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Christmas Special-Dark Chocolate Biscuits

The edible Xmas tree
The edible Xmas tree

I was putting together a Christmas basket for a friend’s dad, when I realised i have nothing chocolaty in it! It had your Gingerbread Men, Rocky Roads, Beer Flavoured Caremalised Onion Jam, Sweet Bacon Bites and a bottle of Fresh Herb Mix for the roasted chicken, but nothing with my favourite ingredient.

The last time I made these crunchy chocolate biscuits, I bought ready-made biscuits, but this time I had a ready stock of my star shaped short crust cookies.

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Christmas Special: Gingerbread Man Cookies

All lined up waiting for Santa to arrive: Gingerbread cookies
All lined up waiting for Santa to arrive: Gingerbread man cookies

As a child I would make sure I was taken to all the places that would host gingerbread houses. I was in awe of the magnificent structures, some made with sugar, some from candies and still others from cookies. It was a human marvel. And then came Santa, the big man with a red clothes, a flowy white beard with a bagful of lovely gifts. He charmed me off my two little pink boots. I hated growing up and losing Santa to reality. But the love for the gingerbread man only grew with time. And then I learnt to bake these wholesome warm and crisp cookies on my own. The best day of my life!

This time the first batch of cookies was baked for a niece and nephew’s Christmas party. It was a Saturday afternoon in the first week of December, when the aromas of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves emerged from the oven as the cookies started to crisp up. And then came the pleasure of  icing the gingerbread men and giving them some colour and style to meet the kiddies pleasure.

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Christmas Special: Short Crust Cookies

It's Christmas time...bring out the sugar cookies
It’s Christmas time…bring out the sugar cookies

No sooner does the month of December roll in, than the mood starts to get all festive. The clothes gets warmer and brighter, the kitchen has a brand new aroma wafting through it, rolls of cinnamon and orange peel take up kitchen space, the consumption of butter goes higher and the waistline forgets the 20s….The greens, reds, silvers and whites adorn the dining table and the cookie boxes never look dull, boring or healthy 🙂 My life revolves around my love for cooking. And as I love to bake and grill, there’s no better time than Christmas to pop the best bakes out of my oven.

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Chocolate Walnut Cake with Chocolate Mousse and Fresh Strawberries

Chocolate dipped strawberries dress the chocolate walnut mousse cake
Chocolate dipped strawberries dress the chocolate walnut mousse cake

I could have thought of a brilliant name but i didn’t want to lose out on any of the ingredients. I mean what’s the use of fancy names if you don’t know what’s in it. Right? Anyway so this dessert was born only because I messed up on what I was actually trying to make. 🙂 The ingredients are all the same, it’s just the assembly that went for a toss. I tried to make chocolate bowls on balloons, not realising that the temperature in my kitchen was not conducive to that kind of assembly.

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Blooming Stuffed Bread

Blooming bread: stuffed with 3 different kinds cheese, salsa and topped with parsley.
Blooming bread: stuffed with 3 different kinds cheese, salsa and topped with parsley.

If you’re throwing a party and are stuck for ideas or not quite deft in the kitchen, make something quick and relatively easy that can charm your guests! This stuffed bread is often a charmer. I uses a hard bread, which is commonly known as Brun in India. And dipped into the various sauce bottles that are always lined up in my kitchen. All it needs us some cheeses, and fresh herbs and of course an oven.

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Sugar-free Gluten-free Prune, Chocolate and Walnut Cake

Sugar-free Prune, Chocolate and Walnut Cake
Sugar-free Prune, Chocolate and Walnut Cake

It’s been a while since I last posted…blame it on the festive season and the need and demand to eat fried unhealthy stuff! Though I did do my bit to promote diabetic friendly wholesome meals and flavours, in the fight of traditional vs modern, traditional took the cake!

Till I got back to my kitchen and made this glorious moist sticky prune cake.

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Steamed Bottle Gourd Dumplings

Serve it with fresh chopped coriander and grated coconut
Serve it with fresh chopped coriander and grated coconut

This is a breakfast dish you will find in every Gujarati home. It’s simple, easy to make, can be churned out in 30 minutes and what’s more can be created out of as many different kinds of veggies as you wish. What’s more since it is traditionally steamed before it is sautéed, it can be made in advance and sautéed just before you are ready to serve it with a dollop of green chutney.

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Pearl Barley Snack

Nutritious, light on the stomach and filling: the barley upma
Nutritious, light on the stomach and filling: the barley mid day snack. In India it would be called Barley Upma

It’s been a crazy two weeks. I’ve been attempting to pack all my belongings into cartons to move home. Though I’ve moved less than a kilometer away from where I stayed earlier on, the process has been cumbersome, fatiguing and has washed me out of every ounce of energy. So when we did move and I started cooking in the new kitchen, instead of the traditional sweetmeat that is supposed to be cooked, I made this super healthy Barley Upma! It brought back some spring to my steps.

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Sugarfree Blueberry, Apple and Pear Pie

The magical pear, apple and blueberry pie
The magical pear, apple and blueberry pie

It was time for us to move home, yet again, and I was in a desperate need to clean out all the goodies in my deep fridge–there’s usually enough in there to feed a guest list of about 10 people, arriving unannounced. I had just enough short crust pastry dough to make a pie and about an hour in hand before my guests for dinner arrived. On this particular day, my brain was ticking sweet rather than savoury.

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Kerala Black Pepper Chicken

Kerala Black Pepper Chicken
Kerala Black Pepper Chicken

This is one of those evergreen recipes that are passed on from mother to daughter or son and from there on to the next generation. I however happened to get it some 20 years from a chef, whose name I sadly can’t recollect anymore, but he worked at the Taj property in Periyar, Kerala. Of course he used the freshest produce possible (plucked off the tree and dried in his own backyard) whereas I had to go to the closest mall!

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