Archive for October, 2011

Gulab Jamun

October 27, 2011

I’m about to tell you about this recipe where just 1 of the ingredients takes 3 hours to make.

Hello?  Is anyone still out there?

Let me back up.  Happy Diwali!  Diwali may mean fireworks and candles and new beginnings to some folk.  To me it means, make all the food you can…from scratch.  No shortcuts for Diwali; only the most traditional.  So I picked my favorite Indian sweet, that was decidedly the most time consuming to make, cleared my schedule for the day, made it, devoured it, and wished that I had made another batch of the 3 hour ingredient, because we all wanted more.  So I made it again the next day.  Because it’s Diwali, after all.

Don’t you worry, friends.  I’ll give you a short cut recipe for when you do try this.  Because you should most definitely try this.  Think of this as reversed doughnuts: an unsweetened dough dropped in a sugar syrup with a hint of rose and saffron, in order for it to get all soaked up, served warmed.  Sounds divine, doesn’t it?  Make the short cut version – it will be tasty, I’m sure.  But try the real deal during Diwali – it’s supposed to be that way.  A very happy new year to all!

Gulab Jamun (adapted from here)

As much as cardamom is considered an Indian spice, and even though I love it in my spice cookies and breads, I don’t really care for it in my Indian sweets.  But if you prefer that punch, add 1/4 tsp cardamom powder to the dough and knead it in.

For the shortcut version, use dry milk powder instead of the mawo.  Mix the dry ingredients together and then gradually add milk until a dough forms.  You can follow the remaining instructions after that.

1 batch mawo (recipe to follow)

1 cup all purpose flour

scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda

ghee, oil, or a mix for frying

1-2 teaspoons rose water

5-6 strands saffron

3 cups sugar

2 cups water

Knead together the mawo, flour and baking soda (and cardamom, if using) until the dough is completely smooth.  Form tablespoon-size balls.  Roll each ball until it’s completely smooth – no cracks should be on the surface of these balls.  Heat ghee or oil until it reaches 350 degrees.  Fry the dough balls, about 4-5 at a time, until they are golden brown.  Drain on a paper towel.

Combine the sugar and water in a medium pot.  Heat on medium heat until sugar is completely melted and dissolved.  Turn the heat to low and add the rose water and saffron.  Turn heat off.

Add the fried dough to the pot with the sugar syrup.  Transfer everything to a serving bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, to let the dough soak the sugar.  You can serve this at room temperature, or slightly warmed.

Mawo (recipe from here)

1/2 gallon whole milk

Heat the milk, in a non-stick pan over medium high heat.  Stir occasionally until it comes to a boil, and then turn the heat to low/medium-low.  Keep an eye on the milk as it thickens.  It will need a stir every 20 minutes or so, to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, or burn.  Eventually, after about 2 hours, there will be minimal liquid left.  Keep stirring until you have a very dry mixture.

It will start by looking like this:

And will end, about 3.5 hours later, looking like this:

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Homemade Oreos

October 20, 2011

I love nostalgic foods.  I love cookies that can be dunked in milk.  In the Venn diagram of these two finite sets, the only intersection that shows the logical relation between the two are oreos.  I also love Venn diagrams.

Let me explain: oreos are so nostalgic.  I don’t know of anyone that does not immediately think of their childhood when eating an oreo.  But it’s also such a unique cookie.  Contrary to what you may believe, all cookies were not created equal.  You may think that you can dunk just any cookie into milk for tasty satisfaction, but that just isn’t the case.  For a cookie to be fully absorbed by the milk and become soft, as the milk was intended to do, the cookie must be dry.  Sure, there are a lot of dry cookies out there, but the beauty of an oreo is that it also has the creamy, white filling.  It’s not affected by the milk, but it adds to the consistency of the dunked cookie that leads to, well, perfection.

These cookies have the exact properties of that nostalgic oreo: the crumbly, dry, chocolatey wafer-like outside, with the creamy, vanilla-esque center.  I will say, though, that this is a much more grown-up version than the one you’re used to.  The chocolate flavor is much more intense, and the filling much creamier.  Rather than not being able to stop at one, with these, you are quite satisfied with half.

But live with the times, I say!  You are not a child anymore anyway.  So go ahead.  Make these.  Eat these matured oreos.  And dunk away!

Homemade Oreos (from Flour)

This recipe, as with every other recipe that I found, called for Dutch processed cocoa.  I thought that this would be pretty simple to find, but not so much the case.  I looked at five different grocery stores without any luck.  Then I read that a dark chocolate cocoa has a mix of natural and Dutch processed.  I used that and it was fine.  So if you can’t find Dutch processed, go with this.  Don’t take a grocery store tour of your town.

1 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa (see note above)

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix together butter and sugar in a bowl, until well-blended.  Mix in the vanilla and melted chocolate.  Last, add the egg and whisk until everything is well combined.

In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until everything is well incorporated.  Let the dough sit at room temperature for an hour so it has time to get firm.

Place the cooled dough on a large sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper.  Guiding the dough with your hands, roll the dough into a log, about 10 inches long, and 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the excess paper around the dough and twist the ends.  When the dough is covered with the paper, roll into a smoother log and place into the refrigerator until firm – about 1.5 hours.  Every 15 minutes of those 1.5 hours, reroll the log to make sure that the dough doesn’t settle and have a flat side.

Preheat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and place them on the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch.  Let cool on the baking sheet.

Filling (from Retro Desserts)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat the butter and shortening until soft and smooth.  Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is perfectly smooth.

To assemble: Place a tablespoon-full of the filling in the center of one of the cookies.  Press down with another cookie until the filling has spread to the edges.  Repeat with the remaining cookies.

(Nutmeg) Zucchini Bread

October 13, 2011

I know what you’re thinking: “zucchini again?!”  It’s been zucchini overload in the past couple of months, I realize.  And I also am aware that just because I’ve found a new love in zucchini does not mean that I have to impose it on you.  But I have something to say about this.  A couple things, actually:

1. I want you to make this bread, but I have absolutely no idea when zucchini season ends.  It definitely seems like a summer vegetable (but I wouldn’t know, I only started liking it this year).  But it’s still appearing in abundance at the grocery store.  Which could actually all be lies because grocery stores are also selling strawberries (whose season ended back in June, of course).  But my point is I obviously want you to make this when zucchinies are available (though not necessarily “in season”).  And they’re available now!

2. Its not really the zucchini that’s highlighted here.  It’s the spices!  It’s just called zucchini bread, and though it may be an active ingredient, it’s not the star.  I would say the star is the nutmeg…in which case you can call this “nutmeg zucchini bread”.  (You can’t get rid of the zucchini altogether from the name because it’s still a pretty integral component of this bread.  You understand).

3. I don’t have a number 3.  Oh, except to say that I promise I won’t post another zucchini recipe for at least another 6 months!  Even though I’m very sure I’ll make this particular recipe several times in the next six months (only, of course, if I will be able to find zucchinies at the grocery store).  But this has got to be my favorite zucchini recipe thus far.  This bread is also very warm and cozy: that was one last attempt to make you want to make another zucchini recipe.  Now I’ll stop.

Zucchini Bread (adapted from here)

3 eggs
scant 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cinnamon applesauce
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease two loaf pans, liberally.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder salt and nuts in a separate bowl.

Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture and mix well, making sure that all of the flour is well mixed. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan, on a wire rack, for about an hour, then turn out on wire rack to cool completely.

Photo 1 Credit: Hannah Mellman

Flax Seed Granola Bars

October 6, 2011

I had big plans for you this week, friends.  I was going to post candy to get ready for Halloween, and then decided on a pumpkin bread to celebrate fall, and then thought of some pie, because that’s what this season is known for.  And man, do I love them all.  But then, all I really wanted were some granola bars.

I love October.  It’s my second favorite month (the only exception is my birthday month, I’m sure you understand).  I love that the weather is just turning a bit cooler, and that leaves are changing colors.  But what I really just love about October is the food.  Really.  Pumpkin and pears and apples and spices.  It’s the most wonderful time of  year (not December as the song may suggest).  But all I kept thinking was that you all will be engulfed in desserts for the next three months (most likely by this blog) and I just thought that it is time to step back and have a heart healthy and satisfying granola bar.

But, quite frankly, there is something pretty October about granola bars too, don’t you think?  A hearty snack full of oats and spices – it’s totally fall like.  Don’t you worry – those candy and cookie and pie and pumpkin recipes are next for you.  Because I have big plans for you.  But just for this week, let’s celebrate October with these beauties.

Flax Seed Granola Bars (from New York Times)

2 cups oats

3 tbsp. butter

½ cup flax seed meal

½ tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. dark brown sugar

½ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch square or round baking pan with cooking spray.  In a deep pot, melt the butter over a medium-low heat.  Add the oats and stir continuously until the oats are a deeper shade, about 4-5 minutes.  Place the oats in a bowl.  Add cinnamon and flax seed meal.  Stir to mix together.

Wipe out pot and add honey and brown sugar.  Heat over medium heat for about 4 minutes.  The mixture should be bubbly and a bit darker.  Pour over oats.  Mix together immediately until everything is well incorporated.  Gently stir in chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until browned.  Take out of the oven and let the bars cool for 10 minutes.  Without taking the bars out of the baking dish, cut the bars into desired size.  Let cool completely and then remove from pan.