February 13, 2017

Brownies for Valentine's Day

Brownie

Time for Valentine's Day, what are you doing? Any chocolates, cookies or brownies in the making? I love a good brownie. For years, I resisted making it at home and then caved in when Tiny M confessed to a major chocolate love. How can you not, right?

For recipe, I turned to the famous Browneyed Baker's Bake Brownie. I've like that it doesn't use any baking powder or soda like some of the others did. I tried it with only chocolate and only cocoa and the it tastes best when both of them are added.

I've made it many times and the brownie turns out just the way we like it, rich, dense, and fudgey. It is rich and indulgent, and just perfect for Valentine's Day.

Here is the recipe with my tweaks. For original recipe, click here.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour  (I have replaced all purpose with whole wheat white flour and it works well)
1/2 salt  (I've reduced the amount from 1 tspoon)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
7 oz dark chocolate  (I've reduced it too, this is about 2 bars of chocolate and it makes it choclatey for us)
1 cup unsalted butter (about 2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups granualted sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar (I've also done 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar and it works nicely too)
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanila extract

Brownie

Method:
Preheat the over to 350 deg. Butter a baking pan and add a parchment paper to the botton.

Sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder together. I always try to do this as it gets rid of any lumps.

Put the chocolate and butter in a large bowl and set it in a bath of simmering water, stirring till the chocolate and butter has melted into a smooth mix.

At this point, turn off the heat, keep the bowl in the water and add the sugar mixing till the sugar combines completely.

Add the eggs now, 2 at a time. Then add the vanilla and stir till it is combined.

Sprinkle the flour mixture in the chocolate bowl. Fold it in gently till the flour is combined.

Pour the batter in the prepared baking dish and bake for 28-30 minutes. For best results, rotate the pan midway. Let it cook and then take it out with the parchment paper, cut it in pieces and keep in a airtight container. I also keep it in aluminum foil and it stays fresh for a week.

Brownie
Happy Valentine's Day.

January 27, 2017

Pikachu birthday cookies

Pokemon cookies


Pikachu, Charmander, Bunnelby and the list goes on. These names were alien to me just a year ago and now I hear them non stop as Lil A debates their power, damage and strengths. In case you were wondering, they are all Pokemon characters and Lil A is into collecting Pokemon cards.

Pokemon cookiesIt all started last summer when a couple of his older friends gave him a few Pokemon cards and he was hooked. Slowly he figured out the trading part. He was so excited when he got his first EX card. Yes, it is supposed to be a big deal!

So when his birthday rolled by, I decided to surprise him with some Pokemon cookies. I ordered a few Pokemon cutters and got to work. As this was a school treat, I decided to minimize glazing.

I put some food color in the cookie dough and just colored the eyes and mouth with sugar and food color mix.

It made the impact I was hoping it would make. Lil A was all excited and he and his friends enjoyed the treats.

Here is a small trick I learned with this cookie. For best results, refrigerate the dough before putting it in the oven as well.

Here is how I did it.

January 17, 2017

Kashmiri lamb rogan josh to start the year

Kashmiri Lamb roganjosh


It's been a while since I have been here. When things get busy with illnesses or some difficulty, I tend to draw in and focus my energy on getting through it. You know how it goes, right. With two little kids, it is kind of inevitable.

Everything is fine now and I am coming back gingerly, having been away for so long.

Wreath cookies Hope you had a good holiday season. I had a couple of cookie exchange and here is what I made for one of them - wreath cookies. Regular sugar cookies. Tiny M and I had a lot of fun making it.

He was very interested in helping me, carrying them to the tray, and occasionally tasting little cookies that came from the donut holes of the cookies. I set aside some cookies for them and they colored their own.

When I was at the Farmer's Market last month, I picked some  lamb shoulders with nice marbling. The next day a couple of foodie friends were coming for dinner and I knew I had to make something special with it. I settled on lamb rogan josh without knowing it was one of their favorite dishes.

I got the recipe off the web from one of the blogs. The recipe called for 3 tbspoon of kashimiri chilli powder. I am usually cautious and will taste, but for some reason I forgot to this time. So when it was time to taste, I almost choked. The heat was too much, overshadowing the taste of other spices.

I decided to throw out the entire curry and start all over again. This time settling on a much lesser amount of the chili powder. Maybe our tastes are milder, maybe the kashmiri chili powder I had was too spicy, or maybe both. I will never know. But now I have a recipe that works well.

This recipe has no onion, or garlic. The flavors come from the black cardamom, dry ginger, fennel and asafetida (hing). Use ghee for best flavors. If it feels too much, temper in ghee and use oil for the rest.

The second version came out great and it turned out to be a great evening.

Here is how I did it.


December 06, 2016

Roasted butternut squash and onions

Roasted butternut squash with onions


It is the season you know, for butternut squash. While the offerings in the Farmer's market are dwindling here, but you can still find a good butternut squash for $1 or $2. I have tried it baked, in soup and was ready for something new.

This past week, I was working on a story about an Indian poet and someone commented about his work, "the genius of this music is it has simple individual parts, but when it comes together it is modern and complex."

I would like to say the same thing for this dish by Ottolenghi that has been our companion multiple times. Don't be deceived by the simpleness of the dish. It will be the star of your table and what better time to make it than Christmas dinner.

Some adjustments we did on our end -- instead of chunks of squash and onions, we make them thinner like fries and it can double up as a starter as well. We opted out of the pine nuts, but you can easily toast some and add them on top.

Here is the recipe.

October 29, 2016

Happy Diwali

Happy Diwali to all. May the coming year bring health, happiness, love and peace in our lives.

October 26, 2016

Making rasgullas for Diwali

Indian sweet rasgulla


This year Diwali starts the string of festivals for us. Diwali, Halloween, follwed by Tiny M's birthday, three in one week. To contribute to the sugar high (after all it happens once a year) I decided to to make some rasgullas. It has been a favorite for years and now it's time to make it at home.

Truth be told, I have gone through several rounds of rasgulla making and testing before the recipe was ready to be posted on the blog. So the pictures are all a mix from those several rounds.

In paper, the recipe looks rather simple -- make chana (paneer/indian cheese), make it into round balls and then soak it in sugar syrup and cook till it is ready. But it's easier said than done. The first couple of times it crumbled, the ones in brown sugar were brown and were swiftly made into rasmalai. But this one were soft and spongy. In fact, Tiny M was so excited, he stood up (not sit) on the chair and tasted them.

So this Diwali, it's back to the basics with homemade rasgullas. I hope you have a joyful festive season too.

October 20, 2016

Rose sandesh for the puja season

Nolen gurer sandesh

It is a little late, but I hope you had a joyful pujo season. Shubho Bijoya! My parents were here for the pujo, so we had a wonderful time too. We spent time at the local pujo organized nearby; participated in shandi pujo, went to a concert by an artist from Kolkata and ate delicious food.

For pujo I made this rose sandesh. The taste and the smell of rose comes from rose water that I added to the chana or paneer when I was making it. Other than that, there's no other rose flavoring. But you will feel it at the first bite.

My kids have not been too fond of sandesh before, but this time they loved it. Must be the loving hand of the grandparents.

Here is the recipe.

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