Thursday, February 26, 2009

Potato and Bell Pepper hash

Dear foodies,

I usually tend to buy most of my vegetables fresh, specially the ones on this list. I just love the taste and flavor of fresh produce, well, I can't help myself when I see their pretty colors in the store. And for the most part I enjoy the prep work too. Bringing out the big wooden cutting board, my dear santoku knife and going chop chop like a pro is soo much fun :) I have a small stock of canned beans in my pantry (note-to-self: start buying dried beans instead!) and the freezer usually has frozen corn, peas, lima beans, edamame and Indian vegetables which I don't usually get in their fresh form. The only ready to eat, processed item will be a pack of frozen parathas and a box of burger patties for a lazy day. Recently an intruder stepped in..... a bag of frozen hash brown potatoes, the grated kind.

I don't cook much with potatoes, but I love making hash browns. They are mighty easy to put together with fresh potatoes. I used to make them often during the last few months in school. Those were the days of 'no-routine', my roomie and I would come home late from the lab and watch some silly comedy show on TV. And ofcourse we would be attacked by those midnight snack monsters. This is how I made them - heat a pan with a spray of oil, grate and lightly squeeze the water out of the potatoes, toss in some salt, chilli powder and turmeric. Layer them on the pan and press together like a pancake. Leave it alone for 3-4 mins so they get crisp, spray oil on the other side and flip. Let that roast and crisp up too. Mean while get the plate ready with a huge dollop of ketchup and settle down with the warm hash's. So with the same intention I had a small bag of potatoes sitting in my pantry these past months. The hash cravings are so rare now though and potatoes grow eyes and ears and some times rot by the time I get to them! The smell of which is the worst ever, a good contestant for WMD's. And so... I sneaked in a bag of frozen hash browns on my last grocery trip. Here's how I used them,
Potato and Bell pepper hash
  • 1 cup - frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1/4 cup - green & red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp - Red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp - Garlic, grated
  • 1/4 tsp - Chaat masala (optional)
  • 2 tsp - Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Thaw the frozen potatoes, I usually microwave them for a minute or two. Heat a shallow pan, with the oil, on medium high heat. Add the diced bell peppers, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute for a few minutes.
  2. Once they slightly soften, add the hash brown potatoes and salt. Cook undisturbed for 4 mins so the potatoes roast and get a crisp golden exterior, stir to toos/flip them around and cook for 3-4 more mins (or until you are satisfied with the texture, half the dish vanished at this point :D )
  3. Garnish with chopped cilantro, a pinch of chaat masala and a dollop of hot & sweet tomato ketchup on the side.
I also toasted acouple of slices of bread, drizzled with a lil olive oil. When they are still hot rub them with a clove of garlic. I had some roasted red bell pepper chutney to spread over it and a bowl of grapes to join the party. Settled into my couch with this plate, I was ready for a movie marathon :) Its quick to put together and the veggie and spice combination is upto you. It could also serve as a perfect weekend breakfast/brunch.

Whats your favorite movie night meal ?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bottle gourd & tomato curry

Dear foodies,

I simply can't wait for Spring to come and brighten up everything around here! It feels like it's been snowing forever now. I guess it takes a depressing winter to appreciate the sun peeping out of the white clouds and a perfectly blue sky. The snow does make the whole city look beautiful in pristine white, but its what it does to the roads that I hate. I am still just as terrified of driving in snow as I was two seasons ago. How do you get used to it? I really wish I knew. For now, I take the easy way out but staying in :D Brilliant idea ? Definitely not!

One of the things I cut in my travel list over the last few months was the trip to the Indian grocery store that is 30miles North of where I live. Its a nightmare to drive up there since its in the snow belt and it gets really bad when it snows. The local stores have had a good selection of winter veggies during these months, and since its a warm hearty soup that I crave most often, it has worked out, it had to ;) Early this month I visited my brother (or was it the Sun :P) in Houston, and sneaked in a little grocery shopping, yes a pack of urad dal and cumin seeds came all the way from Houston :))

Last weekend was a little better here and I spent nearly an hour at the Indian store going through all the aisles and looking for new products on the shelves. I bought some fresh vegetables like bottle gourd, bitter gourd and dondakaya/tindora. I also spotted a 5 lb bag of Sona masoori and just had to pick it up. Most of last year the stores here did not stock sona masoori, they only had basmati, which I prefer only for biryani's or pulaos and not for everyday cooking. I bought the US grown white/brown rice from the organic store here instead. So this weekend I decided on having a comforting meal to invite the dear grain back into the kitchen...I love its flavor and could actually eat it on its own :D

Bottle gourd & tomato curry
  • 11/2 cup - Bottle gourd/sorakaya/dudhi, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 cup - Ripe tomatoes, diced
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp - tamarind extract if tomatoes aren't tangy enough
  • 1/2 cup - Onions, diced
  • 11/2 Tbsp - Channa dal
  • 2-3 nos - Green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 6-7 nos - Curry leaves, roughly chopped/torn
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp - Cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • 3/4 Tbsp - Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp - Sesame seeds/til/nuvvulu, toasted (I microwaved them for 11/2 mins in 30sec intervals)
  • 1 Tbsp - Peanuts, dry roasted
  • couple of sprigs of Cilantro
  1. Heat a saucepan with oil, splutter the mustard and cumin seeds. Add the channa dal next, as it starts changing color add the green chillies, curry leaves and turmeric. Saute for 30sec until the chillies soften and the dal has a deep orange hue.
  2. Add the onions and saute until they turn translucent. The tomatoes go in next along with some salt, cook for 5-7mins until they soften and turn to a mush.
  3. Add the cubed bottle gourd to this along with a cup of water, cover and cook on medium heat until they soften and yield to a gentle press ~ 10-12mins. You could also microwave them separately for a few minutes before adding them to the onion-tomato mix.
  4. Finally, coarsely powder the toasted sesame seeds and peanuts in a mortar and pestle and add it to the curry. Cook for 5-6 mins, allowing the flavors to blend and thicken the curry a little. Taste for seasonings & add more salt if needed.
  5. Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves and serve along with hot rice/chapathis and the quintessential Andhra avakaya and crispies on the side :)
I am feeling hungry just looking at the plate again! I had the curry for lunch and dinner over the weekend and was going for seconds each time, it was a very satisfying meal. I usually use the sorakaya in a sambar or kootu or steamed, but this time I did not want the dal to take over. I still needed the protein part though, and so increased the qty of channa dal in the tadka and let it soften along with the bottle gourd. The curry has a really nice tangy edge to it from the tomatoes. If the tomatoes you have aren't doing their job, add a little tamarind extract to help them along. The powdered peanuts and sesame and a subtle nutty flavor and texture to the curry, and also thicken it up a bit. On the whole it was delicious and I'm surely going to use this recipe again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sabudana Upma/Kichidi

Dear Foodies,

I've talked a lot about upma's here - wheat rava/dalia, beaten rice/atukulu, bambino and even maggi upma style have found a cozy spot. So here is yet another yummy tiffin item to add to that list, Sabudana/Sago Upma.

Upma's are mostly sought out when you need something quick, healthy and nutritious on the plate. I usually make them when I don't have any veggies at home, atleast not the quantity that can serve as a stand alone dish. The odd carrot, capsicum, beans, peas or a few handfuls of greens dutifully find their way into the upma. It helps perk up the upma, making it more satisfying and closer to a whole meal. Sabudana upma though, stands out from the group in a few aspects. This upma doesn't exactly fit into the 'fast-food' tag. It needs a few hours of prep time and so cannot be whipped up in the last minute like the rest. Its also not derived from a grain like the rest, but is actually made from the starch extracted from a root vegetable called cassava, read more about it here. The tapioca flour is also used as a egg substitutes in a few recipes due to its starch content.

The pearls can be used in making delicious payasams and puddings or in savory dishes like vada/cutlet and this upma. My mom also makes yummy sundried goodies called javvarsi vadiyalu with these. A couple of weeks a year would be dedicated to making an assortment of papads and vadiyam to last through the year. It was soo much fun! Cooked with ground green chillies, cumin seeds & salt, we spooned them out onto huge sheets of plastic during the summer months to dry. We would then have a scrumptious supply of treats for the rest of the year. I also love the ones stored in the stores, they are round and colored with food colors. We made a few of these at home using bottle lids to act as moulds for the round shape.

Sago upma is just as easy to make but with one tricky step, the soaking of the sago pearls. Its the difference between a good upma and a chewy, gummy, unpalatable mess! I've made that too, more than once! And its impossible to salvage the dish once that happens. It turns into such a gooey, gummy mess that you might loose your teeth trying to chew on it. It sticks to everything, infact it might make a good industrial glue base I think!

I've tried a few methods for soaking and finally found the one that works the best for me (touchwood :P). Wash and drain the sago pearls thoroughly, like you would rice, in 2-3 changes of water. Just as in the case of rice, washing wipes out a little of the starchy overcoat, which helps in keeping the grains fluffier & separated when cooked. Spread them out in a wide dish and sprinkle a few handfuls of water on top, so that they are barely moist but NOT swimming in water. Let it sit overnight. The next morning use your hand to break any clumps and you should have a pretty bunch of pure white pearls waiting to be made into a delicious upma. Be sure to buy a fresh stock of these by checking the packaging date. They do store well in the pantry but batches that are more than 8-10 months old will ruin the upma no matter how well you soak it.

anti-clockwise from top left - sabudana pearls left for soaking, after soaking overnight, added to the sauted onions.
Sabudana/Sago Upma
(2 medium servings)
  • 1 cup - Sabudana, before soaking
  • 1/4 cup - Peanuts
  • 1/2 cup - Onions, diced
  • 2 -3 nos - Green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp - Cumin seeds/Jeera
  • 1 tsp - Channa dal
  • a pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil
  • 4-5 - Curry leaves, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • optional - 1 medium potato, diced and boiled in salted water
  1. Wash, drain and soak the sabudana as mentioned above. They will plump up a bit, run your hand through them and break any clumps.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they begin to pop add the chana dal, as it starts to change color add green chillies, curry leaves and a pinch of hing.
  3. Add the onions next and saute till they turn translucent. In the meantime, dry roast the peanuts, cool and coarsely grind them. A few pulses in the blender will do, the coarse bits add the needed crunch to the upma while the finer ones soak up the moisture and keep the upma dry. (If using cubed potatoes, add them now and saute for a couple of minutes)
  4. Add the sago pearls and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the peanut powder & salt, stir carefully and cook for a few more minutes. The pearls are initially white and opaque, but turn slightly translucent as they cook. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow it to rest for 5 mins. Serve with a dollop of yogurt on the side.
I love peanuts, and...I love this upma :D This is one of my favorite weekend brunches, if I remember to soak the sabudana the previous night that is :) Its fun to eat this upma, the sago is slightly chewy and the peanuts crunchy, giving this dish a perfect balance of textures. Its a very simple dish with just two main components apart from the tadka/seasoning. Once you have the pre-soaked sabudana it hardly takes more than 15-20 mins to put the dish together. I bought some organic, roasted peanuts (unsalted) from the bulk bins of my local store and that shortened the prep time even more. If roasting them, make extra and store them for later use.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Dear foodies,

Meet my newest friend - Gund(U), clutching sweet treats for me.

Isn't he adorable!
From my most dearest Valentine in the whole wide world, my brother, the real gift.
Love you!

Happy Valentines Day! Hope all you have a fun & laughter filled day with your loved ones, Enjoy!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Rustic bread salad - Panzanella

Dear foodies,

I would call this a bhel puri made with bread instead, its that good. Now I love my bhel puri and would not give such a comment lightly :D Every time I make bread at home, the enthusiasm with which I consume it keeps decreasing with each vanishing slice, and the last few are the toughest. So I always have a problem using them up in ways other than a sandwich or toast. Sometimes I might make a upma or use the crumbs as a topping for another dish, but I'm stumped most times. I discovered that you can store bread in the refrigerator/freezer early last year, but even then its the same problem, just that it gets pushed by a few days (or weeks!). I watched a show on food network a few months back where, I don't remember who, was making a bread salad called Panzanella. Panzanella is a Tuscan dish whipped up by yet another enterprising cook, who like me might have had loads of
day old bread lying around. (stale just doesn't sound appetizing)

Traditionally, Panzanella is a salad made with day old bread, juicy ripe tomatoes & generous amounts of basil - a classic Italian combination. But soon each cook added his/her own flair to it and so you will now find Panzanella having onions, capers, garlic, anchovy, olives, cucumber, colored bell peppers & cheese in addition to the basic ingredients. My additions were avocado, and some juicy oranges, it brightens up the flavors and is a treat to bite into. This salad either is a smart way to use up day old bread, or an even smarter trick to get fresh vegetables on the dinner table :) And its just as delicious as this hearty Tuscan bean soup, another innovative dish to use up day old bread.

Tuscan recipes are known for their simplicity and choice of flavorful, fresh ingredients. No matter which combination of vegetables you choose, use the freshest produce you can find, preferably in season, local and organic. The bread can be any Italian style bread, sour dough, rye/ whole wheat bread. I had a loaf of Bee & Jai's Sundried tomato & Peppercorn bread. It definitely is one of the most flavorful breads I've made to date, second would be the potato focaccia. I was wimp while adding pepper though and might bump up the quantity next time. And just as they said, it works really well in sandwiches but is great to simply snack on too. Thanks for the recipe guys.
Panzanella - Bread salad
(serves 2-3)
  • 2-3 thick slices of bread, cut into 1" cubes
  • I used JB's Sundried tomato & peppercorn bread
  • 1/2 cup - Red onions, diced
  • 3/4 cup - Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup - Cucumber, diced
  • I used English cucumbers and retained their skin
  • 1  - ripe Avocado, diced
  • 1  - Jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1  - Orange
  • 1/4 cup - Cilantro
  • 2 tsp - Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tsp - Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Set the oven on Broil (low). Toss the bread cubes on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Broil for about 3-4 mins till they start browning and turn crunchy. Alternatively, you can toast them on a pan or use a toaster.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the rest of the ingredients together, making sure to coat the avocado chunks with the lemon juice, so they don't discolor. Section an orange like shown here. The fiber will still have some pulp holding on to it, squeeze it between your hands to extract all the juice. Taste and adjust the salad for seasonings.
  3. Toss the bread cubes with the salad just a few minutes before serving. If its allowed to sit for too long, the bread will soak up all the juices and turn soggy! You can store the salad separately in the fridge for a day in a covered bowl/plastic container.

I absolutely loved this salad and the bread had a major contribution in it, being slightly chewy & slightly crunchy. The stale bread can directly be used too but I love the crunch and enhanced flavor that broiling it with olive oil gives. The bread immediately soaks up the delicious juices from the vegetables but still retains a little crunch. I enjoyed eating it and picked a different assortment of veggies with each forkful...yummm.

The salad is great on its own too and you could easily add some puffed rice and turn it into the ever so popular bhel. Once you have this salad you will start storing fresh bread to use in it :) Coming to that, fresh bread can also be used in this recipe if that is all you have at home and can't wait to try it out :) Broiling dries it up (might take a little longer though) and so it is just as good at soaking up the flavors.

This salad is off to Vaishali's 'Its a Vegan World - Italian' event, visit her blog for more information about the event. You have until the end of this month to send her your vegan Italian creations.

How do you use up bread ? Any go-to sandwich fillers/combos and how do you pack it up for lunch ?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Black eyed peas shorva

Dear foodies,

I have been drawn towards black eyed peas (alasandhalu/karaamani) offlate. Every time I open my pantry or pass by the canned food aisle in the grocery store it beckons me towards it. I've bought 3 cans of it in the past month. They have a very earthy, subtle flavor that endears them to me more than the regular chickpeas or kidney beans. They can take upon complex spices, like in the dish, or shine in a simple sundal preparation. I have been trying out different gravy combination's with them lately and think I hit the spot with this one. The flavor combo is exactly what I was looking for in all my past attempts. Sometimes you just have a weird image in your mind about how you want the dish to taste and feel, but its vague. Its not a recipe idea but just a teaser image, you know what I mean right ? Okay...I'll stop before you think I am crazy and head straight to the recipe. This dish so good and hearty that you would want to eat bowlfuls of it just by itself. The recipe might look long and daunting, but it uses ingredients most your pantries stock and isn't too tough to put together either...
Black eyed peas in spicy gravy/kurma
  • 2 Tbsp - dessicated Coconut
  • 1 Tbsp - white Poppy seeds/khus khus
  • 1 Tbsp - broken Cashew pieces
  • 1/2 cup - Water
    Dry Roast
  • 1/2 tsp - Fennel seeds/saunf
  • 1 tsp - Cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 Tbsp - Coriander seeds/dhania
  • 1 inch piece - Cinnamon stick
  • 4 nos - Cloves/laung
  • 1 Tbsp - Sesame seeds/til/nuvvulu
  • 1 nos - dry Red chilli
  • 1 nos - big Garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup - red Onions, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp - Olive oil, divided
  • 2 nos - Garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup - red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 nos - medium size vine ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp - Red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp - Tamarind extract
  • 1/3 cup - Water
  • 1 can - Black eyed peas, washed & drained
  • 1/4 tsp - Sugar
  • Salt to taste
  1. Warm 1/2 cup of water in the microwave and soak the first three ingredients for 15-20mins.
  2. In a wok/skillet dry roast the next set of ingredients except the sesame seeds, on medium heat. When the spices are fragrant, add the sesame seeds and lower the heat. Keep a lid handy to trap the popping sesame seeds. Transfer to a plate and cool.
  3. Add 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and toast a lightly crushed clove of garlic. When it starts to brown add the cubed onions and saute until translucent. Add these to the 1st set of ingredients soaking in water. When cooled, grind them together with the whole spices into a smooth paste.
  4. Add the rest of the oil to the skillet and saute the finely chopped onions and lightly crushed garlic cloves. When the onions turn translucent and begin to brown add the tomatoes and cook until they soften and loose shape, 4-5mins. Add the turmeric and red chilli powders too. (The turmeric adds a lovely, rich color)
  5. Next carefully add the masala paste, tamarind extract and a little salt. If the paste is too thick it will begin to bubble violently in the pan so add 1/3 cup water. Cover with a lid and cook for about 8-10 mins on medium-low heat until the rawness is cooked out and oil starts to slightly separate. Stir at regular intervals as the masala tends to settle to the bottom and burn.
  6. Wash and drain the canned beans and add it to the gravy (along with extra water if needed). Check for salt and a bit more if needed, the beans will soak up a little as they cook. Simmer for 8-10 more mins, stir in 1/4 tsp of sugar to balance out the flavors and check for seasonings.
  7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, lemon wedges (slivered ginger might be good too) and serve hot with rice/roti/bread.
The moment the aroma of the masala paste hit my nose I knew I had it right this time. With the excuse of checking for seasonings I ate quite a few spoonfuls right from the wok. Ya wok, I bought a new one this week and have been cooking with it everyday even if the dish does not 'need' it :D. In one of my previous trails I added a little too much of fennel seeds and cinnamon, and that gave the whole dish a bitter background. Not appealing at all and masking it was tough too. I tried adding yogurt to mellow out the taste but that didn't work out so well. So this time I was very cautious and the result was a yummy dish.

This is a dish that is fit to be on the menu of a good restaurant. Its rich and creamy, spicy and not 'spicy hot'. Though it has 3 cloves of garlic on the whole, it does not taste too garlicky'. Two of those are only lightly crushed and add a mild flavor to the gravy. This dish has as much gravy as there are beans in it. It uses just a Tbsp of oil, but I wouldn't call it low fat cos of the first three ingredients, but you can surely indulge once in a while, right?

I had this with pita bread since I was lazy to make fresh rotis. I made 1/2 cup of rice y'day just so I could enjoy that combo too. It tasted even better the next day since the spices had a little longer to get to know each other. This is definitely on the list of my fav dishes now and I can't wait to take it to a potluck to show it off. How do you cook black eyed peas? I've heard they make good fritters/vada, need to bring out the appam pan for that to use up the third can :D

Monday, February 02, 2009

Fruit cake cookies - eggless

Dear foodies,

Happy Birthday !
Fruit Cake Cookie! Isn't that like the most perfect set of words that can be put to together...whats not to love in that combination! I saw this recipe on Ina Garten's show Barefoot Contessa and knew I had to try it out soon. I love fruit cake, but haven't been super successful in perfecting a recipe for it. But to have a cookie that tastes just like it is just wonderful! I like most of IG's recipes, atleast watching them :D She does make a huge quantity of everything though and uses quite a bit of butter, but its her technique & cooking style that I like.

My main attraction towards this particular recipe, (apart from the name :D), was that it called for just one egg, now that could easily be substituted. I wanted to make them the very next day but then I hesitated. Making a whole batch of these decadent cookies with just me around wouldn't be good news for my weighing scale. So I waited for the perfect occasion and it came by earlier than expected. Its my brother's birthday today (Happy Birthday!) and I went to visit him this past weekend. I made a huge batch of these cookies and took them along with me. Trust me, a recipe cannot get any easier and also give such splendid results. A few of my brother's friends tasted it too and they only had compliments for me. *blush*

For those who are familiar with the famous Karachi bakery's fruit biscuits in Hyderabad, these cookies taste very similar to them, actually even better! I now can't wait to try the other biscuits that the bakery sells using this recipe as a base. woohoo! Another advantage with this recipe is that the dough freezes very well. It needs to be refrigerated for 1-2hrs before baking, but you can easily freeze and store it for a couple of weeks in there. Whenever you are in the mood for decadence, bring the dough out, cut a few cookies to bake and send the rest of the dough back to the freezer, soo convenient! Perfect for weekday parties too, and psst, the dough is delicious on its own too :D

For once I thought I will follow the recipe as is, but ended up tweaking it a little since the dough turned out to be really wet. I used a different combination of fruits and also used lesser sugar. I did not have brown sugar and used regular sugar instead. The fruits also contribute to the sweetness of the cookies, so adjust the amount of sugar to suit your needs. Below are the measurements I used, for the original recipe click here.

Fruit Cake Cookies (40-45 small cookies)
  • 1 cup, packed - mixed fruits and nuts, chopped
  • I used a combination of prunes, raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries & cherries. For the nuts, I choose unsalted roasted pecans (cashews will be great too)
  • 1 Tbsp - Sherry or Red wine
  • 1/2 Tbsp - lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp - Honey
  • 1 stick - unsalted Butter (~ 8 Tbsp), at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup - sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp - powdered Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp - powdered nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp - Orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp - pure Vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp - ground Flax seeds + 1.5 Tbsp - water
  • 1 1/3 + 2/3 cup - All purpose flour
  1. Place the chopped fruits and nuts in a bowl and mix in the sherry/wine, honey and lemon juice. Cover the bowl and let them soak overnight at room temperature.
  2. The next day, microwave the ground flax seeds along with the water for 30secs. Using a fork beat the mixture and microwave again for 15secs & beat. Set aside and allow it to cool.
  3. In a wide glass bowl (or electric mixer) cream the butter, sugar, salt, orange zest, vanilla extract, clove and nutmeg powders until you get a smooth consistency. It took me 3-4mins using a hand mixer on low speed.
  4. Sift the flour to remove lumps. Add all the flax seed mixture and the flour in 1/3rd portions. Mix at a low speed. The dough was really sticky even after the 11/3 cups were added, so I added an additional 1/2 cup of flour and mixed it in with a spatula. Don't over mix the dough since it will develop gluten and you will end up with really tough cookies.
  5. Next add the fruits along with any leftover soaking liquid and fold it onto the dough. I added a couple of Tbsps of flour along with it.
  6. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the longer end of a 15" wax/parchment paper. Shape and roll it into a log. The cross-section will give you the final shape/size of your cookie. (These cookies do not spread while cooking. I moistened my palms lightly with water to help me shape the logs, or roll the paper on the dough and use it to help shape). Repeat with the other half of the dough and refrigerate for 1-2hrs or until firm. If not using immediately move them to the freezer.
  7. When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350deg. With a sharp knife cut the log into 1/2 inch rounds. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange them, 1/2 inch apart.
  8. Bake for 15-20mins, checking on them every minute after the 15 minute point. When the edges start to turn a light golden take them out. They will continue to cook for a few more minutes outside the oven. Lift the foil and place it on the counter-top so the residual heat in the pan does not burn them.
These cookies are dotted with fruits all along and their sweet wine soaked flavor really comes through. I am in love with them. They taste a lot like a fruit cake but in a smaller, more flavorful package, and you cannot have just one. They crumble in your mouth and slowly melt away as you chew on the bits of fruit...bliss!

Last Sunday I made a tiny batch of 6 cookies and the rest of the dough was stashed in the freezer. I kept going back to the kitchen with excuses to have a bite or two and in no time all 6 cookies vanished :D On Thursday evening, all I had to do was slice them, pop them into the oven and pack before heading to the airport. My brother and his friends loved the cookies, and they could not believe it was home made. Did I tell you how gorgeous the weather in Houston is...aah, my heart craved for the sunshine and did not want to come back to this igloo of a place! hmph

When I started out with the recipe I had soaked 2 cups of the fruits & nuts. I refrigerated the unused cup and made another batch of cookie dough on Wednesday. They will be off to a few friends this week. These cookies are soo good that you will want to share it with everyone (and get tonnes of compliments in exchange :-P) I wanted to dip half of each cookie in some tempered chocolate, but I was soo in love with the fruity flavor that I let them be that way. May be you can try that out and let me know how it is ? Deal ?

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