  2. Nigella seeds not only are oniony, and have been used in India and in the Middle East for generations, the flower, which is lovely, reseeds itself prolifically. You only need to plant it once–and then it reseeds all over the place.

    It is one of my favorite annual flowers.

    Comment by Barbara — November 1, 2007 #

  3. what kind of art project uses frozen waffles?

    Comment by holly — November 1, 2007 #

  4. In the restaurant, are you devising dishes? Do you have to clear them with the boss first? How do these dishes get priced out?

    What’s the plan for Kat while you’re working? (Feel free to not answer this if you don’t want to. It’s distinctly non-food-related.)

    Holly: maybe a printing project?

    Comment by Harry — November 1, 2007 #

  5. A really stupid one, Holly. The kids are supposed to sculpt an exact replica of some food item, and then paint it the exact colors. Morganna chose a waffle, because it will not mold, decay or otherwise turn into a pile of goo over the three week period that they will be doing this assignment, since the food items will be stored somewhere without refrigeration.

    Which is part of why I think it is a dumb assignment.

    Harry–yes, I was specifically hired to do lunch and dinner specials, in addition to working the line. I pitch dishes to the owner, Hilary, and we discuss and then run with it. The pricing is done by her. I stay out of it.

    The first day I worked, I did a kofta curry–the sauce was a tomato/coconut milk based sauce, with lots of ginger, garlic and browned onions, with cumin, coriander, fennel seed, black pepper, turmeric and paprika. The kofta were lamb.

    Today, I did a fennel tomato bisque with a tarka of browned onions, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. I served it with a dab of green coriander chutney on top. Everyone who had the soup loved it–and it was totally something off the top of my head.

    For tonight, I made a Kashmiri Wild Mushroom Curry–using my own recipe here:


    A friend of theirs had been foraging and found about fifteen pounds of giant puffball mushrooms, and harvested them. We used about five pounds of them, and then I soaked about a quart of dried shiitake mushrooms, and used the soaking water for them. The curry turned out well, in large part because of the contrast in texture and flavor between the mushrooms–the puffballs were like clouds once I diced them up and cooked them in butter, and the shiitake were chewy and meaty with a deep, woodsy flavor.

    Tomorrow I am doing a Bengali fish curry–tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and mustard and cumin seeds with some ground coriander and fenugreek and turmeric to balance the flavors.

    I forgot how much fun I used to have in restaurant kitchens. It is awesome. I think I am going to be there for quite some time….

    Comment by Barbara — November 2, 2007 #

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