Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another Kind of Thoran - A Beans Coconut Combo

Thought I had got it with this 'thoran' thing since the results were satisfactory. Looked like I had done pretty much what I could do here. Not sure why it never occurred me to ask my Mom. Maybe because I couldn't take it if I made it 'exaaactly' like Mom and didn't get the effect from memories. So anyway, it did come up in a conversation and Mom chuckled to herself when her previously veggie hating - make that kitchen phobic - daughter dutifully asked for this simplest of recipes. I couldn't help chuckling with her, remembering my own younger self in those carefree days. Memories... Memories....., what will I do with them? What will I do without them? I followed her instructions to the letter and I have to say that I absolutely loved the results. This could be because it looked, smelled and tasted 'exaaactly' like the 'payar thoran' of old. Well except of course for the central characters - the beans themselves - who just couldn't be fresh picked from the ginger fields. But I had taken that into account and had already adjusted the memory comparator input accordingly:-) So here follows my Mom's own original, special 'thoran' recipe.The secret is in the sequence. So pay attention to every word. K?

In The Mix

beans - 1/2 lbs (about 1 kg)
coconut flakes - 1/2 cup (hydrate with water prior to use to resemble the fresh grated feel. i hear that there is a vietnamese store around which sells fresh grated coconut. haven't had time to check that out yet)
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
shallots - 2 or 3
green indian chilies - 4 to 5
salt to taste
curry leaves - a sprig or two

How To Do

Slightly grind coconut, turmeric, shallots and green chilies together. The results should be a largely coarse mix.

Take the beans in a cooking pot. Add salt and curry leaves. Cook covered on high heat for 5-6 minutes at the most.

Now add the ground mix to the top. Do not stir.

Cover and cook some more till all the water is gone.

Remove from heat and stir. Voila!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Peanut Butter Blossoms - Cookies

Just because you have never made a cookie in your life does not mean that you should never try it. Welcome yourself into the cookie making business with this easiest, best looking and kid approved cookie recipe. I chanced upon it in a magazine - I believe it is Martha Stewart Living - while waiting in the doctor's office. I think it was part of a Hershey's chocolate ad and quickly scribbled it down on a little piece of paper. This is a good one to get kids involved. Later I found that it is indeed a popular recipe and you will come across it all over the net while searching with 'peanut butter blossoms'. Now, to the recipe:

In The Mix

You will need about 48 Hershey's kisses. I find that M&Ms are also an easy substitute or any other cute looking chocolate piece. But Hershey's kisses look the best on top!

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 or 1/2 cup sugar to roll cookies at the end

How To Do

Heat oven to 375 C.

Remove foil from Hershey's. Get the kids to do this. Mine enjoyed all of the activity so much and were very good about not eating the kisses. I was impressed. Ask them first to count how many there are, how many we might need, and then get them to unwrap from one bowl to keep in another etc..

Beat shortening and peanut butter together for less than a minute.
Add 1/2 cup sugar & the brown sugar to the mix. Beat until fluffy.
Break the egg into the mix, add milk and vanilla extract and beat together for under a minute.
Kids can share doing this activity. I use a large plastic bowl so things stay clean.

Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl. You can sieve them together to blend well.

Now gradually beat the flour mix into the peanut butter mix. You can do this in 5-6 steps. Once all the flour is added in, beat for 3-4 minutes. I use an electric hand mixer to beat.

Shape into 1" size balls. My Achilles Heel:-) Can never get them ball shapes... Roll gently in the sugar for a nice coat. Do not flatten. The cookie balls will expand into a nice circle once in the oven. Place the balls on a cookie sheet 2" apart. This is very important as otherwise the cookies will stick to each other for lack of space while being baked. You should have about 48 balls. Bake 8-10 minutes until light brown. I have added a picture here of cookies ready to go into the oven for Nancy.

Get the little helpers and chocolates ready to go as soon as the cookies are out. Place a kiss each on the top of the hot cookies. The cookies might break a little but don't worry. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so. The chocolate and the hot melted butter inside would have set together by now. Don't press down on the chocolate after the first placement. Store in a cool place and enjoy.

These cookies are very photogenic. Didn't get time to do justice to them in the aftermath. A good single cookie pic will look fantastic.

Added Later:
My daughter took this single cookie picture.

pic added 11/08/2009
I just found that this is a kid approved version of recycling all that Halloween that seems to stay on and on even after downloading stashes of it at work. We usually only trick or treat at the neighboring blocks and the candy is mostly good and I hate to trash them. So I take it to distribute it at work but the kids still get to keep a reasonable amount. I decided to to use them in cookies after countless candy wrapper picking up sessions around the living room:-) Just cut the longer bars and as you can see M&M's are fine as they are.