Cookie Tales

I don’t think i’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t eat cookies. It’s just impossible. I mean, there are cartoon characters inspired from the love of cookies, songs even. Who hasn’t grown up singing and accusing everyone of stealing cookies from the cookie jar? (who me? yes you. couldn’t be. then who?!) SO anyways, it’s really important to have a basic cookie recipe written down somewhere, in case of emergencies, like when you’re craving cookies. And some of you might think store bought chocolate chip cookies are the answer, but they’re not. There’s no going back once you start making your own cookies. You can’t throw away that sense of accomplishment, or the fact that you can add any flavor possible to them. My favorites are peanut butter, nutella, oatmeal, walnuts, tons and tons of chocolate chips, and the list can really go on. The next thing on my baking agenda is trying to make banana nut cookies. but that’s after I come back from Paris (Yes I finally get to go to the land of croissants and macaroons!) wanting to bake everything I’ll have stuffed my face with there.

photo

 

DSC_0328

Just like with brownies, there are a few things you have to make sure you’re doing right when you make cookies. Never use an electric hand mixer. Always use a wooden spoon. Yes, a wooden spoon. It really helps make a good base for the cookie when you mix the butter and sugar together. Also, if you want that perfect crumb, use brown sugar. White sugar won’t change the taste too much, but the texture will be solid and dry, and no one likes a dried out cookie. Also, never use melted butter. Even if you’re in a hurry, just defrost the butter in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, or more if you’re butter is frozen, but never pop it in the microwave and heat it. It’s just like with brownies, except the opposite, actually. For a good brownie, you need melted butter. But for a good cookie, you need room temperature butter.

Also, when it comes to cookies, your oven has to be preheated. I sometimes put a cake in before the oven is preheated, and it doesn’t make much of a difference, even with brownies, but for a cookie you have to. The reason is because the baking time is only 8-10 minutes. If you don’t preheat your oven, it could make the cookies too thin, they could burn at the edges, or they could just turn into one big cookie, and you’ll end up with plate of broken up cookie pieces. So preheat your oven. Also, some people have trouble with the thickness of their cookies. If you want a big cookie that stay chewy and has the perfect crumb, make sure you add enough flour. The stiffer the cookie dough, the thicker the cookies will be.

DSC_0815

So here’s a basic cookie recipe that you can basically add anything to. Oh and one more thing, if you’re making a big batch of cookies, you obviously can’t bake them all at once. In between batches make sure you let the cookie sheet cool down completely before you put more cookie dough on it. If you don’t you’ll end up with cookies that look perfect on top, but they’ll be burnt on the bottom.

This has pretty straightforward ingredients.

You’ll need:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg*

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon*

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180 C.

Start off by mixing the butter and the sugar. Keep mixing till it’s fluffy and light in color. Add in the egg. Don’t over mix, because there’s baking powder in this recipe as well, and you don’t want cookies that rise up like bread. Once the egg is mixed in add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking powder. You don’t have to add the cinnamon or nutmeg, or you can just add one of them, depending on what you have at home. You can just add 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence instead. Their flavor is very subtle, but the cookies smell and taste delicious with it! Fold in the flour and the chocolate chips. At this point you can add any other flavor or ingredient you want. Then just drop tablespoons full of cookie dough onto your baking sheet and bake them for about 8-10 minutes, or till the edges turn golden brown. Take the cookies out then, and let them cool down a bit on the baking sheet. They’ll continue to cook a little, so don’t worry if the centers aren’t fully cooked when the edges turn brown, just take them out or they’ll burn!

This recipe makes one dozen large cookies. You can make smaller ones if you want too, but they’ll finish just as quickly!

DSC_0352

DSC_0214

DSC_0818

Advertisements

Shahi Tukre

Image

For those of you who know what this wonderful dessert is, i’m sure you know the recipe as well. But for those of you who don’t, this is a Pakistani dessert, which as wikipedia claims, has it’s roots in Mughal cuisine. But all you need to know is that it’s awesome, and it’s pretty easy to make. And the ingredients are pretty straightforward too. I wanted to try to making it without any shortcuts, just to see how long it takes, and let’s just stay that it’s much easier to use evaporated milk, instead of slaving away at the stove boiling down milk to a third of what it started out as. There’s not much cooking involved. You just need to fry some bread (my new favorite breakfast), and simmer some milk with cardamom, but that’s about it.

Here’s what you’ll need for a medium sized dish.

6 pieces of bread

butter or oil

3 cardamom, crushed, without the peel

2 cups evaporated milk

4-6 Tblspn sugar, depending on how sweet you want it

1 cup cream (already whipped)

sliced almonds

Start off by frying the bread. If you don’t want to use too much oil, which I didn’t want to, I just spread a thin layer of butter on both sides of each toast and fried it till golden brown.

Image

You can cut them diagonally or keep them whole, according to the dish you’re using. Then in a saucepan on a low heat simmer the milk with the cardamom seeds. Once it starts thickening a little, after about 5 minutes, add the sugar. Keep it on a low flame for about 2-3 more minutes. You might have to keep stirring occasionally so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom.

Now all you have to do is pour the milk over the fried bread.

Image

It may seem like there’s a lot of milk, but the bread soaks it all up eventually. Keep the dish in the fridge and let it cool down before you top it off with the whipped cream and sliced almonds. I toasted the almonds in a bit of butter because I have the store bought pre-sliced ones, and if you don’t toast them they taste like card board.  For about 3 tablespoons of almonds I used 1/2 a teaspoon of butter.

Image

Now all you have to do is pop it in the fridge till its chilled. You can have it warm, but it’s not as good. Enjoy!!

Chicken Patties

Yup. Puff pastry galore. And chicken, of course. One of the of the many things I miss about Lahore is the food. I honestly think that Lahore has the best food in the world. You can argue all you want, but deep down inside we all know it’s true=P

So, near the top of the extremely long list of edible things I miss are chicken patties. But one thing I kind of hated about them is that the people down at the bakery always overfill them! I mean, there’s something called a balance between flavor and ingredients. Sheesh. So anyways, there should always be more puff pastry than chicken, because the chicken has all the flavor, and the puff pastry is just the buttery goodness that makes it easier to eat the chicken.

Image

The filling is really up to you. I like to keep it simple. The simpler the better. Here’s what you need to do. And it’s not much, really.

1 pound boneless chicken

2-3 tablespoons tikka masala (I used shan)

1 teaspoon garam masala(optional)

1 cup milk or 1/2 cup cream (bet you didn’t see that one coming)

Puff Pastry

Preheat your oven to 425 F

The puff pastry I got was already rolled out in a perfect circle, but if you get puff pastry that needs to be rolled out, it should be about 1/4 cm thick. It rises a lot, and since I made croissant shaped patties, it worked great. For the chicken, just chop it into small pieces and stir fry it in 2 tablespoons of oil. Before the chicken turns white sprinkle in the chicken tikka masala and the garam masala. Keep cooking it over a medium heat. Then add the milk or cream and let it cook down till there’s no liquid left. Let it cool a bit before you start rolling it into the pastry.

Image

Image

Fill the pastry as much as you want, but I went with 1 heaping teaspoon. Roll it up like in the pictures above. You can brush the patties with egg wash, but it’s not necessary. Bake them for about 8-10 minutes. Check them after 5 to make sure the puff pastry is rising. Take them out when they start turning deliciously golden brown.  Make a lot of them, because they’re good! These are great substitutes for deep fried stuff too. And eat them right out of the oven. You can make them and freeze them as well. Then all you have to do is turn on the oven and wait for about 10 minutes. That’s a pretty good deal.

Brownies

I have been looking for the perfect brownie recipe since I was born. Yes. It’s true. And I have finally found it. Last year I thought I found the best recipe ever, but after a couple of months I found a better one, and then another. Then yesterday I realized there was something missing in all of those recipes. One was very rich but not gooey enough. Another was gooey, but if it’s possible to say, they were too gooey. And some were just like cake. And if anyone’s had a real brownie, they should be offended by cake that is sold labeled as brownies. I mean, who are you trying to fool? So anyways, I combined all my brownie recipes and out came the Godzilla (the movie’s on right now!) of all brownie recipes! It’s really simple, and it’s just the right combination of chewy and moist, but it doesn’t fall apart when you try cutting perfect little squares, and it definitely doesn’t leave a trail of crumbs when you try sneaking one.

Brownies

Ok so here it is. The recipe.
This recipe’s for a medium sized tray. I made them in a 8×8 inch cheesecake pan.

1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon each of salt, baking powder, and vanilla
2 eggs
1/2-3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease your tin. For brownies I like using some baking paper or foil(baking paper is better), because they almost always stick.
In a sauce pan melt the butter with the sugar on low heat. Make sure it doesn’t turn into caramel! Keep stirring for about 3 minutes. Take it off the heat and keep stirring so it cools down a bit. Then, using a whisk, mix in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. You don’t really need to add the extra salt because of the salted butter, but I think it really helps in balancing out the dark chocolate flavor. Add the eggs one at a time. Don’t over mix it. The baking powder ensures the brownies rise a bit, so be nice to the eggs! Then, with a spatula, not a whisk, fold in the chocolate chips and flour. You can actually mix the two in one bowl before them to the mix. If the chocolate chips are coated with flour, they don’t sink to the bottom or cluster in one area. This mix is pretty thick, but while it’s in the oven the chocolate chips can sink a bit. I was short on chocolate chips so I added in some peanut butter chips, which actually tasted really good. You can even add in white chocolate chips, m n m’s, etc.

Borwnies

Pour the batter into the tin, and bake them for about 20-25 minutes. If you’re making a double batch add about 5 minutes to the baking time. The brownies should be set around the edges, and 90% cooked in the center. Kind of like a cheesecake. Take them out and let them cool for about 20 minutes before cutting them, if you can control yourself. They’re delicious just on their own, but some ice cream won’t do any harm!