P is for Paprika and Roasted Cumin Cheddar Stars

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Loads of stars are about to peep out of my oven, so I’ve got my list of wishes ready and waiting. Have you wished upon a star before? What wishes do you want your stars to bring you?   INGREDIENTS: … Continue reading

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O is for Orange and oat cookies

Citrus, oats and almonds come together beautifully to make these chewy and flavourful cookies. Perfect to munch on when you want to ponder life or simply natter with some friends at a picnic.

The original recipe is from Kathleen King’s ‘Tate’s Bake Shop cookbook’. I have modified it to leave out a few ingredients like Crisco (which is not available here) and coconut (not sure about this in a cookie) and to add in almonds which I love.

I have also upped the vitamin C quotient – nothing says ‘Spring is here!’ better than citrus can. Well, at least I think so.

Chewy orange and oat cookies

Chewy orange and oat cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons ground almonds

Method
1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4 (350 F). Grease and paper a baking tray.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients, except the walnuts and ground almonds.
3. Combine the butter, orange juice and zest and the egg. When it is all well mixed, add this to the dry mixture. Combine well. Now add the nuts and mix till they are all nicely incorporated.
4. Drop this cookie mixture onto the baking tray using a large spoon.
5. Bake till the edges are golden, about 10-12 minutes.
6. Cool the cookies.
7. Eat them all in about 30-45 minutes (it’s possible!) or store them in an airtight jar.

Lacy and crunchy edges with a satisfyingly chewy centre

Lacy and crunchy edges with a satisfyingly chewy centre

Notes and musings:

  1. Very basic ingredients but the combination is a winner.
  2. I love the walnuts – they offer a wonderful base note.
  3.  This makes about 24 cookies. You could always make them smaller and get more of them.
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N is for Naan bread

Usually, I am pretty good in choosing a healthy whole wheat roti or chapati when I eat out, but occasionally I like to indulge in these pillowy, white and inviting naans.

They are perfect for soaking up curries and daals, but if, like me, you can’t resist fresh, hot bread, these are equally delicious to munch on their own with a smidgen of melting butter.

I’ve always wanted to try these at home but I thought I needed a special clay oven to do that. Noted chef Anjum Anand has dispelled that myth with her recipe for Instant Naans, replicated here. Take a bow, Anjum, you’ve certainly made my day.

This makes 6 medium sized naans.

Ingredients:

300 grams plain flour, extra for dusting

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda bicarb

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

4 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons plain yoghurt

85-90 mls of water

15-20 grams melted butter, extra for brushing over the naans

Hot buttered naan

Hot buttered naan

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to Gas 9 (475 F), higher , if your oven permits. I know, these are almost furnace temperatures we’re talking about!

2. Place a baking tray in the oven to preheat.

3. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add in the wet ingredients and the water.

4. Mix well with your hands and knead to a smooth dough.

5. Roll out the naans about 3/4 cm thick, using more flour, if required.

6. Place 2-3 naans on the hot baking sheet.  (I did this in 3 batches of 2 each).

7. Cook for 4-6 minutes until the upper surface is dotted with crispy brown spots.

8. Remove from the oven and brush with the extra butter.

9. Serve hot.

Hot, pillowy and very satisfying

Hot, pillowy and very satisfying

 

A satisfied belly and a happy soul – what more could you ask for?

Notes:

1. Keep a couple of plates handy. One to keep the rolled out naans and the other to transfer the hot naans.

2. Keep a pair of oven gloves and tongs handy. These can help you work efficiently and safely. That’s a very hot oven!

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

M is for Mustard and Honey Chicken

So today, we take a break from desserts and nibbles and focus on the main course. If you’re in a panic for Easter lunch ideas, this might help. It’s simple enough to take the holiday stress away and delicious enough to have people asking for seconds.

It has been inspired by the Barefoot Contessa’s Parmesan chicken and a host of other recipes, all combined into one.

This serves 2 but can easily be multiplied.

Mustard and Honey Chicken

Mustard and Honey Chicken

 

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, pounded into evenly flat fillets

3/4 teaspoon each pepper and salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon each

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons mustard

2 cups bread crumbs

3/4 cup parmesan

3 tablespoons oil

Method:

1. Rub the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Marinate them in the honey and mustard for 3-4 hours. I prefer to leave it overnight for the flavours to soak right in.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet. Simultaneously, preheat the oven to Gas 5 (400 F).

3. Mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon each of pepper and salt.

4. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumbs mixture and make sure they are well coated on both sides.

5. Sauté them for about 3-4 minutes on each side until you have a golden crust.

6. Drain on paper towels and then place them on lightly greased baking trays.

7. Bake the chicken fillets in the oven for another 8-10 minutes until the chicken is well done and you get a crispy coating.

7. Sprinkle with extra parmesan, if you’re a cheese junkie like I am.

8. Serve hot with a large helping of salad on the side.

Note:

1. This recipe can be modified to suit vegetarian palates and I usually follow the same recipe for a paneer version for the husband.

Mustard and honey paneer

Mustard and honey paneer

2. This is best eaten hot and re-heating is not recommended.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

L is for Leave alone cookies

Yes, it’s true. These cookies practically make themselves – with a little help from their friends.

You may also know them as meringues. Tiny, sweet morsels of delight that melt away on your tongue and make you wonder whether you actually ate them. And that makes you reach for another and yet another…naughty and addictive..and here they are.

Ingredients:

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup caster sugar

a pinch of salt

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Leave alone cookies

Leave alone cookies

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 4 (350 F).

2. Beat the egg whites with the salt until they turn foamy.

3. Add in the sugar, a little at a time and continue beating till you get stiff peaks.

4. Gently add in the vanilla and fold in the walnuts.

5. Using a tablespoon, gently drop these in small mounds onto a parchment lined baking tray.

6. Put the trays in and switch off the oven. Leave the cookies inside overnight. They will cool and turn crisp.

7. Store in airtight containers.

 

 

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K is for Kathi rolls, my way

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Kathi rolls, for the uninitiated, originally referred to kebabs wrapped in a roti or paratha. (Indian flat breads). Similar in concept to a burrito. Over the years, the term Kathi roll has come to represent meat or veggies wrapped in … Continue reading

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Cucumber and Yoghurt raita

This is a very common raita (or dip) in India and it combines two of my favourites – cucumbers and yoghurt. I can eat them at any time of the day or night (as I discovered during my pregnancy). But I digress..

This raita is versatile enough to be a runny raita or a nice thick dip if you use greek yoghurt. The best part? It can be ready in under 5 minutes if the cravings kick in.

Cucumber yoghurt raita with a sprinkling of spices

Cucumber yoghurt raita with a sprinkling of spices

 

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber

100 grams (approx. ) yoghurt

salt to taste

a pinch of paprika (optional)

a pinch of cumin-coriander powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon sugar (also optional)

 

Method:

1. Grate the cucumber. Squeeze out excess water and keep aside.

2. Beat the yoghurt with salt and sugar (if using). Add this to the cucumber.

3. Sprinkle with the spices and serve immediately.

 

Notes:

This is best made just before serving and so it helps that this is a quick no-fuss side.

 

 

 

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Kathi Roll Stuffing

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It doesn’t really matter what you choose to put into your Kathi Roll. It’s a bit like choosing sandwich fillings. Just go with whatever you fancy. If you want anchovies and jam …go for it. It might find a place … Continue reading

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J is for Jammie Dodgers, with a twist

If you like PB&J sandwiches, this cookie is right up your street. That’s right, these are Peanut Butter Jammie Dodgers.

An American slant on a very British cookie!

Jammie Dodgers with Peanut butter

Jammie Dodgers with Peanut butter

Ingredients:

1 quantity Basic Vanilla Cookie dough

2 tablespoons smooth Peanut butter

2 tablespoons Raspberry Jam

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Method:

1. Make the cookie dough as per the instructions in the Basic Vanilla Cookie Dough recipe. Chill the discs of dough in the fridge for an hour or two.

2. Using cookie cutters dipped in flour, cut out the shapes you want.   You will need an even number of cookies to make Jammie Dodgers since these are essentially sandwich cookies. I used a large cookie cutter and then a smaller one to cut out the circles for the cookie rings on top.

3. Bake cookies in a preheated oven at Gas 4 (350 F) as per instructions in the Basic Vanilla Cookie Dough recipe. Once the cookies are done, keep aside to cool.

4. Heat the raspberry jam so that you get the consistency of thick honey. Keep aside. ( It is easier to pipe or spread this on to the cookies rather than straight of out of the jar.)

5. Once the cookies are cool, slather the peanut butter generously over the base cookie. Pipe or drop half a teaspoon of jam on to the centre of the peanut butter. (I prefer to add the jam before placing the second cookie on top to avoid jam smudges. )

5. Dust some powdered sugar over the cut out rings.

Prepping the Jammie Dodgers

Prepping the Jammie Dodgers

6. Sandwich the cookies together and have yourself a Jammie Dodgers afternoon.

Jammie Dodger for tea!

Jammie Dodger for tea!

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I is for Ice Cream Cup cookies

I have never really liked ice cream cones. I eat way too slowly and by the time I am half way through my cone is dripping a sticky mess onto my toes. I have often wondered why ice creams aren’t served in edible cups instead.

I want my ice cream in cookie cups that you can munch on long after the ice cream has gone. I also want them to look like the pretty chocolate dipped waffle cones.

Here is my solution!

Ice cream cup cookies - tah-dah!

Ice cream cup cookies – tah-dah!

Ingredients:

1 quantity Basic Vanilla Cookie dough

6-8 Silicon cup cake moulds

6-8 Cup cake cases

A few spoons of uncooked rice or lentils or ceramic baking beans (as weights)

Method:

This part is similar to making pie crust.

1. Take a small ball of dough and flatten it with your palms. Gently press it into each of the cup cake moulds ensuring that you have an even distribution. Any excess that overflows can be trimmed off with a knife.

2. Place the cup cake cases onto the dough.

3. Chill these for about an hour or two.

4. Pre heat the oven to Gas 4  (350 F) for 10 minutes.

5. Fill the cup cake cases with beans or lentils or rice.

 

Blind baking the cookies

Blind baking the cookies

6. Place in the oven and bake the cookies for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven, then discard the cup cake cases. Prick the base of the cookie with a fork. Return the cookies to the oven, rotating the tray around to ensure even baking.

7.   Continue baking the cookies on their own for another 5-7 minutes. (This is similar to blind baking pie shells.) This will depend on the size of your cookie and also the type of oven you have. Look out for visual cues like the edges turning pink/golden.

Ice cream cup cookies - just baked

Ice cream cup cookies – just baked

8. Once done, cool the cup cookies.

9. Melt some chocolate in a bain marie. Dip the rims of the cookies in the melted chocolate.

10. Cool and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Ice cream cup cookies - with a rim of chocolate

Ice cream cup cookies – with a rim of chocolate

11. Serve with a generous scoop of your favourite ice cream.

 

Dive in!

Dive in!

Notes:

Left over dough can be frozen for the next time you get a craving for vanilla sugar cookies.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments

Basic Vanilla Sugar Cookies

I have been on the look out for those perfect cookies that retain their shape while baking. I have tried many many recipes and while most of them tasted great I wasn’t really happy until I found this one. I have modified this recipe slightly from the original.

These cookies are a treat to make and a joy to eat in whatever size, shape or form. They hold on to the shape really well and you will see them popping up as a base for many more recipes* on my blog.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 145 grams butter, at room temperature.
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

I’ve made half the quantity of the original recipe, increased the quantity of vanilla and also used salted butter, as I usually do.

Method:

1. Sieve the dry ingredients together.

2. Cream the butter and sugar till it is pale, soft and fluffy.

3. Tip in the egg and vanilla extract. Beat for 45 seconds to 1 minute till it is well incorporated.

4. Add in the dry ingredients a little at a time and continue to mix gently till you get a well mixed dough. With a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl where you will usually find some stray bits that haven’t mixed properly.

5. Depending on what you plan to make, you could either roll the dough into a tube (for slice and bake cookies) and freeze it for later or follow steps 6 and 7 below for cookies to be baked on the day.

6. Divide the dough in to two equal halves. Roll one half into a ball and then flatten into a disc. Use the extra flour and roll out the disc into an even thickness.

7. Chill these discs between 2 sheets of parchment paper, for about 2 hours or even overnight.

8. Once the discs are firm, cut out the shapes you want using a cookie cutter that has been dipped in flour.

9. Bake at Gas 4 (350 F) in an oven that has been preheated for about 10 minutes.

10. The cookies will need about 5-7 minutes in the oven, rotate trays and bake for another 5-7 minutes until the edges are pink/golden.

Notes:

1. Chilling the cookies is an important step in helping them retain their shape. The cookies on the right have been chilled, the ones on the left have not. You can see the difference.

Cookies, made from chilled dough (R), cookies from dough at room temperature (L)

Cookies, made from chilled dough (R), cookies from dough at room temperature (L)

2. Two Peas and their Pod have moved on from this blog. You can see many more fascinating recipes at their new site:  http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/

* This Vanilla Sugar cookie dough features as the base for Ice Cream Cup cookies coming up soon.

Posted in Baking, Cookies | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

H is for Hazelnut and Orange Sablés

The size of these Hazelnut and Orange sablés make them perfect for sharing around the table at tea time. Cut them into dainty wedges or break them up with your fingers and lick every last crumb!

This is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe and makes 2 large sablés.

Hazelnut and orange sable

Hazelnut and orange sable

Hazelnut and orange sable wedges

Hazelnut and orange sable wedges

Ingredients:

o   1 1/2 cups hazelnut meal

o   1 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

o   1/2 cup granulated sugar

o   145 grams salted butter, melted and cooled

o   3-4 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

o   2 tablespoons granulated sugar (to make the orange sugar)

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 4 (350 F). Grease and line a baking tray with parchment.

2. In a large mixing bowl, tip in the hazelnut meal and flour. Add the sugar and half of the orange zest ensuring they are at the top of the pile of ingredients. Rub the zest and the sugar with your fingertips until you can smell the citrus and the sugar turns faintly yellow. Mix it up with a fork so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

3. Add in the butter and mix well with your fingers just until the dough comes together and you are able to roll it into a large ball. Divide evenly into 2 equal balls of dough.

4. Using your palms, flatten each ball into a disc. Place the disc on the baking tray and continue to flatten until it is even. Use one palm to flatten the disc while the fingers of the other hand shape the edges to prevent them from cracking. Score the cookie to get equal wedges, but do not cut through it.

5. Now add the 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar into a small bowl. Add in the remaining (about 1.5 – 2 tsp) of the orange zest. As before, rub the sugar and zest together so that the sugar is coloured and the zest releases a lovely citrus-y fragrance. The orange sugar is ready to use.

6. Dust the top of the sablé with the orange sugar and dust some more around the circumference of the cookie.

7. Bake for about 10 minutes. Then rotate the tray from back to front for even baking. Bake for another 10 minutes. The sablé is ready when it turns golden brown and the orange zest is caramelised.

8. Repeat steps 4-7 for the second cookie.

9. Cut the cookie into wedges while it is warm or ‘tear and share’ around a communal table.

Serve with a steaming hot cup of coffee or a lovely Earl Grey.

 

Notes: These are best eaten on the day or store them in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

 

 

Posted in Baking, Cookies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

G is for Granola, crunchy and zesty

I’ve always loved Granola, served with cool yogurt and topped with lots of fruits. I just never got around to making it at home. Now that I have, I doubt store bought granola would make it past our door step again.

Simple, quick, and made with flavours that I love. No more picking those coconut flakes out of my breakfast bowl.

I’ve indulged my love for citrus and gone for an apricot-orange combination.

Eat what you love, love what you eat!, I say.

 

Crunchy orange- apricot granola

Crunchy orange- apricot granola

Ingredients:

2 cups oats

1 cup, chopped almonds

3/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.5 teaspoon all spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup oil

Zest and juice of 1 orange

1 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/4 cup green sweet raisins

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 4 (350 F) for 10 minutes. Grease a baking sheet or baking pan and line with parchment paper. Keep aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, tip in all the dry ingredients (except the apricots and raisins) and mix well.

3. Combine the maple syrup, oil and orange juice and zest and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir well.

4. Spread out the mixture onto the baking pan and pop into the oven.

5. Bake for about 30 – 45 minutes, giving it a stir every 15- 20 minutes so that the granola is evenly crunchy and golden. You can turn off the oven once the granola looks light brown in colour and you can smell the toasted flavours.

6. Now add in the apricots and raisins and mix well.

7. Granola will turn crunchy as it cools. Store in an airtight jar and it should keep well for about 3 weeks. if it lasts that long.

Serving suggestion:

Lots of Greek yogurt or any other thick yogurt, topped with fruit is my favourite way to enjoy a bowl of granola.

You can, of course, go to town with the toppings. I know someone who adds a huge scoop of ice cream to his! Hey, it’s a free country.

Posted in Baking, Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

F is for Figs, oven roasted with honey and cardamom

The decadence of the last week has prompted me to turn to a lighter recipe to kick-start Week 2 of the A-Z Challenge.

Honey is healthy isn’t it? And figs, they count towards 1 of your 5 a day! Healthy box ticked :)

So here they are, oven roasted figs with honey and a gentle kick of spice to liven it up.

Roasted figs with honey and cardamom

Roasted figs with honey and cardamom

Ingredients:

5 -6 figs

2 tablespoons of honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla

seeds from 2 cardamom pods, lightly bashed

1 tablespoon of butter, melted and slightly warm

Method:

1. Quarter the figs by slitting them from stem to base taking care not to cut all the way through.

2. Arrange them tightly in a deep oven proof bowl.

3. Mix together the honey, butter, cardamom seeds and vanilla. Warm the resulting syrup ever so lightly, to release the flavours.

4. Pour this mixture over the figs and bake for about 20 minutes till the figs are soft.

5. Serve warm with creme fraiche or greek yogurt. You could also chill them and serve them as they are.

A perfect end to a summer meal.

Notes:

1. My friends and fellow bloggers in India, this syrup reminds me of the Kismi toffee bars of yore. That declaration probably dates me, but hey, if you loved those little toffees in the red wax paper, you’ll love this confection. :)

2. These don’t store well and are best eaten on the same day.

 

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The A-Z Challenge rolls on : Week 2

Week 1 of the A-Z challenge has been fun – the motto being work hard, play harder. Fun discoveries, new and interesting blogs, some great camaraderie and many new friends.

So, it’s now time to prep for Week 2. And for those of you who are wondering what’s in store here’s the playlist for week 2.

Week 02:  April 07 – 12, 2014 (F-K)

F is for Figs, oven roasted with honey and cardamom

G is for Granola, crunchy and zesty

H is for Hazelnut and Orange Sablés

I is for Ice Cream Cup Cookies  (This has been my experiment of the week!)

J is for Jammie Dodgers (with a twist)

K is for Kathi Rolls, my style

Stay tuned!

My fellow participants, friendly visitors to the blog, family and friends – your comments and feedback make the ride worth it. Thank you!!

If you’d like to see what the other 394 participants of this challenge are up to, click here:  

Posted in Challenges and competitions | Tagged , | 10 Comments