Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simple Cheese Cookies


I like watching Top Chef. You get to see a lot of mostly good food, shake your head at the judges, roll your eyes at the contestants and wonder who got Padma Lakshmi pregnant. Fascinating, right? But from time to time, there are a few people, gems who bring something to the show that really is 'real'. I remember Carla from Season 5, an underdog who made it to the finals. What a character! With her shock of hair and ready smile, that plaintive cry of 'Hootie', she was a pleasure to watch. I remember once, early on in the season, she said she was 'praying to her spirit guides'. It takes guts to say something like that on National Television :D Whenever I saw her on tv, I felt she was one of those people who were true to themselves.

When people say 'be true to yourself', there seems to be an underlying clause- but make sure you don't break social conventions. For example, 'rebelling against authority is wrong'. What happens when you're told that you've got to do something and you don't want to. Especially when everyone else is doing it. What happens when you're unique and the way you express yourself isn't comfortable to other people or doesn't fit in with the 'norm'. When I look back at my childhood, I gape at a path of such fearful docility, it appalls me- not that I was that way (I didn't know any other way) but that that was what was asked of me at every turn. Be who I want you to be. It takes conscious effort to break free of that kind of conditioning and I think all of us have it in us to some degree- things we don't question but just do, because its 'normal'. Time to raise questions, me thinks.

This recipe is a slightly modified version of what I saw on the semi-final episode of Top Chef this season.



Simple Cheese Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup goat cheese/cottage cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup flour
3 egg whites
black pepper
sea salt
3/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp chopped basil

Powder the sugar along with the lemon zest. Place the cheese and sugar in a bowl and with a hand mixer and cream it. If the cheese is too dry, add a dash of milk. Fold in the basil, flour and egg whites using a spatula and mix well. Spread out or pipe the mixture onto a flat greased baking dish and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. You could also sprinkle some sesame seeds. Place in the oven for 20 mins at 175 C.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gulab Jamun


There's a new life in this world now, making it a richer happier place. True, she just laughs and poops at this point but eventually, she'll get around to the important stuff. She likes sweet talk, has two pistons instead of legs, blows spit bubbles to pass the time, fights sleep till her eyes roll around and speaks in a language no one understands. This kid is super cute. She is also my niece.

I'm doing something for her that I once read in a book- it really touched me... I'm writing letters to her, that I'll keep safe for her until she turns 21. On her 21st birthday, I'll hand over to her a lifetime of letters; my thoughts and feelings about her, all the little things about her that we usually forget with the passage of time, my take on life and so on...just like a time capsule :) But that's a long way away. Now, I look forward to the beautiful years ahead, anticipating an adorable little girl who will be well loved and truly cherished.

Meet Sahana, my beautiful beautiful niece!


The Gulab Jamuns came out wonderfully, nicely round and puffed just this little one's cheeks!

Ingredients

1 cup Skimmed Milk powder
1 tsp all purpose flour
Fresh Cream
1/2 tsp Baking powder

Ghee, to deep fry
2 Cardamom pods
3 cups Sugar
2 cups water

Place the skimmed milk powder in a bowl and add the flour and baking powder to it. Mix it up a bit. Now add cream in batches and use your hands to mix it in, till you get a slightly sticky dough. Cover and place aside.

Make the sugar syrup by boiling the water with sugar in it. Add 1 or 2 split cardamom pods into it. When it boils, remove from the flame and keep aside covered. In a thick skillet, heat enough ghee on low for deep frying. Take the dough and roll it gently but firmly into very small balls. Place the balls in the ghee on the lowest flame possible and allow them to cook, stirring often, until they become golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them immediately in the sugar syrup water. Repeat till all the dough is used up. Wait at least 15 minutes for the Gulab Jamuns to soak up the sugar. Serve hot!