Showing posts with label simple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label simple. Show all posts

Aug 7, 2017

Murgh Xacuti (Goan Spiced Chicken)

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Pronounced 'sha-koo-tee,' this spicy chicken recipe comes from the tropical shores of Goa. A truly classic dish that can be found in almost all restaurants dotting the beaches, towns, and villages. Featuring a savory blend of rich coconut milk, hot red chilis, and aromatic spices- it's best served with steamed rice and mango chutney. 

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This recipe is adapted from the book Recipes from an Indian Kitchen by Parragon Books Ltd. I bought this book in Delhi's IGIA duty-free shopping area on a bargain table for about $6. I've since seen it in Target stores in Florida as well as on Amazon. It's a great cookbook for the price with 100 recipes from all across India. Most of the recipes seem to be restaurant versions of regional dishes rather than from an Indian's home kitchen. It is very well written, easy enough for beginners, and all recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs.  

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I have made a few changes my adaption of this recipe. The original instructions called for 600g of boneless and skinless chicken pieces. I've upped the quantity of chicken to 1 kg/2.2lbs and use bone-in chicken as it's more authentic. Since I increased the quantity of chicken I increased the amount of spices accordingly. The amounts of coconut milk and water were generous to begin with so I left them the same. The recipe called for whole dried red chilis to be ground but of course I changed them to Kashmiri mirch as per my Kashmiri clan's preferences. The recipe also called for the whole spices to be dry roasted before grinding. I didn't do that. I don't think the dry roasting is a necessary step when then spices are going to be fried and then simmered with the chicken anyway. It is my understanding that dry roasting the spices is only necessary in humid climates to facilitate grinding. (You can read my diatribe on why I don't dry roasting spices here.) I think I added a bit of ginger paste to the base too. That's because ginger is good for you, I love it's lemony flavor,  and most other Xacuti recipes I've perused online include it too. Anyway, this is a really easy and really delicious South Indian style chicken curry. If you're new to making curries or a seasoned pro - I'm sure you'll enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs skinless chicken pieces
3 TBS cooking oil of choice or ghee
1/2 C onion, finely diced
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrakh paste
400ml (1 can) or 14 oz coconut milk or coconut cream
1 C water
2 tsp tamarind paste
Grind to powder for masala:
1 TBS coriander seeds/dhania
1 TBS white poppy seeds/khus khus or ground cashews
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1&1/2 tsp paprika powder)
2 tsp fennel seeds/saunf
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp turmeric/hali
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
5 cloves/laung
1 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini, broken into small pieces (or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)

Here's what to do:
1) Grind coriander seeds, poppy seeds, Kashmiri mirch, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, green cardamoms, cloves, and cassia bark to fine powder. Set aside. (I use a coffee grinder dedicated solely to grinding spices.)

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2) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 2 teaspoonfuls salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 5 minutes. Add diced onions and fry until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste and ginger paste and fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.

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3) Add ground spices for masala to the fried onions, stir well, and fry for 2 minute. Add chicken pieces to fried onion mixture in pan. Cook chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water to the pan, stir well, and reduce heat.

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4) Add coconut milk and water to pan. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low/medium and allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

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5) Stir in the tamarind paste and cook for 5 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Salt to taste and serve immediately. 

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Helpful hints:
You can make the spice mixture ahead of time and store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Gorgeous Goan coastline.

Jul 24, 2017

Hot & Spicy Hyderabadi Tomato Chutney

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From Hyderabad comes this hot, garlicky, smoky, and spicy tomato chutney! Hyderabadi cuisine is known for it's lavish use of spices and love of red chilis. In this easy recipe tomatoes are simmered with roasted garlic, red chili, cumin, mustard, ginger, and fenugreek to caramelized perfection. A tasty vegan and vegetarian addition to any rice or roti based meal or a zesty new dip for tortilla chips. 

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It's that time of the year again when tomatoes are cheap and a'plenty! A cooked tomato chutney is a great way to enjoy Summer's vegetable largesse. This recipe takes about eight tomatoes and cooks down to a little less than a cup of chutney. My Kashmiri contingency here won't touch a raw tomato but when fried into a sauce or chutney they love'em! In fact, a batch of this relish lasts only a day at our house. And that's a lot of tomatoes!!! This recipe is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (1981). I bought this book from a secondhand bookstore yonks ago in San Francisco and it was fairly decrepit then. Anywho, it has 400 recipes from all over Asia that are all darned good and are suited to what you could probably find in supermarkets in the early 80's. (Nothing terribly exotic.)


Over time I have changed a few things in the recipe in accordance with my family's tastes. The original recipe called for peeling and seeding the tomatoes. We all know Bibi isn't going to do that! Didn't Ms Jaffrey's mom tell her that's were all the vitamins are? If you are the sort who seeds and peels tomatoes Ms Jaffrey also suggests canned tomatoes can be used in this recipe instead of fresh. (I would not dare to try that in our house- but it seems like it would work.) My Kashmiri clan loves their Kashmiri mirch so I've used that instead of the cayenne powder/degi mirch in the original recipe too. Feel free to adjust the amounts of red chilis in both dried and powdered form to suit your tolerance for heat. Other than that the ingredients are pretty much as in the original recipe. Are you wondering why Ms Jaffrey uses both garlic cloves and garlic paste? You'll notice the garlic cloves are fried until golden brown while the garlic paste is added later with the tomatoes. This gives both forms of garlic a different taste. This is the typical layering of flavors that makes Indian cuisine so deliciously complex. Frying the dried chilis until blackened lends the chutney a smoky flavor that's quite nice and very Hyderabadi too. I do prefer to run the chutney through the mixie after cooking and cooling. Ms Jaffrey does not advise this but the dried chilis and garlic cloves don't always break down into small pieces during cooking. I fear someone eating the chutney might get a big unpleasant bite of garlic or dried chili. Yikes! So I blitz the fried mixture in the mixie when cool to a lovely smooth texture. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 TBS cooking oil
4 garlic/lahsun cloves, peeled
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard/rai seeds
1/4 tsp  fenugreek/methi seeds
2-3 whole dried hot chili peppers (use less for less heat
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Mix together in a bowl:
2 C roughly chopped tomatoes, (canned tomatoes will work for this recipe too)
1 tsp ginger/adrak paste
1 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/4 to 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder/mirch (or 1/2 tsp cayenne/degi plus 1/2 tsp paprika powder)

Here's what to do:
1) Mix the tomatoes, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, and Kashmiri mirch in a bowl and mix. Set aside.

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2) Heat the oil and one teaspoonful salt in a heavy skillet over medium for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, stir and fry until lightly brown. Add the cumin, mustard, and fenugreek. Let sizzle for a couple seconds and add the dried chili peppers. They should puff up and darken.

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3) Add the tomato mixture to the spices in the hot oil. (Be careful as it could splatter when it hits the hot oil). Stir and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced and oil separates from the mixture. (If mixture begins to stick or scorch reduce heat and add 1/4 cup water- but keep stirring!) Use a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes and garlic cloves into a paste.

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4) The chutney is cooked when the oil separates from the mixture and rises to the top. Salt to taste. You should have about 3/4 cup of chutney. If your chutney isn't as smooth as you prefer allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes and run it through a mixie or blender. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. Keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Helpful Hints:
When salting chutneys to eat with rice and or rotis you'll want to add just a little more salt than you think you should. Like maybe 5% more. Remember that rice and rotis are generally served unsalted and chutneys or relishes served with them provide the salt that makes them tasty.

Ladies Sharing Wine, India, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad
Early 18th century Drawings; watercolors, ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. 

May 15, 2017

Mexican Style Beans (Frijoles)

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Beans are a staple of Mexican cuisine and a favorite element in so many Mexican dishes. This classic recipe for frijoles is easy to make, versatile, vegan, and healthy. Enjoy these beans with warm tortillas, as a filling for burritos, or with rice and rotis as my Indian family does!


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Pinto beans are the most popular bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico. Pinto means speckled or spotted referring to the bean's mottled skin which becomes uniform when cooked. When properly prepared pinto beans have a deliciously creamy texture, mild flavor, and an ability to absorb flavors well. I'm using simi beans which are a local favorite here in Nepal. As you can see in the above photo simi beans are a bit rosier in hue than pinto beans, but their flavor and texture is quite similar.

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A Latina friend in my native California taught me to make these Mexican-style beans or frijoles. Each family has their own unique way of preparing beans with differences in bean variety, the type of pot used, specific seasonings, and method of cooking. Traditionally, an earthenware pot called an olla was used to cook beans. As you can see in the above photo an olla is shaped a lot like the handi used in Indian cooking and serves much the same purpose. I have never seen an olla in use to cook beans in any kitchen Mexican or otherwise. The most common vessel I've seen used to cook beans in both Spanish-speaking and Okie communities is a large heavy-duty aluminum stockpot begotten at the Kmart or the local ACE hardware store. I use my Indian-style pressure cooker to save time.

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I have often read that lard or manteca is the most authentic fat to use in Mexican cooking. In the town where I was raised the cooking fat of choice for Mexican-American families and most other ethnic groups was Crisco. The famed digestible vegetable shortening or manteca vegetal was used for tortillas and tamales as well as pie crusts and fried chicken. I'm not from Butcher Holler but as Loretta Lynn said in the commercial,
"Crisco will do you proud every time." 

Lard was probably the preferred fat before World War II. Possibly the only place to find lard in the 70's and 80's was at a carnicería or Mexican butcher. I've heard lard is making a comeback though. Choose your favorite cooking oil for this recipe. The preferred chilis for Mexican cooking in California are Serranos and their milder cousins, Jalapeños. Spanish-style yellow onions are used exclusively in Mexican cuisine. To soak the beans or not is another choice. Soaking the beans overnight will save you cooking time. I never saw beans soaked in my little community though so I don't soak either. I do use a pressure cooker which does cut down cooking time to about half. My Indian family loves these with rice but you could certainly enjoy them in a more traditional manner atop a tostada, alongside warm tortillas, or as a filling for burritos. Or try them topped with a little queso fresco, chopped tomatoes, and a sprinkle of cilantro as a hearty soup! Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 C dry pinto beans (or dry simi beans)
1-2 TBS cooking oil (scant amount to cover bottom of pot)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 TBS garlic paste or 3 minced garlic cloves
1-3 Jalapeño or Serrano chilis or any green chili you prefer (omit for less heat)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Sort through dried beans and remove pebbles. Rinse the beans in water in a colander and set aside. Heat oil in a large stock pot or pressure cooker and fry the onion until it softens.

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 2) When onion begins to turn translucent add garlic, chilis, and black pepper to frying onion. Fry for about 2 minutes or until chilis begin to blister and garlic loses it's raw smell. Do not brown the onions!

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3) Add the rinsed beans, 2 teaspoons salt, and enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches to the pot or pressure cooker. If using stock pot: bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Check on the pot every 15 minutes to make sure there's enough water, add more water from time to time as necessary. Make sure to keep adding water so the pot does not dry out. If using pressure cooker: seal lid on pressure cooker and allow to steam until beans are tender. This takes about 40 to 50 minutes in my Indian-style pressure cooker.

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4) The beans are ready when cooked so soft you can press them through your fingers and skins slip off easily. (Cooking time depends on the age and quality of beans, drier ones will require a longer simmering time.) Traditionally the beans are left a bit soupy so you can dip your tortilla in them or mash them to make frijoles refritos. Salt to taste and retrieve chilis before serving. Serve with warm tortillas or rice and rotis like we eat them. Once cooled the beans will keep for up to one week refrigerator in an airtight container.

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Helpful Hints:
You could certainly use other sorts of beans in this recipe such as black beans, kidney beans, Peruano, Mayocoba, Santa Maria, or Flor de Mayo.

And to all moms out there:


Including moms of furry babies,



Or not so furry babies, 
HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY!!!

Apr 10, 2017

Tips & Tools: How to Hard-Cook Eggs

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via

Today I'm going to share with you my preferred method to hard-cook eggs. Making hard-cooked eggs is easy! Follow the simple steps below for perfect hard-cooked eggs with tender whites and brilliant yellow yolks every time.

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Egg-cellent eggs from our chooks!!!
What you need:
Eggs
Large enough pan to hold eggs in a single layer
cold water/ice

Here's what to do:
1) Place eggs in a wide, shallow pan just large enough to hold them in single layer. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by one inch. Bring to just boiling on high heat.

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2) Remove pan from burner. Cover pan with tight fitting lid. Let eggs steep in hot water for 15 minutes. Removing the pan from the heat allows the eggs to cook gently in hot water. This produces tender eggs and reduces cracking.

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3) Pour hot water off immediately and cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water. This will cause the egg to contract in the shell making peeling easier.

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4) Allow the eggs to cool for at least 10 minutes. Then gently crack the shell of each egg on a hard surface.  Starting peeling at large end. Hold the egg under cold running water to help ease the shell off in necessary.
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5) Keep hard-cooked eggs in refrigerator safely for up to one week. Once peeled, hard-boiled eggs should be eaten that day.
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Perfection!
Tips for perfect hard-boiled eggs:

Want easy to peel hard-cooked eggs? The old saying is true, "Old eggs are for boiling, fresh eggs are for frying." The fresher the egg, the harder to peel. Use eggs that are at least 12 days old. I put mine in a a sealed plastic container labeled with the date at the back of the refrigerator for two weeks. As eggs age they take in air, which helps separate the membranes from the shell.

No! 
Avoid the unappetizing greenish-grey halo. The harmless discoloration that sometimes forms around hard-cooked yolks results from a reaction between sulfur in the white and iron in the yolk. It occurs when eggs have been cooked at too high a temperature. At 170F/77C the yolk starts turning green and smelly sulfur compounds begin forming. Cooking eggs in hot water (not boiling) and then cooling immediately minimizes this.
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Yes!
Recipes to enjoy hard-cooked eggs with:
Chettinad Style Egg Curry
Looking for new and delicious ways to enjoy hard-cooked eggs? Try my recipes for Chettinad Style Egg Curry (pictured above) and Punjabi Dhaba Style Egg Curry

Interesting new way to use hard-cooked eggs:


Yup, it's a thing. Some beauty YouTuber called Nadi demonstrated that you can use a hard-boiled egg to blend makeup. Sounds kind of gross to me. Certainly not as unsanitary as those festering BeautyBlender or Silisponges so 'on trend' for blending cosmetics though. Not sure what you do with the egg after you've used it either. Now all the YouTube makeup vloggers are applying their makeup with weird things ranging from bras to tomatoes. No thank you, I shall stick to applying my foundation with my freshly washed hands. Some sage advice from your resident glamour guru Bibi: If it's taking more than your clean fingers to apply your foundation, buy a better foundation! Don't spend your money on gimmicky tools that require more time and products than your face to clean them! Or maybe try any random household item to apply your makeup. Whatev's.

Mar 22, 2017

Peanut Butter Shorties (eggless)

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This decidedly decadent shortbread recipe makes the peanuttiest peanut butter cookies ever! Adding salted peanuts lends an extra bit of crunch and a deliciously salty-sweet flavor. Buttery, meltingly tender, and so simple to make this egg-free recipe can can easily be made vegan by substituting a good quality margarine or shortening for the butter.

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I think it's well known worldwide that Americans love peanut butter. Yes, it's as American as apple pie, hot dogs, and the 4th of July! Peanut butter has everything we American love with it's salty, savory, and rich peanut flavor. Unfortunately the rest of the world seems to find peanut butter's rather sticky and somewhat velvety texture revolting. That would include my Kashmiri family. So I found this classic un-foul-uppable recipe in my Sierra 4-H Club cookbook from 1973. Baked into a cookie is the only way my Kashmiri clan loves peanut butter. Actually, now that I think about it they'll eat peanut butter in these chocolatey easy no-bake 5 Minute Cowpat cookies too. But that's about it.

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What's not to love?!?
 All cultural considerations aside, these cookies store well, are eggless, and super easy to make. They can certainly be made vegan by simply substituting a good quality vegetable shortening or margarine for the butter. Whether you make these made these with the organic Hessian-weave peanut butter from the health food store or the greasy kid stuff from the supermarket they turn out great! Chunky or smooth both work well too. I prefer to keep them strictly peanut-y by adding salted peanut but you could get posh and personalize them by adding white or dark chocolate chips or even honey roasted peanuts. If you really wanted to get fancy you could drizzle or dip them in white or dark chocolate for a true indulgence! And so without further ado here is the recipe, enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 C butter or margarine, softened and at room temperature
2/3 C peanut butter, chunky or smooth
3/4 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2&1/4 C all purpose flour
1 C salted and roasted peanuts, or mini chocolate chips

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl beat together softened butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Be sure there are no lumps of butter. (The lumps or bits you see in the photo below are peanuts from the chunky peanut butter I used.)

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2) Add flour and peanuts to creamed mixture and mix until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will start out a bit crumbly but should start sticking to itself after about 2-3 minutes of mixing. Cover dough with cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

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3) When ready to bake heat oven to 325F/170C. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls the size of walnuts. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silicone mat about 2 inches apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass wrapped in cling film or the heel of your hand. (I used a tablespoon sized cookie scoop to form the dough into balls before flattening with the bottom of a glass wrapped in cling film.)

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 4) Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are slightly browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from baking sheet with spatula. Makes about 3 dozen. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Helpful Hints:
This recipe can easily be made vegan by the use of a good quality vegetable margarine or shortening in place of the butter.

This recipe could easily be customized to your tastes by adding dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or honey roasted peanuts instead of salted peanuts. 

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Feb 6, 2017

Cherry Cardamom Snowballs (eggless)

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Surprise your valentine with these Cherry Cardamom Snowballs! A touch of warm cardamom spices up chewy cherries in this tender and buttery cookie. So easy to make and so pretty too!

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These are really good. As in I made five batches of these before I could get a photo of them. My family ate the first four batches of these before I could even take a picture! I had to hide these in a box on top of the refrigerator out of sight to get these photos. 

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I wanted to make a pink snowball cookie for Valentine's Day. The only thing remotely pink in my pantry was a jar of maraschino cherries. We all know by now that Bibi's favorite cookie is snowballs -so why not cherry snowballs? What's Bibi's favorite spice for cookies (other than cinnamon)? Cardamom! So why not Cherry Cardamom Snowballs? Yes! And it worked. Brilliantly. As always these snowball cookies are a breeze to make, look daintily delicious, and can easily be made vegan with a good quality vegetable shortening. Have a Happy Valentine's Day and enjoy!

Ingredients:
3/4C powdered sugar
1C butter or margarine, softened (or vegetable shortening)
seeds from 7-8 green cardamom pods, coarsely ground (or 1 tsp ground cardamom)
2 tsp maraschino cherry juice
1 tsp baking powder
few drops red food coloring
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red food coloring
2C all-purpose flour
1/2C drained maraschino cherries, chopped finely
1C powdered sugar for rolling

Here's what to do:
1) In large mixing bowl beat powdered sugar, butter, cardamom, 2 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice, baking powder, food coloring, and salt until thoroughly blended.

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2) On low speed, beat in flour a half cup at a time. Stir in cherries. Cover dough with cling film and chill for at least four hours. (I usually put mine in the freezer overnight.)

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3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/ Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on silicone mat or parchment lined cookie sheets.


4) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring from cookie sheets to cooling racks with spatula. Cool 20 to 30 minutes.

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5) If desired roll cookies in powdered sugar. Makes 24 cookies. Store in airtight container for up to one week.
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