Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies

I don't get a lot of spare time to spend in the kitchen. Even during holidays, something or the other would come up to keep me busy and at the most, I would be able to prepare like 4 dishes in a week. So I always dreamt of having my own kitchen, which I would manage myself, from morning to night. And I think my dream has come true, or at least partially true. Since it's only me, Nada, my uncle, Shaheenka, his wife, Soufanammai and their one year old son, Ahmed in the house, I and Soufanammai are manging the house. I should say she is the one who does most of the cooking since a lazy girl like me can never take complete responsibility of anything. :D

The past one week, my oven has been giving me some problems. It successfully burnt 2 of my cakes and a batch of butter cookies. I was so angry, I decided I wouldn't bake until we got a new oven. But well, here I am, blogging about my latest bake. Well, looks like no one can stop a baker from baking, not even the baker himself. ;)

The day before yesterday I saw a new post of chocolate chip cookies on Ria's blog. Now I am a person who chooses my recipes by going through the recipe and checking the levels of difficulty and success. But when I saw Ria's photos I knew I had to prepare the cookies, no matter what.

I am not a big fan of chocolate chip cookies. I hate the crispy store-bought CC cookies. But I love homemade ones, 'coz they are usually chewy. Probably that is why I fell for Ria's cookies so easily. I prepared them the day she posted her cookies itself. The result was wonderful. As Ria had mentioned, the sides of the cookie is crispy while the center is soft and chewy. Couldn't ask for anything more. Definitely a keeper recipe.

 Source: Ria, who adapted it from Alice from Sweet Savoury Life
(I halved the recipe and got 18 medium sized cookies)

1 c unsalted butter
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 c (12 oz) all purpose flour. Please weigh if possible.
1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 360 F and line 2 cookie sheets.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium high (for Kitchen Aid) or high (for hand held mixer) for 3 mins.
Add both the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 mins.
Add the dry ingredients and beat well to incorporate.
Add the chocolate chips and mix till well distributed.
The cookie batter should be somewhat thick, that is, you can shape it with you fingers easily.
Drop about 2 tbsp of cookie dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet with 1.5" gap between each .
Bake for 12-14 mins until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies be on the sheet for 2 mins. After that transfer them to a cooling rack to cool.
Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Amel's salad no. 4259

It's been about a week since I prepared this salad. A very busy week. I reached Qatar on Sunday. Soon after I reached, I opened my Facebook account, and that was when my uncle saw the photo of a salad my dad's cousin's wife, Amel had prepared. "The best salad ever had", her husband had commented. My uncle seemed to instantly fall in love with the salad, or the pic at least. And so, I decided to experiment a little to prove the theory: The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

I got the recipe from Amel and my aunt prepared it for her hubby. I and my uncle were fasting that day, so we had it for Iftaar(time for breaking fast), alongside an oats and vegetable soup. But I had so much of the salad, there was no room for soup in my tummy.

Salad is something anybody can prepare. Chop some veggies. Pour a decent amount of dressing and ta-daa! So what's the big deal about it? Well, the deal is to create the correct combination, and that's exactly what Amel did, and we followed. The peppers give a wonderful flavor as well as color and the fried bread gives a nice crunch. A must-try recipe! Thanks Amel. Though I have jotted down the proportions according to how I made it, Amel mentions that the salad is very forgiving and the proportion of the ingredients can be changed according to your taste and your pantry.

1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 cucumber, finely diced
7-10 olives, sliced(I used green, black ones can also be used)
4 baby carrots, sliced (I used baby carrots and not the normal ones since that is what I had in hand)
2 baby corn, sliced
2 lettuce leaves, torn
5 tbsp Italian dressing, or to taste
2 pita bread pockets(khubz/kubbous)

Cut the pita bread into square shaped pieces. Bake them in an oven for 5-10 minutes or till crisp. Alternatively, you can toast them on a frying pan, without oil, till they are crisp. Toss the veggies with the dressing in a bowl.  Add the bread just before serving.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Whole wheat almond eggless cookies

In my previous post, I had mentioned that one of the few things I enjoy in India is the friends I have made here. Neelamma is one among them. She is originally from Coorg aka Kodagu and stays in Mangalore in the central jail- or at least that is what she and her “cell-mates” call it, people managing the place call it a hostel.

Since we have got holidays now, her parents had come the day before yesterday to Mangalore to take her to Coorg. Before leaving Neelamma came to my home and thrust a large packet in my hand saying they were honey and chickoos that her dad had brought. I was delighted. Chickoos are one of my favourite fruits.

After bidding her good-bye, I opened the packet in my kitchen. There was a large bottle of locally cultured honey, large home grown chickoos and buried beneath the chickoos was a small packet of aromatic cardamom grown in her estate. Thanks Neelamma!

I have this thing for good smell. I simply have got to smell my food before I eat it. When I’m done with my cup of coffee, I bury my nose deep into the coffee mug to take in the strong aroma of my coffee. So when I discovered this small packet of goodness, I couldn’t help holding it close to my nose for half an hour. It was during this time that I remembered that our February punch was cardamom cookies. Wow! What a coincidence, I thought. I decided to prepare the cookies the next day, which was yesterday. But I didn’t have any butter- bad planning. So I ended up preparing it today, the day of posting the challenge.

Nags had mentioned that the amount of sugar needs to be reduced as the cookies turn out to be a tad too sweet. But I completely forgot about this piece of advice while preparing the cookies. I’ll surely remember it the next time I prepare them. Besides the sweetness, the cookies were perfect. They were crisp on the outside and chewy in the inside. And the aroma of cardamom, ah, irresistible...The recipe promised 24 cookies, but I got 15 large-sized cookies.

Whole wheat almond eggless cookies:


• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup sliced almonds
• 1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seed, coarsely powdered (ilaichi)
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter (8 tablespoons or 4oz)
• About 2 tablespoons of milk or as needed


1. Pre heat the oven to 360 degree F.
2. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, sliced almonds and cardamom powder well.
3. Next add soft butter and milk to the flour mixture to make dough. Dough should be very soft.
4. Divide the dough into about 24 equal parts and make them into balls.
5. Press each ball between your palms lightly; every piece should be about 1/2” in thickness.
6. Place the dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet about inch a part.
7. Bake the cookies for about 18 minutes or until cookies are lightly gold brown.
8. After they become lightly golden brown remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Let the cookies cool down for two to three minutes before taking them off the cookie sheet.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nutella cream cheese brownies

Yesterday I completed my 1st year in pre-university college. I completed a whole academic year in India.
When I came to know that we will be shifting to India, I was really excited. New campus, new friends, new environment, it all seemed so inviting. It wasn’t until the day I was to leave Qatar that I realised the cons of leaving the country I had grown up in and all the people in it. My first few months in India were really bad. I missed Nada very badly. I hated life in India. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t and still can’t love my college. The lecturers are good. The friends are wonderful. But that’s it. The institution as a whole is pathetic and it pains me to think that I have to spend another year in the same college. Though I have adjusted a little now, the college still sucks.

 So now that I have got three months of freedom from my college, I decided to celebrate with a nutella cream cheese brownie. But the brownie turned out just like my life- sweet and yet a little salty(from the cream cheese) but as a whole, very enjoyable. I had thought of sending some to my friends, but once I was done with the photography session, almost the whole cake had disappeared. Well, I ain’t complainin’!

 The nutella and cream cheese was supposed to form a swirl over the brownies. But, following some law of physics that I can’t figure out, the swirl “topping” decided to sink and form a bottom layer. So I had a thin bottom layer of salty nutella topped with a wonderful brownie. Yummilicious!

Nutella Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
 Cream Cheese Topping:
  •  5 oz Cream Cheese
  •  2 tbs softened butter
  •  1/4 cup granulated sugar
  •  1 egg
  •  1 tbs flour
  •  1/4 cup Nutella
Brownie Batter:
  •  3/4 cups all purpose flour
  •  1/3 cup Herseys Special Dark Cocoa
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  •  1/2 stick of softened butter
  •  1 cup granulated sugar
  •  1 tsp vanilla
  •  2 large eggs
1. Pre-heat oven to 350'
2. Grease and line a 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray.

 Cream cheese frosting:
1. Cream together butter, sugar and flour. Add cream cheese and mix/blend until smooth. Scrape bowl and add the egg and beat until the topping is nice and creamy. Scrap bowl and add Nutella, beat about one minute or until the nutella is mixed into the cream cheese mixture completely.
2. Set topping aside and mix brownie batter.

Brownie batter:
1. Sift flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder into a medium sized bowl.
2. In a small bowl cream sugar and 1/2 stick of butter, add eggs one at a time, beat well then add vanilla.
3. Fold egg, sugar, butter and vanilla mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.
4. Spread 3/4 of the brownie batter into the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish.
5. Randomly dollop the cream cheese topping over the brownie batter.
6. Bake for 40-60 minutes or a skewer come out with a few ccrumbs when inserted.
7. Let it cool before serving.

I am sending this in to Divya's Easy Cooking to celebrate it's 3rd anniversery.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Carrot cake

Who can control the temptation of a beautifully coloured moist carrot cake with a tinge of cinnamon, topped with a contrastingly sweet layer of cream cheese? So I wasn’t to be blamed on the day before we left Qatar for good, when nearly half of the carrot cake that our family friend, Zareenammai, had brought for dessert disappeared even before the ladies had finished their dinner.

After coming to India, the taste of that perfect carrot cake still lingered in my mouth. When I could no more control the urge, I emailed Zareenammai for the recipe, and she sent it to me. And when I read it, I was shocked to read that 1 ½ cups of oil in it. It dampened my spirits...but for just a couple of months. After that, I was like, chalo, it is not like I eat it every day. And so I prepared it, and no, I was not disappointed at all. It was simply perfect. Extremely moist, very spicy(I added more cinnamon than what was called for in the recipe) and the cream cheese couldn’t have been better. Mmmm....I don’t need to type any more words!

Carrot cake
2 cups of flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
3 cups carrot shredded
2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all the dry ingredients and mix properly with a whisk. Keep aside.
In a blender beat eggs. Add oil and beat again ,then add vanilla and carrot and mix well.
Then slowly fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Bake in a preheated oven in 170 degree for around 40 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.


6 cube or triangle cheese
4 tsp sugar
4 tsp butter
4 tsp milk
2 dream whip sachet
1/2 cup water

Beat thoroughly the above ingredients and spread it over the cooled cake.
Sprinkle mixed chopped nuts on top.
Let it set for 2 or 3 hrs.

I'd planned to sprinkle the nuts just before serving, but when I returned from college, the cake had already been attacked.