Pistachio, Cranberry and Cardamom Biscotti

Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti3

The hustle and bustle of Christmas is over. It is time to sit by the fire, relax, eat biscotti, and drink chai! Originally made in Italy, biscotti is a small, crisp, rectangular, twice-baked cookie, usually containing nuts. I’ve put a twist on the recipe by using the aromatic powder of green cardamom seeds. A truly delightful blend of ingredients makes these cookies one of my favorites.

Here’s wishing you peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in 2014!

Pistachio, Cranberry and Cardamom Biscotti
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
Makes: 24 biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
¾ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use silpat. Sift flour, baking powder, and cardamom powder into a medium bowl. Using a stand mixer, beat sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time. Add spoonfuls of flour and beat until just blended. Stir in the chopped pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden. About 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on a cutting board and using a bread knife, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Arrange the biscotti, cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti again until they are light brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

If you like, you can dip the biscotti into melted chocolate chips. Shake off the excess chocolate and place them on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm. It takes around 30 minutes.

Raghavdas Ladoo – Semolina Ladoo

Sooji Ladoos3

Happy Holidays to all my readers and Facebook friends! I love the month of December. It’s a month of lights, snow, parties, baking, and making Indian sweets and goodies to share with family and friends. Here is an easy recipe for Raghavdas Ladoo to add to your collection. They are made out of semolina and desiccated coconut.

Last year I shared recipes for Doughnuts, Karanjis, Almond Brittle, Rose Cookies, and Namkeen. I hope you used those recipes to make your celebrations a sweet success this year.

Raghavdas Ladoos
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes: 25 ladoos

1 cup desiccated coconut, (or coconut powder)
2 cups fine semolina
½ cup ghee
3 tablespoons golden raisins
½ teaspoon green cardamom powder
1 cup sugar
½ cup water

Dry roast the desiccated coconut in a wok, over medium-low heat. Roast until it begins to turn light golden in color, remove from heat and transfer it to a bowl. Make sure that the coconut doesn’t turn brown.

Let the wok cool down and then wipe it clean with a paper towel. Heat the wok over medium heat. Add ghee and the semolina. Cook till light pinkish and fragrant. You don’t want the semolina to turn brown. Remove from heat and add coconut, two tablespoon of raisins, and the cardamom powder. Mix well. Keep the rest of the raisins to decorate the ladoos.

Place a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add sugar and water and cook until it turns to a syrup of one-thread consistency. You have to watch and test the syrup frequently. Turn off the heat and pour the hot syrup into the wok with the semolina, coconut and cardamom powder. Mix well. Cover with a lid and let it rest for 15 minutes. The semolina will cook and the mixture will cool down. If it hardens, don’t panic, just sprinkle a tablespoon or two of hot water over the mixture.

Start making the ladoos while the mixture is still warm. Grease your palms with a little ghee. Take a lemon size portion of the mixture and shape them into ladoos. Garnish each ladoo with a raisin. As you make them, line them in a tray and let them cool. You can go back and make them perfectly round. Cool completely before you store them in an air tight container. They are fun and easy to make.

Chop N’ Drop Chicken Curry

Chop and Drop Chicken Curry

As promised, here is my Chop n’ Drop Chicken Curry recipe. I hope you made the Home-made Garam Masala that I posted last week, because this recipe calls for it. You will be surprised at how easy it is to make this tasty North Indian flavored dish.

Yesterday, I visited two of my friends. It was a fun day for me as I got to test this recipe in their homes. For me, it was a great learning experience, because I was cooking in a different environment with different equipment. For example, I have a gas stove in my kitchen and they had electric stoves in theirs. As a recipe developer, I realized that I described my recipes using the experience I had with a gas stove which might differ slightly with an electric stove.

The best lesson that I learned from cooking with friends was that sharing the cooking experience brought me much more joy than cooking by myself. I have those two friends to thank for this new enlightenment!

Chop n’ Drop Chicken Curry
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6-8

3 pounds chicken, (one large chicken, cut into pieces)
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 tablespoons grated garlic, (one whole head or bulb)
3 teaspooons Kashmiri chilli powder, (depending on heat and your preference)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
¼ cup water, (or less depending on how much water your chicken gives out)
2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons grated ginger, (or cut into short, thin strips – like matchsticks)
¼ cup ghee
3 teaspoons garam masala, (use Home-made Garam Masala)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 green chillies, slit down the middle, (optional)

Add chicken, onion, garlic, chili, turmeric, coriander, water and salt to a heavy bottomed, wide pan. Please note here that you could add anywhere from two tablespoons to a quarter cup of water, and this would depend on how much water the chicken gives out and whether you drained the chicken well after you washed it. Mix all the ingredients and place on high heat and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add tomatoes and ginger, stir well, and cook on medium-high heat until the water evaporates and the chicken is cooked – about 10-15 minutes. Add ghee. Stir and fry until the oil separates and the chicken is roasted. Sprinkle garam masala, cilantro and green chillies. Mix everything, cover and cook for five minutes on low heat. Serve with chapatis, naan or rice.

Note: This chicken curry tastes best with the Home-made Garam Masala that you will find in last weeks blog post. You can use one large whole cut up chicken or a combination of pieces. Chicken in the U.S. cooks much faster than in India. So, I cooked it on high heat on a gas stove during the whole process. You may have to adjust the heat and time to make sure the chicken cooks well. I also used ghee for this recipe which added a distinct North Indian flavor and richness to the dish.


Home-made Garam Masala – Indian Spice Blend

Garam Masala4

This home-made garam masala is the secret ingredient to my Chop n’ Drop Chicken Curry recipe that will be posted next week. It is definitely a chicken curry recipe you will want to bookmark and save. It is also a great recipe for your children who may want to try their hand at cooking.

Garam masala in Hindi means “hot spice mixture.” However, it is not hot like chilli pepper, but rather a pungent, warm, blend of exotic spices. The spices are roasted and then ground to a fine powder. In India, the composition of garam masala differs from region and household. Families take pride in preserving their recipes for their own special blend of garam masala, which they hand down from generation to generation.

You can buy garam masala powder from an India grocery store. It is usually added to a dish as the finishing touch in the cooking process. Once you make your own garam masala and you taste the difference it makes to your dish, you will never go back to buying store-bought garam masala again!

Home-made Garam Masala – Indian Spice Blend
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes: Half a cup

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons whole black pepper
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons cloves
4-inch piece cinnamon, broken into bits
12 black cardamoms
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Dry roast coriander seeds, black pepper, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and black cardamom in a small non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even roasting. When the spices release their sweet aroma, it is time to turn off the heat and transfer the spices to another bowl. This process will take about 15-20 minutes. Cool the spices completely. Remove the outer covering of the black cardamoms and discard. Use only the seeds.

Grind all the roasted ingredients to a powder in a coffee grinder. You may want to do this in batches if your coffee grinder is small, like mine. I also sifted mine to make sure it was well ground. Once all the spices have been ground, add the grated nutmeg and mix well. Store in an airtight bottle in a cool, dry place. This recipe makes half a cup of garam masala.

Sweet Corn Pudding

Sweet Corn Pudding

This recipe is for one of my best friends who came to our Thanksgiving dinner. She loves this sweet corn pudding and asked if I could post the recipe on my blog. So this one is for you, my dear girlfriend!

I double the recipe and put it in a 2-quart round casserole dish. I usually make two of them because one is never enough for Thanksgiving! I’ve been asked by some of you to share our Thanksgiving menu, so here it is. The picture below was taken by Esther George at our Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you, Essie.

Thanksgiving Menu – 2013
Cajun turkey
Scalloped potatoes
Wild rice with mushrooms
Stuffing with pine nuts
Green bean casserole
Sweet corn pudding
Cranberry sauce
Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping
Corn bread with honey butter
Stripped delight
Apple pies
Mint limeade
Thanksgiving2 2013

Sweet Corn Pudding
Adapted from epicurious.com

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes (includes time in the oven)
Serves: 8 (as a side dish)

4 cups frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8x8x2 inch square baking dish. Blend thawed corn, eggs, cream, milk, sugar, room temperature butter, flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor or blender until the ingredients are almost smooth. Pour the batter into your prepared dish. Bake for 45 minutes until brown and the center is set. You will also see the pudding coming off the edge of the dish. Cool for ten minutes before serving.