Heard of the Christmas cookie? Watch how it crumbles with some blackstrap molasses…..

Its December and we are all geared up to celebrate the last month of the year…aren’t we? Its been a while since I did a recipe post and frankly I’ve been waiting to share so many things with you. Firstly I want  to tell you that we are taking our i2cook organic store online and its being christened “i2cook.com” and we are all geared up to launch it in January.

Secondly I will be coming up with more recipes in sync with the store to give you the best options to use the products to your maximum benefit. Does that sound like fun. Yes. I’m so excited! And thirdly, I’m working on couple of new products for i2cook and will be adding more yummy stuff next year.

Christmas is round the corner and I hope we are all geared up to bake some ginger cookies. Today I’m not going to tell you about ginger cookies but a little more about a special ingredient that we are using in making these cookies- “blackstrap molasses”.

What is molasses?

Cane Molasses is made in a three-step process that begins with the juice from mature or green sugar cane plant. The juice is boiled to concentrate and crystallize the sugar. The result is called the “first” molasses. The crystallized sugar is removed and the residue is boiled again. The mixture darkens as the remaining sugar is burnt or caramelized. What results is called, “second” molasses. After more sugar crystals are removed, the process is repeated once again. The final or “third” boil produces the dark, concentrated syrup known as blackstrap molasses.

Molasses are of two kinds – sulphured and unsulphured. Blackstrap contains the same vitamins and minerals as “second” molasses, but in a more concentrated form. It has a bitter sweet flavour and taste.

Benefits of balckstrap molasses:
  • It is rich in iron and contains benefits for  menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, pregnant or lactating and growing children or adolescents.
  • Molasses is rich in copper (good for bone development, connective tissue, production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin), manganese (involved in the synthesis of fatty acids that are important for a healthy nervous system and in the production of cholesterol that is used by the body to produce sex hormones), potassium & calcium (help in muscle contraction and nerve transmission) and magnesium – helps regulate nerve and muscle tone.

Storage:

Molasses should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. Unopened containers can be kept for about one year, while opened containers should be kept for not more than six months.

You can read more about  blackstrap molasses here and here. Due to the nutrients present in blackstrap molasses a lot of them have one or two spoons of molasses as a tonic with warm water. I prefer to  bake some cookies or use it as a rub for my meats. Either way it is a great product to include  in your diet. Since we now know everything about black molasses lets move on to the cooking part. Which is the fun part….isn’t it? And with Christmas round the corner, how can we not bake some molasses or ginger cookies. I’ve made two variations this time – plain and with candied ginger powder and I must confess that the ginger one does add to the festive spirit.

ginger cookies

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ingredients for ginger molasses cookies

Recipe adapted from here

170gms wheat flour

80gms all purpose flour

150gms butter (Govind or Amul butter)

120gms blackstrap molasses

80gms raw sugar (some extra for rolling)

2tsp (10gms) baking soda

1egg (room temperature)

1tsp (5gms) cinnamon powder

2.5tsp (15gms) candied ginger powder

6-8 cloves crushed

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients flours, soda along with the spices.
  2. Beat egg, sugar and butter till mixed well. Add molasses and combine.
  3. Fold the wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 ½” balls, then roll the balls in raw sugar to coat the outsides. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in pre-heated oven (@ 180 centigrade) until set and crinkled on top, about 10 to 12 minutes depending upon your oven settings. Keep a keen watch.
  5. Once done allow it cool on a wire rack . Store in air tight containers for about two weeks. I got 2 dozen medium-sized  cookies.

Some points to remember:

  • The recipe calls for  baking soda only, as it helps to curb any acidic reactions from molasses.
  • You need to bake the cookie mixture immediately or else they will fall flat.
  • Sieve the baking soda along with the flour to avoid any lumps.
  • Always lay the mixed cookie dough on a cooled baking tray, especially in the second round, allow the tray to cool first completely.
molasses cookie

Molasses cookies without any spices

Advertisements

Pulla or Finnish sweet bread

Finnish sweet bread – Pulla

I love baking breads and I had to share my new found love on this day “World Bread day”. I like to bake especially wheat breads. But today I wanted to raise the bar and bake  a sweet bread from a different continent.

Pulla is a Finnish style sweet bread which can be baked in either a bun or roll. They are different from American style cinnamon rolls as pulla is traditionally made with some cardamom. They also add raisins to it sometimes. Its not only delicious but it is so satisfying. The aroma can get your mood to a high and all you want is to grab a hot piece; straight out of the oven then and there.

When I first traveled to Finland I felt liberated. I traveled when I was working, unmarried and with my own money. Not that I’m complaining now but your first travel experience will always be “special”. Baking bread also makes me feel liberated and I think most of you agree with me on this ;). I never got to taste pulla when I visited Finland, but today I know, I would have loved to have tasted it. However, I did taste a lot of berries and I shouldn’t be complaining.

At the arctic circle and I received a certificate 🙂

Ingredients:

250gms flour

1tbs (15gms) active dry yeast or fresh yeast

1 glass luke warm water

1tsp cardamom powder

2tbs butter

2tbs raw sugar

1tbs cinnamon powder

1/2 egg

1tsp rock salt

some sugar to sprinkle (I used raw sugar)

Procedure:

  1. In a glass of lukewarm water, dissolve sugar and yeast.Allow it to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the measured flour, yeast mixture,  and form a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.
  3. Cream the 1tsp fat, cardamon, salt separately and work into the dough. Tip onto a floured work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until elastic.
  4. Form into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes or double in size.
  5. Knock back the dough (punch it in the middle and let all the air escape) and knead again for 3-4 minutes.Roll the dough flat with the help of a rolling pin.Mix butter, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Note that the butter should be at room temperature and not cold.
  6. Spread the cinnamon mixture on the rolled dough and roll into a braid or any desired shape.
  7. Lay the dough on a parchment sheet.
  8. Leave it in a warm spot for 20 minutes or double in size.
  9. Preheat the oven and brush the bread with some egg and sprinkle some sugar on top.
  10. Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes or until the surface is browned. My pulla had a slightly burnt sugar taste as I baked it for 25 minutes.However, it tasted good.
  11. The bread sounds hollow when done. Allow it to cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon sugar and coffee – you really can’t go wrong with your day 😉

Store in an air tight container for 3 to 4 days. It is best eaten warm with a nice cuppa coffee.

A lot of the recipes that I found online use a lot of egg and milk, which I found not necessary. I’ve tweaked the recipe to my liking and used egg only at the last stage for brushing to give the bread a nice crust. The recipe has been adapted from here.

You might also like the recipe of whole wheat bread (organic)

Perfect with coffee!


Some Smoothie?

It’s winter and would you like to have some….
I think Smoothie of any fruit or flavour is one drink which can be consumed in all seasons; the best part is that you can  even drink it at room temperature. This is my third post this month with strawberries and some how I don’t seem to get enough of them this winter.I seem to enjoy them more in the morning and it does make my day 🙂

1 cup pumpkin purée (boiled & blended to a fine paste)
2 cups strawberries
1cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1tsp cinnamon powder
2tbs sugar (add more if you like yours sweeter)
some cinnamon powder for dusting & strawberry for garnish

Blend all the ingredients in a blender with some ice if you prefer. I like my strawberries to be huge chunks of pieces; you can blend them however you like.Serve cold or at room temperature in individual glasses, garnished with some strawberries and dusted cinnamon powder.Serves 2.

My tastebuds: Pumpkin gives it a nice smooth texture and I like the mix of pumpkin, strawberry and cinnamon.

This is my submission to this month’s Healing Foods – Winter Squash (pumpkin), hosted  by the taste space and Siri’s Corner.


Spinach, Strawberry & Ricotta Cheese Salad

Strawberries are in season!!!  I love strawberries for it’s sweet flavour and  it’s gorgeous colour .You will definitely be seeing a lot more posts from me this strawberry season.
Since they are very perishable, strawberries should not be washed until right before eating or using in a recipe. Do not remove their caps and stems until after you have gently washed the berries under cold running water and patted them dry. This will prevent them from absorbing excess water, which can degrade strawberries’ texture and flavour.
This salad is the easiest salad that I’ve ever tried and it’s not only tasty but also gorgeous looking too.

20 big sized leaves, washed, patted dry
20 pieces strawberries cut in halves (fresh or frozen)
 ricotta cheese for garnish (I used home-made)

for the dressing
2tbs olive oil
1tbs red wine vinegar
1tsp lime juice
2tbs honey
1tsp cinnamon powder
salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and refrigerate it for an hour before serving.
Break  spinach leaves into desired sizes and place them in a serving plate or a salad bowl. Arrange the strawberries and  ricotta cheese on the bed of spinach if using individual plates or just toss all of them together in a salad bowl. Drizzle it with the prepared dressing and serve at room temperature. Serves 2.

My tastebuds: It’s a great combination and the flavours blend in perfectly. A must try this strawberry season!

Tip: Dry cottage cheese may be substituted for ricotta, but the flavour will be milder and a bit saltier. You may wish to smooth the cottage cheese by putting it through a blender with 1tbs skim milk.

This is my submission to this week’s Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen, to Gulten-Free Holiday, hosted by The Whole Gang, to this month’s Only Greens, hosted by Sara’s Corner and Foodelicious and to Hearth and Soul, hosted by Girlichef.


Passion Fruit & Couscous Trifle

Passion fruit juice has always been one of my favorite. I like the flavour and the sweet fragrance of the fruit. I recently visited my mother-in law and got to taste  her freshly grown passion fruit. Strangely, not many people know about the fruit as it is rarely found in any super markets in India; at least I’ve never seen anyone selling it here. I’ve always tasted them fresh from the garden. I came back home excited with a basket-full of passion fruit and an urge to try something totally different.
Passion fruit is rich in vitamins A and C and  a good source of potassium and iron. The seeds are high in fibre.I used to throw away the seeds,  thinking that they may be bitter, without even tasting them. Only recently, I discovered that the seeds are not bitter and also have a nice crunchy taste.
If using the pulp and seeds simply cut in half and spoon out the flesh. To extract the juice, scrape the pulp and seeds against a sieve with a wooden spoon (if you want to omit the seeds). A lot of fruit are needed for a little juice, but a little juice goes a long way.A syrup made by boiling down the diluted juice with a little sugar further intensifies the flavor and makes a wonderful fruit salad dressing or cocktail ingredient.
I was inspired to try this recipe in one of the websites, taste.com and liked the entire blend of flavours. I have made some changes in comparison to the original and the result turned out to be tasty and visually appealing.

125ml mango juice
1 tbs caster sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed
100gms couscous
4 large passion fruit, pulped
2 bananas, peeled and chopped
1 cup sweet cream
Extra cinnamon for sprinkling

In a small saucepan, heat mango juice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until simmering. Add couscous, cover and set aside. Stir with a fork to separate the grains.
Divide the couscous into 4 portions. Using 200ml glasses, place a layer of passion fruit and banana in the base of each glass followed by couscous then a layer of sweet cream. Repeat the layers finishing with a layer of sweet cream.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and allow it to set for 4-5 hours or overnight. Serve cold. Serves 4.

My tastebuds: Passion Fruit & Couscous trifle is a pleasant surprise. Every bite transforms you to a world of flavours.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by A Food Lover’s Journey.


Cinnamon Spiced Chickpea & Sweet Potato Salad

Cooking for me has always been rejuvenating and especially when I’m mixing and trying something completely new and different. Kitchen is a space where I get lost into different flavours. I started cooking at an age of 11 and even till today I’ve always enjoyed every bit of it. I’m sure everyone of us have that private space to rejuvenate 🙂
Indian salads are very limited and I guess we  tend to concentrate more on the mains.Chopping of some cucumbers and onions is the last minute thingy, just to include some greens in the diet.
I’ve always enjoyed making salads and that’s why  I try to mix and match different flavours and these healthy experiments are worth a try to include in your daily diet.

2 cups chickpeas, boiled or canned
2 cups  sweet potato, cut into cubes
1 tomato, cut into thin slices
7-8 basil leaves
2tbs olive oil

for dressing
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp wasabi paste
1tsp red wine vinegar
1tbs olive oil
2tbs tahini (home-made)
salt to taste

Grill the tomato pieces in oven, griller or pan. I grilled the tomatoes in a pan with 1tbs of olive oil. Grill on both sides and set aside to cool.
For the sweet potato, place the sweet potato cubes into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for five minutes. Drain and dry well. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the potato cubes and sauté on all sides until golden-brown. Allow it to cool.
Take a bowl and mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Mix chickpea, sweet potato and basil  with the prepared dressing. Allow the salad to set for half an hour before serving.
Decorate the salad with grilled tomatoes and serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 2 as a meal.

My Taste buds: My favourite combination of tahini and cinnamon makes it a combo again. Although wasabi seems to be lost in the mingle and you feel that you did taste it. Overall a successful experiment.

This is my submission to My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and The Well-Seasoned Cook, to SOS Challenge – sweet potato, hosted by Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Affairs of Living, to Souper Sundays hosted by Kahakai Kitchen and to Thanksgiving dishes hosted by gluten free easily.Sweet Potato on FoodistaSweet Potato