Month: April 2009

HalfDate

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So This really isn’t a food post but this website has “dates” in it.  It’s a good cause.  Go sign up on their mailing list and it will donate money for the different drives that they have that you can check out on the CurrentDrive.  Click on “comments” where you can post a comment and it will donate $1.  The drive that I Posted for was for the Refugee Service Al Amanaah.  Check it out.  http://www.halfdate.com

TWD

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When I started getting into the blogesphere of food, I kept seeing “TWD” and wondered what and why these three letters were so famous.  I finally ended up searching and reading about them and came to know it was Tuesday’s With Dorie, a blog dedicated to Dorie Greenspan.  People who belong to this blog do one recipe out of Dorie’s book and they must post their happenings every Tuesday.  Although I haven’t joined this group, I did buy her book which has been sitting under my bed ever since I made one of her cakes which took me about four hours since I made the cake, frosting and filling all from scratch, including time for decorating the cake.  

I decided to put the book to use and made Linzer Sables, one of the prettiest cookies I’ve seen around.  They look complicated but are very simple.  I love how Dorie “talks” to you in her book like shes right there.  Will be defenetly keeping this book out from under the bed.  

Linzer Sables (by Dorie Greenspan)

1.5 cups finely ground almonds (I ran my almonds through a coffee grinder)

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 large egg

2 tsp water

1 stick (8 tbs) butter (room temp)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup jam of your choice (I used my homemade jam!)

Whip the butter and sugar together for three min until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat for 1 min.  Fold in dry ingrediants with a spatula.  If you want, you can use your hands.  

Divide the dough in half and make a ball out of it.  Using two sheets of wax paper for each ball, put the ball inbetween and press it out into a disk.  With a rolling pin, roll out the dough till its 1/4 in thick.  Place it in the freezer on  a baking sheet for 45 min or 2 hrs in the fridge.  cimg1550

When you get ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.  With the dough, peel off the top layer of wax paper and using a cookie cutter, cut out your cookies.  (I don’t have circle cutters so I used a shot glass).  Combine the scraps, roll and cut out more cookies.  If you want a peekaboo cut out, use the bottom of piping tips to cut out the center of the cookies.  

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Bake the cookies for11-13 min until they are firm to the touch.  Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat process with your second dough disk.  

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Once the cookies are cooled, mix the jam and water in a little sauce pan and heat to a low simmer.  Spoon enough jam onto one side of the cookie, about 1/2 tsp.  Place the peekaboo cookie on top.  Once you have sandwiched all your cookies, dust some powdered sugar on top and enjoy!

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Lemon Bars

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So I made Lemon Bars a couple days ago but just haven’t had the time to post them.  I wasn’t really impressed with them becuase I’ve had better elsewhere.  I think the problem was that there wasn’t enough of the lemon layer.  I added some strawberry jam to some of them because I love the strawberry-lemon combo.  I actually don’t have any pics of the final product because I decided I would take the last one when I get back home and when I did, they were all gone!  I don’t think I’ll use this recipe again just because I’m looking for something else but they are a good treat.  

Lemon Bars (adapted from HoneyandJam.blogspot.com)

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1  teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar, and butter until butter is in very small crumbs.  This will eventually turn in to a dough but you just have to keep mixing and kneeding it. cimg1397
Press into the bottom of a 11×7 inch pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. While the crust is baking, whisk together the eggs, 2/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Just before the crust is done, stir in the baking powder. Pour over the crust while it is hot, and return to the oven.  This is important, don’t wait till the crust has cooled. It needs to be still hot when adding in the lemon mixture.  

lemon mixture
lemon mixture

 

 

Baked Crust
Baked Crust

Bake for another 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until set. Dust with remaining confectioners’ sugar when cool.

Rain Drops

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It’s 1 pm and it seems like its 6 pm with all the clouds outside.  It was just like this yesterday and I was awaiting rain but out of the whole day there was only some drizzling.  I’m still waiting on some heavy downpour. 

I haven’t had much time to cook food for myself since I’m mostly cooking for the family now which basically consists of pakistani food.  I plan on making lemon bars sometime soon but whenever I get enough time to make them.  Hopefully by Sunday soo look out for those.  

 

Chicken Aqni

1 whole chicken pieces

2.5 cups rice

1 small red onion

curry leaves, whole black pepper, cardamom, cloves, whole cumin

one tomato

1 tbs plain yogurt

1 tsp garlic and ginger

1 tsp red pepper

1 tsp ground corainder and cumin

4 tsp salt divided

1/4 tsp turmeric

1.5 tsp Shan Mutton Biryani Masala

2 tsp paprika

cilantro, green peppers, peas, lima beans, green beans (optional, can use any veges you like.  can use potatoes, carrots, eggplant.  whatever you have on hand)

Make sure your chicken is defrosted before you start.  Wash and clean the chicken before or anytime in between any step while waiting.  Wash the rice and let it soak in water.  Thinly slice the onion and add to a pot with some oil to carmelize it.  Add some curry leaves, 5-6, cloves, cardamon, black pepper, whole cumin.  When the onions have browned, add garlic, ginger, yogurt and sliced tomatoes.  Add in your spices, red pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, 2 tsp salt. Mix well and add in the chicken.  Let it cook for 10 mintues with the pot covered.  Check every so often to make sure it’s not burning.  Add two and half cups of water, you might need 3 cups.  Add in green peppers, cilantro, peas, green beans, lima beans.  Once the water is boiling, drain the water from the rice and add it to the pot.  Cook until rice is cooked and you’re ready to serve!

Meet Fred

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Just got done making dinner for tonight.  I’m not too pleased with it because usually my curry has this umph! of a flavor and I can’t seem to get it this time.  Can’t figure out what I’m missing.  I made some rice with the curry that is called Kichri.  I’m not sure if there’s an English term for it.  It’s an easy light dish.  It took me about an hour from start to finish, including cleaning up.

Curry

16 oz plain yogurt (half a reg box of yogurt)

4 tbs chana ataa (gram flour)

1 tsp garlic

1/4 tsp ginger

1 cup water

2 peppers

1 tsp red pepper

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 lemon

1 tsp ground corainder & cumin

1 tomato divided

1/2 onion

1 stalk curry leaves (about 8-10 leaves)

handful of cilantro

Start by thinly slicing your onions.  Heat up some oil in a pot and add in the onions and the curry leaves.  p4140117While the onions are caramelizing, take out a blender and add in yogurt, peppers, chana ataa (gram flour), water, garlic, ginger, red pepper, turmeric, salt, cumin, coriander, 1/2 tomato, and squeeze in the lemon juice.  Here is my lemon squeezer.  I call him Fred.  He’s from Boston.  p4140122Blend all this in the blender.  Once the onions have browned, add in this mixture into the pot.  Let it cook for about 5 min and add in about 1 cup of water.  Chop up the remaining tomato and add it in.  Let this cook for another 10 min until it is a bright yellow color.  You can thin out the curry to your desired consistency by adding in water.  Once you’re done, roughly chop up the cilantro and sprinkle it over the top.

I tried getting a good picture of the color of the curry but I guess I’m having lighting issues.  p4140126And now for the rice.

Kichri

1 cup long grain white rice

1/4 cup light green split lentil (need to figure out the name of it )

1/4 onion

2.5 cups water

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 tomato

1/2 long big green pepper

whole black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaf

Thinly slice onions and carmelize them in a pot with oil.  Add in whole black pepper, cardamom, cloves, 3-4 each.  Add in one bay leaf.  Wash the rice and the lentil and soak in water until the onions have browned.  Add in the 2.5 cups water to the pot quickly so the oil doens’t splatter.  Drain the rice + lentil and add it to the pot.  Roughly chop the tomato and add it in along with the salt, turmeric, green pepper.  Cook till rice is tender.  p4140127I don’t remeber if I mentioned this in a previous post, but I use red onions instead of yellow.  You can use either but I just prefer its taste over the yellow.  And it gives the dish more color.

I’m trying to figure out what to make for Thursday for dinner.  If you have any ideas send them this way but they have to be pakistani/indian for the fam.  Time for a run.

Jamming It Up

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It seems like its been awhile since I last posted.  I made a few things here and there that I failed to post about.  But I make them pretty regularly so they’ll be soon posted once I make them again.  I went to Wel-Farm the other day and got a little too fruit happy and ended up spending twice as much as  I usually do.  If you haven’t ever tried Red Pears, you’re missing out.  I like them best out of the pear family although I have some different varities yet to try.

I also came home with a 4-5lb box of strawberries and 3 boxes of blueberries that were on sale.  My mum looked at me horrified, asking what I was going to do with so many berries.  Jam! ofcourse.  I’ve been wanting to try making jam for sooo long but I never got the courage to do so because you have to know how to can it properly for it to last a long time.  I’ve searched online multiple times but never really understood the method.  I guess I need to watch Alton Brown’s episode on jam making.  I got some Mason Jars and read the directions for canning on the box as well but it didn’t help.  I decided to just go for it and learn from my mistakes.  I made two differents jams, one with strawberries only and the other with a mix of strawberries and blueberries.  The first batch, I added 3 cups of sugar as per the recipe I was following.  It turned out to be wayyy too sweet as the strawberries are very sweet by themselves.  The second batch I only added in a cup of sugar and it was still a little too sweet but not too bad. I guess next time I’ll add in the sugar depending on how sweet the berries already are.

Directions for both recipes are the same.

Strawberry Jam

4 cups strawberries (hulled and sliced)

3 tbs fresh lemon juice

1-3 cups sugar (depending upon how sweet you want it)

StrawBlue Jam

2 cups stawberries (hulled and sliced)

2 cups blueberries

3 tbs lemon juice

1-3 cups sugar

Jar, lid, and ring
Jar, lid, and ring

Wash mason jars, lid and ring with soap and water.  In a large stock pot, steralize the jar and lid in hot water over the stove.

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StrawBlue

Put a suacer in the freezer.  Place fruit in a pot and heat on low-medium heat until it releases water.  Mash with a fork if desired.  Add in sugar and lemon and stir till dissolved.  Let the mixture boil and bubble, stirring occasionally.  As the mixture thickens, test to see if the jam is done by placing a little bit on the saucer and putting it back into the freezer.  Leave it in for about 2 min and see if the jam is wrinkly or has jamm-ed up.  If it hasn’t, continue cooking.  If it has, ladle the jam into the jar.  Carefully place lid on and screw on the ring.  Wait 24hrs before opening.

Strawberries
Strawberries

Now I’m not sure about getting the whole sealing thing correct but I will have to wait till tomorrow.  I can’t wait.  It tastes sooo yummy.

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Now what to do with 3 jars of jam.  Any ideas? lol

Siyanara Splenda

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What a busy day! I love days where you accomplish everything on your To-Do-List.  Feels so satisfying.  It’s been two weeks since I’ve baked anything and it reminded me that baking runs a high risk of me burning myself.  Totally worth it though.  I really need to bring my apron downstairs and hang it in the pantry because I keep thinking I can get through making something without getting my clothes dirty but I always fail 20% of the way through.  I don’t know how chefs keep their white coats white.

I had to bake some stuff with Splenda today because my uncle has diabetes.  I was reluctant to because I’ve had bad experiences with it in lab but my aunt somehow convinced me it wouldn’t be a problem.  Sorry Splenda I’m not giving you anymore chances.  Failed me once.  Failed me twice.  Never working with Splenda again.  I made Cardamom Cookies, half with and half without Splenda.  And my apple pie was made only with Splenda.  The Cardamom cookies with Splenda were really crumbly and my sauce for the apple pie wasn’t viscous and not enough for the pie.  The cookies with regular sugar however turned out really good and was approved my the aunt and grandmother.  I know some of you might be thinking how nasty the Cardamom cookies sound, I was skeptical myself.  The first time I made them, I was surprised that they tasted so good and it was big hit with the parental unit and older relatives.

I then made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for the weekend since it has to sit in the fridge for 36 hours.  It’s hard to keep people in the house from eating the cookie dough.  When I get around to baking the cookies, there’s craters where people have been digging their spoons for a taste.  Shame on them.  I’ve never made this recipe the same twice and keep experimenting with it.  Partly because I don’t remember what I tweaked the previous time but posting it here will surely help.

Khatai/Cardamom Cookies (Adapted from Linda Kovacevic)

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 tbs ground cardamom

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup oil

1/4 cup roughly ground pistachios

Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).  Separate the cardamom shells from the inside black seeds.  Throw out the shells and ground the seeds in a coffee grinder.  Mix the flour, sugar, cardamom, pistachios (run through coffee grinder if you only have whole/split pistachios).  Add in oil and mix.  Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and line on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minuets until the cookies are slightly brown on the bottom and set on top.  It will barely brown on top.  Allow to cool on baking sheet.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (Adapted from NY Times)

3 2/3 cups minus 2 tablespoons AP flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature!!)

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1/4 tsp cinnimon

1/8 tsp instant coffee granules

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment (you can use hand mixer), cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix with a spatula or hands. Stir in chocolate chips. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside. Make 2 in balls and line them on a baking sheet, about 6 on one pan.  Bake for 15 min, until golden brown.  Eat warm, with a glass of milk.

If you want to know why the dough has to set for about a day, here is the article in the NY Times.  It suggests to use sea salt but it seemed too salty for my taste.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/091crex.html?_r=1&ref=dining

Also, a friend sent me this amazing site that tells you all that you’ve ever needed to know about eggs.  Awesome information!  http://www.ichef.com/news.cfm?itemid=111555

AND, from the same friend, here’s a link describing different kinds of flours if you’ve ever been confused about which one you have to use.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cake_flour#Wheat_flour