Saturday, March 26, 2011


Here is a wonderful, old fashioned and easy cookie to whip together on a Saturday.  This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookie Cookbook.  My adaptation is to add 1 teaspoon of vanilla as I think it is essential in almost any baked good, particularly cookies.

A couple of these, served with a cup of hot black tea and I'm a happy girl. Enjoy!


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small (1 1/4-ounce) ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Naan Bread

As promised, here is the Naan bread which accompanied the Chicken Tikka Masala Indian dinner from last week.  This is a very simple recipe and quite fun to make. The results were spectacular. Give yourself time though as it does take awhile to get through the rising processes and then rolling out and cooking each piece of bread.  It's well worth the effort!

Naan Bread

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
3. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all are cooked.  Cool on a wire rack.  Makes approximately 14.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Mysterious World of Indian Cuisine

I've finally dipped my toe in the vast cuisine of India.  India has always been a place of great interest to me, but it's based on just a few things.  In 1984 I watched the most wonderful Masterpiece Theater series called the Jewel in the Crown and that began my initial intrigue of the place.  Since then I have read the 4 books it was based on by Paul Scott, subtitled The Raj Quartet.  I always watched the Travel Channel whenever anyone goes there, but particularly enjoy Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations series when he has traveled around the subcontinent.  I enjoy watching him go anywhere though!

As far as Indian food, I have had a very limited tasting.  Here in my town, we have only two Indian restaurants.  I use to go to one of them and particularly enjoyed their lunch buffets, for which I'm told Indian restaurants are known, until one memorable lunch.  It was my turn to choose where my co-workers and I should dine and I decided to take them to this place.  Now you should know that these particular co-workers were males of the most basic meat-and-potato eating crowd. The fact I could even get them in the door was somewhat of a miracle.  So there we were lined up at the steam tables when one of my co-workers in front of me delightfully pointed out a rather large cockroach crawling around the perimeter of the Tandoori Chicken tray.  Needless to say, I never heard the end of it about that lunch and I have never eaten Indian food again.  Until today.

I so enjoyed the spices and exotic flavors of the limited dishes I have tried so I decided I should give it a try at home.  My menu for this Indian feast included: Chicken Tikka Masala, Naan bread, Basmati Rice with slivered almonds and cucumber wedges.  To end our southeast Asian feast, we had a cool and refreshing lemon sorbet.

I will post today the recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala and will tell you about the Naan bread in the next post. The house was filled with heady aromas and it was a rich, lovely sauce coating the yogurt marinated chicken. Just as I remember it tasting, minus the cockroaches crawling around!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt or a fat free plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Masala Sauce
2 - 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano or jalepeno chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (Optional for cilantro haters, or use parsley)

For the chicken, combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

For the sauce, heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Cover chicken with yogurt mixture thickly and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro if using, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve with basmati rice and Naan bread. Serves  6.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hummus, Oh Yes!

I love, love, love hummus. Unfortunately, The Husband-not so much. That didn't come out right. I love, love, love The Husband. He doesn't love, love, love hummus.  Oh this is getting confusing.

The point is, I don't make it very often when I'm the only one eating it. We do both enjoy pita chips and a big bag was purchased this weekend so I felt the need to whip up a batch of that creamy, garlicky, Middle Eastern favorite.  It is traditionally made with garbanzo beans, also called chick peas.  Another vital ingredient is tahini, a sesame seed paste.  The tahini I had, but not the chick peas.  I said to myself, "Self, why wouldn't cannelloni beans work just as well."  And you know what?  They did!  So here is my tried and true hummus recipe which I gladly share with you.


3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water
6 Tbsp tahini, stirred well
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over the top of desired
1 14 oz. can chickpeas (or cannelloni beans), drained and rinsed
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil together in a food processor, fitted with a steel blade.  Process until mixture is smooth.  Through pouring hole, slowly drizzle olive oil, pulsing until mixture is thoroughly combined.  Put in serving bowl, drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with paprika.  Serve with pita chips.