Showing posts with label walnuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label walnuts. Show all posts

Jun 26, 2017

Chinese Chews

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

Chinese Chews are a delicious combination of walnuts and dates. These chewy date cookies are baked in a pan, cut like bars, and then rolled in granulated sugar to give them a unique knobby shape. A nostalgic recipe that's easy to make and perfect for holiday platters, snacks, or packed lunches.

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

This classic recipe first appeared in the American homemakers' magazine Good Housekeeping in 1917. I had an aunt that made these every year for Christmas and have seen the recipe in many vintage cookbooks. No one is certain why this recipe is deemed Chinese. None of the ingredients nor the techniques involved are Chinese in any way. My guess is that this recipe was part of the 1920's fad for all things Chinese. From mahjong to Anna May Wong, anything Chinese was the bee's knees in the 20's. Dates were revered as Oriental and therefore exotic in the 20's. Commercial date farms in the American Southwest were just beginning to market their produce in the US in the early 20's too. I've seen several pamphlets filled with date recipes published in the 1920's. I'll bet some date farmer's association sponsored a contest for a recipe containing dates. Rather than call these date squares or date slice why not roll them into balls and call them Chinese Chews? Swell! Wouldn't that be the cat's pajamas to serve at your next mahjong party?
1920's "Plum Blossom"chalkware bust by American artist Esther Hunt made into lamp with fanciful Napoleon shade
Probably not PC by today's standards but 'on trend' in the 20's
Anyhow, this is a great recipe for Ramadan or Eid! I think dates fell out of fashion in the US due to their exorbitant cost. And the quality of dates you get in the US really isn't great either. I didn't really care much for dates until I tried the ones from Iran, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Dates from the Middle East are more caramel in flavor than ones from other regions. This recipe showcases their rich flavor beautifully in an eggy batter which bakes up crisp and chewy. The walnuts also mellow and improve when baked in this tasty treat. I prefer to use brown sugar in this recipe as I like the dark color and deeper flavor it lends. Anyway you choose to make them this old fashioned treat is sure to please!

1C dates, chopped
1C walnuts, chopped
1C sugar (I prefer brown sugar)
3/4C flour
1tsp baking-powder
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/4 tsp salt

Here's what do:
Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

1) Preheat oven to 325F/165C. Grease and flour a 9 inch by 13 inch pan.  In a medium sized mixing bowl beat together sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt until smooth.

2) Add flour to mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in dates and walnuts.

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

3) Pour mixture into greased and floured pan and spread with back of spoon or spatula.  (Batter will just barely cover the bottom of the pan.)

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

4) Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

5) Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Slice into small squares or scoop and roll into balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar.  Keeps well for up to 3 weeks at room temperature in airtight container.

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

Helpful Hints:
I've also seen these served simply sliced into small squares and dusted with powdered sugar. If you choose to serve your Chinese Chews this way be sure to place them in paper candy cups as they're very sticky.

On Eid al-Fitr may Allah's blessings and love be showered upon you!


Dec 20, 2016

Persimmon Cookies

Persimmon cookies recipe spicy soft easy fuyu hachiya nutmeg cinnamon cloves

Spicy, moist, and tenderly soft these persimmon cookies are truly a Fall and Winter treat! Lavishly laced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, raisins, and walnuts this recipe is full of the flavors of the season. So simple to make and the easiest answer to the question, "What do you do with persimmons?"

Fuyu persimmons which can be eaten at the semi soft stage. 

You can use any type of persimmon for this recipe as long as it is ripe. Unripe persimmons are quite astringent and bitter tasting due to their tannic acid content. Ripe persimmons are quite sweet and mild in flavor.  If you are using the round Fuyu type persimmons as shown in the photo above you can use them when they've softened to about the firmness of a ripe tomato. If you are using the oblong, heart or acorn shaped Hachiya type persimmons you'll have to wait until they've ripened to the mushy pulp or jelly-like stage. A quick way to ripen any type of persimmon is to stick then in the freezer overnight. When you allow them to thaw the next day they'll be perfectly soft, sweet, and ripe!
Hachiya persimmons which must be allowed to ripen to mushy, jelly-like stage before they're edible.
This recipe uses pureed persimmon pulp. To make persimmon puree you can simply use a fork to mash them in a bowl or a mixie, food processor, or blender to puree them instantly. If using a mixie, food processor, or blender simply remove the stems and any debris and put them in the appliance skin and all. You might want give the persimmon flesh a bit of a going through before pureeing as there might be seeds. The seeds can be rounded like plum stones or oblong like date pits. Your mixie, food processor, or blender will NOT puree these rock-like seeds. You will hear them quite loudly bouncing off the blades and mixing container of your appliance.

And there you have it! Beautiful orange persimmon pulp ready to be eaten as is, enjoyed as frozen sorbet, or stored for your next baking project. I usually measure the pulp out by cupful and store it in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Persimmons will keep frozen for up to 8 months. You might see some separation or darkening of the persimmon pulp but the flavor will be the same as fresh.

2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C butter, softened to room temperature
1 C sugar (both brown or white are fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, at room temperature
1 C persimmon puree
1 C raisins or sultanas
1 C walnuts (pecans or dark chocolate chips work well too)

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl beat butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices together until creamy. Add egg and persimmon puree to mixture and beat for about 3 minutes or until smooth.

2) Add flour and mix until combined. Gently stir in raisins and walnuts. The mixture should be a stiff batter. Cover batter with cling film and place in fridge while oven heats up. (Chilling the dough makes for cookies that taste and look better. The chilled batter will be easier to work with and less likely to spread. The extra time will also allow the pectin in the persimmon puree to thicken the batter and make it less likely to spread. this will  result in cookies that are round and puffed up rather than flat and misshapen like fried eggs.The spices will have a little extra time to lend their flavor to the batter too.)

3) When ready to bake heat oven to 325F/160C. Place tablespoonfuls of chilled batter two inches apart on baking trays lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. (I used a tablespoon sized scoop.)

4) Bake cookies at 325F/160C for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottoms. Remove cookies from tray using a spatula. Cookies will keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed airtight container at room temperature. This recipe makes 32 cookies.

Helpful Hints:
For a nut free version of this recipe simply use dark chocolate chips in place of the walnuts. Dark chocolate chips don't sound like they'd work with persimmons but they are delicious in these cookies!

LOOK! It's snowing at the Taj Mahal!
Tacky souvenir begotten at the Taj Mahal by
Mr & Mrs KC&CO on their honeymoon

Alrightey then, so it's BIG FAT DESI WEDDING SEASON over here and we're heading hither, thither, and yon to attend all the festivities until January 2nd! So to all my friends who celebrate I hope you & yours have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See ya next year,

Oct 20, 2016

Doon Chetin (Kashmiri Walnut Chutney)

Doon Chetin Kashmiri Walnut Chutney recipe

In Kashmiri, doon means walnut and chetin means chutney. Kashmiri walnuts are famous for their superb quality and rich flavor. This authentic recipe blends traditional spices of Kashmiri cuisine with walnuts into a creamy and piquant chutney. Serve with kebabs, curry, tandoori, or any rice based meal as a tasty and nutritious accompaniment.

Doon Chetin Kashmiri Walnut Chutney recipe

My Kashmiri husband is a very good cook when it comes to Kashmiri cuisine but not the best teacher. Writing down recipes is not a Desi tradition. So when I ask him how to make something his usual reply is a series of vague comments recommending a little of this, a little of that, and often leaving out important bits. Watching my husband and mother-in-law cook is like that too, they wander about the kitchen repeatedly adding a little of this or that spice, tasting, then adding a little bit of something else, tasting again, then maybe a bit more of whatever they added initially, and so on. UGH. I learned to make this watching one of my sister-in-laws in Srinagar using a mortar and pestle as pictured below. 

This is Bibi's big ol' Kashmiri mortar and pestle. The mortar is made out of Himalayan granite and weighs a good 10lbs/5kgs. That pestle is made of lathe-turned Kashmiri walnut wood. It works a treat. You sort of kneel on the floor with your knees bracing the heavy mortar to keep it from rocking while you pound away. The extremely lightweight but rock-hard walnut wood pestle is easy to use and effective. It took my sister-in-law about 45 minutes of pounding to render a cup of chutney the traditional way with this mortar and pestle. Do you think Bibi's going to do that? NAH. I ran this recipe through the marvelous modern mixie and had it done in under 5 minutes! To get about the same texture with a few coarse bits as you would using a mortar and pestle just pulse the mixie for 2-3 minutes.

When I first heard what was in this chutney my reaction was, "Raw walnuts, yogurt, onion, and spices in a chutney? That couldn't possibly taste good." But I was wrong! It tastes rich, creamy, and refreshing with a delicious hint of savory spices, onion, chilis, and mint. A great way to get healthy omega-3 fatty acids into your diet and a wonderful pairing with spicy meats and curries.

1/2 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 TBS onion, chopped roughly
1 TBS dry mint/pudina (or 2 TBS fresh mint/pudina or cilantro/dhania)
1/2 tsp Kashmiri mirch
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch
1 tsp shahi jeera/black cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera)
1 tsp salt
1/4 C yogurt/dahi
Here's what to do:
1) Blend or grind all ingredients to a smooth emulsion in mixie, blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle. You may need to pulse the mixie, blender, food processor if you prefer the traditional coarser texture.

2)  Salt to taste and keep in refrigerator in airtight container until ready to serve for up to four days.

Helpful Hints:
If you fear your mixie, blender, or food processor is not powerful enough to grind walnuts you might have to grind them to powder in an electric spice grinder or mortar and pestle first. After grinding the walnuts to powder then blend them until smooth in your mixie, blender, or food processor.

Oct 11, 2016

Classic American Oatmeal Cookies (Eggless)

veg, vegan, vegetarian, oatmeal, honey, golden syrup, recipe, cookie, biscuit, drop, raisin, dates, walnuts, egg free, eggless, spice, american, baked, oatmeal, oats, healthy, honey, quick cooking, holiday, snack, oatmeal cookies,

Fill your cookie jar with this eggless version of the classic American oatmeal cookie. Buttery, sweet, with a hint of spice and a texture that's a delectable combination of crispy edges with delightfully chewy centers. Embellish them with raisins, walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried cherries, or chopped dates as you choose. This tasty recipe can easily be made vegan too. Great as a snack, tea time treat, gracing any holiday platter, or even breakfast! 

Oatmeal Cookies Eggless, veg, vegan, vegetarian, oatmeal, honey, golden syrup, recipe, cookie, biscuit, drop, raisin, dates, walnuts, egg free, eggless, spice, american, baked, oatmeal, oats, healthy, honey, quick cooking, holiday, snack

In looking to make an eggless version of classic American oatmeal cookies I first tried this highly lauded recipe on It used a quarter cup of boiling water mixed with baking soda and resulted in a rather bland cake-like textured cookie that I really didn't care for. (Even the neighbor's buffalo gave me the side eye when I fed them to her.) So I substituted room temperature honey for the boiling water, baking powder for the baking soda, added an extra quarter cup of oats, and a touch of spice. The result was the best oatmeal cookie I've ever eaten! The honey really gave them the absolute perfect texture of crispy edges with a tender chewy center as well as a boost of flavor. I've also made them vegan using vegetable margarine and golden syrup in place of the butter and honey and they taste just as delicious. The optional dash of nutmeg and cinnamon was just enough spice to add a bit of pizazz. Baking the cookies at the recommended 350F/175 tended to give a cookie with a crispy bottom but raw top so I amended that by reducing the heat and lengthening the baking time a bit.

The dark and sweet raisins traditionally used in American oatmeal cookies are not usually available here in Nepal. The raisins we get are mostly sultanas or a type of golden raisin which I find tend to scorch or be too sour for this cookie. But we do have are these incredible dates from Iran! Can you believe this? A full kilo of hand packed dates with the most lovely caramel-like flavor and texture for a mere three dollars! Roughly chopped these dates perfectly compliment this oatmeal cookie. Of course, to please the Kashmiri contingency here I also use the deservedly famed Kashmiri walnuts too. But feel free to add in whatever you prefer in the way of dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips. 

1 C butter, softened to room temperature (or margarine if you wish to make these vegan)
3/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp nutmeg or allspice (optional)
1/4 C honey (or golden syrup if you wish to make these vegan)
1 tsp baking powder
1&1/2 C flour/maida
2&1/4 C quick cooking oats
1/2 C chopped dates (or raisins, chocolate chips, dried cherries)
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional) 

Here's what to do:                                 
1) In a large mixing bowl beat butter or margarine, sugars, vanilla, salt, spices, and honey together until smooth and creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.

2) Add in flour and oats, mix well. Add dates or raisins and nuts if using. Mix until dough pulls away from the bowl and sticks to itself. Cover dough with cling film and chill for at least 3 hours. I usually put the dough in the freezer overnight.

3) When ready to bake heat oven to 325F/170C. Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats. Flatten scoops of dough to about a half inch thick with the bottom of a glass wrapped in cling film or the heel of your hand. Be sure to leave about an inch and a half between cookies so they bake evenly. 

Flatten the scoops of dough slightly as seen on the right.

4) Bake in preheated oven for for 18 to 20 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are slightly browned.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from baking sheet with spatula. Makes 3 dozen. Keep stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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