So where to begin? When I was 8, I had a diary. I’ll refrain from sharing excerpts to spare myself years of embarrassment, but as soon as I received my college email address I gladly leapt into the encapsulating arms of Facebook. Back when the site reveled in its exclusive allure, I admittedly stole my sister’s account for an extended time until I was able to create my own. (Stuti, consider my conscience wiped, and hint: you may want to vary your passwords…). I’ve missed writing ever since. But one thing certainly gives me a sense of peace—an indulgence that I have yet to find elsewhere, and that is food. So I figured, why not combine the two?
Yes, I love to eat. Fortunately, I also love to cook. But the one common ingredient is food. I love learning about ingredients, finding new
ways of throwing them together, and having forbidden affairs with my concoctions. While certain 20-something girls can spend hours in the Saks shoe section, I’m the girl who spent Saturday afternoons hopping around the stands of the Union Square Greenmarket, Lancaster-dairy gouda cheese in one hand and Vermont spiced apple cider in the other. I had cable simply to keep the Food Network playing in the background while I scraped vanilla beans and caramelized sugar for dinner party crème brulees. It’s my passion.
Some people ask me where and when it all started. I suppose it’s difficult to say, but my mother is and will always be my biggest inspiration. When I was little, my mom spent hours in the kitchen and I simply could not understand the appeal. “Does she keep her toys in the oven”, I thought? Her Barbies in the cabinet; Beanie Babies in the crisper? Later on, during weekends back from college as I practically inhaled her meals and my dad not-so-quietly whispered that I “was eating like a malnourished refugee,” I realized that my mother’s cooking is a pure symbol of the comforts of home. She once told me it was the best way she had of expressing her love to us. That is exactly what cooking is for me: a universal expression of love that I am truly delighted to share with you all.
Recipes to follow monthly. In the meantime, happy eating to all.
Whole Wheat Cranberry Scones
If you have spoken to me for more than five minutes, you know that the holiday season is unequivocally my favorite time of the year. The Malhotras have a Christmas morning tradition: we wake up leisurely, sit lazily around the fire, put on some Bing Crosby, and then proceed to shove as much food and drink as possible down our throats for extended hours at a time until we all pass out from food-induced comas. I’m not quite sure you could dream up anything more indulgently festive.
Daddio is in charge of the brunches, and the man sure is unwilling to accept mediocrity. What Michael Jordan brought to basketball, or Snooki brought to reality TV, my dad brings to brunch. He owns it. Dad shops for—legitimately—days in advance to create the perfect cheese and berry spread. He buys stashes of wine and champagne and then hides them in impenetrable cages sealed for Christmas morning. (To be fair, he is probably just fending off Stuti: my sister truly enjoys a little liquid-induced rock around the Christmas tree.)
This year, my mother and father will actually host our annual brunch in a new location: Bhopal, India. India!! Our parents have officially ditched us for warmer winds so Stuti and I are now left to fend for ourselves through the savage, take-no-prisoner war zones also known as the American grocery aisles. What’s a girl to do?
Cranberries are a holiday staple. And I figure, why not be all pinky-in-the-sky fancy and make scones? A scone is in some senses a pastry since it is made with essentially the same ingredients as shortcrust but with different proportions of fat to flour. The Brits sometimes make their scones savory with cheese, bacon, dill, or ham, but Kate Middleton’s persistently flawless hair renders her and her nation untrustworthy and I therefore condone no such madness.
Regarding my Jewish mother-style guilt trip to my parents above, don’t worry. I am not fooled. Chunna masala on Christmas morning is no cinnamon French toast, thanks very much, and I know that you, Mom and Dad, will miss us come the 25th. Rest assured, though, your daughters on the other side of the world may or may not miss you too.
Thank you for all that you have given us and all that you do.
A very happy holiday season from my family to yours.
Ingredients (makes 16 scones)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Use your fingers to pinch the butter into the flour mixture; when done, they should resemble bread crumbs.
- Combine the eggs and heavy cream in a small bowl. Slowly mix into the dry ingredients.
- Add the dried cranberries. If dough is too sticky, add whole wheat flour, one tbsp. at a time, until the dough resembles modeling clay.
- Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and roll out until 1/4 inch thick and rectangular. Cut into 16 squares.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fold the squares in half to make triangles and coat in an egg wash and sugar. Bake about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Prak Malhotra is a RC in Section C. Her idol is Ina Garten and her dream is to own a house in Northern Vermont where she can spend her time hiking, writing, and selling variations of homemade jams for obscene prices to unsuspecting berry condiment lovers. She is always happy to talk about her recipes and cooking tips and can be reached at [email protected]