Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coconut Butter Thins

I have been reading the blog Tuesdays with Dorie for some weeks now, and I am obsessed. It is a group of bakers who are making their way through "Baking, From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. It is an incredibly beautiful and mouth-watering cookbook, and every week one member of the blog gets to choose the recipe that all of the other members bake. Then on Tuesday of every week, the bakers post photos and stories of how the recipe went for them. I want desperately to be a member, but they aren't accepting any new ones at the moment. So, I've decided to unofficially bake along with them. Hopefully they'll open up their membership soon, and I can become an official Tuesdays with Dorie baker. For now, this is my version of this week's TWD recipe. Apparently, it is coconut week... For the recipe, click here.

These cookies are heavenly. The dough is possibly the most delicious cookie dough I have ever tasted. The aroma alone is almost satisfying enough. They call for macadamia nuts, but I'm not the biggest fan of macadamias, and I didn't have any, so I used cashews. I thought they worked great. I know some of the TWD bakers substituted lemon for lime zest, but I think it was the lime that really made the cookie. It gave it such a tropical freshness. Mmmmm... I couldn't taste the coriander - the recipe calls for "a pinch" - which I found slightly disappointing, so the next time I make them - and I assure you there will be a next time - I think I will add more. I had no problems with the cookies spreading too much like some of the other bakers. I thought they baked up just beautifully. In the recipe, Dorie instructs the baker to roll out the dough in a gallon size ziploc bag, then refrigerating the dough in the bag, and cutting it into squares. Instead, I formed the dough into a roll and refrigerated it, cutting off cookies and baking them as I want them. I highly recommend these cookies and will certainly be making them with some frequency. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Broccoli and Panir Wontons

In exploring new ways to use panir, I came up with these. I had egg roll wrappers in my fridge left over from my Vegetable Egg Rolls, so I had the idea for a kind of Chinese-Indian fusion recipe. I was very happy with the way they turned out, they were quite tasty, and very quick and easy to make.

Broccoli and Panir Wontons

2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
1 cup panir, cut into small cubes
1 cup chiffonaded spinach
1/4 cup roasted salted pistachios
1/4 cup thompson raisins
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for frying wontons
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
egg roll wrappers

Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Lay out egg roll wrappers on dry surface - parchment paper works well - so that the points are facing up and down and to the sides, and prepare a small bowl of water to seal wrappers. When oil is hot, add cumin and stir until aroma is released, and a sort of paste has formed. Add broccoli and stir until well coated. Place lid on pan and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until broccoli begins to brown and soften. Remove lid, add raisins, coconut and pistachios, stir and cover for another 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and add spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat. In another pan, pour 1/4" of olive oil, and place on medium heat. While oil is heating, spoon filling onto bottom half of egg roll wrappers (about 2 heaping tablespoons) making sure to leave 1/2" inch of space on the sides. Dip your fingers in the water and spread around the entire perimeter of wrapper. Fold empty side over filling so that edges meet up and press together. Fold edge over all the way around the two sides you just brought together. Place in hot oil. Fry until well browned. Turn over and repeat. You could also deep fry these. Place wontons on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve immediately with basmati rice. Enjoy!  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

I've never been a big fan of cake in any form. For some reason, however, I have been drawn to cupcakes lately. So when I saw a recipe for coconut cupcakes - that actually included coconut milk in the batter - I just had to try them. I must say, I may be turning into a cake convert. I really enjoyed these. The cake itself isn't as coconutty as I would like for it to be, so I made a coconut frosting to go on top. The thing that really pulls everything together is the large flakes of toasted coconut on top. 

Coconut Cupcakes     adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups large flake unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Line standard muffin an with paper liners - or as I did, use silicone muffin cups laid out on a cookie sheet. These worked fantastically well, by the way... Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and shredded coconut, set aside. Mix coconut milk and vanilla extract, set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium high in between. Lower speed to low, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. When those are incorporated, add 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Follow with the second third of dry, then second half of the wet, finishing up with the last third of the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl when necessary. Spoon batter into waiting cups. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting. While cupcakes are baking, pour large flake coconut onto baking sheet and place in oven until evenly browned - about 7 minutes. Set aside and let cool. Makes 20 cupcakes. 

Coconut Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Beat butter on medium high until pale and creamy - approximately 2 minutes. Add sugar one cup at a time. When all of the sugar is incorporated, add vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add coconut milk and beat until smooth. Stir in shredded coconut. 

When cupcakes are cooled, frost evenly and top with the toasted coconut.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Curried Kale and Panir

Here is a simple recipe using the panir from the previous post.

Curried Kale and Panir

2 cups cubed panir
1 1/2 large bunches of kale (lacinato or red russian are best)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Add oil to pan and turn on medium heat. When pan is hot, add spices and salt stir for a few seconds, until spices are well mixed.

 Add panir, stir and turn until all sides are well coated. 

When panir is browned on bottom, turn with tongs, and add cashews. When second side is browned, turn again and add kale. Put lid on pan. After a couple of minutes, when kale has wilted enough, turn so that kale is all coated with oil and spice mixture. Replace lid and cook kale until tender. Serve immediately with basmati rice.

Fresh Panir (Indian Cheese)

Mmmmm..... One of my favorite foods is panir, especially when it's homemade. It is a delicate, creamy Indian cheese that is really easy to make, and incredibly delicious. I usually make some kind of curried vegetable dish with it - see next post - but I'm planning on branching out a bit and making a veggie and panir tart later this week - watch for it!

adapted from - you guessed it: Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Hospodar. I really do own other cookbooks...

3/4 gallon of whole milk 
3/4 quart of plain full fat yogurt

Prepare a large sieve lined with cheesecloth, place in sink (or large bowl if you want to save the whey. 

Bring milk to a boil - be careful of scorching and overflowing! Immediately add yogurt. Do not stir. Let mixture come back up to a boil - no need to worry about it overflowing at this point, the curds and whey will have begun to separate. Let it continue to boil for ~ 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, put lid on and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. 

Carefully spoon out curds into prepared sieve, breaking them up as little as possible. When you've spooned all you can, pour whey and remaining curds into sieve. Wrap curds with edges of cheesecloth and place weights on them to drain excess whey. 

I like to place a plate on top of the cheesecloth, then put jars of grains on top as the weights, making sure the weight is as evenly distributed as possible. Let sit for several hours or overnight. The longer it sits, the firmer the panir will end up. Unwrap the panir and cut portion you're using into cubes. Put the rest in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep there for several days.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chewy Ginger Molasses cookies

I have been on a bit of a mission lately to make the perfect ginger molasses cookie. Not cakey, not crunchy, just perfectly chewy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. After making about 8 batches in the last two weeks, I've finally come pretty close to perfection. I do plan on trying a couple more variations, so I'll write about how those turn out as well. For now, here is my recipe for chewy ginger molasses cookies.

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

1 c butter
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c sucanat + some for dusting
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour 
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a baking sheet -  I like to use a baking stone. Mix dry ingredients, set aside. Cream butter, sucanat and molasses. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, blend well, add the second two thirds in the same way. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour. Form dough into balls about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Roll in sucanat. Place in baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cookies are done when cracks that form on cookies still look slightly wet and surface of cookie appears dry. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes. When cookies are warm, they will be quite soft on the inside. As long as they're not gooey, they're done. Enjoy!

*** UPDATE ***

I finally got the proportions right for an all molasses cookie:
1 cup of molasses
additional 1/4 c each of whole wheat and all purpose flour.

Vegetable Egg Rolls, Sauteed Broccoli, Mustard-Tamari-Maple Sauce

I learned how to make these egg rolls when I was six years old. A good friend of my mom's who was an excellent cook invited us over for dinner and a lesson in egg roll making. I never forgot what Susan taught me, and I have made them many times in the last 23 years. I've tweaked them a little bit, but they are essentially the same egg roll.

Vegetable Egg Rolls

1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated cabbage (any variety will do, but purple adds nice color)
1 cup grated zucchini (squeeze out extra moisture before measuring)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
salt to taste

egg roll wrappers
oil for frying (I use olive, but you can use the oil of your choice)
small bowl of water

Stir all ingredients together. Pour ~ 1/4 inch of oil into a frying pan and turn on med heat. 

Lay out several egg roll wrappers on a dry surface so that their points are up and down (like a diamond). Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of filling onto each wrapper, placing it just below the center of the wrapper.

 Fold the bottom point up first, and wrap around the filling. Next fold each side point over, making sure that there are no openings for the filling to escape through. Next, roll upwards until only ~ 1/2 inch of the top point is still showing. Dip your fingers in water, dab the water on the point and smooth it onto the roll. 

Place the egg rolls in pan after oil is good and hot. Turn with tongs when bottom is bubbly and browned. Repeat until whole roll is cooked in this way. You could also deep fry these, if you wanted. When egg roll is cooked completely (approximately 10 minutes), remove from pan and place on paper towels to absorb extra oil. Serve.

Sauteed Broccoli

3 cups chopped broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tamari

There is rarely a meal that goes by in my house that does not contain broccoli (hence the name of my blog). I love it. If I could only pick one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be broccoli. I have it added to just about everything I order in restaurants, much to the surprise of many a server. This is a simple recipe that we eat frequently.

Pour oil into large frying pan on medium heat. When oil is hot, add broccoli, stir, and place lid on pan. After about 5-7 minutes (or when broccoli is slightly browned). Stir, replace lid and leave for another 5-7 minutes. Broccoli is done when soft (not mushy) and still very green. At this point, add the tamari. When it stops sizzling, turn off heat and serve. 

Note: It is also very good to add nuts to this. Add when broccoli is about half cooked. Cashews and walnuts are especially nice.

Mustard-Tamari-Maple sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons mustard 
1 teaspoon tamari
1 teaspoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil

whisk all ingredients together

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Zucchini Muffins

I am a huge fan of quick breads. I love their versatility and the speed with which they can be made. These zucchini muffins are one of my favorites. My 2 1/2 year old son has never had sugar, so I like to make these for him as a treat. He loves them. I have made them many many times with perfect results, using maple syrup as the sweetener. This time I used molasses, and I was not quite as happy with the results - they took a lot longer to bake, and browned too quickly. Next time, I'll use a foil tent to slow the browning down... Nevertheless, they're very tasty muffins.

Zucchini Muffins     adapted from Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Hospodar

2 cups grated drained zucchini
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup maple syrup or molasses
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup raisins or chopped dates
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and lightly flour muffin pan. Mix together zucchini, butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together flours, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture along with buttermilk and mix until flour mixture is incorporated. Stir in raisins/dates and nuts. Spoon batter into muffin pan, leaving ample room for muffins to rise. Bake until lightly browned and tester comes out clean. 

I use this cookbook all the time, and everything I've ever made from it has been fabulous. I highly recommend it! 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Biscuits with Blueberry Compote

I'm very excited to be posting my first item on my new food blog!

These are technically biscuits, though scones would work well in this recipe too. Truth be told, I was intending to make scones, but was a little spaced out and ended up forgetting to sweeten my dough.... So I whipped up the blueberry compote to add a little pizazz to the dish. Boy, did it do the trick! It was so delicious and so easy. If only I could get such great results every time I'm forgetful!

Biscuits adapted from Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Hospodar

3 cups unbleached white flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 400. Butter a baking sheet.

Mix dry ingredients together. Add butter, and work in with a pastry cutter until mixture looks like coarse meal. Add buttermilk and water. Mix until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated and dough is formed. 

Roll out on floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick and cut with biscuit cutter - or - separate into 2 balls, flatten flatten by hand to about 3/4 inch thick and cut into 6ths with sharp knife. Place biscuits on prepared sheet. Glaze with buttermilk. 

Bake until top is golden brown - 15-20 min. 
Makes 12-18 biscuits

Blueberry Compote

I just kind of threw this together, so measurements are approximate. 

1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/8 - 1/4 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on med low heat for about 20 min or until blueberries break down and mixture thickens.

Serve warm over biscuits. 

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