Posted on Nov 25, 2019
It's funny that for someone who doesn't particularly enjoy cooking, I cook A LOT, like daily. And, I cook pretty well, judging by my family's consumption! Come Thanksgiving and winter breaks, we like to try some new dishes and trot out old family favorites, as is the plan for most of my fellow Haute Hijab team members! So, in the spirit of food, family, friends and fun, we wanted to share a four of our team members' favorite recipes with you – tried and true favorites in our homes. Alice's apple pie, Melanie's Fattoush, Erin's Nana's tomato sauce and my own baked keema kebabs.
We hope you enjoy! Be sure to share your own recipes in the comments below!
But first, a story – this is something that happened to me in the aisles of a Kroger grocery store in central Virginia the day before Thanksgiving. Here it is, as shared in a Facebook status in 2017. Whether or not you partake in Thanksgiving traditions, this exchange made me laugh and rejoice in small kindnesses and friendly conversations we are still capable of having with strangers.
A Thanksgiving story – (Turkey) Bacon and Grocery Store Conversations with Strangers
I am making my way through Krogers, stocking up on groceries and a few items for a special meal on Thursday. While our family is not into all the traditional stuff, we like to do an Indian-Desi-American fusion of Dam ka murgh (Roasted whole chicken in special spices) with whatever sides folks request.
Yesterday the husband said - make that traditional green bean casserole.
Me - ok. Mushroom soup, green beans, french-fried onions on top. I can handle that.
So I am standing in the soup aisle trying to find the mushroom soup, and this elderly lady is blocking my view, perusing the condensed soup options herself. She sees me reach for two cans of the stuff and says - Are you making green bean casserole?
Me - yes I am. My husband requested it, so I'm giving it a shot.
Her - Blech! It's such a terrible recipe. It's tasteless and the onions on top get soggy. You need like two spoons of salt to make taste a little better.
Me - Do you have a better suggestion?
Her - Yes I do! Take some bacon and chop it up and fry it in a pan. Then remove the bacon and leave the drippings in the pan. All the flavor is in there. Add the green beans in and cook the beans with a can of diced tomatoes and any spices you like. Finish it off in the oven.
Now I'm standing there in my hijab, thinking - Lady, you know I ain't going to eat bacon. I'm wondering if she is going to pick up on this. Maybe she doesn't know this.
Me - Could I substitute turkey bacon in for the regular bacon?
Her (wrinkling her face like I've suggested something sacrilegious) - Well, I guess so. But I've had turkey bacon. It's nowhere near as good as regular bacon. I don't know if enough drippings will come off of it.
Then she looks at me. Like really looks at me for the first time -- Oh, are you Muslim?
Me - Yeah! That's why I'm asking about the turkey bacon.
Her - I guess in that case you could substitute turkey bacon. But it's not going to taste as good. Hey - are you born Muslim?
Me - Yes. Born and raised. Never had regular bacon. Nobody in my family has.
Her - Then you'll be fine! You've never tasted it so you don't know what you're missing! Go ahead and substitute in the turkey bacon!
Me, as I put back the cans of mushroom soup - Ok, thanks! I'll give your recipe a try!
Her - Look at me, I'm turning into my mother, giving random strangers at the grocery store recipe ideas!
Me - I appreciate it! Hope it turns out well! Happy Thanksgiving!
Her - Happy Thanksgiving! And if it doesn't (turn out well) - blame the Presbyterians!
Now, let's get to the recipes!
Image source: Foodnetwork.com
Alice's Good Ole' Fashioned Apple Pie (as shared by Alice Millard, our fantastic marketing manager!)
Ingredients for crust:
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (COLD)
1/4 to 1/2 cups ice water
Ingredients for filling:
15 tart apples, chopped and peeled (NOTE: This is for a large pie pan and Alice likes it bursting full of apples. If you're using a smaller one, you could probably get away with 10-12 apples)
lemon zest and juice
3/4 cup sugar (1/2 white plus 1/4 brown)
1/4 tsp salt
4 tblsp flour + 4 tblsp cornstarch
Spices: (1 tsp) cinnamon, (1 tsp) nutmeg, (1/2 tsp) ginger, freshly grated preferred, (1/4 tsp) allspice, (1/4 tsp) cloves - please note that Alice doesn't measure her spices when she bakes, so this is her best guess at proper amounts :)
Method for the crust:
- Combine dry ingredients.
- Add chunks of cold butter to dry ingredients and mix in with hands. Don't let it get warm. Cool your hangs regularly by running them under ice cold water. (NOTE: Yes, this is a little painful, but it makes all the difference!)
- Slowly add in water until it makes a dough consistency.
- Cool dough in fridge. Roll out when filling is ready so you can fill it quickly and avoid the dough warming up.
Method for filling:
- Combine sugar, flour/cornstarch and spices in one bowl.
- Combine apples and lemon juice and zest.
- Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.
- Cook in a pot on the stove to let apples soften and release liquid.
- Strain out all watery liquid, even though it looks yummy, because we're trying to avoid a soggy bottom on the pie.
- Add a few extra tblsp of cornstarch if the mixture seems too wet.
Method for pie:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Roll out crust into your pie pan, trim edges. Roll out more dough to cut for lattice strips; Weave a lattice for the top. See here for how to do so! Extra points for braiding some of the lattice pieces!
- Fill crust with filling (drained filling - trust me on this, you don't want it to be too wet).
- Cover with lattice and make it look pretty! Put in fridge to cool.
- Brush with melted butter and sugar.
- Bake for 35 minutes and then check your pie! Cover crust with foil and turn down oven if it's browning. Bake for 10-20 minutes more.
- Once crust is lightly browned and juice is bubbling up, it's done!
- Cool 30 minutes before serving! Store leftovers in fridge covered up for up to four days.
- ** Note - if you're trying to get a headstart, you can make the crust in advance. Alice recommends getting this done the weekend before Thanksgiving given all the cooking that will happen closer to the day. Just create disks of crust dough and wrap them thoroughly in plastic wrap. You can keep in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for weeks!
Image source: Chichilicious.com
Melanie's Fattoush (as shared by our beloved CEO, Melanie Elturk!)
Head of romaine lettuce
2 Persian cucumbers (1 English cucumber if Persian unavailable)
1 green bell pepper
2 stalks green onion
Bunch of parsley
1-2 tsp sumac
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Toasted or fried pita chips (optional)
Method for fattoush:
Slice the lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, green bell pepper, green onion, radishes & parsley in very small 1-2 cm pieces. Put all the cut vegetables in a large serving bowl. Once ready to serve (no more than 10 minutes before serving) add the sumac, salt, olive oil and apple cider vinegar and mix very well. Taste for salt. Add toasted or fried pita chips to serve.
Image source: Erin Smith cooking in her kitchen!
Erin's Nana's Vegetarian Pasta Sauce (as shared by our Visual Merchandiser Erin Smith!)
Writes Erin, "Most of the recipes I learned growing up come from my dad's side of the family, and specifically my Nana. She learned how to cook from her mother, Antoinetta, who came to the United States from Naples in the early 20th century. Nana typically makes this as a meat sauce, but since I was making a dish for vegetarians, I left out the meat – it still makes a brilliant marinara. It's super important that you use good tomatoes. I always choose the imported Italian kind when I make this. It's worth it! Also, the longer you can let it simmer, the more developed the flavors will become. I like to add a squeeze of lemon at the end to add a little brightness.
Nana Smith’s Spaghetti Sauce (adapted for vegetarians by Erin)
1 medium onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 1/2 tsp basil
2 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp parsley
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
a little parmesan cheese
2 tblsp sugar
Method for sauce:
Finely dice and sauté onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add crushed garlic Add rest of ingredients and simmer on stove for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
Image source: Dilshad Ali
Dilshad's Dum Ke Keema Kebabs (baked ground beef kebabs, as shared by yours truly, the blog editor!)
I make this recipe classic andaaza-style, meaning no measurements, I just eyeball everything. So I'm spit balling measurements here for you based on four lbs of ground beef to feed 10 people or so.
4 lbs lean ground beef
3/4 cup (about) plain yogurt (whole or lowfat)
1 cup fried onions (not french fried, get a bag from an Indo-Pak grocery store)
2 large fistfuls of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup or so chopped mint leaves
3-5 small green chillies chopped
One large onion finely chopped
salt to taste (about 1 1/2 tblsp)
1/4 tsp tumeric powder
1 to 1 1/2 tsp ground red chillie powder (depends on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 tsp or so garam masala (I grind my own, equal parts cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardemom and shah zeera; you can also buy garam masala powder at an Indo-Pak grocery store.)
1 tsp ground kebab cheeni spice (Optional, you can get at an Indo-Pak grocery story, but it's sometimes hard to find.)
About 10 ground almonds
2 tsp ground coconut flakes (I grind these spices in a coffee grinder)
About 1/2 cup oil (I like to use vegetable.)
Method for kebab:
Mix EVERYTHING together in a big bowl. Get your clean hands in there and mix it very thoroughly. There should be enough yogurt added that the mixture becomes pink and color and has a wet consistency. Depending on the size of your pan, plop mixture into one or two pans and using your hand or a spatula, press down and spread to all the corners evenly. I like using foil pans, and no need to oil them. The mixture should not be more than 1/2 inch deep. Marinade it for at least an hour. Overnight even better.
When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put pan(s) into oven and bake for about 1 1/2 hours. About 45 min or so into the bake, check on the kebab. They should shrink away from edges (like a lot), and there will be liquid around it. Spoon the liquid onto the kebab meat to keep it moist. Keep baking more until top is nicely browned (but not over-browned) and a decent amount of liquid has dried up. Remove from oven. Let it cool a bit, then cut into squares and serve on platter garnished with lime/lemon wedges, chopped cilantro and thin onion slices!