Sunday, February 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies

The other day I was going through my recipe collection, and I noticed I mostly note down cakes and the likes. I have so few savory dishes written down, that if I had the responsibility to feed my family on a daily basis, all they would eat would be cakes, brownies and cookies with an occasional rice or chicken dish. This is an indicator that I should diversify my interests. Did I just say diversify? That's my two years of business school talking ;)

With all good intentions to broaden my baking and cooking horizon, I have peanut butter cookies on the cards today. Who says no to warm cookies with a cup of coffee or tea? Even  more better are peanut butter cookies, with the nuttiness of peanut butter, crunchiness of the sugar and chewiness of the cookie. There is just something so homely about baking cookies. The aroma that fills the home, the cookies that look so inviting, everything is so comforting.

To make these cookies more interesting, I would love to make Nutella sandwiches with these cookies as chocolate and peanut butter compliment each other well.

The recipe I tried is adapted from Betty Crocker, one of the most influential fictional characters.



1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


Mix sugars, peanut butter, butter, and egg in a bowl. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix in the peanut butter mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 375F. Make cookies and place on a baking sheet. Make a criss cross pattern with a fork dipped into icing sugar.

Bake for 9 - 10 minutes or until underside is golden. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Place the cookies on wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight jar.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup

Today is the day for tomatoes. Here comes a recipe for roasted tomato soup. I know it is a bit late, and winters are leaving, but there is still time to enjoy soup at least a couple of times. At my house, different variations of tomato soup are made frequently in winters. It is easy to make and does not take much time to cook.

Croutons add texture to soup. I make my croutons with regular white bread. Cut the bread into cubes, brush with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle a salt. You can sprinkle some black pepper as well, but I don't like it much. Bake the croutons in the oven at 180 C. I make mine in the electric toaster. Croutons made from tomato bread would also compliment the soup, only you don't need to sprinkle salt on it as it is already savory. 

The recipe calls for chicken stock. I usually use chicken cubes because they are easy and I do not have to make chicken stock. If you use chicken cubes, don't add salt during cooking. Adjust salt after the soups is completely cooked as chicken cubes already have adequate quantity of salt.That said, soups made with authentic chicken stock have a richer taste. 

You can make chicken stock by tossing chicken wings, necks, other pieces which are more bone and less meat, an onion cut in quarters, a couple of carrot tops, a bay leaf, some peppercorn, a small piece of ginger in 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 5 - 6 hours. Strain the stock. It would be around 3 cups of stock. 

I found this recipe in local fashion magazine. I reduced the amount of garlic cloves as I don't like the garlic over powering other flavors. 



2 lbs tomatoes, halved
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves
3/4 tsp salt (not needed if using chicken cubes)
1 tsp black pepper
4 cups chicken stock (or 4 cups of water and 2 chicken cubes)
Salt & pepper, to season


Preheat the oven to 230 C/ 450 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Toss tomatoes, onion and garlic on the sheet. Sprinkle a little salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place tomatoes cut side up and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. The skins would become slightly charred.

Blend the roasted tomato, onion and garlic with some chicken stock. Pour it into the rest of the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached.

Serve hot with bread croutons.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tomato Bread

A couple of years ago, my brother brought some baked good home, something new to try. It was square like a cake. It was soft like a cake. It looked like a cake. A bite of the stuff revealed an amazing taste. It was light and savory, and slightly reddish in color. It was not a cake but a bread. It was tomato bread.

I wanted to make that bread myself. Occasionally, I would search, but leave it and forget about it. Yesterday, I saw too many tomatoes in the kitchen and once again searched for a tomato bread recipe. I found one, which I thought would yield something like that bread I had tasted.

This is my first attempt at making this kind of bread as previously I have tried pita bread and pizza only. The resulting bread is delicious. It has a different texture than the one I had mind. It was a bit dense. The crust of the bread turned out to be harder than I expected, but I think it can be attributed to the fact that I added some extra flour because I thought the dough was too sticky (first try, remember? ).

My mom suggested to add a little red chilli powder to the dough next time, which will give this savory bread a tasteful pop. This bread tastes good with butter or cheese, though I would prefer cottage cheese or cream cheese with a toasted slice of tomato bread. Finally, the recipe called for a mix of Italian herbs, which I desified and used coriander only. I made half the recipe only.

I kneaded my bread by hand, even though the recipe calls for it to be kneaded with an electric mixer and the dough hook attachment. The recipe is adapted from Daring Gourmet.



2 cups tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp honey
3 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 green coriander, finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Place the tomatoes and drizzle with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Roast tomatoes in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until the skins collapse and brown lightly. Remove and puree the tomatoes.

In a bowl combine warm water, honey, instant yeast, and remaining 1 tbsp olive oil.

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Make a well in the middle. Pour tomato puree, water mixture and corriander and mix with a wooden spoon. Then attach the dough hook to the electric mixer and mix the dough for 8 minutes. By this time the dough will be slightly sticky. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour (not too much as it will disturb the ratio of the ingredients).

Gather the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Lightly coat the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, around  hour or so.

Spread the dough into an 8 inch rectangle. Starting at one end and make a roll from the dough, making sure the layers stick together. Pinch the seam.Place the dough, seem side down, in a greased bread pan. Loosley cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again until doubled in size, for around 30 minutes.

While the dough rises, preheat the oven at 180 C/ 350 F. Boil 2 cups of water and pour in a baking dish. Place the water on the bottom rack. Place bread on the rack just above the water.If there isn't enough space, place two small heat proof bowls of water in the oven on both sides of the bread pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top has browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Serve with butter, cheese or make a sandwich. It can be served hot out of the oven, or sliced,toasted and served later.