Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pecan Squares

When I cook/bake something to give, its filled with a lot of patience and love, and when that person enjoys what I make, the joy is simply wonderful. If I can make someone happy with my food, that makes me happy :)

This is Ina Garten's recipe. She has some of the most wonderful recipes, and I have tried and tested quite a few of them. I had made these pecan squares last year for Christmas. I had basically made a package of goodies for my inlaws, and we had given them the package as a holiday gift. What better gift can there be, than some good home baked goodies!!?:) My inlaws loved all the goodies that they got and am glad that they enjoyed it all!!;)

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Potato Leek Soup

With my recent visits to UK on business trips, I got to try out potato leek soup, potato being a staple food in the UK! This was the first time I was trying out potato leek soup and I simply loved it! It is so hearty and filling, that when you are in a cold country, and you just want something warm and comforting, this is just perfect!!

I tried my hand at making the soup, and it was a success! Even Raj, who is not fond of soups, really liked it and wants me to make it again ;) I took the leftovers for lunch the following day, and it tasted even better!

Here is the recipe:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 white onion roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 leeks roughly sliced
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or 1 cup milk(if you want to make it light)
salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot on medium heat, put in the olive oil and butter. Let the butter melt. Then add in the leeks, onions and garlic, with salt and pepper to taste, and stir it until the leeks are tender for about 7 minutes.

Add in the potatoes, and add more salt and pepper and saute it for a couple minutes. Add in the thyme, cream(or milk) and vegetable broth and stir. After adding the potatoes, boil it for about 10 minutes till the potatoes are tender.

Put this mixture into a blender. Do not fill the blender to the top! This mixture is hot and the blender should be half full. Once blended well, pour this mixture into another pot with a sieve. Repeat till all the mixture has been blended. Sieve the blended mixture. The soup will have a nice smooth consistency.

Now heat this mixture in the pot for a couple minutes and its ready to serve! The best way to have this soup is with crispy sourdough bread, that has been toasted in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper on the top! ENJOY!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Daal Dhokli

Another gujarati favorite and my favorite too:) Daal dhokli, authentic gujarati comfort food! It is another family favorite, that we(my family) all love!

1 cup toor daal(yellow lentils)
3 cups water
2-3 tablespoons jaggery
1 tablespoon ghee(clarified butter)
4-5 kokum pieces
10 - 15 raw peanuts
5-6 kadi patta
6 small cinnamon pieces
6 cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic
2 green chillies finely ground
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon methi(fenugreek) seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish

For the Dhokli:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
2-3 tablespoon finely chopped fresh fenugreek(methi)
water to bind
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil


First combine all the dhokli ingredients minus the water, and mix it with your hand. Use water few drops at a time to bind the flour into a dough like consistency. It should not be sticky but yet NOT hard.

Wash the daal and then pressure cook it with the water, kokum and peanuts for about 7 whistles. Once the pressure cooker opens, use a hand blender to blend the daal into a paste. The kokum might break in the process as well but that is OK. It just adds to the flavors ;) I usually add the jaggery while pressure cooking it. You can jolly well eliminate it!!:)

In a saucepan, on medium heat, put the ghee till it melts. Then add the asafoetida, mustard seeds, methi seeds, kadi patta, cinnamon and cloves and let it crackle. Once that is done, add the ginger, garlic and chilli paste and saute it. Add in the turmeric and salt, and saute it for a minute. Add in the daal and mix it well. Add the garam masala, and keep heating it until it gets a nice consistency, where in it is NOT watery, NOR is it too thick.

Once the daal is heating, start making balls from the dough about an inch in size. Roll out each ball into a flat round chapati, and cut first horizontally twice, to make 3 strips. And then vertically twice to make 9 pieces in all. You should be able to make about 3 chapatis, 27 pieces in all.

Once the daal is boiling, add in the pieces slowly one by one, and let the daal boil for about 10 minutes to make sure all the dhoklis are cooked.

To serve, put some daal dhokli in a soup bowl, and add about 1/2 teaspoon ghee and cilantro for garnish! INDULGE in the COMFORT ... foodd!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jam Thumb Cookies

So I adapted this recipe from one I saw online and one that my masis(mom's sisters) and my grandmother makes. The original recipe has been a family recipe for decades now and it was time for me to try it:) Well, I changed it slightly and below is my version of the recipe. It turned out so awesome that they simply melt in the mouth and Raj(my husband) did NOT stop until I had to finally snatch it away from him :P

Here is the recipe.

1/4 pound(1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry jam


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until just combined, and then add the vanilla and milk. Separately, sift together the flour baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter, sugar and milk. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Its ready to eat!! YUM!!!