Categories
Baking Chocolate Food General Recipes vegan

Amazing, Almost Ambrosial Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up grumpy, feeling rickety, tired, and ancient. By late afternoon, however, I was quite cheery, even contemplating having a 10 minute solo dance party in my living room. This transformation was in large part thanks to a quick twenty minute yoga session and then, this plate of perfect cookies, alongside a cup of chamomile tea.

What does the perfect cookie taste like, you might ask? What does it feel like when you bite into it? How does it smell? Well, that of course may vary from person to person. To me, a perfect cookie is a chocolate cookie. It is filled with dark chocolate chips and possibly dotted with lightly toasted nuts. It is crisp on the top, bottom, and on its sides, but has a gooey centre. It has the distinct aroma and taste of rich cocoa, a hint of vanilla, and finally, the caramel-like taste of brown sugar. It looks like this:

If this sounds and looks like something you might like, then I suggest giving this recipe a shot! Oh and these cookies are completely vegan!

I will say, some people may find these cookies a bit sweet. The trouble is that the recipe requires at least this amount of sugar in order for the cookies to have a crispy exterior and a gooey centre. Moreover, these cookies, while undoubtedly sweet, were not unpleasantly so, to me (just to calibrate my palate/preferences, most North American milk chocolate tastes saccharine to me). Especially, when paired with some unsweetened coffee or tea to offset their sweetness and also, to compliment their crisp and gooey texture.

I sipped on some chamomile tea, made by brewing dried chamomile flowers from our garden, while I ate them.

I think a cup of coffee with these cookies would be great too!

If you want to give making the cookies a shot, here’s what you will need:

Ingredients:

100 g (about 1/2 cup) white sugar

100g (about 1/2 cup) dark brown sugar (if you want to use light brown sugar, use 125g of it and then, reduce the white sugar by 25 g)

112g (about 1/2 cup) vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use real vanilla extract, but imitation vanilla extract should work fine in foods treated to relatively high temperatures)

125 g (about 1 cup) all purpose flour

60 g cocoa (about 2/3 cup) (use the best cocoa you have as the better it tastes, the better your cookie will taste)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 pinches of salt

1-2 tablespoons of almond milk

2 handfuls of vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chop up a bar of your favourite vegan dark chocolate) (you can add less or more, per your preference)

2 handfuls of walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted (toast them in a frying pan until slightly browned and fragrant)

Equipment:

Stand mixer, handheld mixer, or a whisk and strong arms

2 large bowls

1 sieve

A weighing scale or measuring cup

A teaspoon

A baking tray

Some parchment paper

An oven

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar (i.e. beat them together in a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer/eggbeater or whisk) until they form a creamy, thick, pale yellow mixture.
  2. Add in the vanilla extract and continue beating the mixture until the extract is incorporated into it.
  3. Sieve the dry ingredients into a second bowl (flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt).
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix them altogether with your hands. It will seem like a thick dough. Add in a tablespoon of almond milk and mix it in. If the dough still seems very dry, add in another spoon of the milk.
  5. Toss in the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix them in.
  6. Roll the dough into individual little balls. (I got about 14).
  7. You can bake them all on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (ideally unbleached and compostable) at 350 F for about 12 minutes or so. The cookies are ready when they are slightly firmed up on their sides. They will still seem soft in the centre, but will firm up in about 10 minutes if you just let them cool on the tray.
  8. Alternatively, flash freeze the dough balls in the freezer (i.e. freeze them on a tray or plate) for about 2-3 hours, and once they have frozen, throw them into a freezer ziplock bag and then the freezer. This way, you can pop your head into the freezer and grab some dough whenever you want a fresh cookie! If you choose this route, bake the frozen dough balls directly, without defrosting them, at 350F, but for about 3 minutes longer.
  9. The only problem with the freezing method is that it isn’t very energy-efficient because it involves heating up the oven multiple times. What we’ve been trying to do in our home is to bake various different things in the oven at the same time. For instance, one can also toast bread at 350F. Alternatively, we heat up the oven to 350F, bake the cookies, and then increase the oven temperature to a higher temperature to bake other things, like bread, for example.
  10. Whatever method you choose, I recommend enjoying your warm cookies with a glass of milk, coffee, or tea!
Categories
Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

How to Make Paneer Bhurji!

Yesterday, we received a grocery delivery, including fresh whole milk from free-range cows. So, last evening, I made some fresh paneer! I could barely stop myself from eating it all, as is. It was citrusy, fresh, and utterly, deliciously, creamy! Somehow, I managed to control myself and stored it in the refrigerator and today, I set out to make some paneer bhurji.

Bhurji recipe

If you want to try making some too, here’s what you will need:

1/2 pound paneer (for instructions on how to make it, go here; you could also buy some at Indian stores, but freshly made homemade paneer really is several orders of magnitude better than the store bought kind)

2-5 tablespoons of vegetable or sunflower oil or ghee (go here for my recipe) (if you use 4-5 tbsp of oil or ghee, the bhurji will taste better and have a better mouth-feel)

1 medium onion (ideally red; diced)

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)(optional)

2 green chillies (ideally, the slender, thai ones) or 1 habanero (chopped);

3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (you can use more tomatoes if you like your bhurji a little more tangy and sweet) (diced)

Salt to taste

1-3 teaspoon red chilli powder (depending on how hot you want your bhurji to taste)

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 lime or lemon (optional)

A few sprigs of coriander/cilantro (optional)

Rotis (for more on how to make rotis, go here; you could also use tortillas or buy pre-made rotis at an Indian store, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

Method:

  1. Take the Paneer and chop it up into little pieces. You can also process it in a food processor until it is broken up into fairly small bits.
  2. Place a frying pan on your stove and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the oil/ghee to the pan.
  3. Once the oil seems hot (test it with one small onion piece) toss in the diced onions and sauté them until they are slightly browned.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, throw the crushed garlic and chopped chillies into the pan, and sauté them, as well.
  5. Sprinkle the salt and all the masalas (red chilli, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric powders) into the pan. Stir the contents of the pan until the spices are well-distributed.
  6. Once the aromas of the spices begin to release (in about a minute), add the tomatoes, and mix everything in the pan.
  7. Place a lid on the pan and let the tomato-onion-spice mixture cook for a few minutes, until the oil separates from the mixture (stirring intermittently).
  8. Toss in the paneer chunks and stir well, breaking up the paneer in the pan even more as you stir.
  9. Cook until the paneer looks well cooked but still moist. You can taste it after a few minutes and decide whether or not you want it cooked some more. You should definitely cook it long enough for the oil to separate from the paneer-masala mixture.
  10. Take the pan off the heat. Squeeze some lime/lemon juice on the paneer bhurji, to taste; it will add a bit of tartness to the bhurji! You could also garnish the bhurji with some coriander/cilantro leaves. And enjoy!

How to make paneer bhurji

Eat it with some rotis!

Healthy vegetarian meal

You could also roll it up in a chapati to make yourself a Kathi roll. Go here for instructions on how to do this.

Categories
Cooking Food General

A Warm Bowl of Creamy, Earthy Mushroom Risotto: Just What You Need on a Cold Grey Day

I think the title and this photo are all I need to introduce this post!

Authentic risotto recipe

Years ago, when I was living in Munich, one of my closest friends came to visit me with her then boyfriend (he is now her spouse). He showed me how to make risotto! I am forever indebted to him for teaching me how to make this utterly wonderful comfort food! Also, the leftovers can be used the next day to make arancini (find my recipe here).

If you want to give making this a shot, here’s what you will need:

Equipment

A frying pan

A heavy-bottomed saucepan or a dutch oven

A pot in which to warm up your stock

A ladle

A spatula

A cutting board and knife

A grater or a blender/food processor to grate hard cheese

Ingredients

3 handfuls of wild mushrooms, chopped

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)

1 medium or half a large white onion, diced (or approximately 175g of diced white onion)

1 cup of carnaroli or vialone nano rice (if you can’t find either, you can use Arborio rice)

Approximately 1 cup of wine (preferably, not a terrible one, but rather something you enjoy drinking; an acidic and fruity white would be ideal, but I would avoid an oaked wine) (you could use red wine, but it will lend a somewhat brownish hue to your risotto that some might find unappealing)

1 litre of stock (also, set aside some hot water in a kettle or simmering in a pot)

Grana Padano, Pecorino, or Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

A few drops of truffle-infused oil (make sure it’s infused with genuine truffles) (this step is optional)

A few sprigs of dried rosemary or sage (optional)

Method:

1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the mushrooms in it. Once they’re done, set them aside.

Sautéed mushrooms

2. Add the butter to a heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven. Melt it and then add the onions to it. Let the onions cook until they are softened and become translucent. Do not let them brown.

Sautéing onions

3. Add the risotto rice to the pot and toss it about until it is completely covered in butter.

Risotto recipe

4. Now add the white wine to the pan and again toss everything around such that the rice-onion mixture is completely covered in wine.

Glazing risotto with wine

5. After glazing the onion-rice mix with wine and once most of the wine has evaporated, add in one ladle-full of stock. Stir. Once most of the liquid evaporates, add another ladle or two of stock until the rice is completely drowned in it.

6. Again, stir and let the liquid cook off. Keep repeating this until a lot of the starch has released from the rice and the rice has softened, but still has its structure. (If you run out of stock, just use some of the hot water you have set aside.) Keep tasting the rice and stop cooking it at the point when it tastes/feels right to you. See the photo below for a sense of what it should look like.

6. Once the rice is done, make sure all the excess liquid has evaporated and turn off the heat. Add in the sautéed mushrooms and stir.

7. Add in the grated cheese. At this stage, you can also add in a few drops of truffle-infused oil. Stir it all together one final time. Serve the risotto in a bowl or plate, top it off with some more grated cheese and dried rosemary (optional), and enjoy!