Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Chocolate crinkle cookies (Snow caps)

I am back from my holiday and it sucks. It means back to daily chores like cooking, cleaning and writing and having nothing much too look forward to. Well life must go on right? Anyways, we had a lovely time down at the coast and pigged out so much, I can assure you I have gained a few pounds. Cornwall is known for the cream tea's and just looking at the clotted cream served with scones will gain you a few calories, seriously! But on another note they were probably the best cream tea's I've ever had. All the while Ro kept dabbing huge amounts of cream on to his scone I kept chanting heart attacks and cholesterol levels which fell on deaf ears. So we left all those behind and indulged in food on all 5 days.

I haven't yet sorted through the pictures, but will try and do so at the earliest and post a few as well. There were a couple of interesting food items I wanted to try, but Cornwall being the fish central, most of it had to do with fish and I am not that big a fish fan as you all might already know. Convincing Ro was too much of an effort so i let it pass. But seriously how interesting would the Stargazy Pie have been? I think a darn interesting one to at least photograph. Ro thought otherwise, and so we decided Cornish Pasty instead. So we went all the way down south to the tip of England to actually eat the best Cornish Pasty evah. Not overrated people, not overrated at all. I loved it. I am thinking of actually trying it out at home "some day."
Coming back to the cookies', since it was a 6 hour drive from London, I decided to pack some goodies for the road trip. My husband, yes the one who is such a sucka for anything chocolate, pleaded with me to make some chocolate cake. Of course I didn't listen, because as we all know, I am not the awesome wife who will listen to stuff the husband says. Instead I went ahead and made a cake of my choice and was happily packing it when I realised I had a wee bit of butter left over from my previous expeditions which would expire in a couple of days. So I googled and googled and googled and landed on a picture of crinkled cookies which looked so darn pretty, I had to make it. 
So I searched for a recipe and came up with one that was really easy, but didn't need butter. But by then I was so excited at the prospect of photographing the crinkle cookies, butter was the least of my problems. Made the cookies in a jiffy and gosh they were the prettiest ever. I ate one or two right out of the oven and it was nice. Taste wise, well I would say it's a wannabe brownie/ cake. Its somewhere in between a cake and a cookie to be precise. The husband and friends who were travelling with us actually thought they were bought from some bakery (I'm wondering if that's a compliment or not) and happily gorged on them as well. I took a bite from a few leftover cookies the next day and actually hated it, to be honest. I decided to give chocolate one more chance but it failed me. So sorry chocolate, you and me need to part ways. We obviously want different things. (Ro claims that's like saying he and I need different things, because his ultimate aim in life is to die and go to chocolate heaven). 

So anyhoo, the recipe is a keeper cos I'm sure those chocolate lovers out there would fall for it and if not a chocolate lover, then it would at least grab the attention of the photographer in you. Either ways, its easy to make and is perfect to gift for Christmas or serve for kids' parties. I don't intend to do either, but decided to keep the recipe, just in case I became a convert!
Recipe adapted from here (makes about 24 to 26 cookies)
Dark chocolate- 1/2 cup, broken into medium slices (I used Green & Blacks, 70 percent choc.)
Brown sugar- 1/2 cup, packed
Oil- 2 1/2 tbsp
Egg- 1 large
Vanilla essence- 1/2 tsp
Plain flour- 1/2 cup
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- a pinch
Icing sugar- 1/4 cup
In a bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Melt the chocolate in a saucepan over low heat.
Remove from heat and add sugar and oil and mix well till the sugar has dissolved, somewhat.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix well till you no longer see any traces.
Mix in the flour and stir till you form a smooth batter.
Close the bowl with a lid and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
The batter would have hardened a bit. If not keep it for some more time.
When you are ready to bake, line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil paper and put the powdered sugar in a plate large enough to roll the cookie balls.
Using a 1/2 tbsp measuring spoon scoop out the dough and make balls. 
Roll in the icing sugar and place on the tray, about an inch apart. This is what cracks when the cookies are baking and gives the crinkled effect. 
Bake in an oven preheated at 175C for about 10 minutes for a chewy one or 12 to 13 minutes for a crunchier version. 
Once done, cool completely on the rack and then store in air tight containers or zip loc bags

Notes: You can add any nut of choice (walnuts, hazelnuts etc) right after mixing the flour. Just chop them up and fold it in.
By the time you finish rolling the entire batch, the first few might have no icing sugar visible because it gets absorbed. No problem, just lightly roll it again and place into the oven immediately.
I thought 1/4 cup icing sugar was a little too much, as I ended up wasting a bit once I was done.
I preferred the chewier version better.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Grilled chicken wings in a chilli garlic sauce for 'A Pinch of Love'

I stumbled upon Ananda's blog 'A pinch of Love' quite by chance and if I'm not mistaken she had just started her food blog. The pictures made me go back again and again and soon we were exchanging comments on each others' blogs. Then I guess it was the power of Facebook that eventually brought her into my friends circle and there was no looking back. I love the way she pens down her thoughts on her blog and the pics are to die for. If I let you in on a little secret- i sometimes head to her blog and take a peek at the gorgeous salmon soup pics taken in the beautiful snowy setting. There is something about that picture that screams out warmth and cosiness. I am so happy that Ananda asked me to do a guest post on her blog and I hope I have done justice to it with these spicy chicken wings in a chilli garlic sauce.
The recipe was the aftermath of a chicken wing obsession which i have been  am still going through. Once i discovered skinless and cleaned chicken wings, there was no looking back. I love how easy it is to cook with them- marinate, grill and if I feel like it, make a sauce and serve. Since the supermarket stocks only a couple of these at a time, when I find them, I go ballistic and stock at least 2 packs in my freezer, scared they would suddenly stop stocking them or something. Yeah totally weird behaviour if you ask me. I have become a lunatic when it comes to storing some stuff like this (I'll leave the story of the frozen Swedish meatballs for a later time). Sadly my freezer has not much space (which Ro thinks is good, because one day he opened the middle rack to find about 10 to 15 packets of frozen chapatis and freaked out). I mean who does things like that? Well me for sure because, believe it or not, I don't know how to make chapathis. So in fear of them stopping the manufacture of these chapatis, whenever i find them i stock them to hearts content.
Anyways, we are not here to talk about my pitfalls are we?. I'm sure you'd like to know more, but let me not steal the limelight from the chicken wings. So these are so damn easy to make and taste amazing with some chilled beer or cider. The best part- you don't need to have a BBQ grill or any such fancy schmancy appliance. Just your oven grill would do. The marinade is a mixture of all sorts of sauces (from various countries that too) and like Ro says, is slightly confused as to which ethnicity it belongs to. But who cares when it tastes so darn yummilicious? 

So while I head down to the coast for a short holiday, head over to A Pinch of Love and check out the recipe. Once again a big thank you to Ananda for the wonderful opportunity to kick start the guest post series. :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cinnamon rolls (buns)

I was never that big a fan of Cinnabon when we were in the US. In fact I used to hate anything with cinnamon till we came to the UK. The apple pies served in the pubs here all had a generous amount of cinnamon and I began to absolutely love it. Sadly, my husband doesn't share the same excitement when it comes to cinnamon, making me stay away from desserts with cinnamon as the hero (heroine???).

That was until I picked up a couple of Cinnabons from the only outlet here in Piccadilly Circus (after paying a bomb for it that too) and brought it home. Since it was one of those lovey dovey days, I kept one aside for Ro, 100 percent sure he would say, 'so bloody overrated Cinnabon is' and let me have it. I guess it was one of those lovey dovey days for Ro as well, cos he said he would eat it since his wife lovingly kept aside one for him (bummer!!! is what I actually thought, but lets just let it pass shall we?)
So anyways, he loved the cinnamon roll to the extent he asked me why I don't make it at home. And so that's what I did, make cinnamon rolls. The first time I didn't take pics nor did I bookmark the recipe and so had to search around a bit this time. No luck still and so I had to make do with a new one. It wasn't as perfect as the first time, but we loved it nonetheless. I have bookmarked another recipe as well, and if it turns out better than this one, it shall be replaced. For now here are the details:
Recipe adapted from here
Milk- 1/4 cup
Water- 1/4 cup
Butter- 1 tbsp
Active dry yeast- 1 1/8 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Plain flour- 1 1/2 cups
Granulated sugar- 1/4 cup
Egg- 1 small

Butter- 1 1/2 tbsp, melted
Brown sugar- 4 tbsp
Cinnamon powder- 1 tbsp

Powdered sugar- 1/2 cup
Butter- 3/4 tbsp, melted
Milk- 3/4 tbsp
Vanilla essence- 1/4 tsp
Heat together the milk, butter and water in a saucepan until just about warm.
Stir in the yeast till it is diluted. Keep aside for 5 to 6 minutes.
Into a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt, sugar and egg. Mix well.
Pour the yeasted mixture into the flour mix and using the dough hook attachment on your mixer, knead till the entire thing comes together. 
Alternatively, dust your work top with enough flour and knead till the dough becomes pliable and is not sticky any more.
Place in a lightly greased bowl and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen well, punch it down and place on a floured surface.
Roll it out into a rectangle shape, about half an inch in thickness, using as little flour as possible.
Brush the melted butter generously on to the rolled out dough. 
Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle this mix on top of the butter, as evenly as possible.
Then carefully start rolling the dough from the longer side. Pinch the edges once you reach the end to seal it in.
Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 8 to 10 slices.
Place the dough, cut side down on to a greased baking pan and leave aside to rise for another hour or so.
Once it has doubled in size place in the middle shelf of an oven pre heated at 190C and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
Once done, remove and let it cool for 10 minutes
In the mean time make the glaze by mixing together all the ingredients under that section till you get a thick frosting. 
Pour over the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy with a cuppa.
Notes: The dough ended up being pretty loose and sticky and I kinda struggled with it. So had to use quite a bit of extra flour for kneading.
I preheated the oven at 100C for about 5 minutes and placed the dough inside for it to rise the first time.
I knew it would be a problem while rolling it out so I placed a baking paper under and started rolling. Although it wasn't easy, I was sill able to manage without the dough sticking too much to the paper.
The second rising time exceeded quite a bit because we suddenly decided to catch a movie and so it stayed that way for about 3 hours. I don't know if it made any difference though.
Replace the brown sugar with granulated sugar if you don't have the latter.

Sending this to the Monthly Mingle event hosted over at Kulsum's Journey Kitchen where this month the theme is Yeasted Doughs. The event is the brainchild of the ever talented Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Almond and pistachio cake

Two posts in a week, yaaay! Its an achievement for me to be honest. What with the weather being so shitty, my pictures never come out well and I hate doing a blog post with horrid pictures. This ones not too great either, but then the recipe is definitely a keeper and since I couldn't anticipate when I'd make it again, I had to pen it down for posterity. 

I hadn't baked in ages (well, a month to be precise) and somehow that urge to eat a freshly baked cake right out of the oven passed along with a lot of other urges and so baking has been kept to a minimum. We have turned religiously to eating fruit after meals, trying to make the most of summer bounty before the bloody autumn sets in (which by the looks of it, has already set in UK- Its 12pm here in London but looks more like 7pm).
So when I somehow stumbled upon this recipe on the Good Food website, I decided to bake. I left aside all my work and declared the day as a lazy day. I even had half a mind to skip my swimming session, but since i was enjoying it so much, I didn't. I even watched a couple of movies (blinding out the fact that I would have double the amount of work to do the next day, since I had deadlines to meet), and was almost gonna call Ro and ask him to pick up some Chinese food on the way back, when I thought I should make him some Tagliatelle pasta which he has been asking me for so long. So instead I asked him to pick up a bottle of Italian wine :)

This is the first time I've used pistachios in baking, or rather cooking at all. I was really sceptical about the final outcome and so halved the recipe. The cake caught me by surprise as it was one of the moistest evah. The pistachios were not too overpowering, but at the same time the cake did taste exotic, not to mention how easy it was putting it together

So, while I'm typing out this recipe, and its pouring outside, I have declared today also as a lazy day where I shall not even be going to the pool, but be sitting at home and researching on the places to visit and treks to do on our annual holiday, end of this month. See what lethargy can do to me? I'm now so concerned I would continue this state till end of the week :O (and maybe even block my editors off gtalk, so they wont harass me about corrections and deadlines)
Recipe halved from here
Butter- 125 gms at room temperature
Caster sugar- 100 gms
Eggs- 2
Ground almonds- 60 gms
Ground pistachio nuts- 50 gms
Plain flour- 25 gms
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Beat together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
Mix together the plain flour and baking powder and stir this into the egg-butter mix followed by ground almonds and pistachios.
Alternatively, mix the flour, baking pwd, and ground nuts together and add it altogether.
Give a good stir and pour into a greased 9 inch baking dish.
Place in an oven pre heated at 180C and bake for about 40 minutes.
Do the skewer test and then cool on a wire rack.
I dug into it while it was still warm.
Notes: The original recipe called for lemon zest, which I avoided.
Replace the plain flour with cornmeal for a gluten free version
I bought a pack of pistachio nuts and ground them at home. I kinda over did it, so the oil kinda made it clump together. That's why you can see specks of green here and there. Make sure you get the pistachio in the powder form itself.
The cake was a bit too greasy and so I'd probably reduce the butter next time.
The cake was nice and sweet for my liking and so I avoided the pistachio topping. Feel free to try it out, recipe is available in the link.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Spicy Bombay potatoes

I honestly never intended to take such a long break from blogging. It just happened and I kinda started enjoying the peace and quiet that came after the cooking process.  I mean I enjoyed not rushing to catch the sun for good pictures, to arrange and wash the props and to be honest, I kinda liked the 'not cooking fancy dishes so i can show off on my blog' phase a whole lot that I pretended I didn't even have a food blog.

In between I would whine to Ro about how I haven't updated the blog in over 10 days and he would be least bit bothered. It kinda rubbed off on me too, I must add. So when a whole lot of you guys wrote in asking if everything was fine, I was overwhelmed. The London Riots didn't affect us much, except for a day when all the nearby supermarkets and shops were shut, just as a precaution, which put me in a bit of a distress considering I plan on a day to day basis (not just grocery, everything in life really). But otherwise, the affected areas were no where near ours and so it was fine. Its all under control now and thank you so so much for writing in.
Anyways, coming to the recipe...a couple of days back I was so lazy to cook that I decided to pick up one of those ready meals from the store. I would never learn from my mistakes, and so picked up Indian grub. Yes I bought Bombay Potatoes and pulao from a British grocery store. Did I think it would be authentic? I don't know, those Bombay potatoes looked so yum and I decided to just go ahead and buy it (without thinking, of course!). It tasted so horrid but I had to force it down my throat, because I had to "pay" for my actions. That's when I wondered, c'mon how difficult can it be to make these at home, and I did, today!
Bombay potatoes are so damn popular here in UK, you can find it in almost all the grocery stores and heck Shwartz even has a spice mix called Bombay potatoes. I wonder if there is actually something called Bombay Potatoes errr.. in Bombay? Or is it like the Chicken Manchurian which I presume originated in India and the Chinese have no idea about? Whatever the scene, I made it today and it was waaaay better than the store bought one. You can serve this hot or cold, and serve as a side to grilled chicken or Indian breads.

I have also entered this into the 'Love the Garden' competition (which I should have done long back, but obviously waited till 3 days before it ends), so it would be great if you can head over and vote for this recipe. I already feel kinda lame asking you guys for a favour :)
Baby pearl potatoes- 250 gms (washed and scrubbed well)
Red onion- 1 large
Ginger paste- 1/2 tbsp
Garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Chilli powder- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/8th tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Tomato- 1 small (optional)
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig (optional)
Oil- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Pre cook the potatoes till they are about fork tender. Not too mushy though. You can do this either in a microwave, pressure cooker (1 whistle) or on the stove top by boiling it in water. keep aside.
Heat oil in a large wok and splutter the mustard seeds.
Add the curry leaves at this point (if using) and stir for a couple of seconds.
In goes the onions. Sauté till they are about light brown in colour, on medium heat.
Add the ginger and garlic paste and continue to cook till the raw smell disappears, about 5 minutes or so on medium heat. 
Add the spices- coriander powder, chilli powder, cumin powder and turmeric powder- and mix well. Cook till they no longer smell raw, but nice and fragrant instead.
Tip in the chopped tomato and stir well. Cook till oil starts separating. Add a wee bit of water if it starts scorching at the base.
Season with enough salt.
Add the cooked potatoes and mix them all together, making sure the masala coats the potatoes well.
Increase the heat a bit and let it roast in the spices for a couple of minutes. Make sure you keep stirring in between.
Sprinkle the garam masala on top, give it a good stir and after about 2 minutes, take them off the flame.
Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy!
Notes: You can do the same with large potatoes, just that pre cooking them might take a bit longer. You might also want to peel them in that case.
Adjust the spice level if you are not up for it.
Some versions have bell pepper, I didnt have any at hand, so omitted it. Feel free to add it along with the potatoes.