Peanut Butter Cookies

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Have a fascination for peanuts, peanut butter and cookies too? This may be just the combination for you. Peanut butter cookies. Eat them warm or cool, but they won’t stay long in those airtight containers. Because they’re so damn delicious. With pieces of chunky peanuts, besides the peanut butter itself in the batter, these are irresistible.

Peanuts grow in Saurashtra, close to where I live in Ahmedabad, and every year in January when we go to the village we get back peanuts with us, peanuts in their covers, and peanuts the covers of which have been removed. So with so many peanuts, we make all kinds of dishes. We put them in poha( spiced flattened rice), we add them to dals, we fry them and eat them mixed with onions and spices and we make chutnies with them. And of course, peanut butter cookies! Life doesn’t get better than this.

I’ve chosen this recipe of peanut butter cookies from The Cookie And Biscuit Bible. The book is full of goodies you can make, from cookies and biscuits, to brownies and chocolates.

So here is the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 20-24

Ingredients

115 gms/ 1/2 cup butter at room temperature, diced

125 gms/ 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 egg

5 ml/ 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

225 gms/ 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

50 gms peanuts

115 gms/ 1 cup plain ( all purpose) flour

2.5 ml/ 1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate ( baking soda)

pinch of salt

Method

1 In a medium or large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer till light and fluffy.

2 In a small bowl mix the egg and vanilla essence, then mix into the butter mixture.

3 Stir in the peanut butter and peanuts and blend thoroughly.

4 Sift the flour, soda bicarbonate and salt into the mixture and stir gently to form a soft dough. Donot overmix.

5 Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes until firm.

6 Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F/ gas 4. Grease two baking sheets.

7 Take teaspoons full of the dough, make into balls, press flat into rounds and make a criss cross pattern with the tines of a fork. They should each be 6 cms in diameter. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until lightly colored.

8 Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cooled you can store them in an airtight container.

 

Kacha Pakka Carrot Vegetable

Ours is a polarized country, a polarized world even. Still, we all want to be happy. This post includes a recipe, yes, but I am also writing this post because peace and love and unity are important for humankind. I want peace and unity between India and Pakistan and Hindus and Muslims within India.

Below is a poem I wrote some years ago that sadly is still relevant today.

The scourge of barbed wire fences,

The scourge of urban ghettos,

The scourge of my brother under subjection.

When did we turn against each other?

Spew venom and hatred at each other?

Divide ourselves across borders,

Hindus, Muslims? Indians, Pakistanis?

 

There is no worse vice than this,

When we behave this way,

Mazhab nahi sikhaata, aapas mein bair rakhnaa,

But we trample upon human goodness,

Hide behind past lives and reincarnation.

The scourge of barbed wire fences,

The scourge of urban ghettos,

The scourge of my brother under subjection.

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I’m moving on to the recipe I mentioned to you about earlier. I’m happy when I cook and blog, and we all strive for joy.

This recipe is called Kacha Pakka Carrot Vegetable or semi cooked carrot vegetable.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

750 gms peeled and grated winter carrots

3 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

10-12 curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

Chilly powder to taste

Salt to taste

Method

1 Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan on medium heat.

2 Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to pop, add the curry leaves. They will begin to sputter.

3 Add the turmeric powder and asafoetida. Cook for a few seconds.

4 Put in the grated carrots, chilly powder and salt and cook on high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

5 Remove from flame and serve hot.

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Fruit Mincemeat

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I got this recipe from a lovely cookbook in the British Library many years ago. The book was so good that I photocopied it from end to end but unfortunately didn’t copy the cover page. Strangely enough nowhere inside was the name of the book written. So I’m at a complete loss as to who the author of this wonderful fruit mincemeat recipe is.

The recipe is not very boozy and although the original recipe had brandy in it I put rum instead. I’ve also changed the quantities of some of the fresh and tinned fruits in it.

This makes an excellent gift for someone who likes to bake. You can make mince pies, marzipan mince tarts, mince muffins: the delicious list is endless. Fruit mincemeat is usually made at Christmas time but since here in Ahmedabad all the fresh fruits are still in season, I decided to give it a go.

So here is the recipe.

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Fruit Mincemeat

Makes 1 kg

Ingredients

450 gms mixed dried fruit such as raisins, candied peel, candied ginger, cranberries, currants

25 gms glacé cherries, chopped

25 gms blanched almonds, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, ground cloves and mixed spice

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and half orange

55 gms soft brown sugar

55 gms butter

55 gms tinned pineapple, chopped

1 banana, chopped

1 dessert apple, grated

100 gms grapes, halved

2 tablespoons rum

Method

1 Put the dried fruit, cherries, almonds, spices and zest and juice into a mixing bowl and leave to soak for 2 to 3 hours.

2 Stir in the sugar.

3 Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and on high heat toss the fresh and tinned fruit for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.

4 Mix the the cooled fresh and tinned fruit with the dried fruit. Add the rum and give it a good stir.

5 Cover and store in the refrigerator for no more than a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

 

Preparing To Bake A Cake

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Baking a cake is scientific. It involves clear measurements and proper temperatures. If you don’t get these right your cake won’t turn out well. So here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re baking a cake.

1. Keep all the ingredients ready before hand- Go through the list of ingredients written in the recipe. Take out each one, measure it as per the recipe and lay it on the cooking platform or kitchen table. Make sure you’ve not forgotten any ingredient. Flour should preferably be measured by weighing it on a kitchen weighing scale rather than in cups.

2. Bring ingredients to room temperature unless otherwise specified-Bring the butter and eggs to room temperature. Soften the butter. If the eggs are cold and need to be brought to room temperature quickly you can put them in a pan of hot water for 10 minutes.

3.  Have all your baking tools and equipment ready-Imagine missing your oven mitts when you need to remove the cake from the oven. A few minutes longer searching for them and the cake may burn.

4. Preheat the oven- You must preheat your oven for at least 10 minutes before putting the cake batter into the oven to bake. A cake usually bakes at 175 degrees C in the center of the oven.

5. Prepare the pan- You must grease and flour the cake pan before putting the batter into it so that the cake comes out easily once baked.

Walnut Marzipan Chocolate

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I was delighted that Rachana and Adi were coming home for the first time. I had only met Rachana at my aunt’s place, which was like her second home. My aunt, who is no more and she were dear friends. My aunt and I were very close too. She is the inspiration behind my love of baking. So when Rachana said she wanted to come home with her hubby I was happy. She got some prasad, homemade sheera for mom and dad and me, it was so tasty. And we had Bhel puri for dinner and then coffee and chocolates afterwards.

Here’s the recipe of the chocolates I made as an after dinner treat. They’re yum, if I may say so myself. You’ve got to make them at home.

Makes 10

Ingredients

150 gms marzipan ( you can take the marzipan recipe from my blog)

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts + 10 halves for decoration

150 gms melted dark chocolate

Method

1 Mix the chopped walnuts into the marzipan.

2 Shape the marzipan into a 9 inch log.

3 With a sharp oiled knife chop the log into 10 even pieces.

4 Dip each piece into the melted chocolate covering the marzipan completely.

5 Before the chocolate covering dries stick a walnut half onto the marzipan. Leave to dry

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week but they will be gone long before that!

 

Kutch’s Famous Dabeli

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When you travel to Kutch in the winters, the land is barren, after all you’re deep in the desert. It’s biting cold. The temperature goes down to 6 degrees and even lower. It’s called the White Rann of Kutch and the best time to see these desert sands is on a full moon night when they glisten under the moonlight. It’s also absolutely wonderful what technology can do. The place, which is arid and dry and scorching in the summers becomes a flourishing tourist spot in the winter months. I stayed in a tent, there are tents for every budget. You certainly can’t call them basic, there’s steaming hot water coming out of the bathroom taps when you want it.

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The food is sumptuous and  everyone who attends the festival enjoys the food. There’s so much variety and the organisers keep everyone’s tummies full. There was toast and milk and cornflakes and fruit and fruit juice and tea and coffee, and poha and chole puri and upma and tiny uttapams and freshly made theplas and pickle, one day for breakfast.

Kutchi hospitality is renowned and so is the honesty of the locals. The locals are not well off and winter tourism is a boon for them. Our hosts exuded warmth and none of our belongings went missing, ever.

There is time to relax and rest and enjoy the winter sun if you wish to and enjoy at your own pace, or you can participate in adventure sports, go on a bus tour to see the sunrise and sunset over the desert, go see the palace of the Kutch royals, shop till you drop, and visit the art gallery in the Tent City. And there’s more…..

The Kutch Festival is held from Nov 15th to Jan 15th every year. You can book online. Just don’t forget to take your woolens along.

On a tour I took, the guide made us taste the original Kutchi Dabeli in Mandvi, which is known for its ship building besides. And the beautiful palace of the Kutch royals.

I’ve made it and here is the recipe. Try it at home. It tastes of love mainly, eaten freshly made.

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Makes 8

Ingredients

3 tablespoons dabeli masala- store bought

3 tablespoons sweet date chutney plus 8 teaspoons more to spread on the buns

3 tablespoons oil

3 cups boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes

8 dabeli buns, any plain buns will also do.

8 teaspoons garlic chutney

2 medium onions, finely chopped

Some finely chopped fresh coriander

3/4 cup roughly crushed masala peanuts

3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

3/4 cup fine sev

4 tablespoons butter

Method

1 In a small bowl add the dabeli masala to the sweet chutney and mix. Heat the oil on medium flame and pour this mix into the hot oil. Cook for a few seconds. Now add the peeled and mashed potatoes to the hot oil mix and give the masala and potatoes a good stir. Keep this potato filling aside.

2. Take a dabeli pav or a bun and cut horizontally in half. Spread some garlic chutney on the insides of each of the dabeli pav( bun) halves. Next, spread the sweet date chutney on each half bun. Spread a layer of the potato filling on to the bottom half (over the chutney). Sprinkle some coriander, some peanuts and some pomegranate, then top it off with some fine sev. Cover this half bun with the top half. Prepare the other dabeli buns the same way.

3. In a non stick pan put two blobs of butter and heat. Put 4 dabelis into the pan and cook till golden brown,  first the base and then overturturned. Remove from the pan and serve hot.

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Homemade Brown Sugar

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Wish you a Merry Christmas! It’s the festive season and all of us who bake must have brown sugar at home. But what if your stock of brown sugar is over? And you don’t have time to go to the grocery store? Well then, I have a cheaper, equally delicious tasting (with all the depth of flavor) alternative for you so you can make those tasty gingerbread cookies.

You only need two ingredients. Molasses or treacle (the British equivalent of molasses) and white granulated sugar. For light brown sugar add 1 tablespoon of molasses to I cup of white granulated sugar and mix with a fork. For dark brown sugar add two tablespoons of molasses to I cup of white granulated sugar and mix with a fork. There you are! Your brown sugar is ready to use.

Do remember that brown sugar is measured differently from white granulated sugar. Because brown sugar forms clumps, when you pour it into a cup there will be air pockets so you must press it down with a spoon and ‘pack’ it. That’s why we read recipes asking for a ‘cup of packed brown sugar’.

So here’s to happy cookie baking!

photo credit: mareefe

World Peace Cookies

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Peace, such a common word but so important, especially in these turbulent times. Now just imagine that you could help in bringing peace to the world. Yes you can, one cookie at a time.

Dorie Greenspan who’s wonderful recipe this is, says-

“The original recipe for these cookies was given to me by my friend, Pierre Hermé, the wonderful Parisian pastry chef.  In the cookies’ first incarnation, they were called Sablés Chocolats, or chocolate shortbread.  In their second, the one in which chopped chocolate was added to the sweet/salty dough, they were dubbed Sables Korova and were served at the Paris restaurant of the same name.  Finally, a neighbor of mine gave them the name they truly deserve:  World Peace Cookies.  He was convinced that if everyone in the world could have these cookies, there would be planetary peace.  I hope he’s right.  What I know for sure is that everyone who has these cookies smiles and smiles are pretty powerful”.

So bring a smile to somebody’s face this Christmas by making these absolutely delicious cookies, smiles and happiness as opposed to hate are a sign of peace in the world. Make these wonderful cookies today.

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And the good news is, they don’t have eggs in them so if you don’t eat eggs like some Gujaratis where I live, this recipe is reason to cheer!

 

Here is the recipe

Makes 30 cookies

Ingredients

1/4 cups (170 gms) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (30 gms) cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (155 gms) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (135 gms) packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup (50 gms) sugar

1/2 teaspoon fleur del sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces (140 gms) bittersweet chocolate chopped into smaller than 1/3 inch pieces

Method

1 Sift and mix the all purpose flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

2 Beat the butter and sugars till soft and creamy.

3 Add the salt and vanilla extract to the butter sugar mixture and beat until incorporated.

4 Gently fold in the flours until just mixed. Don’t overmix.

5 Add the chocolate pieces and mix until just incorporated.

6 Put the dough on a work surface and divide into half. Roll each half into a log measuring 1 1/2 inches (4 cms ) in diameter. Wrap  the logs in plastic tightly and twist the ends and keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months).

7 Heat the oven to 165 degrees C (325 degrees F) with a rack in the center. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

8 Using a sharp knife to slice the logs into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) rounds. If the rounds crack while cutting them, don’t worry, just press the bits back together. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, about 5 cms apart. Keep the remaining dough chilled until you are ready to bake the next batch.

9 Bake the cookies one batch at a time for 12 minutes. When done, they won’t look done or even feel firm to the touch. Let the cookies cool. Serve warm or let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Homemade Vegan Marzipan- compiled recipe links

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

Marzipan is used to make delicious sweets and as a filling or encasing for cakes and chocolates. It is said to have first been made in the Middle East and then travelled to Spain. In India the Portuguese brought marzipan to Goa, but this is a different kind, one made with cashew nuts, not almonds.

Marzipan is mostly made with a combination of sugar and almond flour or ground almonds. The ratio of sugar to almonds varies from place to place. Usually marzipan has a greater ratio of sugar to almond flour, than almond paste in which the sugar content is less or equal to the quantity of almond flour.

Homemade marzipan is so much better than the store bought variety. Because, you know what ingredients go into making homemade marzipan as opposed to store bought, which may be mixed with cheaper ingredients or plain adulterated.

In this post I will share 3 recipes for marzipan, in fact they are links to excellent, easy, doable marzipan recipes on the net. All three are recipes for vegan marzipan. One is a regular vegan marzipan, the other is the Goanese type, and the third is a sugar free marzipan. Check out all three and decide which one you’d like to make this Christmas.

Here are the links:

This is a recipe from a blog, the idea of which I like a lot. Going slow and environment consciousness.

Here is the Goanese recipe with cashew nuts for the base.

Here is a wonderful recipe for sugar free marzipan.

So go ahead and make some delicious sweets and desserts this Christmas for your loved ones.

 

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

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If you can find heaven in a cake then this is it. Sticky, soft, and everything you’ve dreamed of but never had. This cake has a taste of fresh lemon juice because it is soaked with lemon juice after making it, and the poppy seeds in it taste divine.The combination of lemon and poppy seeds is sooo good. A bit unusual for those who haven’t tasted this combination but delicious still.

I love chocolate cakes and I know so do you, and one of these days I’m going to put up a chocolate cake recipe too, but rich fruit cakes taste so good. We’re having guests over this evening and I’m going to delight them with large chunks of this cake. The last time I made it, it was gone in the wink of an eye. Only the crumbs remained in the plate as proof that there had once been a nice big cake before it was devoured.

I’ve taken this recipe from Dan Lepard’s  recipe.

He is a baker from the United Kingdom and one of my favorites. His cookbooks are my prized possessions and are the jewels of my library.

I put only half the amount of lemon and caster sugar syrup given in this recipe, on the cake, and no additional dredging of caster sugar, but the cake was still scrumptious.

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

For the cake

225 gms caster sugar

125 gms unsalted butter, softened

100 ml sunflower oil

Finely grated zest of 3 lemons

4 medium eggs

50 ml hot water

250 gms plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

75 gms oatmeal, or rolled oats finely ground

30 gms poppy seeds

For the syrup

150 gms caster sugar, plus extra to finish

100 ml lemon juice

Method

1 Line a deep 20 cm square cake tin with baking paper. Beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest and oil till light and fluffy, then add one egg at a time and beat well. Then beat the hot water into the mixture.

2 Sift the flour, then add the baking powder and mix well. Then add the oatmeal or the finely ground oats and the poppy seeds, and beat them into the cake mixture.

3 Pour the batter into the tin and bake at 180 degrees C / 160 degrees C fan / 350 degrees F/ gas 4 for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, when inserted into the cake.

4 While the cake is warm, heat the lemon juice and caster sugar till the caster sugar dissolves. Poke the cake all around deep with a fork or a skewer and spread the syrup onto the cake letting it soak it in. Once it has cooled dredge it with more caster sugar.