Day into night at home / 11
A dose of celebration for cooking at home!
Welcome to Day Into Night at home if you are new,
and if you’ve been here a while, hi!
This week the main event is really dessert, but I will start at the beginning with a salad of shaved Brussel sprouts, apple, and hazelnuts— one last crunchy visit with Winter before Spring arrives.
The main course is a cod and potato chowder with coconut milk and ginger. Fish soups are delicious this time of year when we are dreaming of Spring and feel it nearing. The coconut milk makes for a chowder that feels lighter than the traditional ones, but at its core remains a warm and hearty dish. Fish stew with coconut milk is a very old school Puerto Rican dish eaten this time of year for lent. This one is not traditional but I gleaned my inspiration from there. The amount of fish may seem like a lot, but trust me, you will want two bowls. A little warm crusty bread with the chowder is a welcomed, but not necessary, addition.
At last dessert— Calas, a type of rice donut. They are served with a coffee cardamom sauce, that I liken to a runny pot de creme, to dip them in. These donuts were one of the first desserts I ever put on a menu when I became a pastry chef. The chef I worked with at the time had spent a lot of time cooking in New Orleans, and he was the one who first told me about them.
Calas have a Ghanaian origin and became part of Louisina cuisine during the Code Noir era of slavery. The Code Noir was a decree that defined the conditions of slavery during French colonial times. Calas were sold by freed slaves and also by slaves who under the decree had one day off a week, and were able to buy their freedom if they had the money to do so. Often sold by women as street food, calas provided a way to earn money. I share this bit of history with you, not to gloss over any part of the atrocities of that time by painting a story of freed slaves and slaves buying their freedom, but because I think the origins of these fritters hold a quiet magic in them.
I've wanted to share this recipe with you since day one of Day Into Night at home because it's near and dear to my heart. But to make a donut is to fry a donut, and maybe like me, you don’t enjoy frying food at home. Nonetheless, humor me, I promise these donuts are special.
I never had a recipe to go on while making my version of calas, or for that matter, I had never eaten one, so my version is not the traditional one. I made it up from all I heard and read, and lucked out in mixing a dough that was light and tasty.
I have always felt that New Orleans and Puerto Rico, where I am from, share many similarities— a geographical predisposition to devastating hurricanes, a rich diasporic movement of people, sugar, rum, food that is deeply influenced by African cuisine, and a similar tempo when it comes to celebration, though each in its own unique way. With this idea, that celebration has a tempo, let's find our own at home, press play on this week’s music, and lean into the quiet magic of donuts, which in our case comes from the simple pleasure of eating warm, freshly fried dough made by our own hands.
press play on the playlist
make the rice pudding—
take 1/4 cup of coconut milk from the can you're using for the chowder
make the pot de creme
make the orange sugar
clean up a little
Cook the chowder
clean up a little
make the donut dough
make the salad
clean up a little
fry the donuts
Let music create atmosphere.
Listen to our curated playlist on Spotify.