Well, well. It's Christmas (and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and ...) all over the land and celebration is at hand, though this has been a challenging year for hope, to say the least. And yet we must.
Yes, we must.
Can stories help us here? How about a crackling fire, gathered loved ones, and a Potato Samosa?
While you enjoy and warm, let me share a book that was very influential in my love of writing stories. The Big Treasure Book of Christmas. One of my favorite stories in the book is "The Animal's Christmas." No this is not exactly the Animal's Christmas Eve, a Golden Book that retells the Manger Story from the animal's perspective, though of course, there is nothing wrong with that book. No, this "The Animals Christmas" is about the animal's life in the woods and their perspective.
Connected to this memory is another story, a newer one, but the threads of allegory join it all together, as well as a beautiful Cauliflower and Potato Samosa! A few day's ago we went to see Life of Pi. Now this was a powerful film and the Animal allegory at the heart of it, speaks loudly to how we listen and learn and need to tell stories to translate and understand and perhaps own the stories of our lives. Near the end of the film, Pi asks the writer and the audience, which story do you prefer?
Here then is The Animal's Christmas - from the 1953 "The Big Treasure Book of Christmas," art by Dellwyn Cunningham, arranged by Dorothy B. Collins.
"Do you know that the animal's in the woods celebrate Christmas too? They do not have their Christmas tree in a house. But Mother Nature decorates a little fir tree that stands in a clearing in the forest. She dusts the tree with shiny snow and sprinkles bright icicles on the tips of the branches. Like magic, the plain little fir tree is changed into a Christmas tree that glistens and sparkles in the moonlight."
Now I can't say for sure that these animals are going to retreat back to their dens to eat Samosa, but I think it's a nice connection to offer an Indian dish open to interpretation, for remembering, and celebrating the Life of Pi and the Life of Trevor Dolan.
Samosas with Cauliflower and Potato for Trevor Dolan
Trevor Dolan was full of love for telling stories and creating in the kitchen. This Indian dish was often made during an Asian week of kid-chefs cooking and was often revised, as he was known to do so gleefully and successfully. And so his story goes and goes on. And on.
makes 28 small ones or three large open face ones
1 head cauliflower, cut into fleurettes
6 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1” fresh ginger root, minced
½ tsp. each cardamom, whole cumin and mustard seed, ground
½ tsp. chili powder
2 tablespoons each fresh arugula and cilantro, chopped (from Seeing Stars Farm)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
½ tsp. salt
8 t. softened unsalted butter
12-14 t. ice water
for the filling:
make first as it needs time to let the flavors develop
blanch the cauliflower first and then boil the potatoes. fry the onion in a small amount of oil with the mustard, cumin seed, ginger, and chili powder. add to the cooked potato and cauliflower. mix well. set aside.
for the dough:
in a medium bowl mix the 2 flours and the salt. cut in the butter until mixture resembles small peas or coarse meal. using a fork stir in the water until a dough forms.
on a floured surface, roll out the dough and begin cutting rounds, using a round biscuit cutter, until you have 28.
Option 1: if the filling is still hot – bake or fry the dough separately and then plop the potato and cauliflower filling directly on top for an open-face samosa.
Option 2: Roll to ¼’ thickness and cut the dough into large squares, place on parchment lined sheet pans and spread with the cooled filling, bake at 375 for 30 minutes. When cooled top with the chopped cilantro and arugula.
Option 3: fill each round with 2 teaspoons of the filling, brush the edges with water, fold and seal the samosas. Arrange on parchment lined sheet pans. Get ready to fry the filled samosa’s. using the very large cast iron frying pan, heat an inch of oil in the pan and when hot, fry the dough by slipping 5-6 samosas into the oil at a time and frying 3-4 minutes on a side. drain on a paper towel lined tray and continue until all are fried.
serve hot or room temp with garnish.