Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts

Jun 1, 2017

Mexican Chocolate Snowballs

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These Mexican chocolate snowballs are a spicy twist on an old favorite with almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, and a pinch of chili powder. Buttery, delicately spiced, and rich with chocolate flavor this egg free recipe can easily be made vegan too. A simple to make treat to serve on Cinco de Mayo or any holiday! 

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I love the way the Mexicans spice their chocolate with a little cinnamon and a hint of chili. So when I saw this recipe on Allrecipes a few weeks ago I had to make it. It was absolutely delicious! I did make a few changes though. The original recipe called for ancho chili powder, a little less sugar, and dark chocolate chips. I didn't have ancho chili powder so I used degi mirch or cayenne powder. Ancho chili powder has a bit less heat than cayenne and a slight fruity flavor, but the chili flavor in these cookies is so subtle I didn't find it made a difference. If you can't handle any sort of chili heat I'd substitute paprika for the chili powder or simply leave it out. I bumped the sugar up to the amount I use in all my snowball cookies. Dark chocolate chips were recommended for use in this recipe. Unfortunately, I did not have dark chocolate chips so I used milk chocolate chips. Although these cookies were delicious with the milk chocolate and regular cocoa powder I used, I think using dark chocolate chips and dark cocoa powder would make them even more delicious! I think the next time I make these I'll grind up a dark chocolate bar and use it in place of the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. To make this recipe vegan-friendly just substitute a good quality vegetable margarine or shortening for he butter. Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 C butter, softened (use margarine or vegetable shortening to make these vegan)
3⁄4 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp cayenne powder/degi mirch or Kashmiri mirch (for less heat use paprika)
1⁄4 tsp salt
2 C all-purpose flour
2⁄3 C toasted almonds, finely chopped (optional)
1⁄3 cup dark chocolate chips
To roll cookies in after baking: 
1/2C powdered sugar
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Here's what to do:
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1) In a large mixing bowl beat together butter,  powdered sugar, vanilla,  cocoa powder,  cinnamon, chili powder, and salt until creamy and well combined.

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2) Add flour, almonds and chocolate chips to butter mixture. Continue to mix. Dough will be crumbly at first but after about 2 minutes it should pull together and stick to itself. When dough forms a large ball and sticks to itself it's ready. Chill dough covered with cling film in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

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3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/165C. Form tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place balls of dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake cookies for about 18-25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom being careful not to over bake. Cookies will harden as they cool.
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4) In a large shallow bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until combined.

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5) Cool cookies about 5-7 minutes then roll in sugar mixture while still warm. Cool completely on wire rack then roll cookies in sugar mixture again if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Helpful Hints: 
Chilling the dough is important as it allows the flavors of the chocolate and spices to develop as well as making the cookies easier to shape.

Keeping the dough wrapped in in a plastic bag or cling film while chilling prevents it from drying out and absorbing other flavors from the fridge.

Substitute a good quality margarine or vegetable shortening for the butter to make these cookies vegan.

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!!!

May 5, 2017

Fresh Mex Fire Roasted Salsa

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Deliciously fresh and so simple to make, this fire roasted salsa is my favorite! Vibrant with summertime vegetables and bold smoky flavor this recipe is healthy and vegan too. This is the typical salsa you'll find served in Mexican-style restaurants across the US. It's not just a tasty dipping sauce for tortilla chips though, try it atop steaks, scrambled eggs, or even with rice and rotis!

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This recipe does resemble the salsa served at a famous Mexican-style American restaurant chain whose claim to fame is fresh ingredients. In fact, you could even call this recipe "Fresh Mex" as their slogan states. I had a friend who worked at the original location of that restaurant chain in Alameda, California the mid-80's. She learned how to make their famous salsa and taught me how too. She told me she used to make 10 gallons of this famed dipping sauce daily at the restaurant So we had to scale the recipe down a bit and here it is! Now if I could only find decent tortilla chips here I'd be deliriously happy! But seriously, I miss Mexican food and the Californicated version of it a lot. They have the American chain Chili's in Delhi but it is horrid. As in soggy tortilla chips out of a bag, jarred salsa, and mashed kidney beans for frijoles awful.

A certain restaurant that shall remain nameless.....

So when tomatoes get ridiculously cheap or all turn ripe in my garden at once I whip up some of this yummy salsa! I can eat this stuff straight up I love it so much. Charring the vegetables really adds complexity and depth of flavor to the salsa. I char the vegetables on the gas burners of my stove but you can use a cast iron skillet also. Choose tomatoes that are really ripe and a little bigger than a ping pong ball so they'll cook just about through. Jalapeno and serrano peppers are the commonest chilis used in the American southwest and northwestern Mexico. Serranos are the hotter chili and jalapenos are milder and fleshier. Serranos are also closest in flavor to the green chilis used in most Indian cuisines too. Of course this salsa tastes great atop traditional Mexican foods like tacos, tostadas, and burritos. But give this a try with your scrambled eggs at breakfast, with a grilled chicken breast or steak, or even as a zippy chutney alongside any rice or roti based meal! Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
8-10 medium sized tomatoes
5-6 green chilis (for less heat use half of a small bell pepper)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and sliced in half
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS oil (I use olive oil)
1 TBS white vinegar or the juice of 2 limes
2 TBS cilantro, chopped roughly
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Using tongs char the chilis, tomatoes, garlic cloves, and onions thoroughly over a gas flame. Make sure vegetables are blistered and slightly softened. If you don't have a gas burner: heat a cast iron skillet until smoking hot. Drizzle tomatoes, chilis, garlic cloves, and onion with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Char all vegetables in hot skillet.

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 2) Set aside all charred vegetables and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Remove stems from chilis and butts from tomatoes.

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3) Place cooled tomatoes, chilis, garlic, onion, ground black pepper, oil, vinegar or lime juice, cilantro, and 2 teaspoons salt in a blender, mixie, or food processor. Do not peel the charred bits off. Pulse until smooth.

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4) Salt to taste and keep in an airtight container until ready to serve. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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Helpful Hint:
This recipe make a great salsa even if you don't char the vegetables! Just pop them in the blender and blitz and you're good to go!


HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!!!
The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. I am a native Californian and so I'm going to be celebrating Mexican-American culture on this blog by posting Mexican-style recipes I've learned over the years throughout May. Plus, I really love Mexican food ;)

Hasta la vista, baby!

Bibi

Apr 5, 2017

Nepali Style Okra (Bhindi Tareko)

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Tantalize your tastebuds with this simple spicy okra dish from Nepal! Sliced okra is first flash-fried to banish any trace of slime. The pods are rendered crisp, delightfully chewy, and infused with the warmth of cumin, coriander, and chilis. Try this quick and easy vegan recipe to get a healthy serving of vegetables with any meal. 

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Nepalis do a lot of simple stir-frys like this. Be it potatoes, lab lab beans, or even chayote. If you see tareko on the menu at any casual eatery in Nepal you can be sure it will be a lightly spiced, fresh, and tasty vegetable side prepared this way. My maid showed me how to make this bhindi tareko or fried okra recipe that she makes quite often at home. It's the easiest, fastest, and most delicious okra dish that even my mutton-crazed Kashmiri family loves. Since this dish has a crisp and chewy texture it's a great way to use those okra pods that are a little past the petite and tender stage and are a bit large and fibrous. We enjoy this as a side dish with rice or rotis. If you're doing the low-carb thing I could see this as a delicious accompaniment to a garam masala spiced grilled chicken breast.

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To minimize the dreaded slime that can accompany okra dishes it is advised that the pods be completely dry before slicing. I do this by rinsing them vigorously in a colander and then setting them out in full sun in the backyard to dry outside for at least two hours. It seems to help if the okra gets a little wilty before cutting too. Frying the sliced okra in salted and smoking hot oil really gets rid of any residual stickiness. After about ten minutes of frying any and all slime is absolutely gone. Do not cover the okra while cooking as steam seems to perpetuate sliminess also. Using a shallow, wide pan like a skillet so that the okra can be spread in a single layer help to achieve the crispy edges and aid in slime reduction too. Utilizing a pan with a non-stick finish will allow you to use considerably less oil if desired also. That's all the okra cooking tips I've learned over the years so now it's off to the recipe!

Ingredients:
1/2kg/1lb okra, tops and tails removed and sliced into scant half inch rounds
3 TBS cooking oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of your cooking vessel)
2-3 dry red chilis/lal mirch broken in half (omit for less heat)
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tsp ginger/adrakh paste
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do-
1) Heat oil in skillet or kadhai with one teaspoon salt for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and broken red chilis and fry for half a minute.

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2) Add chopped okra and stir well to coat all pieces with oil. Allow to fry for 5 minutes uncovered.

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3) Add 1 teaspoon salt, garlic paste, ginger paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, and turmeric to frying okra and stir well.

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4) Fry for 5-7 minutes more or until the okra becomes crisp. (Don't worry if the okra seems a bit slimy, after about 10 minutes of frying the slime completely disappears.) Salt to taste and serve as an accompaniment to rice or rotis.
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Helpful Hints:
You might wish to retrieve the dried red chilis from the dish right before serving. This will minimize the risk of anyone biting into a random fiery hot bit of chili while enjoying their okra. Nepalis and Kashmiris would not remove the chili bits before serving but might toss them aside on their plate when served.

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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