June 30, 2011

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Bars

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I'm always on the hunt for the perfect "chai biscuit", or a cookie to be nibbled on alongside tea. It can't be too sweet, or it'll overpower the subtle, smoothness of tea. And it can't be overloaded with nuts and chocolate chips but have a little more pizazz than a plain old cracker.

There are few things that fit the bill better than a shortbread. It's crumbly and buttery crust is the perfect compliment to a steaming cup of tea (or coffee, whatever floats your boat). It's simple and unassuming, yet can be made exactly to your liking.

Also, they're ridiculously easy to make. In fact, I bet you have all these ingredients in your cupboard already. Go ahead and try whatever jam you love. Though I loved these exactly as they were, I'd be interested in trying a little flaked coconut or sliced almonds in the topping next time. Let me know what combination you try out!

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Bars

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 (8 ounce) jars raspberry jam


1.Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, shortening and butter mix on low speed add beaten eggs and extract can mix with mixer on low or by hand will form a dough divide dough in half and spread half on bottom of ungreased pan 11 x 7 pan pressing dough down with your knuckles spread layer of jam.

2. Then crumble remaining half of dough into little balls and sprinkle over the entire layer of jam bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes until top layer of dough is lightly browned.

June 20, 2011

Rich Chocolate Cake

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

So there are these cupcakes and they're just amazing. People expect me to bring them along when I'm invited to dinner parties and if I don't bring them out with tea after my own dinner parties then they're actually disappointed. And I can't totally blame them, they're pretty good actually. Light, chocolate, moist; just great little cupcakes.

But "light" doesn't translate well when you make this recipe in a larger cake size. It ends up more like pretty dry. So after some research and test recipes I came across this recipe that works great as a cake (haven't tried it in a cupcake size, if you do, let us know!) It's rich, dense and very chocolatey, just like a chocolate cake should be!

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water 

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.Beat on medium speed 2 minutes.
      3. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).Pour into 2 greased and floured 9" round pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.Cool 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks and cool completely.
      1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
      2/3 cup cocoa
      3 cups powdered sugar
      1/3 cup milk
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk, if needed.

        June 11, 2011

        Zucchini & Squash Tart

        Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

        It's no secret, vegetables and I just don't get along. The funny thing is, I come from a part of the world that is famous for its vegetarian cooking, and yet, I'm not a big veggie eater. I know all the benefits and I've really tried hard to incorporate them into my diet, but I gotta be honest, it hasn't been going too well. I usually just toss some in to a pasta with a rich sauce or under a layer of cheese on a pizza. But this time I wanted something light and simple.


        Maybe its the long, hot days or the produce was especially fresh the day I hit the stores, but this tart ended up tasting like a slice of summer on a plate. It was bright and earthy, light yet satisfying all in one bite. It was exactly what I was craving.

        Oh, and just for good measure, I threw in some sliced soy sausage, cuz I'm new-age like that. And also because I needed to use up the last bit I had left in the fridge. The variations on this tart are endless but what I found to be the most important factor was using good produce, a thin crust and herbs.

        Zucchini and Squash Tart

        1/2 recipe pizza dough
        1 small yellow squash
        1 medium zucchini
        1 medium tomato
        2 tablespoons softened cream cheese (or goat cheese, if you're feeling fancy)
        2 teaspoons dried thyme
        1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
        1/4 cup mozzarella cheese  (optional)
        sliced soy sausage (optional)
        salt to taste

        1. Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out dough to about 1/4" thick and so it fits your baking pan.

        2. Spread cream cheese over your dough and top with squash, zucchini, tomato and sausage. Sprinkle herbs and salt over top. Add cheese if you like and bake until bubbly and crust is golden.