Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas is less than a month away and it is time to bring home the holidays. One of the most famous Christmas foods is the gingerbread cookies. Gingerbread is a sweet food-product flavored with ginger and typically using honey or molasses rather than just sugar. Gingerbread foods vary, ranging from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger biscuit. The different types likely share a common origin.

Gingerbread men cookies are probably every child's favorite cookie for December. Along with that, come the xmas tree shaped cookies and the stars that signify Christmas. These gingerbread cookies have a strong ginger flavor which is further enhanced by the spices that go into the cookie. Easy to make and really attractive to present, here is a very simple recipe of the Xmas classic. 





Ingredients
Allpurpose Flour 3 cups
Confectioner's Sugar 1/2 cup
Light Brown Sugar 1/2 cup
Ground Ginger 2 tsp
Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cloves 2 tsp powdered
Unsalted Butter 1/2 cup
Baking Soda 3/4 tsp
Egg 1
Salt




Method
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, spices, baking soda and a pinch of salt. In another bowl, mix together brown sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Let the sugar melt completely.

In a bowl, whisk the egg. Once smooth, add the white sugar and butter. Ensure that all the ingredients are at room temperature. Once the butter and sugar is whisked, add the brown sugar mixture and beat well. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Make a soft dough and add water if required. Place the dough ball in a thin plastic film and refrigerate for a couple of hours. 

After two hours or even overnight, remove the dough from the shrink wrap and place on a well floured surface. Lightly roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness disc. Lightly flour the gingerbread man, star and christmas tree cookie cutters. Cut out the cookies and place on a baking tray or on a baking dish lined with cooking spray. Using skewers, make the eyes and buttons of the men. Place in a preheated oven at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes till the bottom is crisp and the edges brown. 

Remove the trays and place the cookies on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks. Serve it as a breakfast cookie with tea or milk, or as a snack. Enjoy the freshness of ginger and the spices in these fun to eat cookies and bring home the holidays!






Also try these Chocolate Mooncake Cookies:


These Almond Cardamom Cookies are amazing too!!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rosemary Garlic Braid Bread

Braided Breads are not interesting to eat, they also enhance the visual appearance of the dinner table. The braids can be of different thickness, depending on the purpose of the bread. The thin ones serve as breadsticks and thick ones like this recipe are for snacking or to be served as an appetizer with a dip.

This braid bread has two main ingredients to flavor it. Fresh Rosemary gives this bread a nice herby flavor where as the minced garlic gives it the spicy touch. You could also add shredded cheese to the dough to get a cheesy garlic bread. A simple to follow recipe and ingredients just like any other commonly made bread, these lovely braids are sure to lighten up he dinner table!



Ingredients
Allpurpose Flour/Maida 3 cups
Rapidrise Dry Yeast 1 sachet (2 1/4 tsp)
Olive Oil 3 tbsp
Minced Garlic 4 tbsp
Fresh Rosemary 2 tbsp
Garlic Salt 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Warm Water 1 cup (100-110 F)
Butter 1 tsp



Method
In a cup of warm water, add the rapidrise yeast, sugar and 1 tsp salt. Let the mixture stand for ten minutes till it foams. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, 3 tbsp Olive Oil, Minced garlic, chopped rosemary and garlic salt. Pour the frothy yeast into this mixture and make a soft dough. Add little water if required and knead well. The mixture may be sticky at first, knead it well till it converts to a soft dough.  Apply oil over the dough and place it in a large bowl, cover it with a moist cloth and let stand for 45 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. After 45 minutes, the dough will be almost double it's size. Punch down the dough and knead it for 5 more minutes. Divide the dough into two parts Further, from each part make 3 small balls. Roll each of the 3 balls to make a long and thin ropes of almost same thickness and length. Stick one edge of all 3 ropes and make a braid. The braid should have some space between the knots to allow the bread to rise. Complete the braid and press the other ends together to complete the braid. Ensure that it is stuck well else the braid will open up in the oven. Place the braid in a greased baking tray and let it rest for 10 minutes. Transfer the baking tray to the oven and bake till the crust turns golden brown.



Remove from oven and quickly brush some butter on it. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm as a side to soups or pastas, or enjoy it by itself with some butter!!




Other interesting breads:






Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gobi Musallam: Roasted Whole Cauliflower

It is just a couple of days away from Thanksgiving, and preparation for the grand meal are at it's best. So what do you do if you do not eat any meat, leave alone the turkey?? The simple solution to make a vegan centre piece for the Thanksgiving dinner is Gobi Musallam.

Season, blanch and roast an entire cauliflower, make a thick tomato sauce with Indian spices and bake the entire dish. All it takes a little more than an hour and you have your own Thanksgiving dish all set!! This dish has multiple advantages: No chopping vegetables, make the gobi and serve on the dinner table and each guest can mix and match the amount of vegetable they want with the gravy!! A pretty straight forward recipe, make it your holiday special!!



Ingredients
Cauliflower 1 (size depends on your family size)
Tomatoes 3 medium
Onion 1 medium
Garlic 3 cloves
Ginger 1 inch
Watermelon seeds/ Magaj seeds 2 tsp
Cashewnuts 1/4 cup
Dried Red Chili
Spices(Cinnamon, Cloves, Black pepper, turmeric powder, Dhania Jeera powder)
Kasoori Methi
Salt, Sugar, Lime Juice
Cilantro to garnish



Method
For this recipe, choose the cauliflower size depending on the number of guests for dinner. Also, ensure you buy it from a good store and the cauliflower looks clean. I bought an Organic orange Cauliflower, but you can make the same dish from any colored cauliflower or the white one. Thoroughly clean the cauliflower and chop off the leaves and the thick bottom. This is very important as we are using the cauliflower as a whole!

In a large pot boil water and add salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Take a deep pot such that the cauliflower can be entirely immersed in it. Once water starts boiling, put the cauliflower in it. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes and remove from water and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet and sauté  garlic and ginger. Add cinnamon, cloves and pepper followed by diced onions, and salt and cook till they are transparent. After it is cooked, add the tomatoes and watermelon seeds. Add dhania jeera powder and turmeric powder. Cook everything and adjust the salt and sugar. Turn down the heat. In a blender jar, blend cashewnuts. Now add the tomato mixture prepared and blend to a paste. Strain the gravy and transfer to a pan. Boil the gravy till thick. Add Lime juice and Kasoori Methi. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a baking dish, lay the cauliflower and roast for 10-15 minutes. Next pour half the gravy on the cauliflower and reserve the rest of the gravy to serve. Bake the cauliflower and gravy for 25-30 minutes, till the top of the cauliflower becomes dry and the gravy thickens further. Remove from the oven, add rest of the gravy and garnish with cilantro. Serve with Roti, Paratha, Naan or Kulcha.






This recipe was featured in Kitchen Daily.

Also try other Thanksgiving recipes like Chunky Cranberry Lemon Jam and Cranberry Orange Bread!!






Monday, November 24, 2014

Chunky Cranberry Lemon Jam

November is almost through, and are just a couple of days away from Thanksgiving! Today, we celebrate cranberries as they are in the peak of their season. The appearance of these tart red cousins of blueberries is a sure sign that the holiday season is just around the corner. Cranberries not only add beautiful color and taste to your table, they are also one of the richest sources of health-promoting antioxidants.

Here is a quick recipe for a chunky Cranberry and Lemon Jam. All it takes is cranberries, lemon zest, lime juice and sugar. Stir up everything in a pan and the jam is ready in a matter of minutes. Enjoy with toasted bread slices or make an interesting snack with crackers and whipped cream. Here is how:



Ingredients
Cranberries 1 cup
Sugar 1/2 cup
Lemon zest 1 tsp
Lime Juice 2 tsp



Method
Wash and dry the cranberries. In a thick bottom pan, heat sugar on slow flame. Keep stirring to ensure the sugar does not caramelize. Once the sugar melts, add cranberries, lime juice, lemon zest and mix well. Cook on medium flame, and crush the berries with a ladle.

Add 1/4 cup water and mix well. Cover the pan and cook the berries and thicken the jam. Uncover the pan and mix well. Keep stirring till the required consistency of the jam is achieved. Turn down the flame and let the jam cool. Transfer to a mason jar and store refrigerate. 





To serve an interesting appetizer or quick snack, use Ritz biscuits or any similar cracker. Top it with whipped cream and a dollop of Cranberry Jam. Serve!!   





Have some extra cranberries and want to make something interesting? Try this Cranberry Orange Bread!!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Penne In Roasted Red Pepper Sauce


A wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture, bell peppers are the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world with their beautifully shaped glossy exterior that comes in a wide array of vivid colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown to black. Using these peppers in making a pasta sauce is completely delightful. It is time to move away from the Marinara Sauce and Alfredo Sauce to give way to some more interesting pasta dishes.


Here is a recipe to make pasta in roasted red pepper sauce. It can be made with other colored peppers too, but red pepper gives a really nice color to the dish. Not only is this dish colorful and full of flavor, it completely eliminates the need to use cream and the all purpose flour and makes a healthy dinner. The cheese topping is also completely optional and can be done away with. Make a large jar of the pepper sauce and keep it refrigerated. Whipping up a quick dinner is then just child-play.



Ingredients
Penne Pasta 2 cups
Red Bell Pepper 2 medium
Yellow Bell Pepper 1 medium sliced
Garlic 2-3 cloves minced
Onion 1 medium diced
Mozzarella Cheese 1/2 cup
Butter
Mixed Herbs 
Salt
Ground Black Pepper


Method
Heat water in a large pot and add salt. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook till it is el-dente. You can use any pasta of your choice. Once done, drain and set aside.

Wash and dry the bell peppers with a kitchen towel. Spray some cooking spray on them or apply olive oil. Wrap each of them in a piece of aluminium foil. Roast them one by one on direct flame turning it around to ensure even roasting. Roast for about 8-10 minutes and then let it rest for sometime on the kitchen counter. This allows the pepper to be cooked in steam. After about 10-15 minutes, unwrap the pepper, remove the charred skin and the seeds and cut it into small pieces.

In a skillet add a tsp of butter and saute garlic in it. Add the onion and cook with a pinch of salt. Once done transfer the garlic, onion and bell pepper to a blender pot and blend to a paste. You may choose to keep it a little coarse too. 

In a pan, heat a tsp of butter and saute sliced yellow pepper in it. Add the pepper sauce and mix well. Put in the cooked pasta, mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Mix everything well and top with some shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve warm with a bowl of soup and a side of herb bread.







If you are looking for other pasta dishes, try these:





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dahi Vada


Dahi vada or Dahi Bhalla is a very popular chaat from Northern India. This chaat is made up of three parts; the lentil dumplings, creamy yogurt and chutneys. The hot deep fried vadas are first put in water and then transferred to thick beaten yogurt. To add more flavor, they may be topped with coriander ormint leaves, chili powder, crushed black pepper, chaat masala, cumin, shredded coconut, green chilis or boondi. 

Sweeter yogurt is preferred in some places in India, especially in Maharashtra and Gujarat, although the garnishing remains the same. A combination of coriander and tamarind chutneys are often used as garnishments in addition to those mentioned above. Here is a simple recipe that pepares one big plate full of these yogurt dipped goodness.




Ingredients
Udad Dal 1 cup
Green Chilli 
Ginger 
Soda Bi-Carbonate
Yogurt 2 cups
Spicy Cilantro Chutney
Roasted Cumin powder
Red Chilli powder
Chopped Cilantro
Salt
Sugar
Oil



Method
Wash and soak udad dal in 2 cups of water for 4-5 hours. Drain the water and grind to a paste with some green chilli, ginger and salt. Add only about 1/4 cup water if need be. Mix in a pinch of Soda Bi-carbonate and mix well. You might want to add some cumin seeds to make it taste good. The key to get soft vada is to fluff the batter enough. Keep mixing the batter with a spoon till it is soft. To test if the batter is fluffy enough, drop a small ball in a glass of water. If it floats, the batter is ready, and if it sinks, beat the batter more.

Heat oil in a pan and fry small dumplings of the batter. Ensure the oil is hot enough before you add in the dumplings. Either using a spoon or wet hands, drop small dumplings in the oil. Fry them to a golden brown color, and set aside. 

About twenty to thirty minutes before you want to make the Dahi Vada, soak them in water. Let them soak for enough time so that they are nice and soft. Also, beat the yogurt to a smooth texture, adding salt and sugar as per your taste. Keep the Sweet Chutney and Spicy chutney ready.

To serve, remove the Vadas from water and squeeze out the excess water. Lay them in a deep container and pour the yogurt over it. Top with the two chutneys, roasted cumin powder, red chili powder and chopped cilantro. Serve chilled.






Have vadas but do not want to have them with yogurt? No problem. Dunk them into piping hot Sambar or Rasam and enjoy Sambar Vada or Rasam Vada!!