My first taste of Gajar Halwa (translation: Carrot Pudding) came from the lunch buffet at Bombay Bistro in Cool Springs. It was pretty much an earth-shattering experience for me.
Before then, if you had told me that I would fall in love with a dessert that seemed to be just a bowl of mushy, shredded carrots, I would’ve thought you were crazy.
But on that day, I was immediately dazzled by the flavors and textures that hit my palate. In fact, I even flagged down our server and requested that the chef or manager be summoned to our table.
As the manager approached, it was evident that he was bracing himself for a complaint. No sir, no complaints here. All I wanted to do was compliment him on that ridiculously amazing dish!
I’ve been enamored with Indian food long before I married into an Indian family. (That last name of mine that no one can pronounce correctly? It’s Indian. My father-in-law hails from Uttar Pradesh in northern India.) However, I’ve never been a huge fan of the desserts, because pretty much all that I’ve sampled have just been way too sweet for my taste. That is, until I discovered Carrot Halwa.
The Sachan Clan at our wedding in 2008
So as Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, approaches on November 13th, I decided it was time for me to get motivated and learn how to make this delightful treat for myself. Though my husband and I have never celebrated Diwali, now that I have a son, I’d like for him to grow up knowing what it is since it’s a part of his heritage.
Perhaps we’ll create a new tradition, making this dish together each year in honor of the festival. A sweet (but not too sweet) tradition indeed!
Serves 6-8. Adapted from Indian Simmer.
2 Tbsp golden raisins
1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
2 Tbsp Ghee (clarified butter)*
1/2 cup of nuts (I used cashew halves)
1 cup whole milk
7 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Soak raisins in warm water for 30 minutes, then drain. Set aside for later use.
Heat ghee a large pan over medium high heat. Add nuts. When the nuts take on a golden color, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add grated carrots to the pan with remaining ghee. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add milk.
Mix well, reducing heat to low and simmer until carrots are softened, approximately 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add condensed milk and stir well. Add sugar.
Stir every few minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of pan to prevent sticking. Allow carrot mixture to cook until all milk is evaporated, approximately 30-40 minutes.
Stir in cardamom, nuts and raisins. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly and serve.
* Already prepared, bottled ghee can be found locally in the ethnic section of several grocery stores. I purchased mine at Publix.
Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian (Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Pakistani, and Iranian cuisine) cuisine and ritual.
To prepare ghee, butter is melted in a pot over medium heat. The butter begins to melt, forming a white froth on top. It is then simmered stirring occasionally and the froth reduces slowly and the color of the butter changes to pale yellow. Then it is cooked on low heat until it turns golden. The residue settles at the bottom and the ghee, which is now clear, golden,translucent and fragrant, is ready. The ghee is then filtered and it solidifies when completely cool.Ghee has a long shelf-life and needs no refrigeration if kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation. The texture, color and taste of ghee depends on the source of the milk obtained and the duration of boiling. – Source: Wikipedia
It’s that time again – Taste of Nashville, one of Nashville’s biggest and best Food & Drink events, is just a few days away!
As I scanned over the event website, I noticed several restaurants/food vendors that I’ve written about here on the blog before: Etch, Silo, Smoke Et Al, Riff’s, Biscuit Love, and Jeni’s Ice Cream, just to name a few. Plus there are a few new-to-me spots that I’m excited to taste for the first time on Friday night: Cafe Fundamental, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Kay Bob’s and Fat Bottom Brewing.
Of course, there is a much longer list of food and drink options in addition to those I mentioned, so hop over to the event page to see for yourself!
Taste of Nashville
Friday, November 9th, 2012
7 pm – 1 am (Saturday, November 10th)
1 Cannery Row Nashville, TN 37203
$65 in advance for general admission ($70 at the door)
or $90 VIP can be purchased
To purchase, click here
Guess what?? I have 2 general admission tickets ($130 value) to give away to one of my lovely readers! Since the event is just a few days away, the entry window for this contest will be a short one. I’ll choose a winner on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., so hurry and enter now! Food for thought: increase your chances to win by getting your friends to do so too, then make them swear they’ll take you as their date ;-)
The winner is…
To enter, all you have to do is this:
Mandatory: Leave a comment telling me which Taste of Nashville vendor you’re most looking forward to seeing there.
For up to 2 additional entries, you can do either or both of the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.
- Follow me on Twitter (@betheats) and tweet “Win a pair of tix to @TasteofNash from @PhoenixClubNash & @betheats! http://bit.ly/PwRIN0”, then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.
- RSVP to The Taste of Nashville Facebook event here, then come back and tell me you did so.
Contest ends on Wednesday, November 7th at 9 am CDT. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll contact them via email and post it here on the blog. If they don’t respond within 24 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!
Nothing Bundt Cake’s Bundtinis
As if the Goo Goo desserts and Halloween candy that abounded during the month of October wasn’t enough sugar for me, I also found myself surrounded by bundt cakes of all sizes and flavors!
The Nashville Nothing Bundt Cakes store celebrated it’s first anniversary recently, and as a part of that, offered to give me some free cake. I’d heard truly great things about these guys since they opened, but with everything else that has gone on in my life, just hadn’t had the chance to get by there to try them myself.
So when they offered to deliver some samples straight to my front door, you better believe I took them up on it! Happy, happy, joy, joy. Moist, delicious cake and butter cream cheese frosting perfection.
First up were the bundtinis- cute little cakes similar in size to a cupcake. An entire box of lemon, red velvet, white chocolate raspberry and chocolate chocolate chip were too dangerous to keep in the house, so after sampling one of each, we gave the rest to friends. Then 10 minutes later we regretted it. I’m still dreaming of that lemon one.
Nothing Bundt Cake’s Pecan Praline Bundtlet
Next up were the bundtlets, small cakes that can easily be shared by 2 people, gobbled up by one very hungry person in one sitting, or there’s always that option for a single eater to “save some for later”.
For this little cake, we got to try the Carrot and the Pecan Praline, the latter of which was my favorite. In fact, I might not have shared that one. And maybe I tried to “save some for later” but that “later” was only 30 minutes.
Last, but certainly not least, was the big daddy -the full size bundt cake.
Nothing Bundt Cakes offers 8- and 10-inch bundts that you can get in any of their flavors and themes. When they found out that I’d had a baby boy this year, they decided to give me their baby boy congratulatory cake in October’s featured flavor of pumpkin spice. This baby cake was so cute! It would be perfect not only as a gift to new parents, but also for a baby shower.
Of course, there are also decorative options that would be awesome for birthdays, anniversaries, and heck, even weddings! They make tiered bundt cakes that make for great centerpieces. And with so many flavors to choose from, there is definitely something for everyone: marble, carrot, white white chocolate, cinnamon swirl, red velvet, chococolate chocolate chip, white chocolate raspberry, lemon, pecan praline, and a special “flavor of the month”.
As I mentioned, the Nashville location just celebrated their one year anniversary of the store on White Bridge Road, but this weekend also marks a big celebration- the grand opening of their Cool Springs store!
Here is a look at the festivities they have planned for this Saturday, November 3rd:
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Second Harvest Food Bank Benefit Day – 20 percent of proceeds benefit the organization
9 a.m. – First 50 customers to make a purchase receive free Bundtlets for a year!
1 to 3 p.m. – Family Fun event with face painting, balloon twisting and lots of yummy cakes
Nothing Bundt Cakes (Cool Springs location)
535 Cool Springs Blvd. #110
(next to Chicos and Royal Thai)
Franklin, TN 37067
Mon – Sat 9-6
Sun 11 – 4
Nothing Bundt Cakes (Nashville location)
21 White Bridge Road
Nashville, TN 37205
Mon – Sat 9-6
Maybe you can’t make it down to Cool Springs on Saturday to try to be one of the first 50 customers, but you really, really want to eat bundt cake for free for a whole year. Well, never fear. I’m giving you a chance to win a “free bundtlets for a year” card that can be used at either the Nashville or Cool Springs location!
and the winners is…
To enter, all you have to do is this:
1. Leave a comment telling me either what flavor of theirs you’d like to try.
For up to 2 additional entries, you can do either or both of the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.
2. Follow me on Twitter (@betheats) and tweet “Win Nothing Bundt Cake free bundtlets for a year from @betheats! bit.ly/Q8JeNk”, then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.
3. Like Nothing Bundt Cake Nashville on Facebook and come back and tell me you did so.
Contest ends on Sunday, November 4th at Noon CDT. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll contact them via email and post it here on the blog. If they don’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!
This recipe is proof that I really do take your suggestions! Last week reader Allyn answered my cry for help in coming up with new ideas for my bounty of fall vegetables. The ingredients and flavors in this meatless dish sounded just like something that I would love, and since I actually had most of the ingredients already on hand, it was a no-brainer.
As usual, I made a few tweaks to the recipe, the major being the preparation of the sweet potatoes. Allyn had cubed and baked them, but I decided to create a bed of curry mashed sweet potatoes for all of that glorious coconut milk to soak into. Giving myself a pat on the back for this idea, because it was delicious!
The best part? The discovery that my little guy likes curry! As you know, he’s already a fan of sweet potatoes, so I was interested to see what he’d do with curry and cumin added to them. Well, he gobbled them up just as quickly as he normally does- perhaps even quicker. Fingers crossed that he continues to be a good eater, because mama will be distraught if the day ever comes that he is a picky one.
Coconut Braised Spinach and Chickpeas over Curry Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4-6. Adapted from lollingabout
For sweet potatoes:
1-1/2 lb sweet potatoes (about 3), peeled, quartered
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 - 2 Tbsp curry powder, to taste
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
For spinach and chickpeas:
2 tsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (separated)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
15-oz can chickpeas, drained
1 lb baby spinach
14-oz can coconut milk
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp ground ginger
For sweet potatoes: Cook potatoes in boiling water in large saucepan 15 min. or until tender. Drain.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add shallots; cook and stir 4 min. Stir in curry powder; cook 2 min., stirring frequently. Add shallot mixture, milk, cumin and salt to sweet potatoes; mash until smooth.
For chickpea/spinach mixture:
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until they soften and start to gain some color. Add the garlic, lemon zest, fresh ginger, and red pepper flakes and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the can of chickpeas, stirring to thoroughly coat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Begin adding the spinach, one big handful at a time. Stir in and wait til the spinach wilts before adding the next handful. Keep doing this until all of the spinach is fully incorporated.
Add the can of coconut milk, salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
Spoon over curry mashed sweet potatoes and serve.
Food & Drink Specials for Flyte’s 6th Anniversary
October 30th – November 3rd
Flyte World Dining and Wine
718 Division Street
Nashville TN, 37203
Flyte World Dining and Wine is celebrating their 6th anniversary next week, and I absolutely love these playful specials they’ve come up with!
The ‘Six Dinner Giveaway’ will reward six dining parties with a free meal for a return visit to Flyte. Those who dine at Flyte October 30 – November 3 and who wish to enter the drawing should say ‘happy anniversary,’ and write their name, email address, and phone number on the back of their receipt. These receipts will go into a drawing and at the end of each dinner service a winner will be selected randomly to receive a gift certificate for equal value of their receipt. One winner will be selected Tuesday – Friday, and two on Saturday.
Flyte will feature a special dessert, the “Apple-y Anniversary,” for a special price of just $6. The seasonal dessert will feature warm local apple fritters, Cruze Farm buttermilk caramel, and coffee-cardamom ice cream.
This one is perhaps my favorite…. I wonder why? The celebratory signature drink is ‘Hex in the City,’ which features pepper vodka, cranberry juice, chocolate vodka, triple sec, and an ancho chile rim for a special price of $9.
Flyte’s ‘Hex in the City’ cocktail
“This cocktail gives a playful nod to our sixth year – hex is Greek for six – as well as our opening date of Friday the 13th,” said co-owner Scott Atkinson. “The drink is a spicy, fruity combination with a touch of chocolate for depth, a result of our incredibly creative bartender Doc Downs. It’s a fun play on our location in the heart of the city, as well as a celebratory Halloween drink: think Cosmo with heat and a southwestern costume.”
Wine director and co-owner Scott Sears has selected ‘Scott’s Six,’ a list of his favorite wines, to be featured during the anniversary celebration. When any of these six wines are ordered, the guest will receive an extra ounce serving, totaling seven ounces. These six wines include Camille Braun Brut, Garofoli “Podium”, Celler de Capcanes “Mas Donis”, Spindrift Cellars Pinot Noir, Pessagno Winery Chardonnay, and Château Sainte Eulalie “La Cantilène.”
As Sears explains, “We’re looking forward to a seventh year of producing elevated farm-to-table food, and want to celebrate by topping off those wine glasses with a seventh ounce of some really spectacular wines. Cheers to a seventh year!”
The great thing about cooking for friends when they have babies is that I make dishes I might not normally make if I was just cooking for us. Comfort foods. Like this definitely-not-counting-calories casserole.
Have I mentioned that we’ve had potatoes coming out our ears for the past few months? The CSA box kept producing potato after potato, and because my time in the kitchen was limited, I took the easy route and kept dicing and roasting potato after potato. Roasted potatoes are great, but after you’ve had them 23 times in a row, you get a little bored.
So last weekend, when I had yet more potatoes staring at me, a free afternoon to spend in the kitchen, plus the task of cooking dinner for our friends of a newborn baby girl, this casserole came to life.
Even though the steps to prep take some time, overall it’s fairly simple to put together, and definitely easy to transport, making it great for potlucks and new baby births.
Oh, and it’s easy to split into two containers so you can share it with those friends of the new baby, but also keep some to gobble down all by yourself in the comfort of your own home. Because you’re definitely going to want to do that.
Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
8-10 servings. Adapted from Very Best Baking.
7 -8 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp salt, divided
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Place potatoes in large saucepan. Cover with water, add 1 tablespoon salt; bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole dish.
Return potatoes to saucepan; add evaporated milk, sour cream, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Beat with hand-held mixer until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese and half of bacon. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, remaining bacon and green onions. Bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
This casserole can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated. Cover with foil and bake at 350° F for 40 to 45 minutes or until heated. Uncover; top with cheese, bacon and green onions; bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Fall is my absolute favorite season of the year, and I especially love October. There is just something about the crisp air, the leaves changing colors, and pulling on a soft, cozy hoodie in the morning. Unfortunately, this month has flown by and I haven’t had nearly enough time to enjoy it.
That is, until this weekend when we did have a chance to get out and take the little guy to Ghouls at Grassmere and to his very first pumpkin patch!
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a pumpkin patch – more like a roadside stand that sold pumpkins. But it was a really snazzy stand with lots of setups for photo ops so we got some cute pics out of it.
Really can’t believe that my baby boy will be 9 months old this week! Time goes too fast.
Anyway….even though we did have a little fun this weekend, I also spent a good amount of time doing chores, running errands, etc, etc, and not enough time meal planning for the week. Because of this, I’ve got a stack of produce that I need to get creative with in the next few days, so I’m asking for your help.
Below is a list of the items I’ve got to work with. Please leave me comments with your ideas and/or links to recipes and I will be forever grateful!
Sweet Potatoes – would love ideas for savory dishes vs sweet
Eggplant (Pretty certain I’m going to make this recipe recommended by Lesleyeats, but I’m open to other ideas too!)
Tomorrow night, Friday, October 19th, is the LAST Night Market of the 2012 Season. That alone makes it special, and should prompt you into going, but there’s another reason it should be embraced – it’s the 2 year anniversary of the very first Night Market!
Can you believe it has been 2 years already? My how time flies.
Spread the word, grab a friend or two, and/or load up the whole family and head over to the Nashville Farmers’ Market to sip, shop and eat under the stars! With many special guests and new merchants, music, drinks, and a puppet truck, there is definitely something for everyone- young, old, and all ages in between.
For more information and details on participating vendors, visit the Night Market Facebook page. Hope to see you all there!