Icebox eggless apricot pistachio cookies


Saw these being made by John Baricelli for Martha Stewart a few years ago . They are such a delicious treat , especially with a good cup of hot tea or coffee . I love that they are eggless , but , especially ,that once the dough is prepared it can be rolled into logs up to 4 days prior to baking and sliced just before , or frozen , in logs , up to 3 months . The best tool for keeping the round ,log shape are paper towel toll inserts . I simply cut them down the length and place the log of dough in , it makes quick work of clean up , something I love !

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 cup ( 2 sticks ) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all purpose flour (spooned and leveled ) plus more for rolling

1/2 cup dried chopped apricots

1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

Makes 2 logs of dough

Martha Stewart

With an electric mixer , beat butter , sugar , vanilla , and salt until smooth . with mixer on low speed , add flour , mixing just until a dough forms . Stir in apricots and pistachios .

Divide dough in half ;place each half on a piece of floured waxed or parchment paper . With floured hands , gently roll each into a 1  1/2 inch diameter log . Dividing evenly. Wrap logs tightly in the paper , and refridgerate till firm  1  to   1   1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350*F. Unwrap logs ; with a serrated knife , slice dough  3/8  inch thick ( if dough crumbles , leave at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes ) arrange slices about 1 inch apart , on baking sheets .

Bake until lightly golden around the edges , 15 to 20 minutes . Cool on baking  sheets 1 to 2 minutes ; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely .

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Paneer Makhani


Butter Paneer , as this dish is more commonly referred to is a scrumptious , rich and deeply fulfilling dish . It is an Indian cheese , very much like Italian rikotta , just compressed into a cube , so a lot of the moisture is extracted . it is then cubed and fried slightly to take waay the raw taste . The cheese is really there to compliment this amazing sauce , made with tomatoes and spices that are cooked down and thickened with heavy cream and butter …o yum !

Serves 4

12  oz   store bought or home made paneer, lightly pan fried

1 tbs vegetable or canola oil

4 tbs butter , divided

4 garlic cloves , grated

1 inch piece grated fresh ginger

14  oz  crushed canned tomatoes ( about 1/2 of a 28 oz can )  Plus water to dilute

1/2 tsp each corriander powder , garam masala , paprika , ground cardamon and red chili powder

1 tbs dry fenugreek , crushed  between palms

salt to taste

1/2  cup heavy cream , divided

Heat oil and butter in a heavy based saucepan . Add ginger and garlic and saute on a very low heat for a few minutes .

Add spices and dried fenugreek.

Add in  tomatoes and water about 1/2 a cup . Cook , on low flame , stirring occassionally , till thick and oil seperates . ( this could take about 15 minutes ). Add in a little sugar to adjust the tartness of the sauce .

Add in 1/4  cup heavy cream and fried paneer . Allow to simmer for a few minutes . Check for seasoning and adjust with salt , as needed. Off the heat.

Stir in the last 2 tablespoons of butter . Serve hot drizzling on the rest of the cream.

Steamed dumplings in hot sesame sauce


Its funny how life evolves , an idea starts out with one intention and suddenly takes on a new tradition. The sauce for these simple store bought mini chicken dumplings was created by me for unexpected dinner guests as an appetizer till dinner was ready . My husband took such a “loving ” to them , they are now regularly served at our week night family dinners ( yes , we ALL still eat together , every night !) You may use store bought or home made dumplings , depending on your pleasure or time frame . I do however stress using a home made Asian peanut sauce, such as Perfect peanut sauce , found on this web site , it really does make a difference .

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Serves 4

24 mini chicken or pork dumplings

1/2 cup Perfect peanut sauce

2 tbs lite soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 to 2 tbs Sambal Oelek ( ground fresh chili paste , or any crushed red chilis )

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbs sesame paste

pinch of salt and pinch of ground white pepper

Chiu Chow oil for drizzling as garnish

1 sliced scallion

a few sprigs of cilantro

Mix all sauce ingredients and set aside.

Steam dumplings as directed just until cooked.

Pour sauce into a wide saucepan , warm , stirring. Add in steamed dumplings and gently JUST WARM THROUGH . Off heat.

Place in serving dish and garnish with sliced scallions , cilantro and drizzle with Chiu Chow oil . ( Please note , the Chiu Chow oil offers a flavorful impact and should preferably not be omitted )

Gobi Manchurian


As a vegetarian I am always looking for delicious ways and dishes to add to my diet . Being a vegetarian can be fun and exciting , you just have to spice it up a notch . Gobi or cauliflower Manchurian is an Indo – Chinese dish that can be served “dry ” , as an appetizer or “wet ” as a main course . I am partial to the dry version as I love my gobi to retain its crisp texture from the frying . Should you prefer the wetter version just add more vegetable stock or water  . As it is an Indo -Chinese dish I serve this with Basmati fried rice, the heady perfume and fine grain texture lends itself very well to this delicious dish .

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 medium sized cauliflower , cut into small florets and blsanched . Drained and allowed to dry completly.

1/2 cup “wondra ” flour or 1/4 cup each cornflour and rice flour ( wondra flour makes a batter that fries up super crisp )

1/2 tsp each grated fresh ginger , garlic and fresh green chillis

Salt and white pepper , to taste

Ice cold water to make a thick paste

Oil for deep frying

Heat oil for frying

Make a thick paste from the flours ( Wondra or combination of rice flour and cornflour ) , salt , pepper , ginger , garlic and chilis . Stir in just enough ice cold water to form a thick paste . Dip each floret in the batter  and deep fry until crisp and golden . Remove into a colander and allow to cool and drain .

SAUCE

8 cloves garlic , minced ( I personally like to use up to 12 in this dish )

1 ” piece ginger , grated

2 to 4 finely chopped green chilis

1/2  an onion , sliced ( optional)

1 bell pepper , cored and sliced ( optional )

4 spring onions , finely chopped ( whites and greens kept seperate )

4 dry red chilis

1/2  tsp red chili powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon chili sauce ( I like Sriracha )

1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

2 to 4 tablespoons ketchup

1/4 cup to 1 cup vegetable stock or water ( depending on the “wetness ” of the dish )

2 teaspoons vinegar

Cilantro for garnish

1 teaspoon cornflour combined with 2 tablespoons water , to thicken sauce.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saute pan or wok . Add the dry red chilis , broken in half , stir just until the chilis turn a slightly darker shade .Stir in garlic for a few seconds . Add the green chilis and ginger , stir briefly .

Add the pepper , stir a few seconds and the onion , if using . Stir a few seconds to cook briefly .

Stir in the whites of the spring onions , stir very briefly , the vegetables should retain their crunch , but they should not be raw ..

Reduce heat to medium . Stir in the soy sauce , chili sauce , chili powder and ketchup . Combine well and stir for 1 to 2 minutes , careful not to burn .

Pour in the stock or water cook for a few minutes .

Stir in the cornstarch slurry , stirring constantly until a glossy , slightly thicken sauce is achieved .

Stir in the cooked and fried cauliflower , just to combine . Off the heat and stir in the vinegar . Serve hot garnished with the spring onion greens and cilantro.

Indian Chinese Chilli chicken


As the title indicates this chicken can be spicy or very spicy . it contains both fresh green serrano chillis and chilli sauce , so the heat can be varied . it also contains peppers and onions making it ideal to serve with rice as a simple meal or with soup and noodles for a more substantial dinner . Sometimes I like to embellish the dish with cashews or peanuts , however that is not traditional . This dish can be served “dry ” , more like an appetizer with no rice or with “gravy ” , the only difference in the recipe is the addition of more or less chicken stock . Do try it , it is a family favorite .

Serves 4

Photograph by Ashish Mahtani

1 lb boneless chicken breast ,sliced into fingers

1 to 2 tbs cornstarch

a pinch salt

1/2 tsp crushed white pepper

1 Tbs dark soy sauce

1 Tbs sherry

1 egg ,beaten.

Oil for deep frying

Combine all ingredients and allow chicken to marinate while oil heats for deep frying .

When oil is hot deep fry chicken in batches just until golden but not over cooked . Drain and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

SAUCE

1 Tbs oil

8 to 10 cloves garlic , minced

2 to 4 sliced serrano chillis

1 large red onion cubed

1 large red bell pepper , cored and cubed

1 tbs dark soy sauce

1 to 2 tbs red chilli sauce

1/2  to 1  1/2 cups chicken sauce

1 tsp cornstarch blended with 1 tbs water to make a slurry

1 tsp vinegar

Heat oil in skillet . Add garlic and stir for a few seconds . Add in green chillis and stirfry afew seconds . Add in onion and stir , add in bell pepper and stir for 30 seconds .

Add in soy sauce and chilli sauce , stir for 20 seconds .pour in chicken stock . Note use between 1/2 cup to 1  1/2 cups depending on how much sauce you want to end up with . Allow to come to the boil . Stir in the cornstarch slurry , stirring continuously .

Add in the fried chicken and stir to coat the chicken with the sauce . Sprinkle in a pinch of salt . Stir . Off heat and stir in the vinegar .

Serve immediately with a bowl of steamed rice.

Kwaresimal , vegan chewy almond bars


There are few cookies that remind me of Lent and Easter , but this is the one . These dense , butterless , eggless bars are flavored with cinnamon and orange flower water and topped with genuine Maltese honey , a flavor so unique and delicious I find it hard to describe . I have stared using Golden syrup , a British syrup very golden in color , but you could use organic agave syrup instead or honey , if you are not vegan . My sister and I love these so much that , once a year when they are available in Malta , we used to call my brother to place a few in the freezer ! but enough with that , these are so much better and o so fresh !

Makes 4 bars

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 cup raw almonds , ground fine with skin on

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup vegan granulated sugar

Rind of a large orange

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbs orange flower water

A few drops of water

pinch salt

Golden syrup or agave syrup for topping

Chopped blanched toasted almonds for topping

Mix Ground almonds , All purpose flour , salt , cinnamon and orange zest . Stir in the sugar and mix well .

Pour on the orange flower water and drop by drop of water and you stir to make a stiff dough. Do not add too much water as this will cause the dough to spread too much while baking .

Set aside for 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350*F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces .

Roll each portion into a short log . Place on prepared baking sheet . Repeat .

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown .

As soon as you take them out of the oven , spread with syrup and decorate with chopped nuts . Cool completly before serving.