Jam Butter Thumbprint Cookies

Butter and Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Butter and Jam Thumbprint Cookies

As a kid, I never ate jam cookies. My brother, on the other hand, looooved them!! I remember mom buying Bourbon biscuits for me, Jim-Jam for my brother. I could never understand how he enjoyed them and I bet he kept thinking why I never enjoyed them. I found them overly sweet and didn’t particularly enjoy the jam flavor. I know that Kayani Bakery in Pune also made jam biscuits that were popular and my nephews and nieces loved them every time we would get it for them. I still didn’t enjoy them, even though I love Kayani’s other products.I think my biggest problem with jam cookies were that they are very sweet and taste rather artificial. I never thought I could ever enjoy jam cookies but this recipe surprised me! These are jam cookies for adults!

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I love the website Stumble Upon and I find it fascinating what you can find from the endless world of the Internet. I have found some great websites, which I now follow regularly, while Stumbling Upon. That’s where I found this recipe. As with all recipes, I read the negative reviews and the helpful suggestions before embarking on them. The cookies were described as buttery, less sweet with slightly chewy centers. Some people weren’t very happy that these weren’t very sweet and taste more buttery than anything else, but then they are BUTTER cookies! I was happy overall with the reviews and decided to incorporate some of the suggestions into my recipe. It also helped that I had some delicious fresh, natural, preservative- free jams in my fridge.

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This recipe is more adult-friendly, though it would look very attractive to children. This has less sugar and isn’t crispy but if you have kids who don’t like their baked goods overly sweet, its perfect!

Butter and Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Inspired by a recipe from here

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar (I used a little less – 2 tbsp less)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup fruit jam

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 170 degrees Celsius. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
In another bowl, whip the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes
Beat in the egg and vanilla, until just about combined.
Slowly fold in the dry ingredients, in 2 batches, mixing until just about incorporated.
Scoop the dough into 1-inch balls. You can roll the cookie dough balls in sugar if you wish. I did not.
Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies for about 7 minutes, until slightly risen. 
Pull the tray out of the oven and press a thumbprint into each cookies, about 1/2 inch deep or use a cap to make a better and uniform indentation. 
Fill each indentation with about 2/3 tsp of jam.
Return tray to oven and bake for an additional 9 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are slightly golden.
Cool cookies on the sheet for 1 minutes before transferring onto a rack,

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These tasted wonderful with coffee and tea! I dipped some of the buttery edges into my coffee and bit into them and they were deeee-licious!! The cookies absorbed the coffee flavour very well and melted in my mouth! I have already made them twice and look forward to filling the centres with many more different toppings!

Happy Baking everyone!!

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Pea and Mint Soup – The Perfect Winter Soup

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Winters are the only times I actually enjoy eating soup. I think it is very hot through the rest of the year to able to actually enjoy soup. I had this combination a pea and mint soup for the first time at The Westin, Pune where I was just a tad hungry and a soup seemed like the perfect option. It was a rich, creamy soup and I loved the combination and of mint and peas. Since neither my mom nor I enjoy soup that much, I never looked up the recipe.

Fast forward a few months and winter is finally here! The season for hot soups, chocolate and cocoa! I was going to make whole wheat  pizzas for dinner and needed an accompaniment. I could either make a salad or a soup. I decided to go with soup and remembered the pea and mint soup I had. I was lazy. I didn’t really want to look through the recipe books in hand so I decided to Google for the recipe. A lot of the recipes I went through had cream or butter or sour cream and I really wanted something healthy and simple since the cheese on the pizza was going to make me feel guilty enough. I found this recipe which seemed just perfect for me! I decided to omit the sour cream to have a vegan and super healthy soup. In India, we do not get pre packaged vegetable stock and I absolutely refuse to use the Maggi stock cubes considering how much sodium they have! Vegetable stock makes the process a little longer but its worth it.

Pea and Mint Soup

Adapted from here 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
1/3rd cup mint leaves
400 grams frozen peas or fresh peas
salt and pepper to taste
Method

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Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Next, add the chopped onions and cook until they turn transparent and soft, about 6 minutes on a medium low heat. We do not want to caramelize the onions and just want to reduce their bite.
Once the onions are cooked, add 4 cups of the vegetable stock to the onion-garlic mix and allow the stock to come a boil.
As soon as the stock comes to a rolling boil, add the frozen or fresh peas and the mint and cook for 8 minutes for frozen peas and about 5 minutes for fresh peas. Cook until the peas are done.
Allow the mix to cool before putting in the blender in small batches.
After you have reached a smooth consistency of the pea-mint mixture, put it back on the stove and allow to warm up. At this stage, season it with salt and pepper.
Ladle into soup bowls and you are ready to serve this warm, thick winter soup!
Note:
This soup is quite thick and if you would like it thinner, add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock more.
Add the salt and pepper only once you have blended the soup to avoid over salting.

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Vegetable Stock

For 5 cups
Ingredients:
6 1/2 cups of water
2 medium-sized onions, peeled and cut into half
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tomatoes, cut into thick chunks
1 piece of carrot
7-8 French Beans
1/2 teaspoon mixed  herbs  like oregano, rosemary, thyme, mint
a pinch of salt
Method:
Add the 6 cups of water in a large saucepan and allow to simmer.
Once the water has begun to simmer, add all the vegetables in the water, with a pinch of salt and the herbs, and allow to boil for at least 30 minutes.
Once the stock has boiled and cooled, drain the vegetables and use the liquid in soups and gravies.
You can also add other vegetables that you may have in hand like celery, capsicum, potatoes and add whatever herbs you enjoy.
This is a very basic stock recipe and you can make it with a lot of variations. Mix and match and find the stock recipe that works best for you!

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Perfect soup to share with people and it might seem like it’s very difficult to make when you taste it but it could not be simpler!

Happy cooking!

Baked Falafels in Whole Wheat Pita Pockets with Lemon Tahini and Hummus

Falafel sandwiches are my favorite things in the whole wide world! A few years, I was with my family in Dubai. For the whole week, I ate nothing but falafel sandwiches for lunch and dinner! I was in heaven. I did not need anything more! Back home, I tried a bunch of places and the falafels were obviously slightly adapted to Indian standards.

Cream Center and New Yorker in Bombay are two absolutely legendary restaurants. They have been around for years & years and for a lot of Bombayites, the first taste of international food. They serve Nachoes, falafel sandwiches, pizzas, burritos, enchiladas and pastas. This is the place where I tried my first nachos, first pizzas and yes, my first falafel sandwiches. All the food here is adapted to serve the Indian crowd and it has its own unique appeal. I suspect it’s still super popular because a lot of people want to bask in their nostalgic days. My parents still talk about their samosas, Russian salad sandwiches and cold coffee.

A few years ago, Lebanese and Mediterranean food became big in Bombay just the way there is a Japanese food fad right now. Never the less, I am thankful for the Lebanese food boom because now I get to enjoy my favorite foods in a whole bunch of restaurants! A lot of places the falafel sandwiches are too dry, in other places, too soggy. I am pretty sure a lot of places skip on using tahini in their hummus or use less of it, but in either case, they accompany the sandwich with some delicious sauces. One of the best parts about falafels is the yummy pickled vegetable salad that comes along with it. I still have to figure out how to make it but I was super happy with my version!

I love bread, especially the smell of freshly baked bread. I had tried a few times to make bread at home and for some reason, I just could not get it right. I finally went for a bread making class where I picked up a few techniques. I always try to use whole-wheat flour and maybe that is one of the reasons I never got light and fluffy bread. Someone told me to use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour instead of all whole wheat flour to give the bread a better texture. That’s exactly what I did for these pita bread and they turned out quite well. I have been looking for fresh yeast in my city, but none of the usual places I know have it in stock. So I’m using packaged yeast and am quite happy with the results.

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

Adapted from The Fresh Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 packet yeast. (About 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 ¼ cups – 1 ½ cups water at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter

Method:

  • If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to activate the yeast. Remember to reduce the quantity of water to be used in the flour mixture accordingly.
  • If you using instant yeast, like me, add the flours, sugar or honey, yeast and oil in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the water, about 1 ¼ cups first and mix using a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • All of the ingredients should form a ball. If all of the flour does not stick to the ball, add some water gradually.
  • Once all the ingredients are incorporated in the ball, move the ball to a work surface like the kitchen counter or a large dish for about 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix on a low-speed for 10 minutes.
  • The purpose of kneading is to thoroughly combine the ingredients and to break down the flour so that the dough will become stretchy and elastic and rise well in the oven. A simple hand kneading technique is to firmly press down on the dough with the palm of your hand, fold the dough in half toward you like you are closing an envelope, rotate the dough 90 degrees and then repeat these steps, but whatever technique you are comfortable using should work.
  • When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly covered with oil.
  • Form a ball of the dough and place it in the bowl. Roll the ball  of dough around the bowl so that it is lightly coated with oil all over.
  • Cover the dough with a damp kitchen cloth and set aside until it has doubled, about 90 minutes.
  • When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the air.
  • Divide the dough into 8 pieces. 
  • Roll each piece of the dough into a ball. Cover them with a damp kitchen cloth and leave aside for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it in the middle rack of the oven to allow it to heat. This will be your baking surface. (I had never heard of this idea and it is totally fabulous!!)
  • After the dough has relaxed, roll each ball into 1/4″ thickness.
  • Open the oven and place as many Pita breads on the baking surface as you can and close the oven door. The Pita will need to be in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  • Once the Pita bread is puffed and slightly browned, its ready!

Keep the pitas aside while you make the falafel.

I found this recipe for baked falafels and since I am scared of deep-frying anything, I was happy to come across this recipe. While making it from this recipe, I realized it is important to NOT cook your garbanzo beans. I used to make this mistake and always found my mixture to be very wet. To combat that and to help me create a proper falafel bullet, I would invariably add more flour to the mix. In short, it would be one heaping mess! This recipe is much easier and the falafel bullets taste perfect right out of the oven. However, these don’t stay well overnight or if re-heated. Make this and eat them immediately in my advice!

Baked Falafel

Recipe adapted

from Chow Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilly flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (add gradually)
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180o C (or 350o F)
  • Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Put in a blender and pulse till the beans are very coarsely grounded.
  • Put the coarsely grounded beans in a medium mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients except water. Add only 2 tablespoons of the at this stage.
  • Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, try to see if you can make a falafel patty from the mixture. If the mixture seems to dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • If the mixture feels too wet, add a little more flour.
  • Once you are happy with the consistency, form small balls of the mixture, about 1½ inches in diameter. Flatten slightly.
  • Place the balls on a well-oiled baking pan. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes on each side. With the baking process, only the side that touches the baking pan will be browned.

Once ready, keep aside.

Lemon Tahini

Recipe from Mollie Katzen

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Sesame Tahini
  • 5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 small to medium clove of garlic
  • 3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups of water (depending on desired thickness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of salt (depending on the amount of water being used)
  • a tablespoon of finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika or Cayenne pepper

Method:

  • Place the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. (You can also use a blender.) Begin to process.
  • Keeping the motor running, slowly drizzle in the water, checking every now and then to monitor the consistency. When it is as thick as you want it, turn off the machine.
  • Transfer to a medium-small bowl or container, and season to taste with salt, parsley, and cayenne. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready for use. If you’re using this as a sauce for steamed vegetables, serve at room temperature over hot, freshly cooked vegetables (any assortment!) 

Hummus is my favorite dip. I love the fact that it is so healthy and I enjoy eating it with some sweet carrots. Many evenings, I crisp up some pita bread and sit down happily to eat my hummus. I have to confess, I love my hummus super-garlicky and that’s what I prefer to eat it all alone! Haha.

Hummus 

Recipe adapted from RoyHobbs

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup dried gabanzo beans, soaked in water overnight and cooked the next day.
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons plain yogurt

Method:

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl.

Assembling the Falafel Sandwiches

  • Take a pita bread and split it in half to create a cavity.
  • Take some hummus and spread it on the pita bread.
  • Next, take 2 baked falafels and place them in the readied pita pockets
  • If you like, place a cucumber slice and a tomato slice with a little lettuce in the pocket as well.
  • Finally, drizzle some of the lemon tahini sauce on the pita pocket.
  • Your super yummy falafel sandwich is ready!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. I know the pictures aren’t the greatest, but I think I am improving!

Happy cooking everyone!