December 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

" It is the most wonderful time of the year " as they say ...and indeed it is ! It is so festive everywhere.. To contribute to all the festivities I have been baking these cookies lately for our  family and friends (yes....read myself ) and I really thought they are super easy to make ! I had got this recipe from a friend who had sent me this Nestle link . Baking can be an awesome stressbuster ! If you have not given it a try still, please do ! You would not regret your decison..Our promise :)

Ingredients :

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup margarine, softened ( I almost never use butter these days for baking cookies.. Just trying to eat healthy ;)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (12 ounce) package  Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped cashews
Directions:
Step 2 : Add eggs one at a time; add dry ingredients to wet ingredients gradually before adding nuts and choco chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt ( dry ingredients) in small bow. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract ( wet ingredients) in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 
  3. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. They are soft when you take them out but gradually hardens perfectly as they cool.



Cookie dough before baking on cookie sheet

Cookies right after took them out of the oven
Merry Christmas to all of you who takes time out of your busy schedule to drop by our blog ! Have a Fantabulous Holiday Season ! And enjoy baking :)

Cookies being cooled on a wire rack

Ajanta from Amherst


'Phulkopir Dalna'- Bengali Style Cauliflower Curry





This is one popular vegetarian dish in Bengal especially in winter. I cook it quite often here; thanks to all year long cauliflower supply in this part of the world! Recipe courtesy goes to my mother-in-law who has not yet tasted the one I cook so it might not be as authentic as her's :) but a few friends of mine really like this dish, I thought it might be worth sharing!


Ingredients :
  •   One cauliflower cut into medium sized florets
  •   2-3 potatoes cut into medium sized cubes ( Skip if you are not a big fan of potatoes)
  •   2 tomatoes cut into medium sized pieces
  •   Ginger paste 1-2 tbsp
  •   Whole garam masala 1 tbsp
  •   Cumin , coriander. turmeric, red chilli powder 1 tbsp each
  •   Canola oil
  •   Salt and sugar to taste
 Directions :
  •  Shallow fry cauliflower and potatoes separately till they turn golden brown. 
  •  Heat oil in a non stick pan and add whole garam masala. Fry till the oil is flavored for ~ 3 mins.
Fried poatoes and cauliflower ; Flavoring oil with whole garam masala
  •  Mix cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder in little water to make a paste. Add this to oil and fry for around 2-3 mins.
Make a paste of cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli powder
  • Add ginger paste an fry for -2 mins.
  • Add fried cauliflower and potatoes and saute for 5 mins.
Stir potatoes and cauliflower with spices
  • Add tomatoes and mix well.
  • Add salt and sugar to taste. 
  • Add 1/2 cup of water and cook with lid closed for 15-20 mins . Add more water and stir in between if you think it is becoming too dry
Serve with rice or any kind of Indian bread.

Alu-kopir Dalna


Happy cooking and eating  !!


Ajanta from Amherst



December 5, 2011

Blueberry Muffin

Blueberry Muffins are my FAVORITES !! I have to admit I was very skeptical to give them a shot ; Firstly, coz I knew if they turn out not as good I would sulk a lot about it..Secondly, if they are good I would eat a lot having so many muffins at home staring at me !!! It turned out that it is the second factor which is bothering me at present :) I combined recipes from Martha Stewart and Laura Vitale this time and came up with my own version. Here it goes  !!

Ingredients :
  • 1 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar -
  • 2 eggs 
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ( or 1/2 cup sour cream if available to make it softer)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberry
  • A pinch of salt
Directions:
  •  Preheat oven to 350 F and bring butter and eggs to room temperature.
  •  Blend butter, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl till smooth.
Blending butter, sugar and eggs
  • Add in whole milk, vanilla extract and salt.
  • In a separate bowl add blueberries in the flour so that blueberries are flour coated ( this is to avoid sinking of blueberries in the batter later on) and then add to the rest of the mix.
Blueberries coated with flour
Blueberry-Flour mixture added to rest of the batter
  • Add baking powder and mix well.
  • Use ice cream scoop to equally fill lined

November 30, 2011

Crustless Pumpkin Pie


It was almost end of this year's pumpkin season... I realized it was high time I made good or some use of the pumpkin cans I had bought whimsically from Trader Joe's when the season started ! So looked up recipes and modified them to make my own EASY pumpkin pie protocol with in-house ingredients :)

Ingredients :
Mixing all ingredients
  • 1 can pumpkin  puree ( NOT pie-mix)
  • 1 cup buttermilk pancake mix ( Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • whipped topping ( optional)
Directions :

  • Preheat oven to 350 F and grease well a 9 inch pie plate .
  • Stir all ingredients ( no need to worry about order)  except whipped topping until well blended and pour into pie plate.
  • Bake for ~ 40 minutes or knife inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool in room temperature for ~ 30 minutes.
  • Refrigerate 3 hours or until chilled.
  • Serve with whipped topping .
  • Store in refrigerator covered .
Oven-fresh Pie ( Before chilling)
You can sprinkle cinnamon on top of pie for the festive feel ...I also tried heating it a little and had it with vanilla iceream !! Yummmmmm....


Slice of Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream

Happy Baking :)
Ajanta from Amherst



November 14, 2011

Apricot Apple Chutney

Being a Gujarati raised in Bengal, I just need to eat something sweet after meals. Bengalis eat some sort of chutney at the end of their meals, such as mango (fresh or fruit leather), or tomato chutney. I have made those several times, and wanted to try out something else. I had seen some dried apricot paste / apricot fruit leather from a Mediterranean speciality food market. It looked like an interesting ingredient for a chutney. Here it goes.


Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled apples (I used 4 small apples)
  • cup Apricot fruit leather (cut in 1 inch squares); Alternatively, dried apricots could also be used.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes/ red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
  • 2-4 cloves
  • 1" cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup jaggery or light brown sugar. You can always add more if needed. 
Chopped and peeled apples
Apricot fruit leather
Ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cumin

Directions

  • In a heavy saucepan, heat 1tbsp oil and add jeera seeds, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon till the seeds sizzle. Add apple, apricot leather, lemon juice, raisins, ginger, salt and hot pepper flakes; Add 1/2 cup water and stir well.
  • Apples and apricot in the pan.
  • Over high heat, bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in jaggery/ sugar and return to a simmer; cook, uncovered and stirring very often, for about 20 minutes; mixture should appear thickened. 
  • Chilli flakes and raisins added
  • Pour chutney in a clean glass jar and let cool a bit. Keep chutney refrigerated. Enjoy with roti, paratha or simply like a sweet ending to a meal :)

Apricot Apple Chutney

Bon Apetit!

Hetal from Houston


NoteApricot leather would mostly melt away, giving the apples a distinct tartness. The spice from the red chilli flakes adds to the depth of the flavour.

November 10, 2011

Layered apple cake

I was planning a baby shower for one of my friends, and volunteered to bake the cake. Given that she is off caffeine, and other such things - a chocolate cake was out. So, Ajanta gave me some recipes to try out. One of them was an apple cake recipe that looked just right. Here it goes.

Ingredients
For The Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces


For The Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, two coarsely grated and two diced


Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 9-inch-round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the sides, and sprinkle flour. The original recipe called for three layers, but I chose to do two.
  • Whisk together all the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined; fold in grated and diced apples. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Divide batter among prepared pans; smooth tops.

Two cake layers baked and cooled

  • Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 20 minutes, then invert onto wire racks; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again, and let cool completely on racks. The cake is very soft, so do it carefully.
  • In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt until sugar has dissolved; remove from heat. Using an electric mixer on medium, beat mixture until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes. Increase to high; beat until stiff peaks form. Reduce to medium-low; gradually add butter, beating until fully incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  1. Butter cream icing, whipped and ready
  • Place one layer on a serving plate; I like to place parchment paper around the cake, so that the serving plate is not messy. Spread top with buttercream. Top with other layer; spread top with buttercream. 
  • Spread remaining buttercream over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 4 days). To serve, bring cake to room temperature; slice with a serrated knife.
Icing on first layer
Second layer atop
  1. Assembled iced cake

  • Since I was baking the cake for a baby shower, I decided to decorate it with small marshmallow fondant balls and buttons, and top it with a cute clothes line made out of skewers and craft paper.

Little fondant balls and buttons
Done and ready to eat!


Bon Apetit!

Hetal from Houston

November 8, 2011

Alu Parathas - Potato filled flatbread

I am reading a memoir by Kate Moses titled Cakewalk. Each chapter of that book talks about food, and memories of people associated with that. It also has so many recipes that I want to try out soon. It made me think of similar memories of my sister and I. She loves Alu paratha - especially the ones where the filling oozes out and becomes crispy. Growing up, that was my mom's go to dish, whenever my sister wouldnt eat anything else. As we grew older, Alu parathas became a staple during my sister's exams and even on her birthdays. Here it goes.

Ingredients
For Alu filling

3-4 Yukon gold potatoes (boiled and mashed)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salt- to taste
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp lemom juice (optional)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
For dough 
1 1/2 cups wheat flour (plus some more for dusting)
1 tbsp  oil
Salt to taste
Enough water to make dough
Ghee (clarified butter) or unsalted butter for frying.


Directions
  • In a large bowl, whisk wheat flour, oil and salt together. Gradually add water and knead into a soft dough. Continue to knead till the dough is smooth and does not stick to hands. You might need to add more flour if it gets too sticky. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  • For the filling, mix the potatoes, onion, green chillies, coriander leaves, salt, Garam masala, lemon juice and sugar together in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  • Heat a non stick griddle to medium high.
  • Divide the dough into small balls, about 1" in diameter. 
Place filling and fold dough
  • Roll one ball into a 2"-2 1/2" disc. 
  • Spoon in 1tbsp of the filling. 
  • Folded into a bundle
  • Fold the dough around the filling like a little bundle












  • Roll again gently.
  • Paratha on nonstick griddle
  • Place rolled paratha on the hot non stick pan. Flip after a minute. Baste some ghee/ butter. Flip again. Repeat on other side

Flipped and basted with ghee
  • Continue to flip till golden brown.

Golden brown paratha
  • Place on a plate. Continue to make parathas out of remaining dough and filling. NOTE - Do not pile parathas on top of each other while hot. It will make them soggy. 
  • Enjoy with yogurt or mango pickle, or even tomato ketchup.  

Alu parathas
Bon Apetit!


Hetal from Houston

November 4, 2011

Lime curd

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! I say when life gives you egg yolks (and limes), make lime curd!
I was baking an Apple cake for a friend's baby shower. The recipe called for egg whites for the icing. The thought of throwing away perfectly wonderful egg yolks was driving me crazy. I had some limes lying around, so decided to make lime curd out of it. You could use only lemons or even one lime and one lemon. Here it goes.
Ingredients
1-2 lime juiced
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut in 1 tbsp pieces

1 tsp Lime zest (Optional)
Method
  • Set a heat proof bowl over a pot of boiling water (It works like a double boiler).

  • Pour lime juice into the bowl, add yolks and whisk continuously. 
  • Add sugar gradually, one tablespoon at a time, if you like it tart. Check for sweetness.
  • Add butter 1 tbsp at a time. Whisk until well incorporated. Add lime zest at this time.
  • Lemon curd should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. 
  • Cool completely and pour into a clean container and refrigerate. 
  • This Lime curd should ideally be consumed within 2-3 days, and may be used in desserts such as lime tarts, cheese cakes. It works great as a spread for scones or bread.

My first memory of a lime/lemon tart is one from Kookie Jar, in Kolkata! While all my friends drooled over the chocolate cakes and desserts, I was crazy about the lime/lemon tart. If I may say so, this lime curd is pretty close! :) 


Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

November 1, 2011

'Sandesh' ..A Bengali sweet treat !



This sweet was made for Diwali as well  but it is an all-time favorite for all Bengalis and people with and without sweet tooth seem to like it equally!

Ingredients : 
1 lb. Ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cardamom powder
 Pistachios and raisins for garnishing

Directions:  
Step 1 : Cooking cheese and sugar on low flame
1. Knead cheese into a fine, smooth paste. In a wok over low heat, cook cheese and sugar, stirring continuously.This step can take long depending on quantity . I doubled the amount and it took around 2 hours. When sugar has melted and cheese starts leaving sides add cardamom powder. 








Dividing mixture into individual portions
2. Remove from heat and keep stirring for 5 minutes. While still warm, divide into 25-30 portions. Mold each portion into desired shape. Decorate with raisins and pistachios. I alternated but you can use any one / both. Serve at room temperature.





The final product !
 
'It was hard to eat just one' !! So give it a try :)


Ajanta from Amherst

October 25, 2011

Diwali Special - Anjeer Khajur Diyas

Sugar free sweet for health conscious foodies! :)


Ingredients
Khajur/ Dates (pitted) - 14-15 pieces
Anjeer/ figs - 7-8 pieces
Milk - 1/3 cup
Chopped almonds, walnuts etc -1/2 cup. I usually roast nuts on a dry skillet. It brings out all the wonderful flavours
Goond/ tree resin - 1 tbsp for garnishing; readily available in most Indian grocery stores. (Optional)
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Silver foil (optional)


Method
  • Soak khajur/ dates and Anjeer/figs in milk for couple of hours.
  • Crush the soaked dates and figs in a blender/ food processor.
Anjeer Khajur mixture - cooling in a plate
  • Saute the mixture in ghee for a few minutes on medium heat till the milk evaporates.
  • Let the mixture cool.
Shaped into diyas, and placed in mini cupcake liners
  • Make small bowls or diyas (about the size of a quarter) out of the mixture. Its a lot of fun, much like playing with play doh! 
  • If using silver foil, apply it on the outside of these small bowls.
  • Fill with chopped nuts
  • Fry the goond in 1 tbsp ghee. Let it cool, and garnish at the time of serving.

These are perfect for people who are watching what they eat!  It satisfies the sweet tooth, without any artificial sugar or flavours :)

Happy Diwali and Happy New Year! :)


Hetal from Houston