Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Thumbprint Cookies

Its been only a recent curiosity. Baking. Especially cookies. Christmas was approaching soon, and I had no idea what my contribution to this years feast was going to be. I started my web search. something easy, something fun. something useful for years to come.....then I saw it on! the rave reviews tempted me to try it and it seemed ridiculously easy. My guests loved these cookies and it turned out to be a great choice. I had decided to make some basic butter cookies with thumbprint filling. They were warm, soft and filled with total yumminess. The fillings inside the thumbprint can be anything you wish. I first started it off with Apricot Preserves & Raspberry Jam. Later, I melted 1/4th cup semi-chocolate with 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening and used the sauce as a chocolate filling. Results? each time they were gobbled up! I made 48 cookies in the last two days. Try it, you will find yourself wanting more. Maybe the next time I make this, I will put some exotic honey in the center...*drool*

Holiday Thumbprint Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 2 table spoons of anything you wish. Jam-Chocolate Sauce-Honey

* Equipment: a 1/2-inch-thick wooden spoon handle or dowel

Make dough:
Whisk together flour and salt. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, then beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6-inch disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Assemble and bake cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll a level teaspoons of dough each into a ball, then flatten the ball slightly (to 1 inch wide and less than 1/2 inch thick). Make a deep indentation in center of each round with wooden spoon handle. Make more cookies, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets.

Fill indentations in each cookie with jam
Bake until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Bake more batches on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Egg Curry

Egg Curry is one of the easiest indian dish to make (along with Chana Masala, a.k.a Chole)My mom is the indian expert here, I merely try to follow in her foot steps. My egg curry has been a mixture of several recipes through the course of ten years. This particular dish tonight was made in a hurry. I had no meat, and barely some vegetables. But I did have eggs, and always keep my indian spice rack nearby.

Egg Curry

Serves 4

4 eggs, boiled and sliced
half can of whole peeled tomtatoes
1 medium red onions sliced
2 medium garlic crushed
1/2 teapsoon ginger
1/3 cup tamarind paste
1/2 tspn turmeric
1 tspn coriander powder
1 tspn red chili powder
1 tspn garam masala
Salt and Pepper to taste
coriander leaves
lemon Juice

Tamarind Paste:
you can either buy this, or make it. I buy the dried tamarind from the indian store. Soak a handful in hot water. After ten minutes, squeeze and mash till the juice is nice and thick. Throw away excess tamarind skin and seeds from the sauce.
Thick juice is the tamarind paste. Set aside.

Sautee sliced onion with crushed garlic in a saucepan till about half way soft. About 5 mins. Gather about 4-5 small whole peeled tomatoes and slice in half. Place the onions and tomatoes in a food processor. Blend the ingredients, but not to a complete sauce. Leave it chunky (thats the way I prefer it). In the same sauce pan, add the ginger, turmeric, coriander, red chili powder and mix well. Add in about 3 tablespoons of some of the tomatoe juice remaining in the can. Mix and sautee all spices togther, till it starts to boil and thicken. Add the onion-tomato mixture. Blend well and mix till it starts to bubble. Add in the tamarind sauce and garam masala (this masala always goes in last because it has a tendency to evaporate rather quickly). Mix well. Add the 4 sliced eggs on top along with about a 1/3 cup of water. Mix all and boil for about five minutes covered.

Garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice. Serve with fresh rice or bread.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Spaghetti Bolognese

I made this dish out of sheer curiosity. It seemed so simple to make, but it wasn't.I think a true bolognese is a dish that is passed down from generations, each family with its own superb version. This superb version, to be the ultimate creation of several trials and errors. My first attempt was delicious, though I have a feeling this dish will evolve to become a family favorite.

Here is my try at the Italian classic

Spaghetti Bolognese

1 lb ground lean beef
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 medium sized chopping onions
1 29 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes in juice
3 small garlic cloves
Italian seasoning
1/4th cup red wine
Cooked spaghetti

Heat oil in a saucepan. Sautee garlic when hot and then put in the onions. Sautee onions till medium, add carrots. Mix both together, till vegetables are soft. Add in italion seasonings and beef. Cook well, not dark brown. It will still have to simmer, and you don't want the beef to fry, as you want the sauce to be tender. Add the wine, simmer for about 5 mins on low heat till liquid evaporates. Add, the whole peeled tomatoes (pull them apart by hand before putting them in the beef). Mix well, add some juice from the tomatoes (add tomato sauce to sub). Simmer on real low for about half an hour. Serve with freshly cooked spaghetti.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Butter Nut Squash Soup

I am not a big fan of soup. Prior to getting married, soup was the last dish I would try. It's because my mother used to make me eat mutton bone soup when I was a child. It was the most disgusting thing I ever had in my life. Naturally, when I came to the United States I noticed that soup is a very popular dish. Especially in the winter. My husband introduced me to thick warm soups that can warm your heart after a cold day at work. Butter Nut Squash soup was one of the first that I tried and loved. I have made many different varieties of this delicious squash but this by far has to be the best recipe. Yum.

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4

1 1/2 lb of butternut squash peeled and chopped 1" thick
2 1/2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 onions sliced (or 3 medium shallots)
3 medium garlic cloves, crushed
3/4th cup soy milk (regular milk, heavy cream all work well)
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
Chives (optional for decoration)

Pre-Heat the oven to 375 degrees

Place the butter nut squash pieces in a bowl for baking. Toss with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast for 50 minutes or until very tender.

After the squash has become tender and soft, sed aside. Heat some olive oil in a large pot. Put in some garlic, sautee and immediately thereafter put in the shallots (or onions). Sautee both until very soft. Add the pinch of nutmeg, and a bit of salt. Pour in the chicken broth. Add the roasted squash. Simmer.

Place the squash/broth mixture in blender half way full. Take off the small lid on the blender, & replace it with a wet paper towel. This is to allow the steam to escape yet not splatter all over you. Blend the entire mixture, in parts. After all the mixture has blended, place it back into the pot and let it simmer with gradually adding the milk. Mix till desired consistency. Decorate with chives.
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pot Roast

Its fall. The leaves are changing, the air is getting brisk and its time to put something warm and fulfilling on the dining room table. I had a few ideas that I wanted to make tonight, but there was only one thing that I was absolutely craving. Pot Roast! It had been a year since I last made this dish, and with such a great turn over with the Roshashana Brisket- it seemed like the ideal candidate.

So, off we went. The old Whole Foods by us that used to once be at a walking distance, now is operating within driving distance and is twice the size . I love going to the supermarket. Yeah, I am a weirdo- but nothing thrills me than going to a brand new store, especially when it happens to be your favorite. There were so many different varieties of the same thing. I bought a bag of mixed peppercorns, for something I will definitely try at another date.Their meat market is super fantastic. There were so many different types of fresh meat available Yippeee!!. Anyway, I got home and decided to get cooking right away. Since a pot roast takes a good 2 1/2 hrs to cook, it was exactly 4 pm and I also wanted to cook dessert.

Pot Roast
Serves 4

2 1/2 lb chuck roast
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
1 whole red onion sliced fine
Handful of baby carrots whole
6 small (tiny, or small red pot.) yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 cup plum/vine chopped tomatoes
3 small pressed garlic cloves
Salt & Pepper

Pre Heat the oven to 325 degrees

Heat the dutch oven with a little bit of oil. Rub salt and black pepper all over the chuck and then sear it on both sides. About 5 mins on each side. Remove from pan. Throw in the garlic, and then the onions. Sautee the onions with the garlic till the onions are very soft. Mix in the broth, red wine and add the meat back into the pot. Then put in the ketchup & Worcestershire sauce. Mix and let it simmer.Remove from the stove and place right into the oven. Let it cook for 60 mins. Add the potatoes and the carrots. Cook another 50 mins or till veggies are cooked through.
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