Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter is popular with everyone. Cookies make with peanut butter gives just another manner to enjoy peanut butter.

Servings – 24

Ingredients

1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cream the butters and sugars together will frothy. Add the egg and blend in with a whisk. Mix baking powder, salt and vanilla essence.

Add the flour a little at a time to form a dough.

Heat the oven to 180C.

Drop 1 tbsp balls of dough 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Press gently with fingers to flatten a little. Make criss cross marks with a fork and bake for 12 mins.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely. The cookies will harden as they cool. Store for upto a week in an air tight container.

 

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Shakkar Pare

Shakkar pare are sweet biscuits coated with dry sugar syrup and are a traditional Indian snack. They are popular with kids and adults alike and if you eat one, you can’t stop eating more. They are the perfect Indian snack and go well with hot chai. You can prepare loads and store them as they keep well for a long time in air tight containers.

Shakkar Pare

Servings – 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup semolina

3 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee at room temperature

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup water

Oil for frying

2/3 cup granulated sugar

 

Plateful of shakkar pare ready to be served with hot chai

Sift the flour to remove lumps. Add semolina and butter. Mix in the butter so the dough resembles a crumbly mixture. The butter can be varied at this point to make softer and richer pare by adding a little more of it. The test for adding more butter is simple. When the dough is a crumbly mixture, take some and hold tight for 2 seconds in your palm and form a fist. If the dough holds, the butter added to it is enough.

Add water a few tablespoonfuls at a time to form a very firm dough till all of 1/3 cup of water is added. The amount of water may vary depending on the quality of flour and the amount of butter in the dough. Cover the dough and keep aside for 15 mins.

Knead the dough once more to make it pliable. Divide it into two parts and make smooth balls out of them.

Roll the balls into 8 inch circles. Pierce the circles with a fork at 1 cm distance to prevent the dough from puffing up when fried. Cut the circle into diamonds or squares of 1 inch width. Separate carefully with the blunt side of knife.

Heat the oil. If the oil is too hot, the pare will not be crisp. Oil should be hot enough so when the dough is dropped in, it sizzles and slowly comes up. Fry till golden brown and drain on a paper towel. Let them cool and in the meanwhile, prepare the sugar syrup.

Boil the sugar in the 1/2 cup water and reduce the flame a bit. Keep simmering till 2 1/2 string syrup is formed. Remove from heat and quickly add all the pare. Mix gently and quickly with the syrup as it will dry fast.

When all the pare are coated, spread them on large plate to cool. Once cooled, break apart the pieces which are joined together. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

Namak Pare

Namak pare are savory bites and form one of the most popular Indian snack foods. They can be stored for a long time and are quintessentially a finger food item. They can be carried on a trip or saved for a rainy day. It is best served with hot chai.

Namak Pare

Serving – 2 cups

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 tbsp semolina

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp oil

1/3 cup warm water

Oil for frying

Namak Pare ready to be served with hot tea

Sift the flours together to remove lumps. Add semolina and salt along with cumin seeds. Mix in the oil.

Slowly add the water a few spoonfuls at a time and rub the flours together. The objective is to form a very firm dough. However, if it breaks when kneaded, add a few more spoonfuls of water. Cover the dough and keep aside for 15 mins.

Knead the dough once more to make it pliable. Divide the dough into two parts and form smooth balls.

Roll each dough into a 9 inch diameter circle with even thickness. You will not require dry flour or oil to do this. Piece holes in the circle with a fork at frequent intervals about 1 cm apart. This will prevent the dough from puffing up when frying.

Cut one inch long and 1 cm wide strips from the circles and carefully remove them to a plate with the help of the blunt side of the knife.

Heat the oil in a skillet. The oil should not be too hot otherwise the namak pare will not be crisp. It should be hot enough so that when the dough stips are dropped in it, the oil should sizzle and the strips will come up slowly.

Fry the strips till they are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

Homemade Garlic Bread

Life is so simple that everything is available ready made these days. However, a home cooked meal is the best thing in the world. Simply because the smaller the quantity, the greater the attention to detail and hence, better the taste. Also, you can vary the ingredients as you choose. One such dish is garlic bread. Having never made it myself, till yesterday, I always thought it tastes best when ordered at Pizza Hut. Only, it gets cold and tasteless by the time it gets home. Try this recipe at home and you will never purchase garlic bread from the market.

 

Garlic bread served with pasta

Ingredients

1 ciabatta or small baguette

3-4 galic cloves

4 tbsp butter

1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Salt and pepper for seasoning

 

Garlic Bread

Peel and chop the garlic cloves and mix with the butter. Keep aside.

Slice the baguette along its width to get 1 inch thick circular slices.

Pre-heat the oven to grill.

Spread the garlic butter on the baguette slices. Sprinkle mozarella cheese and salt and pepper.

Pop the slices in the oven and grill for 5 minutes.

Serve hot.

Tip: You can add chopped veggies on top of the mozarella cheese  for some color and extra flavor.

Pasta with Basil Walnut Pesto

If you are in a hurry to fill your tummy, one of the easiest and quickest dishes is pasta. The best part is you can modify it in a million ways to suit your taste. First is the pasta type itself. You can either have a basic macaroni or penne pasta or linguini if you like or even a fancy pasta like the beautiful bow shaped farfalle. These days you can get pasta shaped like flowers and cars as well has multicolored ones at the supermarket. It all depends on what you have in your cupboard at the end of the day.

Types of Pasta

You can also vary what you add to the pasta. The pasta can be flavored with any choice of vegetables and sauces. The pasta discussed here is flavored with pesto. Pesto is a sauce made with the combination of crushed herbs and garlic along with nuts of your choice. It is as Italian as you can get and gives a real cultured feel to the pasta.

Ingredients

2 cups pasta

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup walnut (or pine nuts)

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A handful of cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp vinegar

2 onions

Salt and pepper

 

Pasta with basil pesto served with garlic bread

First of all, boil the pasta in 2 cups of water till al dente. Alternatively you can boil the pasta in a pressure cooker also. Drain and keep aside.

Grind the basil leaves with the nuts and garlic cloves in a food processor to get a coarse mixture. Slowly add olive oil till you get a nice even blend. Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese along with salt and pepper for taste and blend once again. Pesto is ready.

Chop the onions. Halve the cherry tomatoes if they are too big.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet and add the onions. Saute till golden brown. Add the vinegar and the tomatoes. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the pasta and mix with the pesto. Add salt and pepper. Saute for a couple more minutes. Garnish with parmesan cheese and drizzle olive oil on top. Serve hot with garlic bread.

 

Chocolate Brownies

The best part of making brownies is the lovely smell that fills the house. Just be careful not to overcook them or they will become too hard and too crumbly.

Ingredients

6 tbsp unsalted butter + more for greasing

170 gm good quality chocolate with atleast 70% cocoa solids

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp instant coffee granules

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Chocolate Brownies

Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence till light and frothy.

Break the chocolate into small pieces. Mix in butter, cocoa powder and coffee powder and heat in a bain-marie or microwave for 1 min till the chocolate melts. Mix the chocolate with the eggs.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the egg and chocolate mix and whisk slowly till the batter is of a similar consistency. Scrape down the edges to enable proper mixing of the flour.

Heat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil and grease it. Leave a little bit of the paper/foil hanging from the edges. This will help to lift the brownie easily.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tray and bake at 200C for 35 mins.

Take out the brownie and let it cool for 15 mins before cutting and serving.

 

Tip: Make it more gooey and kid friendly by making the following changes:

Add 3 eggs instead of 2

Add 140 gm unsalted butter and 150 gm of dark chocolate

Eliminate the cocoa and coffee. However, the flavor will not be as deep.

Bake at 160C for 40 mins and let cool completely before cutting.