Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Chewy chocolate chip cookies

So nothing says Christmas like a chocolate chip cookie. Well perhaps not, but the holidays do mean that I have bit more time on my hands for things like baking. Unfortunately though I am generally fine baking cakes, something always seems to go a bit wrong with preparing other baked goods. In the process of making these American-style chewy cookies I somehow managed to set fire to the greaseproof paper covering my baking tray.
Anyway, this is a very simple recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, and as these are soft cookies the dough doesn't require rolling and cutting out but merely melding into small lumps. This is the recipe in grams rather than American cups.

Recipe (enough for around twenty decent sized cookies):
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (I omitted this but used salter butter)
170g unsalted butter, melted
220g demerara sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
170g plain chocolate chips

Mix together the melted butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla, and make sure they are all well combined. Pour this into the sifted flour and baking powder and gently mix. Put in the chocolate and continue mixing for a bit. I didn't use chocolate chips but instead chopped up the same weight of chocolate. I should probably have cut things smaller though as I had some issues with bigger chunks of chocolate melting and sticking, which made moving them off the baking sheet a bit of a pain.
But anyway you should end up with a buttery dough that you can squish together either with a tablespoon or your hands into golf ball-sized rounds. Place these on a lined baking sheet about 10cm apart, and bake for around 30min at gas mark 4. I was guilty of cookie over-crowding and ended up with some merging into each other. But as the finished product is quite soft they were easy enough to cut up again, though this did result in some odd shapes.
You may also need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your cookies, as some of my batches took longer than others.
What you should end up with is a cookie that slightly crisp at the edges, chewy in the middle and with chunks of oozing chocolate. Ideal scoffed with a hot chocolate in the winter months.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Calcutta-style egg rolls

As my family is from the West Bengal region of India (state capital Calcutta/Kolkata) this is an area I've visited a few times over the course of many years. Calcutta is pretty famous for its street food- not that I'd know much about that though as my parents concerns for the often less than sanitary conditions in which street stalls operate limited our consumption of these delights. However there were a few times when the hygiene police relaxed their (probably sensible) policy and a few treats sneaked through. The one I remember most vividly are egg rolls- a sort of thin, flat bread, with an omlette layer attached to it, with lots of chilli and red onions. This was all rolled up, wrapped in greaseproof paper and eaten hot off the griddle. They must have been good as the last time I had one was about twenty years ago and I still remember them.
The bread element is very light and stretchy, and I've no idea how it's made. But the closest thing I've found to it are the Shana parathas I've blogged about recently. So for a super-speedy egg roll supper all you'll need are:

Recipe (enough for one hungry person)
2 ready make parathas such as the Shana brand
2 eggs
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 medium green chilli, finely sliced with seeds removed if you prefer things mild
Salt and pepper to season
Couple of teaspoons of sunflower oil or similar

First cook the parathas fully and set aside. Beat the eggs well, season, and stir in the onion and chilli. Put a teaspoon or so of oil into a frying pan and heat it as much as you would if making an omlette. Once hot enough, pour in half the egg mix and wait about 10 seconds until it starts to set. While it's still liquid on top, push the paratha into the egg until the heat 'fuses' them. Turn the heat down, and then once the egg layer is cooked, flip the paratha so that the bread layer warms up and any overspill egg is cooked through as well. Repeat with the second paratha and the rest of the beaten egg. Roll up with the egg layer inside, and and scoff while hot. Eat with some salad if you are so inclined.

NB I'm sure that the egg rolls I ate had the onion and chilli cooked with the egg, but you can also not bother cooking them and just put them in at the rolling up stage (apparently).