Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spritz Cookies- Bite size treats!

Spring break is over. there is an audible sigh in the vicinity.. I join in.
It has been a hectic week with  an active child at home. Thank God for perfect weather! 
While many of you are still wearing thick jackets or cranking up the heat in your homes, we have flung open our windows to let the gentle breeze in, packed all the winter woollies and pulled on the flip-flops! We have donned soft tees, and Capri and for  those who can carry it off, shorts and go for evening walks.
Welcome Spring! 

Spring Break from school also means play dates! We had arranged a play date for my son and his little friends and he wanted me to make cookies for them. Of course, I had to agree! 
Sometime last year, I gave in to my urge to buy a cookie press
At $10, I thought it was a steal! 
When I made the cookies last year, it took me a while to get the hang of it and when I was fumbling, I kind of  thought it wasn't 'such a good idea, after all'. The whole thing got shoved to the very back of the cabinet.
I tentatively pulled it out, looked at it long and hard and finally decided to use it. What's the worst that can happen?  It won't spritz, hah! I'll roll and cut and bake. I'll make cookies. There! 

I followed the recipe from Joy of Baking. I wish I had taken time to go to the store and get some garnish, my son wanted m & m's, I kept putting it off  and then it was time to bake.

When you try these, plan ahead and get something to decorate the cookies, m & m's, dried fruit, nuts, the cookies will look so pretty with that added something!
I will the next time I make these, I will drizzle them with some chocolate! yum!

The cookies are light and flaky and mildly sweet.  Because these are piped/ spritzed, they are small, 2-bite cookies.
They are very brittle too, of course.
The recipe calls for 6-9 minutes of baking, until the edges are barely brown. It could be my oven, but 6-9 mins. did not cut it for me. I baked my cookies for 10 mins. I like to see a honey brown edge to my cookies.
The barely-brown-edges makes it doughy and floury under done and I don't like it.

Must remember:
Use a cookie sheet or a jelly roll pan
Pipe/ Spritz cookies directly onto the cookie sheet, do not use any butter / oil to grease the cookie sheet. Do not use any parchment paper or base under the cookies. This is important. This was one of the mistakes I made when I first made the cookies, I used parchment paper. The cookie dough sticks to the press and lifts the parchment paper and it's just a mess! 
Be patient, if it does not click the first time, don't give up. just try again. 

A treat after a tall glass of milk! 

Serve with a tall glass of milk. Give a surprise by adding some in your child's lunch box, share a plate with your girlfriends at tea-time!
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Friday, March 08, 2013

Cooking with friends : Dhebra

This is the third part of the Sonali Trilogy. 
Every Tuesday,  when Sonali has  a day off from work, she works on the home front.  All working women out there know what I am talking about.
In top gear, she whizzes around the house, cleaning, tidying up, laundry, running errands and  as pre-arranged, we meet at her apartment and she has some nice Gujarati dish for me to taste!

For a while now, I have been pestering her for a hands-on session at making something. 
Since methi (fenugreek) is in season (psssst- we get a big bunch as low as .50 cents! I had discovered that when we first moved here. I actually did the ridiculous Dharmendra dance at getting Methi leaves that cheap! ) We decided on Dhebra. 

For someone who claims that she is not fond of  Gujarati food, Sonali does a fantastic job of cooking all things Guju in her kitchen. 
I arrived, armed with my camera and the desire to learn.

These Dhebras are a great  tea-time snack. I loved rolling up one and nibbling on it with my cup of chai.These  are also good picnic food or lunch-box option.

You Need:
2 cups Wheat flour ( gehun ka atta)
1 cup Bajra flour (pearl millet flour)
1 bunch Methi / Fresh Fenugreek (leaves only)
1 Tbsp. each,  grated Ginger and Garlic
2-3 Green Chilies paste (+/- to taste)
Salt to taste
2-3 Tbsp of chopped Cilantro
Jaggery, a small lump, about the size of a key lime ( traditionally, sugar is used, but  jaggery being a healthier option, I prefer that)
1 Tbsp, Toasted Sesame Seeds
1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. Red chili powder
1 tsp.Ajwain / bishops weed
3 Tbsp oil
Yogurt, whisked-  approx 1 cup, use this measurement as a guide only

Wash the methi/ fenugreek leaves and chop them.
Mix the flours and add all the above  listed ingredients, except the yougurt.
Mix with your hands  to ensure that the chopped methi as well as the spices are well incorporated (see notes)
Now slowly add the whisked yogurt and start making the dough. Be careful when adding the yogurt,the dough has to be a bit stiff. 
Cover and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.
When you are ready to start making the dhebras,  heat a skillet on med- high and pinch off a small portion of the dough about the size of a lime.
Dredge it  in wheat flour and roll it, uniformly, into a disk, about 6-7 inches in diameter.
Carefully transfer the flat-bread onto the hot skillet.
As the underside bubbles,turn and flip over to the other side and drizzle a few drops of oil  on top.
Flip and cook the oil smeared side, if you have it, use the 'fulka press' ( the wooden flat headed hammer thingy, as shown in the pictures below). By gently pressing with the 'press', till brown spots form on the underside. 
Drizzle some more oil on top and flip, press and cook till brown spots appear. take off the heat and place on a tissue. 
In the same manner, make dhebras from the remaining dough.
Serve hot off the skillet with a bit of pickle. 
Umm- ummm! 

If you wish to freeze  some dhebras, once cool, place them between sheets of parchment paper and tuck them in a freezer safe bag or container. 

- If you have hard jaggery, you might want to grate it and then add it or add a teaspoon of water to the grated jaggery and nuke it in the microwave for about 25-30 seconds to soften it
- Alternately, just add the grated jaggery to the whisked yogurt and leave it in there for a few minutes to soften.'

- If you have white sesame seeds, just add them to a small sauce pan and toss over medium heat to toast them to a light brown. 

-Because of the  bajra content, these dhebras tend to harden up if kept for long. To soften them, just before eating, place a dhebra between 2 sheets of tissue, dampen the tissue with a wet palm and microwave for 15-20 seconds and serve.

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