Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nutella Pinwheel Cookies

I amo actually not much of a Nutella enthusiast - certainly not like my brother who can slather it on to bread slices and make sandwiches of it!! But I recently bought a jar in an attempt to persuade my daughter to finish up her lunch box - the deal being that she would get Nutella sandwiches one day of the week if she finishes up her lunch the other 4 days. (I don't even know why I am making these deals because its not as if the lunches on the other days are uninteresting or she doesn't like them. She just chats and eats so slowly that she runs out of time most days. Sigh....and some days she has Chocos from her friend's lunchbox - not to judge, but really Chocos for lunch?? Must be another harried Mom who was trying to make a deal with her 6 year old!

Anyway, so when I saw this latest post on Anita's blog for some luscious Cinnamon Rolls,  what instantly came to mind were pinwheel cookies and the Nutella jar in the fridge. I thought Joy of Baking would have a recipe for pinwheel cookies of some sort, but they didn't and instead found a site called Joy of Desserts and I found this recipe which used chocolate. I adapted the recipe to use the chocolate hazelnut spread and it was a lovely combination.

The humidity made it a bit difficult to roll out the dough even though I chilled it, so I finally had to roll out the chocolate part of the dough on top of the plain dough which is why the pinwheels are not as well defined as I would have liked them. Did nothing to the taste though; these were some seriously good cookies - soft and crumbly and with the delicious taste of chocolate and hazelnuts mixed in without being overwhelmingly cloying.

Nutella Pinwheel Cookies (Adapted from Joy of Desserts)

1 1/2 cups flour (I ended up kneading in about another 1/4 cup of flour in my attempt to roll out the dough)
1/2 cup butter ( I had only salted butter so skipped the pinch of salt in the original recipe)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Nutella
1 egg
3 -4 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1. Sieve the flour with the baking powder (and salt if usinng)
2. Cream the butter and then add the sugar and bear till light and shiny.
3. Add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes.
4. Fold in the flour and baking powder and mix well, adding milk one tablespoon at a time till you manage to get a soft dough.
5. Divide the dough into two portions and add the Nutella to one of the portions.
6. Wrap the dough portions with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
7. Turn the plain dough out and roll 1/8th inch thick. Roll the Nutella dough out to the same size as the plain dough.
8. Place the Nutella dough over the plain dough and press together, Then roll away from you into a tight even cylindrical roll.
9. Chill again for 10 minutes, Remove and cut into thin slices.
10. Bake in a pre heated oven at 190C for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Laksa is one of my favourite noodle soups and I always try to order it when we are eating out at a restaurant which serves Oriental cuisine (and come to think of it we seem to land up at these places a lot because both of us love those flavours). This is a Malaysian dish, though to be more accurate it is supposed to have a lot of Chinese elements to it, so its popular in a place like Singapore as well.

I was recently reminded of this dish when I saw a vegetarian Laksa being made on Rachel Allen's Home Cooking show - she made it with sugar snap peas and bean sprouts. I suddenly had a craving for Laksa and since I am still recuperating, decided to try making it at home with the help of my trusted Tara. It turned out to be a delicious one pot meal for our Sunday lunch which even my 6 year old enjoyed and smacked the last bits from her bowl.

It was a perfect dish to have for my starved palate which has been surviving on khichdi and mostly bland food....the chicken was cooked to perfection as well. I used glass noodles instead of rice noodles and they made a nice change. You could use Thai curry paste instead of making the paste from scratch but I do believe that the freshness of the ground ingredients adds to the flavours which may otherwise get submerged in the coconut milk. Season this dish with caution since it has fish sauce as well as stock cube in it, both already have salt in them.

Chicken Laksa - recipe adapted from Rachel Allen's Laksa

Chicken - 200gms boneless cut into strips and marinated with a little salt and lemon juice
Vegetables - 1 cup sliced - I used babycorn and bell peppers
Coconut milk - 400 ml
Chicken stock cube - 1 dissolved in 400ml of water
Sesame oil - 2 tsp

Spice paste:
Ginger - 1" piece
Garlic - 4 cloves chopped
Lemon grass - 1 tbsp chopped (only the tender inner part not the tough outer stalks, if you'd rather not grind this because of the fibres, then just add the lemon grass whole to the laksa when its cooking)
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup chopped
Fish sauce - 2 tbsp
Green chillies - 4-5

Rice noodles/Glass noodles - 250 gms, soaked in hot water till soft and then rinsed in cold water.

1. Grind all ingredients for the spice mix to a paste - it will be a little coarse and not fine.
2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok and fry the spice paste for a few minutes, then add the chicken pieces and fry on high for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock to the wok and bring to boil. Then simmer for about 20 minutes till the chicken is cooked. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes.
4. I usually take out a portion for my daughter at this stage and add a couple of slit green chillies for a little heat.
5. Check the seasoning and add some salt if necessary.
6. In individual serving bowls, portion out the cooked noodles and then pour some laksa over it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chocolate Brownie (Cocoa based)

This almost turned out to be a disaster because the sugar just refused to melt and I had a sticky mass of butter and cocoa powder. What should have taken about 15 minutes to make took more than an hour as we battled to have the sugar melt into some kind of semblance of what it usually does. Something definitely wrong with that batch of sugar I bought - not from the usual supermarket, so I guess I'm not going back to the neighbourhood kirana wala for sugar anytime soon now.

Coming to the recipe, this is one of my favourite recipes for a deliciously decadent brownie - this is not a very gooey brownie though, its a little chewy but soft and the coffee (which is my addition) adds a lovely rich flavour to it. This recipe is adapted from this blog which itself is an adaptation from Alice Meidrich's Bittersweet and has a mint adaptation to it. I also like this recipe because it uses cocoa powder which I almost always have at home, as opposed to chocolate which I may or may not have at hand.

I usually put in walnuts but this time since I was a bit doubtful about the sugar which had not melted properly, I decided not to waste nuts in case this turned out to be a disaster. But I had promised chocolate chips when we started baking so my daughter insisted on it and they went in. I would go with the nuts though, the chocolate chips in a chocolate brownie is rather a lost cause but who's to argue with a 6 year old!

This batch was demolished quite swiftly - its almost addictive once you taste that lovely, dark chocolate flavour and one can go on eating it. Easy to whip up - this is a must try.

Chocolate Brownie
Butter - 1/2 cup (I used salted butter so omitted any salt in the recipe, if using unsalted, I would add about 1/2 tsp of salt)
Sugar - 1 cup (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
Cocoa powder - 3/4 cup
Instant Coffee powder - 2 tbsp
Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
Eggs - 2
Maida (all purpose flour) - 1/2 cup
Chocolate chips - 1/2 cup (can be substituted partly or wholly with walnuts)

1. Combine the sugar, butter and cocoa powder in a vessel and place in another pan containing water which is simmering. (The next time I would just use softened butter and combine it with powdered sugar and cocoa powder till smooth and shiny.) Mix with a wooden spoon till melted and well blended.
2. Take off heat and cool slightly till just warm. Add the vanilla essence Dissolve coffee powder in  1/4 cup of boiling water and cool. Add to the sugar butter mixture.
3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Then add the flour and beat till just combined with a wooden spatula.
4. Fold in the nuts or chocolate chips and pour into a tray which has been covered with aluminum foil.
5, Bake in a pre heated oven at 180C for about 20-25 minutes. Remove when the toothpick inserted comes out not completely dry but just a bit moist inside.
6. Cool completely and cut into squares. Depending on the size of the squares you could get upto 15-20 pieces. I cut them small and got about 20 pieces.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Andhra Keema Curry

 The Taj Lands End apparently makes a mean Keema Pau (lamb mince with rustic bread) - or so I hear from hubby who stays there sometimes. He was hankering for some keema on a weekend and telling me about this dish they have on the breakfast buffet and how he really likes it. So, I put on my best snob accent and tell him there is no way a swanky hotel can hope to recreate authentic keema pau. Now an Irani restaurant - that's the place to have a good plate of keema pau!

But since the hankering was for keema, I decided to cook some Andhra mince curry from this recipe in Sailu's Kitchen. Good decision - the dish is as good as it looks. This was the first time my daughter had mince and she loved it. She ate it for the next three meals (in small quantities) - with roti, rice and bread! Since, hubby had the keema pau in mind, I adapted this recipe to make it much drier than the original version.Sailu's version is a thick gravy like dish. Mine is not only drier, its also pretty spicy I think - I added more chilli powder to enhance the colour and that seems to have done the trick.

Andhra Keema Curry

My adapted recipe which makes it more robust and a little more fiery:

Ingredients:1/2 kg minced goat meat (mutton keema), washed thoroughly and drained
2 onions finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1tbsp ginger garlic paste
curry leaves - handful
Green chillies - slit - 3-4
Kashmiri chilli powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
2 tbsp oil and 1 tsp ghee
coriander leaves for garnish

Dry roast the spices and powder
1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

3 dry red chillis
Methi seeds - pinch
Saunf - 1/4 tsp

(I omitted the poppy seeds from the original recipe because I didn't want the creaminess it gives)

1 Heat oil and ghee in a pressure cooker, add the green chillies, onions and saute till the onions turn transluscent. The ginger garlic paste goes in next for about 3-4 minutes and then the mutton. Stir fry on high for 5 minutes.
2.Add the freshly ground masala powder, red chilli powders and chopped tomatoes and cook till pulpy.
3 Add the salt and about half a cup of water and put the weight on the cooker, close and cook under pressure for 3-4 whistles and then keep on low flame for 5 minutes.
4. Open the cooker when the pressure reduces, heat and add water if needed or bring to boil and simmer till excess water is  taken away and the keema consistency is reached.
5. Sprinkle coriander leaves and serve with pav or rice.