Noel Nut balls

Oops, I forgot to post my day 4 recipe for the marathon, I did post day 5 with the chocolate cake! Anyway barring that mistake, this would be the day 6 of the marathon and the 11th in my books (confusing numbers eh?!) Well these are yet another batch of cookies that I made to be sent to friends this year- absolutely delicious people!

A success story modified from the Martha Stewart recipe for Noel Nut balls, I am beginning to like her cookie recipes…
Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp orange juice
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans (best if chopped by hand)
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp clove powder


  • Method
  • Cream butter and honey until fluffy. Add orange juice, and beat to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, confectioners’ sugar, and salt, nutmeg, clove powder. Add to the butter mixture, and beat to combine. Flatten the dough in two halves as discs. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the flattened discs into about 1/2 inch wide pieces, sort of criss-cross. Take each piece and shape them into circles.
  • Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. Bake until brown around the edges, 12 to 13 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Roll in confectioners’ sugar to coat.
Judgement

These cookies are delicious with the perfect amount of sweetness and crunchiness. They melt in your mouth- you gotta give them a try!
I will BE off to visit friends in DC today, so I am not sure if I can keep posting but just in case I cannot

WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY 2010, HOPEFULLY 2010 WILL BRING IN A LOT OF FUN AND EXCITEMENT!!

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Christmas eve a la B

Science… never solves a problem without creating ten more- Bernard Shaw

Merry Christmas y’all!! Kinda late for that but hey the thought is what counts doesn’t it? So the 24th evening we had a small get together with great people and even greater food. Lot of Japanese treats and snacks. For the main course we had Pav-bhaji, Rajma and Japanese rice (with radish, bamboo, beets and carrots- I should ask my friend for the recipe, it tasted real good!) . For dessert we had ice cream and an eggless chocolate cake.  I was aiming for a black forest cake but somehow lost my enthusiasm and made a chocolate cake with whipped cream and toasted almond topping.

Ingredients

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 can condensed milk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup water
a pinch of salt
1 tsp almond extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 360F.
Sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix all the ingredients (dry and wet) with half a cup of water and whisk until everything is combined.
Pour the mixture into a 6 inch cake pan (I used 7 inch and my cake was not as tall as I expected it to be) and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the topping,

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tsp rose water
6 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Whisk the cream, rose water and sugar until stiff peaks form. You can make it ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until ready to use.

Top the cooled cake with the whipped cream topping, toasted almonds and some chocolate curls (my curls were more like powdered since I used a grater!)

Judgement
It was a really good cake, and this time I did not feel the taste of wheat flour. Loved the almond-whipped cream-chocolate topping! Yummo….

Gingerbread house

Oh the warm smell of spices is the hallmark of the holiday season and is the one thing we all love, don’t we? GInger is definitely one spice that I love to include in my cooking/baking expeditions during this time of the year. So I was naturally happy to see that this month we were doing the gingerbread house for this month’s challenge, well it was a fleeting moment anyway until I realized that it was yet another kitchen mishap. Consider this my 10th new recipe and the 3rd in Nupur’s marathon.


The December 2009 Daring Baker’s challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book  as the challenge recipes.
I used Y’s recipe


Ingredients
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, well packed
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour



Method

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until blended. Add the spices. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time, which I did have to do. Chill 2 hours or overnight.  (Here is where my problem started)

Cut patterns for the house on cardboard/poster board
Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.

Cut required shapes and transfer these to the baking sheet. Save the scraps and reroll them if necessary.

Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on the gingerbread and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.







Royal Icing:



1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren’t using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.


Problem: 

Something happened and I do not have a clue as to why- the dough was extremely dry. It was stiff  and powdery. Somehow we (the wise guy and me) got the dough together and left it in the refrigerator. But the next day when I took it out to roll and cut shapes out everything fell apart, there was enough moisture release from the dough. I still managed to roll it out, cut some vague patterns and even bake it. But when I tried to put together the house, it started to break apart as it obvious from the picture, well so is my frustration! I tried to decorate it but it was too much, so all I did was put the pieces together- somehow it all stayed for a few seconds for me to get a picture….



Split peas ISKON style, really…

It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can’t eat for eight hours; he can’t drink for eight hours; he can’t make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work- Faulkner


Here is the recipe for the challenge, the 8th in my book. For the longest time I thought green split peas are the same as pigeon peas, so I bought some dried split peas. Now let me tell I am not a great fan of the split pea soup, I should have known then that they are not the same, because I love pigeon peas! The year end cleaning session led to this recipe using split peas. 


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups green split peas
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 green chili, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
about 3/4 of a 16 oz bag of frozen spinach
1 cup coconut milk
Oil for cooking
1¼ tsp kalonji seeds
asafetida powder
1 tsp fresh lime juice

Water and vegetable broth for cooking the dal
Salt and pepper to taste


Method

Wash and drain the split peas and soak them in hot water for 30 minutes.
Bring to the boil the ginger, chili, water/broth, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and split peas and pressure cook all these ingredients.
Add the chopped spinach to the dal. When the spinach is soft and the dal is smooth, add the salt, pepper and coconut milk and return to a simmer.
Seasoning: heat the oil in a small pan. Fry the kalonji seeds in the hot oil for 1 minute. add the asafetida and fry momentarily. Add the spices to the soup, mix well, and allow the spices to soak for a few minutes. Add the fresh lemon or lime juice. Serve hot.


Judgement– While I loved the seasonings, the dal itself not so much- as I said, I do not like split peas and I am glad I have only 1/2 cup of it left!

Merry X-mas everyone, sorry for the belated 
wishes!

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Cookies galore for friends- Lime Meltaways


All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion and desire- Aristotle

You do understand that I had to do this, don’t you? The 7 day-7 recipe marathon that a lot of us have signed up for, check Nupur’s blog to check about rest of the players. This year, just like the last, I am making a bunch of cookies for friends. Lime meltaways as Martha Stewart calls them are the first of the lot. They have the very refreshing, very familiar citrus flavor and they were so delicate that I decided not to ship them.
Ingredients
  • 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I did half butter and half crisco vegetable shortening)
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Method
Cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.

Roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour in parchment paper.

Heat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. 

Burmese Rice #6


“There is no use trying, said Alice; one can’t believe impossible things. I dare say you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”- Lewis Caroll


Yes, I am getting well versed with the art of believing in impossible things. I might not be a great cook or a baker but hey, that does not stop me from doing something I love. In fact cooking is like doing experiments in the lab, they are not that different really! This is a very delicious recipe modified from here. I am not sure if it really is a Burmese dish but it does not matter, does it?! 


Ingredients


1 1/2 cups rice
1 sliced green pepper
1 1/2 cups boiled mixed vegetables (carrots, beans and green peas)
1 onion sliced
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
Tomato ketchup
Chilli garlic sauce
Oil for cooking
Salt and pepper to taste


To grind,
1 inch ginger
4 green chillies
3 cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red chilli powder


Method


Grind the ingredients listed above to a paste and add vinegar to the paste (mine was not a paste since my blender is terrible at these things, I used a mortar-pestle instead).
Marinate the sliced green peppers in the paste for about 30 min.
Heat oil in a pan and once hot, add the sugar. Once sugar melts, add cinnamon and cloves.
Saute the rice for a minute or two and transfer to a microwave-safe bowl. Add enough water and salt to taste. Cook the rice. Once cooked, mix in tomato ketchup (I did not add too much of this) and chilli-garlic sauce (how much ever you like, I made mine spicy). Keep aside


Heat up more oil in the pan and saute onions until it turns golden brown.
Add all the veggies including the green peppers, more tomato ketchup and chilli-garlic sauce. (I salted and peppered mine at different stages)
Stir fry for about 5 minutes or so.


Preheat oven to 450F.
Grease a square baking dish with cooking spray. Add alternate layers of rice and veggies. 
Place the dish in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes.


Judgement


I thought it was going to come out dry but it turned out to be a flavourful rice dish that was not dry at all. Although next time I would add a teaspoon more of vinegar and marinate for a little longer because I did not really feel the vinegary green peppers.