Posts tagged USD

Chewy Double Almond Cookies

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About 4 months back I got a lovely present from Tracy. I opened it up and found this beautifully aromatic almond paste by Mandelin. Did you know that California is known for its Almonds? Also almonds are not as fattening as Cashews and so I can get away with using it in anything I please. 

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So after months of contemplation(read google search) I decided that I wanted to make something so simple so that I could bring out the flavor in the almond paste. This cookie makes for fantastic snack bites and thanks to the almond paste texture is very pliable.

Okay lets get to the ingredients list. I could almost bet that you’d have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry for sure!

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Ingredients:

Mandelin Premium Almond Paste - 16 ounces

Egg - 1 Large

All purpose flour - 4 Tbsp or 1/4 Cup

Almond slivers - This is optional and I used it to add extra crunch and texture to the chewy cookies.

Please, please, pleeeease use the almond paste as soon as you open up the box. I waited a few days and the top of the paste started to dry up and that is sacrilege to something so beautiful.

In a clean glass bowl, add the almond paste and beat slightly to break it up.

Now add the egg and continue to beat till it mixes well and forms into a smooth thick batter consistency.

Add the flour a little at a time and mix well to form a cookie dough consistency.

Depending on the almond paste, the amount of egg and the ambient temperature you might need a little more/less dough. 

Cover the bowl or wrap the dough with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour atleast. 

Before you are ready to bake, take the dough out and let it come to room temperature.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.

Roll the dough into any shape and size you like. I tried a few different types and just made sure that they had the same thickness. Pointer - thin cookies take less time and thick cookies take longer. So maintaining a uniform thickness allows for even cooking or else you will end up with a mix of crunchy and chewy cookies. If thats how you like it though - go for it.

If you want to make these cookies even more ‘almondy’ roll the cookies in some almond slivers and place it on the parchment sheet lined baking tray.

Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. 

Take a peak at your cookies and you will see that they have started to brown slightly and thats about the right time to take them out.

Let the cookies cool completely before you pack it up for later.

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Another thing, you can make your own almond paste at home - blanch almonds, take off skin and grind to a smooth paste and add as much sugar as you’d like. I have done this and the only thing different is that you will have to add almond flavor and add more flour because the home made paste is going to be more liquid. 

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I hope you give these a try and enjoy them :)

Till next time. And a huge shoutout to Tracy for introducing me to this wonderful pantry must have…

The mystery behind Achappams

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As a south Indian I grew up eating these for snacks - Achappams - crispy, light, slightly sweet and fun! It wasn’t until recently that I found out that they were called Rosettes out here. 

*Update: I just found out that these are also called Chinese Pretzels! Thank you Tracy!

So I jumped at the chance and got myself the molds from Kitchen Collection and didn’t wait too long to give it a try. While making them though I found that there are a lot of nuances that you need to make a note of as you go along. For example the mold has to be hot but not too hot, the batter a certain consistency, the mold dipped to a certain height - not too deep, not too shallow, the oil should not be too hot, you need to change the heat as you make it to make it more crispy. Notes I compiled so I could share it with you.

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First lets look at the ingredients you’ll need:

All purpose Flour - 1 Cup

Rice Flour - 4 Tbsp

Egg - 1 large beaten

Milk - 1/2 Cup

Water - 1 Cup

Sugar - 2 Tbsp or 3 if you like it really sweet.

Salt - 1 pinch or 1/8th Tsp

Flavouring : I used cardamom powder but you can use vanilla essence if you like or strawberry or any other flavor you like.

Natural colouring if you prefer it that way.

Oil for Frying - About 1.5 to 2 Cups . A note on the oil I used. I’ve been experimenting with grapeseed oil recently and because of its high smoking point, I’d definitely recommend it. But please feel free to use vegetable oil, canola oil or coconut oil or shortening.

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     In a glass bowl add the beaten egg, the flours and start mixing. Add milk and water and mix to a smooth ‘pancake’ batter like consistency. There should not be any lumps.

     Add the sugar, salt, flavour and color and mix well. What I did to avoid lumps is to give the mix a quick beat with a hand mixer.

     Heat oil in a preferably deep bottom, wide mouthed sauce pan. To test if the oil is ready just add a drop of the batter to it and it should sizzle and rise up immediately.

     Now join the mold to the holder and place it in the oil for about 10-15 seconds. Pat the excess oil off onto a paper towel and gently dip the mold into the batter. The mold should go in about 3/4th of the way. So when you dip it into the batter you should be able to see the top of the mold.

     Now dip the mold into the oil for about 10-15 seconds. The batter will start to sizzle and fall off the mold when you gently shake the mold. If it doesn’t come off that easy use a wooden skewer to separate the batter from the mold. I have a quick video here

     Now reduce the heat and let it brown a bit. The low heat allows the achappams to turn crispy. After about 30 seconds turn the achappam over and let the other side brown as well. 

     Use a skewer and transfer the achappams onto some kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil. 

     Keep in an airtight container and serve with tea!

I’ve been away far too long but here’s wishing you all a lovely year ahead!

           Happy 2014 Peepal!

This, that and persimmons

I never realized how much I would grow to love these weird tomato-ish looking fruit in such a short time. Mostly it was used for juicing with the juicing buddies and the fruit came straight from their family gardens. Recently a neighbor dropped by and game me some because, she said, her brother in law gave her so many, she didn’t know what to do with them all. I decided I’d make Persimmon Jam and then use that in a puff pastry! How ingenious is that! 

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Also I have been waiting a week for these beauties to ripen a bit more. Would it be weird if I offered some of the jam to the kind lady that gave me the fruit in the first place?

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I have been trying out puff pastry bite size dessert ideas for sometime now. Apricot preserve, Pumpkin butter, pineapple jam, strawberry preserve, orange marmalade, chocolate sauce, cheese, spinach - you name it. In India I used to love the egg puff although not as much the mess it made while eating though. And i think that is one of my main reasons to make them bite size - no mess. These can be devoured by the dozen, can be made healthy(using whole wheat puff pastry) and are fast and easy to make as well.

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I obviously had to pinterest all the little bite size treats i could. And I almost got lost deciding what I wanted to make. Finally i decided on giving these a try with what I had on hand before I went and splurged on fillings.

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Pretty simple, right? These are as simple and straightforward as they look. The prep time is about 15 minutes and the cook time - about 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold, they are definitely a treat to the eye and the tastebuds.

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Preheat oven to 375 F. Get puff pastry at the grocery store and thaw for about 10 minutes. Cut into desired shape and bake for 25-30 minutes. If you like to add egg wash to the top of the puff pastry, thats a good touch as well.

Once done, use a fork or your hand to make a small depression in the middle and add any pre-made topping you like!

2 notes 

Olan

One of the simplest and healthiest dishes I’ve made. This vegetable literally takes care of itself. Olan is about simple ingredients, involves a simple cooking process and has a very rich flavor…

Cut up the winter melon, green chillies, ginger. Add curry leaves, salt, 1 tsp coconut milk and water and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes or till it comes to a boil.

You’ll know its done when the melon pieces turn translucent. If you like taste it  now and add salt if needed.

Turn off heat and stir in another tablespoon of coconut milk. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

1 note 

Brussels sprouts for the (R)oomie

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For some odd reason I don’t like any fruit or vegetable that is deemed healthy. Turns out my ‘homies’ - Mom and (R)oomie are the complete opposite. A visit to a steak house where the chef kindly served up a huge vegetarian platter to (R)oomie who was the only vegetarian in the group, turned him into an instant Brussels sprouts lover.

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The next few days were spent listening to (R)oomie praise the chef and his brussels sprouts - how perfectly tender they were and how well the flavor was captured with simple ingredients. Gritting my teeth, I got out and bought some from Wholefoods, cleaned em up, blanched them for a full 6 minutes.

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Let cold water run over it and drained it. Heated 1/2 a Tbsp of butter and roasted the blanched brussels sprouts with salt and pepper for another 10 minutes.

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I love how blanching retains the lovely color of the veggies!

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Roasted to our perfection. I even tasted some of it! At least my phobia of cooking these troublesome veggies has been conquered. 

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An omelette a day…

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I love kitchen gadgets… When I get them as a gift I adore them so much more… Recently Mark came home and surprised us with a bag of goodies. I couldn’t wait to open it up and was so pleasantly surprised to see that it had to do with my favourite place - the kitchen!!!

The ball whisk was one of the gadgets and I am completely in love with it. I’ve used it so many many times in the past two weeks that I am sure if the whisk could speak it would ask for some time off…

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I’ve mostly used it to make omelettes and crepes(oats dosa that is)…

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I kept taking the whisk around trying to get the perfect shot… I dont believe I’ve done it justice though.

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Sometimes you just gotta keep trying… Have I mentioned previously how much I love eggs? This wasn’t always the case. A long long time ago when I was all but 10, I cracked open an egg and suddenly had no appetite foe it for a good 5 years… I slowly brought it back into my diet although I still have nightmares about cracking open an egg and not liking what I see inside.

That little story aside - I enjoy eggs hardboiled, as a french toast and also in a tomato based curry but mostly I just enjoy it the plain old way - in an indian omelette.

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Ingredients:

3 eggs at room temperature 

Tomato - 1/4 Cup

Onion - 1/4 Cup

Curry leaves - a few leaves finely cut

Turmeric power - 1 generous pinch

Paprika powder - 1/4 Tsp (or according to taste. Feel free to substitute with pepper)

Salt to taste

Whisk  up the eggs and add the above ingredients and miss well. Heat a pan/skillet and spray some canola oil and pour out half the mixture spreading the veggies evenly on the surface. Cook on medium high for about 2 min and then toss to cook the other side. 

Serve hot with crusty toast for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This makes about two 6 inch omelettes. 

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Finger licking food…
How this post came about:
     About 3-4 dys ago I saw Sala’s facebook update about her interview with mrsmakicooks and to be very honest I was curious to hear her voice. So I listened and enjoyed it. Towards the end she surprised me with a simple yet delicious sounding recipe with tofu. You can find the original detailed recipe with gorgeous pictures here…
I tweaked the recipe because I didnt have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Get some extra firm tofu and drain it and press it to get as much water out of it as possible.

Slice it up into thin triangles.

Heat your favourite cast iron skillet and roast the tofu evenly on both sides. I roasted 5-6 pieces at a time. You are welcome at add some oil if you like. I skipped it.

Keep aside as you get ready to prepare the glaze.

Mix together 2 Tbsps of Soy sauce(low sodium), 1 generous Tbsp of Red pepper jelly, 1 tsp of chili garlic sauce and 1 tsp of honey or brown sugar. Keep aside.

Turn the heat back on and add the tofu and the glaze and let simmer for about 5 min. Take the tofu out into a serving dish and turn off the heat. Let the excess glaze remain in the skillet.

Garnish with coriander and serve warm.

To make it a complete meal boil some water and add soba noodles and let soak for about 8 minutes. Drain and add to the remaining glaze in the skillet. Toss around so the noodles soak in the glaze. 

Enjoy! Off this goes to Presto Pasta Nights after a really long time! Heather of Girlichef is hosting PPN #270.
P.S: I totally enjoyed instagraming at night :)

Finger licking food…

How this post came about:

     About 3-4 dys ago I saw Sala’s facebook update about her interview with mrsmakicooks and to be very honest I was curious to hear her voice. So I listened and enjoyed it. Towards the end she surprised me with a simple yet delicious sounding recipe with tofu. You can find the original detailed recipe with gorgeous pictures here

I tweaked the recipe because I didnt have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Get some extra firm tofu and drain it and press it to get as much water out of it as possible.

Slice it up into thin triangles.

Heat your favourite cast iron skillet and roast the tofu evenly on both sides. I roasted 5-6 pieces at a time. You are welcome at add some oil if you like. I skipped it.

Keep aside as you get ready to prepare the glaze.

Mix together 2 Tbsps of Soy sauce(low sodium), 1 generous Tbsp of Red pepper jelly, 1 tsp of chili garlic sauce and 1 tsp of honey or brown sugar. Keep aside.

Turn the heat back on and add the tofu and the glaze and let simmer for about 5 min. Take the tofu out into a serving dish and turn off the heat. Let the excess glaze remain in the skillet.

Garnish with coriander and serve warm.

To make it a complete meal boil some water and add soba noodles and let soak for about 8 minutes. Drain and add to the remaining glaze in the skillet. Toss around so the noodles soak in the glaze. 

Enjoy! Off this goes to Presto Pasta Nights after a really long time! Heather of Girlichef is hosting PPN #270.

P.S: I totally enjoyed instagraming at night :)

4 notes 

Kulfi & Ice-cream with cherry preserve topping!

(R)oomie and I have been having ice-cream cravings on and off. The Magnum ice-cream ads don’t help either. I called up Amma and asked her for her ice-cream recipes and it’s been like 15 years since she made some at home and so she had to get her recipe book out. She has made tons of egg-less ice-cream for me especially when we were living in Kuwait and she had all the time to experiment with food - elaichi, pistachios, mango, plain vanilla, chocolate, you name it!

Btw just FYI I love Chocolate ice-cream with chocolate chips(belgium chocolate helps) and drizzled with chocolate syrup.

Her recipes are like her - simple and straightforward, plus point is that the ingredients are readily/easily available. I did a bit of googling for the ice-cream recipes and it seemed way too complex for me and the ice-cream maker(i didn’t want to be ‘buying’ that) was a huge turn-off. Since she had to dig out her recipe book, I decided to work on it based on my taste-buds. I remember how she used to beat up the mixture in the blender and freeze it and beat it up again, freeze and repeat till the ice-cream was smooth and creamy.

My ice-cream recipe has just 3 ingredients

*)     Whipping cream - 1 Pint/473ml (Ultra pasteurized Grade A)

**)   Condensed milk - 1 Can/14 Oz/396gms (@room temperature)

***) Pure Vanilla Extract - 1 Tsp

****) White food colouring - completely optional, if you like the ice-cream to have a snow-white colour add a drop or two.

Using a hand mixer, I whipped the whipping cream on high for 5-6 minutes or till whipping consistency is reached in a large glass mixing bowl. Add the condensed milk and vanilla extract (and food colouring if using) and combine. scrap the sides with a rubber spatula and combine again. DO NOT over-beat after you add the condensed milk because the cream kinda breaks up and the creamy texture is lost(trust me I tried!). Cover the mixing bowl with a plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour.

Take out the semi-frozen mixture and beat again on medium high for 2 minutes. Make sure you scrap the sides because the sides freeze up first. Cover again with the plastic wrap and freeze for atleast 4 hours or over night.

Serve a scoop topped with some homemade cherry preserve or a topping of your choice.

As I was making the ice-cream on one side I kinda got temped to make some kulfi too. And since I was going the simple way I decided to try and use just 3 ingredients here too.

Kulfi:

Whole Milk - 2 Cups

Sugar - 2 Tbps

Cardamom - 2 whole

Boil the milk till it reduces to less than 1/2 its quantity. You can replace this with evaporated milk too which you can find in the baking section of your grocery store. The boiling takes time and patience and needs you right by its side. Once the milk has reduced, add the sugar and mix well. Add the cardamom and let it boil for some a few more minutes to absorb the flavour. Take off heat and let it cool completely. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.

To take out the kulfi from the mould, simply dip the mould in warm water for a few second and gently pull. You can experiment with almond extract or any other flavour of your choice.

I was inspired to make cherry preserve after I saw this post at the Cilantropist. I followed the recipe to the dot. Don’t you just wish you had that cherry pitter-it took me ages & ages to get the cherries ready. 

I’ve previously tried Plum Preserve, Nectarine preserve & Golden Raspberry preserve… and even some strawberry preserve!

9 notes 

Parmesan Omelette with oven roasted Asparagus

This happens to be my lunch atleast once a week. An easy omelette with some cheese and any available veggie oven roasted. Simple? Another one to add to the Uniquely Simple Dish list. Do you realy need the recipe? Actually since some work did go into making it, let’s just put it down here, no?

I had been to the animal shelter on friday and there during lunch hour my Volunteer liason offered to share her pizza with me. I had to refuse because it had meat in it and I told her so. SHe immediately looked at me and said ‘I LOVE animals, you know…’. I replied saying ‘You LOVE THEM A LOT, I can see that’… It was the ice breaker ;)

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Cauliflower souffle

Baking is turning out to be a blessing in disguise for me. Tasty, healthy and half the work! So less kitchen time and yet the results are uniquely tasty experiments. Works for me :)

I’ve been hesitant to buy veggies that require a lot of cleaning time and end up taking the same amount of time to cook. Veggies like Cauliflower and Carrots for example. I’ll come up with other examples later but for now enjoy this tasty treat for an evening snack.

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