Orange Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking

2013-12-24 00.19.38

Merry Christmas Eve!

People give people gifts for Christmas. BUT since I don’t celebrate I figured I didn’t have to think about it so much. OR DID I? As the pile of gifts from colleagues grew so did my level of panic.

The internal battle raged. I don’t want to give gifts. What the hell??? But it looks bad. But it doesn’t make sense if it’s not meaningful. OMG just go buy them some kueh tutu shaped erasers – AH!!! HYPERVENTILATION!!!! 

In the end I made these last night to give my colleagues for Christmas.

Forced or not, meaningful or not, these are the best cookies I’ve made ever.

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2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps cornstarch (original recipe calls for 2 tsps…hmm…)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp orange zest
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp orange essence (original recipe calls for orange extract but I couldn’t find it anywhere)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries (original recipe calls for chopped, I just couldn’t make myself do it)

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F.

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl rub the brown and white sugars together with the orange zest until completely combined. This is to bring out the orange flavor. Joy explains it here.

Stir (vigorously by hand)/whip (with a stand mixer if you have one) the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and orange zest until pale and fluffy. Or until your hand feels like you can’t take it no more.

Mix in the egg and egg yolk.

Stir in orange extract and vanilla extract.

Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until its combined. Do not overmix.

Fold in the chocolate chips and cranberries.

Drop a heaping tablespoon of cookie at a time onto greased or lined cookie sheets spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

Allow to cool on cookie sheet two minutes before transferring to another plate (wire rack if you have one) to cool.

Store in an airtight container/ in the fridge if you’re in a place with extreme humidity.

*Adapted from Cooking Classy.
** I actually doubled the recipe which is why it took 4 hours. It also makes a freakish amount of cookies, like one batch makes like 40 to 50 not 30 like the original recipe says.

Thai Inspired Salad with Peanut Butter Based Dressing

Cooking

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You know what I love about salads? They make you feel super healthy while you’re eating them and after when your body is all “THANK YOU for feeding me good things I reward you with clearish skin and a happy tummy (I almost got specific there and then didn’t)”.

What I love about making salads at home is that you can decide if you want more/less meat, carrots, whatever. So that’s why I haven’t specified amounts for the salad ingredients. I swear you can really change it up because the dressing ties pretty much anything together.

The dressing is enough for maybe two servings so feel free to multiply for more!

Dressing
2 Tbsps creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsps honey
2 Tbsps soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 3 small limes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small knob of ginger, minced
1 Tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Salad
Quinoa (prepared like this)
Carrot(s), cut into matchsticks
Beansprouts, washed and drained
Cucumber(s), peeled and diced
Red onions, diced OR green onions, chopped
Dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Fresh cilantro, long stems removed for topping
Optional add-ins: cooked chicken, pork, shrimp or tofu

Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To assemble salad mix all ingredients together and toss with dressing.

Serve.

*Adapted from Cooking Classy.

Cranberry Orange and Pecan Coffee Cake

Baking

ccran cake

This Christmas one of my biggest issues (aside from going broke from buying presents) is not buying the cranberry pound cake at Starbucks. That thing calls my name every time I pass by. It’s all “Dini – I look so good. You know you want me. You know I’m worth a ridiculous $4 per slice.” The thing is. It’s not.

But two weekends ago, when the temptation was just proving to be too much I decided that I had to make a GODDAMN cranberry cake.

I followed Joy the Baker‘s recipe and can I just say WOW. It was actually amazing, even if my version (see below) looks a little burnt. Because it kinda was…

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into medium chunks
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (It’s a little less than 3 oranges worth)
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries (Joy said to chop this – but I overlooked this and it was fine)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Topping:
2 Tbsps unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsps granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 175 C/350 F.

Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side. Grease the parchment paper with butter and dust with flour on all sides. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add chunks of butter and work the butter into the flour with your fingers. Blend the butter into each bit of the dry ingredients. The mixture will resemble a coarse meal.

In another bowl whisk together eggs, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir together to incorporate. Add the cranberries and pecans and fold into the batter.

To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.

Pour the cake better into the loaf pan and sprinkle with the topping. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes. Insert a skewer into the center of the cake to ensure that it’s cooked through.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Use the parchment paper to lift the loaf from the pan and allow to cool further on a wire rack.

Make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar and milk together. Drizzle over the cake.

whole cake

SERVE! EAT! ENJOY!

*Adapted from Joy the Baker.

Shepherd’s Pie with Garam Masala

Cooking

IMG_2316You know what you should do this weekend? You should totes make Shepherd’s Pie and then freeze it in individual portions (see above – I know that frozen condensation is so appetizing) and then have it for the rest of the week for dinner. You will thank your past self when Monday comes and your realize you have NO resolve to cook anything and yet don’t want to spend money on eating out. Yeah, you know what I’m sayin’.

This time I took pictures of the process. Enjoy!

IMG_2269Mash bit.

IMG_2270Ground meat and onions bit.

IMG_2271Ground meat and onions post masala inclusion.

IMG_2273AND done.

Mashed potato topping
800 gm potatoes
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg

Minced lamb bottom layer
2 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
600 gm ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsps meat curry powder*
1 Tbsp chili powder*
1/2 Tbsp jeera/cumin powder*
1/4 Tbsp garam masala*
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas

Clean the potatoes and cut into four pieces. Boil until tender and remove skin.

While the potatoes are still hot put the butter in it so it melts, add the whipping cream, salt and pepper and mash until smooth. Stir in egg until well combined (Confession: I didn’t realize it was supposed to be just the egg yolk until I started typing up this post)

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Put the canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. Once the oil simmers, add the onion and brown. Add the ginger-garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes.

Add the spices: meat curry powder, chili powder, jeera powder and garam masala and cook for like a minute.

Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and chicken broth and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the peas to the lamb mixture and cook for another minute.

I spread the lamb mixture evenly into an 8 by 8 baking dish – you should choose a bigger one because mine totally spilled over and made everything greasetastic.

Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula.

Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown.

Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

*This amount can be doubled for a spicier pie.
**Adapted from Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie.