Ina’s Ginger Cookies

August 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

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Gingery and spicy – this is the perfect accompaniment for a cup of lemon tea. I was planning to serve this along with along side white hot chocolate, but this ginger cookie is sweet enough in itself that it needs something to mellow the sweetness rather than add to it.

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This is the first of Ina Garten’s recipes I have tried – and it was great! The spices and ginger provides a nice counterpoint to the sugar and its soft chewy cookie- the kind I like best. I baked this yesterday and its still soft and chewy :).

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Ingredients
(from the http://www.foodnetwork.com)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.
  • Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 3/4-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Heath Bar Tiramisu

May 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Blasphemy Alert) .. Have you ever eaten a good Tiramisu .. not over–soaked, mushy or anything of that sort, but still wanted for some texture to offset the creamy coffee ‘goodness’ that it is? At the risk of being at the receiving end of much outrage from Tiramisu purists -I admit I have. And have you loved Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry’s? That’s what got me thinking of a Heath Bar Tiramisu  – and all was well with the world for 5 minutes. Seriously, that’s all it takes to eat one of these slices.IMG_3498

Coffee, Chocolate and Caramel Crunch –  you can’t really go wrong with that flavor combination right?. I adapted the recipe from the recipe for Tiramisu included with a packet of Balocco brand ladyfingers. Maybe the next time I’ll try make the lady fingers at home as well. I swapped out the marsala wine, typically used in Tiramisu for Godiva chocolate liqueur, and changed up the ratios a teeny bit. And of course added crushed heath bar pieces between the layers and just before serving, a sprinkling on top as well along with the cocoa. The pieces that I added between the layers softened during the refrigeration to add a slight caramel undertone. Yum!IMG_3495

Ingredients:

450 gm. (8.75 Oz) Mascarpone Cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
4+2 tbsps. chocolate liqueur (I used Godiva)
1 7.05oz package of lady fingers
2 Heath Bars, crushed
1 1/3cup espresso (I used instant espresso powder)
3 tbsps. Cocoa

  • Separate the eggs. In a double boiler, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until frothy . Take care to ensure that the eggs are not heated too much (We don’t want scrambled eggs!).
  • Mix in the mascarpone cheese
  • Whip the egg white to stiff peaks, and fold into the mixture.
  • Add 4 tbsps. of the chocolate liqueur and mix into a smooth cream.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the coffee and remaining 2 tbsps. of chocolate liqueur
  • In the dish of choice, I used a spring form pan to make serving easier, spread a layer of cream. Soak the ladyfingers in coffee, turning them on both sides,  and then line them on top of the cream. Pour another layer of cream over the ladyfingers and top with crush heath bars and coffee soaked ladyfingers. Finish with another layer of cream.
  • Refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and at best overnight. Sprinkle the top with more crushed heath bars, dust with cocoa and serve!

Eggs Coddled in Tomato Drenched Bread

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

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I seem to write way too often ( or, as often as ‘way too often’ can be for a 7-post young/old blog) about breakfast/lunch on a Saturday or Sunday. But that said, this was in fact brunch earlier today. And a very satisfying and relatively guilt free brunch at that.

I had for the longest time (since 2007 to be exact), heard about how good San Marzano tomatoes were for making sauces. But one way or the other, I had not, managed to try them for myself. So, the other day, I finally bought a can of San Marzano tomatoes and I wanted to use it in a dish where the tomatoes were to be the star. The first thing that came to mind was Pappa al Pomodoro, a Tuscan tomato soup thickened with bread and flavored with basil, garlic and loads of olive oil. However, I was looking to make breakfast/ brunch on a Saturday, and a tomato soup somehow did not have the necessary “hmmm, Saturday morning brunch bliss” value. So, I made a tomato onion garlic sauce very similar to Pappa al Pomodoro, poured it over day old bread which soaked up the yummy goodness, and coddled a couple of eggs in the tomato bread mixture. What is brunch without eggs after all!IMG_3454

And here is the detailed version of the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 28-Ounce can of whole tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes)
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup (plus more to taste) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 stalks of basil leaves
1/2 of a day-old baguette
4 eggs
Salt and Crushed red chili flakes, to taste
Sugar, to taste

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottom pan. Add the onions and sauté on medium heat until translucent, with a little salt and crushed red chili flakes.
  • Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand and add the tomatoes and their juices into the pan. Add salt and a little sugar (to cut the tartness of the tomatoes) to taste. Remove the basil leaves from the stalk and add the stalk to the pan as well. Simmer on medium heat in a covered pan for about 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning, and remove the basil stalks. Chiffonade the basil leaves and add to the sauce.
  • Generously brush another heavy bottom skillet with oil. Roughly tear the bread into bite site pieces and add to the skillet. Pour the sauce over the bread until the bread is soaked and there is a little liquid in the pan to cook the eggs. The amount of tomato sauce required will vary depending on how dry the bread used is. Set aside for 5 minutes so that the sauce is absorbed into the bread. Brush the top with olive oil.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350C. Crack four eggs into skillet and place in oven until the eggs are cooked to desired doneness. Garnish with basil leaves. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if desired.

Happy as a Mussel?

April 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Why is it “happy as a clam” and not “happy as a mussel”? It would have made the title to this post so much better if the latter was the phrase .. so inconvenient ;). But this was lunch today – and these plump, juicy treasures in a creamy sauce made me fairly happy.

Growing up, though we regularly had fish, we never really ate mussels. So, I was slightly wary about mussels, but so many people seemed to love these elegantly beautiful shellfish, and the photos were so beautiful that I just had to try them. So, last week I ordered mussels in a restaurant, but was sorely disappointed – all that I could taste was the salt.

A quick Google search later that day showed how easy these were to prepare. So, this weekend, I got a bag of mussels, and cooked them with flavors that I know I like – garlic, coconut and green chilies for a spicy kick.IMG_3439

And here is how I did it. In a pan, I sautéed 4 finely diced red pearl onions, 1 large garlic clove chopped and two green chilies (chopped) in a tablespoon of oil (and salt of course!) for about a minute. Then I added a skinned tomato, roughly chopped  and let it cook on a medium flame until the tomatoes melted to make a sauce. Then I added about a 1/4 cup of water, and 1/2 a pound of cleaned mussels to the pan, and let it steam (covered) till all the mussels opened up. Next, I added a quarter cup of coconut milk, and a dash of vinegar. Brought it back to a simmer, adjusted seasoning and garnished it with chopped Cilantro. And Voila – Chili Garlic Mussels in Coconut sauce! (or ‘Easy Deliciousness’ – seriously, both names are descriptive of the dish)IMG_3439

Spicy Mango Salad

March 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Somehow the theme today has been ‘yellow’ – a happy, bright and cheerful yellow.  A reminder that spring is around the corner. I picked up the yellow roses that you see in the picture on the left from the store today morning and they looked so pretty in a bowl on the window sill that I just had to post a picture… don’t they look pretty?

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One of the Thai restaurants that we frequently go to has a delicious spicy mango salad on their menu. This salad is drawn from that. The salad dressing is a mixture of chopped green chilies, honey and vinegar… yes, regular vinegar.  And, of course salt. I used 1 green chili, 2 tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of vinegar. This is pretty spicy, so adjust to taste.IMG_3321

Make the salad dressing first and set it aside before chopping the rest of the ingredients – that will give the chilies, vinegar and honey a little time to get to know each other. Then, peel and chop the mangoes. Firm mangoes which are not fully ripe, but just a pale yellow works best here.

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Slice the mango into strips. Add a few slices of red onions followed by some cleaned and washed arugula.

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Toss with the dressing. Add roasted cashew nuts, and dig in :)IMG_3356

Browned Noodles

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

This was Saturday lunch about a week ago… and then Sunday dinner, and I have since been looking for snow peas each time I am in the supermarket. So you see – though it was just thrown together from what I had on hand the first time I made it, it has been quite a hit with us.

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And frankly, it fits the bill quite perfectly for Saturday lunch (or a weekday dinner) – it is quick and easy to make, the ingredient list is short and easy on the conscience (its whole wheat spaghetti after all), and really tasty as well!

Talking about the ingredient list – I was cooking with what I had on had. So this dish combines sushi vinegar, oyster sauce and oregano. I admit these are unusual together, but it works and tastes great!!

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This is more a method and not really a recipe. What makes this bowl of noodles really special is the slightly browned noodles and the crunchy crisp vegetables – therefore, so long as one does not skimp on step 7 and don’t overcook the veggies, this dish will be a winner.

And here is how to make your own bowl of Browned Noodles:

1. Cook whole wheat spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain and toss the cooked noodles in a little oil. Set aside for about 15 minutes so that the water on the surface of the spaghetti strands dry out a little.
2. In the meantime, cut vegetables into thin strips.
3. Season cleaned and deveined shrimp with salt and red chili flakes. Brush a cast iron skillet over medium high heat with oil. Cook the shrimp and place in a large bowl.
4. Add the beans to the skillet. Season with salt and chili flakes. Give it just about the minute. The beans should no longer taste raw, but should be crisp and bright green. Remove from pan into the bowl with the shrimp.
5. Next add the carrots –and follow the same procedure. Remove carrots to the bowl once are slightly softened.
6. Add a tablespoon of oil to the same skillet and add chopped garlic (about 2-3 cloves) and bit of oregano. Take care not to burn the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the cooked spaghetti from Step 1 and toss to coat the noodles with the garlic and oregano.
7. ** Let the spaghetti sit undisturbed in the pan until the noodles in direct contact with the skillet is slightly browned.** THIS IS IMPORTANT, so don’t rush.
8. Toss the spaghetti with oyster sauce and sushi vinegar (yes… I mean sushi vinegar). Transfer to the bowl and toss with the vegetables and the shrimp. Adjust seasoning.

Chocolate Swirl Bread

February 27, 2011 § 5 Comments

Pssst… People…. I have discovered it – the perfect antioxidant rich breakfast that should be part of a balanced diet – CHOCOLATE SWIRL BREAD.  IMG_3229

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I eat it for the abundant antioxidants ;) – and pretty please, you should too…for the antioxidants, ofcourse. These things are important.

It is also deeply darkly chocolaty – but THAT is just incidental.

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I made the bread last night and we had it for breakfast today morning–  comfortingly chocolaty, but not too sweet. I had it with a cup of cold milk, warmly ensconced on the couch in front of the TV. Ah.. Saturday mornings with antioxidant rich breakfasts ;) .. sigh.. love… bliss….

Next time, I might make small braided rolls (with the added cuteness value), and skip the loaf entirely.

And here is how I made it.

Ingredients:
For the dough:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
1 1/2 +1/4 cup all purpose flour
For the filling:
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
1tbsp instant espresso granules
Water (enough to make a paste)

  • Combine the water, milk and sugar in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 20-30 seconds. Stir to dissolve the sugar. The mixture should be warm (and not hot!) to touch. If not microwave for a few seconds more as necessary. Sprinkle yeast over the liquid mixture; let stand until foamy, for about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set aside one tablespoon of the egg. Whisk the remaining beaten egg and salt into the liquid + yeast mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, measure out 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture will be very sticky. But if too watery, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour slowly. Mix well to avoid any lumps – this takes about 5-6 minutes.
  • Incorporate 2 tbsp of room temperature butter into the sticky dough mixture. I used my hands to do so.
  • Oil/Butter a large bowl. Turn the dough into the bowl (including all the dough sticking to your fingers if you used your hands in step 4). Turn dough once in the bowl to coat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel/cling wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise. The dough will double in about an hour (depending on the temperature). Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and knead for about 7 minutes to form a soft, pliable dough. Transfer it back to the bowl, cover with clean kitchen towel/cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for another hour.
  • Finely chop the chocolate or break it into pieces and pulse in a food processor. Turn the chocolate mixture into a bowl and combine well with the 2 tbsps of sugar and butter, to form a slightly sticky mixture.
  • Generously butter one 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Combine the tbsp of egg set aside in Step 2 above with one tbsp of water to make an egg wash.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 12 by 16 inch rectangle, the dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. Brush edges with the egg wash. Spread the chocolate mixture on the the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border on the two shorter sides and one of the longer sides.
  • Roll the dough up tightly, starting at the longer side without the 1/4 inch border (like a jam/jelly roll). Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Tear off the ends without the chocolate filling. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Cover with clean towel and let stand in a warm place until it puffs up (about 30 minutes)
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash. Bake the loaf for about 25 minutes or until the tops are well browned. Take the pan out of the oven and tent loosely with foil. Place the pan back into the oven and bake for another 25 minutes or until a tester/skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean – I.e., without any raw dough sticking to the tester, the chocolate will melt and might stick to the tester/skewer.