Monthly Archives: December 2010

Everyday Indian

Tadka Tomato Dal with green tomato and cilantro chutney

After moving to the US a few years back and developing a love for food and several cuisines, I realized something about Indian food. I realized that the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Indian food is curry. It is perceived as a mostly spicy and complex cuisine when in reality there’s way more to it than just curry.

So when I got a chance to share what I know about Indian food here at WFAEats I thought of starting with something basic and something that every Indian household makes almost every day in their kitchen and also something that everyone can make in their kitchen irrespective of whether they are familiar with Indian spices or not. So I decided to make Tadka Tomato Dal with Green Tomato and Cilantro Chutney. It is a staple in North Indian homes and is very easy to put together.

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A Swiss Christmas

Downtown Zurich, Switzerland (in Summer)

If I had to sum up what a Swiss Christmas means to me, in a word it would be, Schmützli.

Our family lived in Europe for the past seven years. For five of those years, we were in Zurich, Switzerland. Not only do the Swiss know how to make watches, run trains, and produce remarkable cheese, they know how to do Christmas, too—old school, handmade and lovely. To stroll through an open-air Swiss Christmas market is an amazing, sensory experience. And the seasonal foods that are only ever found in the winter months, I quickly learned to treasure. The smell of roasting chestnuts wafting from virtually every streetcorner in the city, delicious cookies with funny names like, Mailänderli, Chräberli and Zimtsterne lined every bakery window in December, and stalls selling Raclette (my favorite), a huge wheel of very special cheese that is heated under a grill until gooey, then scraped overtop small boiled potatoes, gherkins and pickled onions—I never tired of this.

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Infuse Your Holiday with some International Sparkle

Recently, Charlotte Talks looked at how people from a variety of nationalities and cultures celebrate and eat during the holiday season – from Spain and Italy to Argentina and Finland. (Listen to the show here.) WFAEats shares some of the recipes mentioned and a few more…

Holiday Eggnog. Photo: Julie Mastbrook

Nothing says it’s holiday season like eggnog!  And if you’ve been digging around for a tasty recipe, look no further.  The talented Julie Mastbrook of the food blog Mommie Cooks, shares her recipe for an eggnog that will have you singing Jingle Bells in no time.

Hanukah has come and gone this year, but it’s never too late for a latke.  Deb over at Smitten Kitchen (swoon) shares a fantastic recipe for a traditional potato latke.  And if you’re looking for a cool twist on the classic she also shares a recipe for apple latkes.

Latkes. Photo: Smitten Kitchen

Natilla?? It’s totally new to me, but I plan on whipping up this sweet Spanish custard this weekend.  No doubt, it will be a nice departure from the cookies and cakes that normally adorn my holiday table.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread!  We’ve all had a gingerbread man cookie, but I’m thinking of trying a gingerbread cake this year.  Word on the street is that the gingerbread cake at Gramercy Tavern in NYC will blow the tinsel right off your tree.  Do you need anymore convincing than that?

Chesnuts roasting on an open fire . . . (cue Nat King Cole) . . . We all know the song, but how many of us have actually roasted chestnuts or cooked with them for that matter?  It turns out that you can do a lot more with chestnuts than merely roast them.  Don’t miss this article complete with several recipes for putting chestnuts to good use in your kitchen.

Feliz Navidad!

More from WFAEats: A Swiss Christmas

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Beat the Bulge: Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

Indian Spiced Minestrone Soup

The holiday season is a time for eating delicious foods.  Dinner dates, open houses, and holiday parties fill up our schedules.  Sweets are everywhere you turn.    So how do you keep it all in check and still manage to eat healthy?  Here are a few tips to get you through the holiday season with more of the joy, and less of the guilt.

1. When attending parties, limit your consumption of alcohol. In addition to feeling better both at the party and the next morning, you’ll limit your calories by limiting your alcohol.  Try alternating between water and the good stuff.

2. Pack a couple small pieces of “to go” fruit/veggies in your purse or brief case for snacking during the day. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to indulge this holiday season.  Don’t do it while you’re out and about doing your every day errands and jobs.  Pack a banana, apple, or some carrot sticks and give yourself a reason to not feel guilty about that extra couple of cookies  you’ll be having later at your child’s Winter Potluck.

Keep reading for more tips and Julie’s recipe for Indian Spiced Minestrone Soup…

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Quick and Easy Homemade Gifts & Recipes

Classically-trained Chef and food journalist Jennifer Brule’ writes about food and recipes at her blog Finding Tasty.  She was recently on Charlotte Talks (listen to the show here) along with an etiquette expert to discuss ways to make the holiday season less harrowing: from gift-giving etiquette and helping your child be a gracious gift giver and receiver to go-to recipes for your next holiday potluck. Here are some of her tips and favorite holiday recipes.

Go-To Holiday Appetizer to Share

  • Stolen lentil spread – “A warm spread– lentil, vegan and so delicious. I had never tasted anything quite like it and asked the woman, who I knew casually, if she would share the recipe with me. ‘No.’ was her flat reply…”

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Charlotte’s “City’s Best” Winners

Photo: S Baker/Flickr

In-laws visiting this holiday season?  Don’t know what to do with them?  Why not take them to some of Charlotte’s best restaurants?  For the past two months, Charlotte residents (e.g. YOU) have been voting for the “Best of the Best” food, entertainment, and lifestyle options that Charlotte has to offer.  I recently had a chat with Natalie McNeal, Southeastern Regional Editor over at AOL’s City’s Best and here’s what she recommends for the holidays.

WFAEats:  Your extended family is coming to Charlotte and you’re looking for a family-friendly place to go for dinner.  Where do you take them?

City’s Best: Definitely try the winner in the best seafood category, Bonefish Grill.  It’s really tasty and affordable.  Everyone loves their Bang Bang shrimp and they have a really good snapper.  Or check out Luisa’s Brick Oven Pizzeria, winner in the best pizza category.  It’s a great place to have a family experience.  Also, Skyline Family Restaurant winner in our best family-friendly category would be a great place to take your holiday guests.

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Lisa Learns to Cook

You all know Lisa Miller – reporter extraordinaire here at WFAE.  What you might not know is that Lisa doesn’t really cook.  But she’s ready to change that.  Join Lisa on her adventures in the kitchen and what hopefully will be an enjoyable (and successful) process of learning how to cook.  For her first lesson, Lisa takes on corn pudding and masters the jiggle factor.


Some recipes are fail-safe.  I like to think this one isn’t, even though all it entails is mixing ingredients together and sticking the dish in the oven.  But for me the cook with no cooking skills, I like to think there’s some margin of error I’ve mastered when this corn pudding invariably comes out well.  I grew up eating this every Thanksgiving.  When I’m home it’s still part of the feast.  After I have my helping of pumpkin pie, I have a second of corn pudding.

When I entered the world of work potlucks (at public radio that’s how we celebrate), this was my go-to dish. But up until last week, I had never made the corn pudding for my family.  That was always handled by a more capable family member—really, anyone but me. I had all the ingredients mixed and in the oven in about ten minutes, as my brother tended to his bacon-laced Brussels Sprouts, gruyere mashed potatoes, and multi-grain stuffing…

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