Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette

The Recipe: An easy vinaigrette, bright and vibrant, just fresh-squeezed orange and lemon combined with the earthy spice called cumin. Orange and cumin are a magical combination!

The Conversation: How, exactly, do you pronounce "cumin"?

Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette ♥, bright and vibrant, fresh-squeezed citrus with earthy cumin.

Exploring Afghan Culture

My book club is in the midst of a fascinating if-difficult-to-read book set in Afghanistan, interwoven stories of two women who for some while lived as men, one as a woman-man to guard the king's harem in the 1920s followed by a period of liberalization and another disguised as a boy to evade restrictions imposed on girls and women by the Taliban and tribal warlords post 9/11.

Sound intriguing? Check out The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. It's a riveting book, offering such perspective on women's education, the role of women in families, freedom many of us take for granted and think of as our "right".

Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette ♥, bright and vibrant, fresh-squeezed citrus with earthy cumin.

How Many Ways to Pronounce the Word "Cumin"?

I didn't "read" the book but "listened" to it on Audible on my phone while driving to-fro North Carolina again last week – naturally, noting all the food references, especially the use of cumin, my very favorite savory spice!

The narrator called it "CUM-in" – as in "Please, do come in."
I've always said "q-min" or "q-men" – research says this is the British pronunciation. Some times my Canadian heritage pops up in expected ways!
Others say "koo-min" – the typical American pronunciation.

And you? How do you pronounce cumin? And who finds the earthy, distinctive spice as captivating as I? Here's the evidence, everything from carrot fries to fruit salad to whole-grain pilafs to soup to broiled grapefruit. Anywhere and everywhere. Cumin!

Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette ♥, bright and vibrant, fresh-squeezed citrus with earthy cumin.

Exploring ... Not Just Afghan Books But Afghan Cuisine

Ha! I just realized that at this same time last year, my book club did another book about Afghanistan, A Thousand Splendid Suns by the author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, hmm, another pair of intertwined tales of two women whose lives are so different from anyone I've known.

But! What an inspired move to experiment with Afghan recipes! Much to my surprise, I fell in love with two wonderful dishes that instantly became part of my kitchen repertoire. Be sure to check out Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau) and Afghan Eggplant & Tomato Casserole (Borani Banjan). So good!

Other readers and book club people may be interested in my book club's reading list, see Red Wine Book Club. The list goes way back to 1994, that's when we first started reading together!


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 1/2 cup

  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a small bowl, use a fork or small whisk to combine the orange and lemon juice, honey and cumin. Whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the green onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

TO SERVE For a simple salad, drizzle over top of or "dress" fresh salad greens – bitter greens like arugula and baby spinach are especially good – and top with slices of fresh orange. For something more substantial, add red pepper, avocado, feta crumbles and Maple-Glazed Pecans. This salad is especially lovely served with a simple tart such as Asparagus Custard Tart.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS If you like, make the dressing a few hours before serving.

ALANNA's TIPS I rarely "measure" for this salad, just use the juice of an orange and the juice of a lemon. Don't skip the lemon, it contrasts with the sweetness of the orange, making this a savory vinaigrette instead of something quite sweet. For a vegan vinaigrette, substitute agave for honey.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon: 25 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 0g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points .5 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 1

Oranges In Surprising Ways

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Savory Orange Slices Orange Julius Drinks Citrus Slices with Orange Flower Water, Spices & Chocolate Shavings
~ more orange recipes~

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© Copyright 2016 & 2018 Kitchen Parade

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spicy Raisin Sauce for Ham Recipe

My grandmother's recipe for the cinnamon- and ginger-spiked raisin sauce always-always served with the Easter ham, the Christmas ham, the Sunday ham. (You get the picture. That said, my favorite way to use Spicy Raisin Sauce is drizzled over a ham steak for an easy weeknight supper!) It's a "found" recipe: old-fashioned and 21st-century perfect, both at the same time.

~recipe updated for a little Easter inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

Spicy Raisin Sauce for Ham ♥, my grandmother's recipe, a real classic. Serve it warm with ham at Easter and Christmas or for an easy weeknight supper, a ham steak.

Before Christmas last year, my cousin Diane walked into a family cookie party in Winnipeg carrying a wooden box. She laughed, “I’m cleaning out the basement. This was Nana’s recipe box.”

Like magnets, my hands reached for our grandmother’s recipe collection, untouched for more than 25 years. For too long, I ignored my relatives to thumb through a long row of 3x5 cards, some familiar family recipes, many newspaper clippings including some from my mother’s Kitchen Parade columns, a few cryptic hand-written notes.

Nana had cut or taped tabs onto odd pieces of card stock to create her own dividers, Cheese Dishes and Crepes near the front, Puddings and Pickles in the back, with special sections for Peroghies and Turtles, two family favorites. My eyes filled with tears. Nana’s handwriting was so familiar, the make-do separators so typical of her Depression-era frugality.

When Diane said she’d brought the recipe box for me to keep, I sobbed, grateful for her thoughtfulness.

But I saved Nana's recipe box until Christmas so that my sister and I might walk through it together. One of the first recipes we happened on was Nana’s recipe for the raisin sauce she served with the Easter ham. The next day, we made it to serve with our Christmas ham.

Yes, we agreed, this was Nana’s recipe, the one we remember our own mother insisting upon whenever she cooked a ham.

I don’t have children of my own so in due time, Nana’s recipe box will return to Diane’s daughter, the lovely Candice. Such gifts, they belong in the family.

Spicy Raisin Sauce for Ham ♥, my grandmother's recipe, a real classic. Serve it warm with ham at Easter and Christmas or for an easy weeknight supper, a ham steak.

"It's perfect [for Easter ham] ... a timeless classic!" ~ Pamela


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes but best if made 24 hours ahead
Makes about 2 cups

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup currants (my preference) or raisins or a mix of raisins and golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon butter

In a medium pot, stir together the brown sugar, flour, mustard, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper, pressing the mixture with the back of a spoon to smash any clumps. A tablespoon at a time, add the water, stirring in each tablespoon before adding another. Stir in the vinegar.

Cook gently on medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to thicken a bit. Add the raisins and cook for two minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.

Transfer to a covered container, refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the fruit to plump up with spiciness, the flavors to develop and the sauce to further thicken.

To serve, rewarm in a saucepan, serve hot draped over slices of ham.

ALANNA's TIPS The dry mustard acts as thickener as well as flavor so skipping or skimping isn’t advised. I’m especially fond of the hot Colman’s Dry Mustard from England but supermarket-variety dry mustard works fine too, that's what Nana and my mom both used. Plain ol' white vinegar works fine, so does apple cider vinegar. I'd also use a white wine vinegar or an unseasoned rice vinegar. I've never tried a red wine vinegar but think it would make for an unappealing color. Smaller and less-sweet currants seem to "go further" in raisin sauce, 1/3 cup of currants seems like plenty of fruit. But if you're going to use raisins or golden raisins or other larger pieces of dried fruit, the sauce can take up to an entire cup of fruit vs just 1/3 cup. Visually, I do love the color interest you get with a mix of black raisins and golden raisins, even dried cranberries! We eat with our eyes, too, yes?!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Quarter Cup: 73 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 3mg Cholesterol; 85mg Sodium; 15g Carb; 1g Fiber; 13g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 4

Nana's Recipe Box

My grandmother's recipe box, left untouched in a basement for more than 25 years.

So this is Nana's recipe box, where we found her long-time recipe for Spicy Raisin Sauce.

Funny thing is? That recipe seems to be the first of Nana's recipes ever published here at Kitchen Parade. What a loss because Nana was an accomplished cook!

Oops, wait! I found one! There is Nana's Cucumbers! And then there's the recipe that might, just might have come from my grandfather, How to Roast Potatoes to Perfection. Still, Nana's legacy is embedded throughout Kitchen Parade in the many recipes shared by my Canadian family, her daughters (my mom and her sister, my dear Auntie Gloria) and all my cousins who are ever so generous.

More Old Family Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Mini Porcupine Meatballs Pork Chops & Rice Oven Dinner Roasted Salmon & Asparagus
Homemade Butterhorns (Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls) Potato Blintzes Yorkshire Pudding
Family Shortbread Brown Sugar Lemon Curd Chocolate Cream Puffs Stuffed with Strawberries & Cream

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

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