Dec 7, 2011

The 3C Cookie - Coconut, Cinnamon and Candied Orange Peel

It's holiday season all over the world and wedding season in India. Moral of the story- It's time to celebrate! While we don't really do much for Christmas other than start packing our bags to head out for the New Year parties, I wanted to make something 'Christmasy' for my friends in New York. The cookies are on their way as I write this and will be part of the festive season in NY. How I wish I was on my way instead.

In all my cookie making experiences, I have learnt that it is very important to have a good oven to make your cookie. I made these using as many organic ingredients as I could in the lovely shape of a star. It's not common to see cookies other than round or square here, so when I do other shapes it draws a lot of amusing stares. Cookies store so much more better than cakes and it's always fun to make your cookies yourself so you don't end up eating as much as the store bought hydrogenated ones.

This recipe yielded 40 cookies for me, but it depends on how thin you roll out your dough.

You need:

1 and 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold pressed oil (any neutral oil)
1/2 plus 2 teaspoons cup organic cane sugar or a any sweetener of your choice
1 tbsp flax seed powder
1 tbsp water
1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
6-7 candies orange peels chopped

Preheat the oven to 175C.

Mix the flax seed powder with the 1tbsp water and set aside.

Mix the rest of the dry ingredients and make a well in the center. The flax seed mix should have become a thick pulp by now. Add that and the rest of the wet ingredients to the mix. Knead and roll out the dough and cut it in any shape you wish. You could even just make them round using a small bowl to cut it out. Poke holes using a fork in every cookie.

Arrange in a tray and put it into a freezer for 5 minutes. Bake for 10-15 minutes till the edges are firm. Remove and let it cool completely for it to firm up.

Don't forget to share some!

Dec 5, 2011

UFO attacked my pasta- How I saved the world one bite at a time

As I was walking down the supermarket aisle I noticed an odd looking pasta shape. I picked it up thinking we could use it for dinner that night and then kept it back because we decided to make our own pasta. But then when I looked at it again I actually noticed what it was. It was UFO shaped pasta! I remember seeing all kinds of unmentionable shapes and colours in Italy. But UFOs?! As weird as it may sound, the pack was filled with the cutest little durum wheat alien vehicles. How could I not pick it up?!

Uncooked UFOs

Cooked UFOs

We ended up making Lasagna for dinner that night, but the next morning our pasta quota wasn't over just as yet. It was almost brunch time till I decided I was going to attempt the American junk classic Macaroni and Cheese. I searched the internet for inspiration and then finally came up with my own version using whatever I had and thought was healthy enough to be added into the sauce.

Here's how it went.

You need:

1 cup whole cashews
1/3rd cup Nutritional Yeast
3 cloves of Garlic
1 small Onion
1 tbsp Corn Starch
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

2 cups Cooked Pasta

Blend the cashews till they are a fine powder. Don't let it get to the butter stage. Add in the nutritional yeast, garlic, onion and blend. It might all clump up together. Add a little water to make it a fine paste.

In a saucepan, mix the corn starch, soy sauce and mustard powder. Add a little water and bring to a boil. Add in the cashew paste and add water little bit at a time till it gets to a nice thick consistency. Add salt, pepper and take it off the stove.

At this stage I added some chopped capsicum but you could leave it out if you want or add any vegetables of your choice.

Mix it with the cooked pasta in a bake proof dish and bake for 10 minutes at 175C till the top browns a bit.

Serve hot.

We're safe now. I ate the last UFO.

Dec 3, 2011

Raw food with Lisa and a month of surprises.

Lisa Pitman was in town and what a week that was. Lisa is a raw food chef from Canada who was travelling though India talking about her journey with raw food and sharing some lovely recipes. She had two events in Bombay one of which was a talk followed by a lovely raw vegan lunch, the other was a cooking demo done by Lisa followed by a lunch of the recipes she showed. Fresh salads, date cookies, Zucchini rolls in a marinara sauce, PAd Thai Salad and an amazing raw cheesecake were a few of the things we got to try. I also got to accompany Lisa to Elephanta caves. It was the first visit for both of us!  It is such great fun to hang out with a fellow foodie who shares a similar love for food and travel. I wish Lisa had more time in Bombay!

For more pictures of Lisa's talk and demo check out SHARAN's album

I love making lists of things I need to get my hands on for my kitchen and I love it even more when I can tick certain things off my list. November being birthday month was special not only because I turned a year older, but also because I had many Santa Claus moments this month. K was in London shopping for things for me and working whenever he got free from shopping and my two Yankee friends (Ara and Sri) got me lots of things I'm going to keep using in my kitchen!

I finally got my hands on a Pasta Machine and it is so much fun. I don't think I'll ever buy a sheets of Lasagne again! I made me some Semolina Lasagna in a tomato sauce with my depleting stock of Daiya on top. 


We love mushrooms in this house and K called me from Borough Market all excited about how excited I would be if I was there. He picked some Chanterelle, dried Portobello and one huge Portobello from someone selling tonnes of mushrooms.

Avocados from UK v/s BIG Avocado from Bangalore!

Portobello Mushroom

After keeping the Portobello for 5 days, it started showing signs that it was time to use it quickly. I made a quick lunch of Portobello Risotto from an old cookbook that belongs to my mom called Traditional Italian Food by Laura Birch. I also made a soda bread and an Arugula & Roasted Yellow Pepper salad to go along with it. You could use regular button mushrooms or avoid the mushrooms completely if you prefer them on the trees. 

November also saw the addition of the newest member to our family. (K's brother and wife welcomed a baby girl) Babies are so much fun! And I spotted a dog I have never seen before. He was massive with enough hair for two St Bernards and the sweetest face ever. I don't know why but the bigger the dog gets the more friendlier they are! This one is called a Leonberger and they are native to Germany. I saw him after two nights and he instantly recognized me and jumped up to lick my face. If my neighbour wasn't trying his best to hold him back he would've knocked me down. He was easily 6 feet tall while on his hind feet. Unfortunately he was just visiting for a few days.

It's hard to believe how big he is!

Dec 1, 2011

Quick Dessert: Chocolate Agar Agar Mousse

A lot of times we have impromptu film screenings or friends pop in and I can never let anyone go without eating something. On one such 45 minute notice period I made a quick dessert for our visitors since they were coming post diner.

This recipe uses agar agar also known as china grass or as I heard someone on Master Chef Australia call it Aey-gaar Aey-gaar. (I bet they must be making fun of our accents. Have you ever wondered if there is ONE true accent?)

Agar Agar calls for some experimentation on your part. Sometimes it's hard to get it right but you will learn from your mistakes. I have previously made a Lime Nutmeg Jelly with Agar Agar which is a bit more work than this recipe. For this recipe, I used the strips of Agar Agar which are available in the grocery stores if you ask for China Grass. Each pack of Agar Agar has one thick strip which is enough for half a litre of milk. 

This is the plain, unflavoured Agar Agar (China Grass) I like to use

Since this wasn't planned with enough time, I used sweetened chocolate flavoured soy milk which I had. But you could do the same with any other non dairy milk if you prefer. You can do it with cashew, almond, coconut or even rice milk.

You need:
1/2 litre (roughly 2 and a half cups) of Chocolate Soy milk at room temperature
1 Strip of Agar Agar (Cut and powdered in a dry mixer)
1/4 cup water

Mix the powdered agar agar flakes with the water and bring it to a boil. Stir frequently and make sure most of the agar agar has disappeared. A few small lumps are okay. Now, little bit at a time, while stirring continuously, add the chocolate soy milk. Keep it on the stove for about 3 minutes more till the soy milk is hot and take it off the stove. Pour into a big glass bowl or small moulds to set. Keep it in the fridge and let it set for at least 45 minutes.

It always has a better texture after about 6 hours, but it's like a perfect mousse after an hour.

Top with some grated/ chopped vegan chocolate (Bournville, Mordes) and serve cold.

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