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SAFFRON RICOTTA MUFFINS

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Never thought, baking these simple muffins would become so challenging. On one of the crazy Monday mornings I decided to make these muffins (wrong day I know!), when the daughter would be away to school and hubby off to his office. I find myself most relaxed on Monday mornings coz when these two are away, I am able to plan my day and the week ahead.

However, I also needed to re-stock my fridge and pantry. After my domestic help left, post cleaning the house, I soaked the saffron in milk (so that the flavours would steep in the milk & would attain beautiful colour by the time I was ready to bake these beauties) and make a dash for the market at noon. I was back home just in time before daughter arrived home from school. Post snacks and chit chatting I headed to the kitchen and opened the fridge and there were no eggs. Darn. Went again to the market and bought eggs.

Came back and took out the mixing bowl and measuring spoons and rest of the paraphernalia to start prepping the muffins. Out came the ingredients and there was half a cup flour. Like seriously!? What was I thinking when I went to the market!?! Aren’t these the basics that one checks when one is planning of baking something. In my enthusiastic endeavour to bake these muffins (I am a sucker for saffron), I forgot that I had, on my daughter’s demand, baked the Chocolate & Orange Cake couple of days back and was running low of flour. A visit again to the market for flour and back. I even ran out of caster sugar and compensated the balance amount with coconut sugar. (Honestly, by now I was exasperated with myself)

I finally made these muffins in the evening by seven (so much for planning my day) and my only consolation was that these muffins turned out really good. Beautiful texture and warm spicy flavors of saffron (although the saffron lay soaking in the milk for nearly eight hours) with subtle hints of cardamom and almond – almost felt like having a dessert.

¼ tsp crushed Saffron

1 tbsp Milk

1½ C All Purpose Flour (Maida)

¼ C Quick cooking Oats

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/3 C Oil

1 scant C Caster Sugar & Coconut Sugar (equal amount of each, to make one scant cup)

2 Eggs (Ones I used were 60 grams each)

¼ tsp Almonds Essence

175 grams Ricotta Cheese

Almonds flakes to sprinkle on the top (optional)

In a small bowl, heat milk and add crushed saffron to it. Mix and set aside for atleast 2 – 3 hours.

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, oats and baking powder.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil for two minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time and whisk till incorporated.

Add almonds essence and ricotta and whisk till just incorporated.

Add flour (I added whole of it in one go) and whisk till just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter in baking cups or muffin liners. Fill until each is a little less than ¾th full.

Sprinkle each cup/liner with almond flakes.

Bake in the oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or till the muffins are done (insert a skewer in the centre of a muffin and if it comes out clean, the muffins are done)

Note – I had to keep ricotta on a strainer lined with cheese cloth (for nearly an hour) to get rid of excess water.

Note – The amount of saffron will depend on the quality of saffron you use. I had used Kashmiri saffron and one fourth teaspoon of crushed saffron was sufficient. Any more, and it would have become over powering in the muffins.

Yield – 6

Thanks for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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YOGURT GARLIC MUTTON CHOPS

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Except for the Yakhni Pulav you won’t find any mutton recipe here. There was a time we used eat mutton quite regularly but things have changed in our household since the past decade or so. Mutton is now made occasionally and we rather have fish and chicken. So after a long gap, today I am sharing a recipe which is a heirloom recipe. I have seen my mother and my maternal grand mother making it when a party demanded a crowd pleaser. They would serve it as an appetizer / starter and it was lapped up by everyone. This recipe with seemingly overwhelming amount of garlic, may look too simple and a somewhat doubtful recipe. But you’ve got to trust this recipe which has been delighting people for over fifty years. An absolute crowd-pleaser, if I may say so.

This recipe had originally appeared in the Better Homes & Gardens India magazine. I had contributed two recipes, including this one, for their Diwali issue this year, along with a few other bloggers.

1 kg Mutton Chops (don’t go for too mature meat)

For Yogurt marination

250 grams Onions

2 pods (200 gms approx.) Garlic

1½ tsp Ginger (grated)

1 tsp Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)

1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)

½ – ¾ C Yogurt

If using young meat, you can go for double chops, else single chops is preferable.

Remove any excess fat  from the mutton chops. Wash the mutton and remove excess water and set aside.

Peel and wash onions and grate them.

Peel and wash garlic and grate it.

In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients for marination and mix them well.

Transfer the chops in a large bowl (in which to marinate and refrigerate them) and add the marination. Using your hands, mix everything well ensuring each and every chop is covered with the marinade.

Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

Allow the chops to marinate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

Cook the chops in a pressure cooker till two whistles escape.

Once the pressure gets released (on its own), cook the chops on high flame ensuring that the masala (marinade) does not catch at the bottom and most water has evaporated and the marinade thickens and coats the chops.

Remove from heat and transfer to a serving plate or bowl and serve with onion rings and lemon wedges (or green chutney if desired)

Note: Do not use onion paste, garlic paste or ginger paste. It is imperative that you grate these ingredients.

Note: The amount of yogurt will vary and so will the cooking time; both depending on the quality of meat.

Serves 6 – 8

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FIGS & WALNUTS ESPRESSO SANDWICH COOKIES

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December heralds the arrival of cookie season, for Christmas will be at our door steps before we know it. Also, this is the best time here for baking cookies of all sorts coz humidity is at its lowest and shall remain so for the coming two months as well. So, yours truly shall make the best of this time and roll out cookies from of her kitchen. Festivities certainly call for something extra special and therefore my espresso walnut cookies got a makeover and turned into something decadent. Love anything coffee and the coffee ganache filling makes these cookies an absolute pleasure to indulge in. The figs add a touch of sweetness against the coffee and the walnuts give a nice texture and bite to the cookies. The last word on these cookies – they are a coffee lovers delight! Do not miss out on making these cookies 🙂

For Cookies

1½ C All Purpose Flour (Maida)

1 tbsp ground Espresso Coffee

100 grams Walnuts (see notes)

75 – 100 grams dry Figs (finely chopped)

130 grams unsalted Butter

¾ – 1 C Sugar (we like ours mildly sweet, hence ¾ Cup)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

A few tablespoons Instant Coffee granules (optional)

For Ganache

1 tbsp unsalted Butter

½ C Cream

1 tbsp strongly brewed Coffee

¾ C Semi sweet Choco Chips

METHOD

In a bowl mix together the flour, espresso coffee, finely chopped figs and walnuts.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar, along with vanilla extract, till fluffy.

Stir in the flour mix and mix it till well incorporated. (I prefer doing it with my hands. Wash and dry your hands before doing this job)

Wrap the dough in a cling wrap and freeze the dough for 20 – 30 minutes

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C for 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove the dough from the freezer and using half the dough, roll to ¼ cm thickness. Using the cookie cutter of your choice, cut out the dough and place it on slightly greased baking sheet keeping a gap of a few centimeters between each cut out cookie dough.

(I sprinkled each cut out cookie dough with some instant coffee granules, however this step is purely optional.)

(If you are using two cookie baking sheets, then you can use roll and cut out all the dough at one go)

Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or till the edges of the cookies begin to turn brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing them on a wire rack.

Allow the cookies to cool completely.

Bake the rest of the dough in a similar way till all the dough is exhausted.

For Ganache, heat the coffee, cream and butter on low heat till it begins to bubble at the edges.

Remove from heat and stir in the choco chips. Once they choco chips begin to melt, whisk the mixture to attain a smooth and glossy ganache. Cool completely and refrigerate for half an hour so that the ganache thickens. Whisk the ganache again before you begin using it for the filling.

For Filling, take a heaped teaspoon of ganache (the amount of filling will depend on the size of your cookies) and add it right in the centre of the cookie (on the side that was touching the baking sheet). Take another cookie and place it on top of the ganache. Press it down gently to spread the ganache evenly between the cookies. I used a spoon but feel free to use a piping bag for this job. Finish the whole batch the same way.

Note – I crushed half the walnuts to a coarse powder and added the rest of it finely chopped. This made the texture a little chewy. So, if you like crisp cookies, you might want to finely chop the walnuts instead of pulsing half of them to a coarse powder, like I did.

Note – We enjoy intense coffee flavor in our cookies therefore I had used 2 tbsp of espresso coffee in the cookies however I have mentioned only 1 tbsp in the list of ingredients. (suit yourself)

Yield – 10 – 12 Sandwich Cookies

Thanks for your visit. See you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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