Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lemon Ginger Cookies


I made some really delicious lemon ginger cookies. I combined some recipes I saw (lemon poppy seed cookies and lemon currant cookies), made them eggless and added candied ginger to give them a little kick.

I saw the addition of sour cream in the lemon currant cookie recipe and thought it sounded really interesting. The tangy flavour of the sour cream paired really well with the tartness of the lemon.

I had made the lemon poppy seed cookies before and they were amazing so I wanted to see if they could become eggless. I sort of used the sour cream in the place of the egg.

I reduced the amount of sugar from one cup and added a tablespoon of honey because honey and lemon are a great combination!

Ingredients

Lemon butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 big lemon)
1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour (I used a combo of 1 1/2 cups white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest

1/4 cup candied ginger

Lemon sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
4 tbsp sugar

Directions


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring lemon juice to a simmer over medium heat. When it has reduced by half, add 1/4 cup of butter to it. Stir until butter is melted.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and 2 tsp lemon zest.

Cream together 1/2 cup butter and sugar. Beat in the sour cream. Slowly pour in lemon butter mixture. Mix in the dry ingredients and candied ginger.

In a small bowl, put a few tablespoons of sugar and add the remaining lemon zest. Roll a spoonful of dough in the sugar mixture and flatten on a cookie sheet. You can use the bottom of a cup to flatten the cookie.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

You could also place the dough in saran wrap in a log shape and chill it for an hour. Then cut it in to round slices and toss in the sugar/zest mixture and bake.

You could also save the dough to bake the cookies later.
The lemon flavour just pops in your mouth. It is so bright, fresh and delicious! I highly recommend it.

An alternative to the candied ginger is poppy seeds. Replacing the candied ginger with one tablespoon of poppy seeds will do the trick.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fall Themed Two Tier Engagement Cake

I made this fall themed cake for my friend Seema's engagement party which was held on Thanksgiving weekend in October. The colours of the flowers were chosen to complement her stunning outfit.

The gold at the bottom is made of ribbon which gives the cake a professional finish. The little flowers are made with a cookie cutter from my cake decorating kit. Each petal is scored with a little tool to give it a 3D effect. I placed a silver bead in the middle to make it even more elegant. I used gum paste (sort of like fondant) and water mixture to 'glue' the edible sugar beads on.
This was my first attempt at a stacked tier cake. There are plastic dowels placed in the first tier to support the second layer of cake.

The bottom tier was a chocolate cake with a strawberry filling and the top was vanilla with strawberry.

Congrats Seema and Amit! Looking forward to the wedding!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars


I love eating granola bars for snack. It always seems like a healthy alternative to other junk food that tempts me in the afternoon. I didn't realize how easy they are to make yourself.

I have a very simple recipe that requires minimal prep and bakes in less then 30 minutes. It's also great treat to take to school or work.

You can get creative with you fruit and nut combination. I used whatever was available at home. It just happened to be the delicious combo of dates and almonds.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups oats
1 can condensed milk (300 ml)
1 cup almonds
1 cup chopped dates (raisins, cranberries or apricots would work well too)

Directions

Heat oven to 325 degrees

In a large mixing bowl combine oats, almonds and dates. Pour in condensed milk. Mix well.

Grease a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil with oil or butter. Pour mixture on to it and flatten it to about 1/4" height. Try to make it rectangular so it will be easier to cut later.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Let it cool for 20 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy!

You could add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to make it more indulgent.

I didn't add any sugar because the condensed milk is sweet enough and the dates were soaked in honey.

Verdict: They are very satisfying and a little bit goes a long way. I was going to cut them into long bars but the little squares are the perfect size for snacking.

The oats are very filling and also have cholesterol lowering properties. Dates and almonds are a good source of potassium and magnesium so this is one snack you won't feel guilty about eating.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Grated Carrot Salad


My friend Sheena and her husband Scott came over for a South Indian lunch. In my culture it is customary to invite newly married couples home for a special meal. My mom made masala dosa, sambar and coconut chutney.

I made a carrot salad with cauliflower and bean sprouts. In South India it's called carrot kosumalli or carrot kosumbari. It is a colourful, refreshing salad that is very simple to make. All you need is a grater!


Ingredients
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
3 large cauliflower florets grated
1 big handful of beansprouts
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions
Mix grated carrot, cauliflower and beansprouts together. Squeeze lemon over it. Add salt. Mix well. Garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

You can be as creative as you want with this dish. You could even add pomegranate seeds or raw mango. My dad likes to add chopped almonds.

A more traditional recipe includes urad daal, a lentil that adds protein to the dish, green chillies and spluttered mustard seeds for flavour.
Sheena and I used to experiment a lot in the kitchen when we were roommates in university. Then she was lucky enough to marry a trained chef whose culinary experiments are definitely more successful than ours. Scott already got the recipe for potato masala from my mom to try out at home. I'm looking forward to hearing how it turns out!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sheena and Scott's Wedding Cake

I had the great pleasure of being my friend Sheena's maid of honour this summer. She had a beautiful outdoor wedding at her parents house in the picturesque countryside where she grew up. Her father had renovated their shed to host the reception. It was truly breath-taking to see the transformation of the space.

I made her wedding cake and used her cobalt blue theme with a ribbon at the bottom. The white roses are made of fondant. The small flowers have a silver sugar bead in the middle. The cake was a chocolate sponge with a strawberry filling.The wedding was such a wonderful celebration. I know we will treasure the memories forever.

Congratulations Sheena and Scott!


*Photo credits to David Goodfellow Photography

Friday, January 1, 2010

Coconut Lime Macaroons


I went to a wonderful New Year's party at my friend Av's condo to ring in 2010. He asked me to bring a dessert item.

I started to think about what would make a good party dessert. It had to be something that people could pick up and eat easily. It also had to be unique and interesting. At first I thought I'd make pecan bars again but they are quite rich and sticky.

I browsed some recipes online and found one for coconut macaroons. I love the combination of lime and coconut. The flavours take you to a tropical island.

This recipe is really simple and the result is very tasty. They are hard on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

Ingredients:

1 cup condensed milk
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour condensed milk into a bowl. Add lime juice, shredded coconut, flour, lime zest and salt. Mix well. Add more coconut if it seems too runny.

Roll in to small round balls and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 12-13 minutes until brown.

Let it cool for 10 minutes before trying to take them off the foil. They will fall apart if you are too eager. Once they are cool they will peel off very easily.

The bottoms are pretty brown because the condensed milk caramelizes in the heat. Cooked condensed milk becomes dulce de leche, a South American staple.

Next time I would use unsweetened coconut because the condensed milk is sweet enough.

Happy New Year! May it be filled with many delicious adventures.




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