Saturday, March 21, 2009

Indian Sandesh

Spring is here.
These cherry blossoms were blooming right outside of the building where my lab is.

And in another part of town (aka my kitchen) something else was blooming (sort of).

Ok, so they may not be as pretty as those cherry blossoms but they sure taste better.
These little blossoms are called sandesh, a really simple Indian dessert made from paneer. Paneer is an Indian cheese that's made by boiling milk, adding lemon juice, and then straining the curds that are produced.
I made these desserts with homemade paneer, which is actually really simple to make. No paneer tutorial this time, but I promise there will be one here soon.

I sprinkled a bit of sugar on them and took this picture -- oh, and I also ate two of them.

You can usually buy blocks of paneer from Indian grocery stores. If you use this kind, just use your hands to crumble it up first.

  • 1 cup paneer, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1 Tb almond pieces
Using a potato masher or your hands, mash the paneer and sugar together. Shape into rounds. Sprinkle with cardamom, almond, and extra sugar. Chill for 1 hour.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Since the title of this blog is Chocolate Chip Trips, I think it's only fitting to have a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. So, here it is.

This is the chocolate chip cookie recipe published in the New York Times last July (2008). I have been meaning to try it for the longest time, but something else always got in the way -- that something else being brownies, blondies, muffins, and the like.

The recipe is not particularly difficult to make (actually the BF made this batch, so that means it can't be hard, don't tell him I said that), but it does require some ingredients that I don't normally have off hand. Cake flour, bread flour, and chocolate disks.

Before I say more about these cookies, here's my disclaimer: the BF did not follow this recipe exactly. Unfortunately, we couldn't. Let me explain. The recipe asks you to use "a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment" to cream the butter and sugar. When I read this, I was mad! Why must a recipe just assume that you have a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment? How come recipes don't think of us poor (literally -- broke graduate student here) folks who haven't yet found the courage to spend $300 on a mixer fitted with a paddle
attachment? Oh, don't get me wrong. I will love the day I have a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, but unfortunately, living on my university stipend won't get me there too soon. But no fretting -- that's what marriage is for, right? So your family and friends can buy you Kitchen Aid mixers and Le Creuset pots and all those other kitchen gadgets you've been drooling over for your whole broke graduate student life? I can't wait for that special day.

Anyway, we didn't have a KA, so we just used our standard hand held mixer to cream the butter and sugar. And we didn't have chocolate disks, so we used high quality bittersweet chocolate chips. And no, I'm not going to list a bunch of other changes I made and then complain about the recipe. Apart from the two I mentioned, we followed this recipe exactly. The verdict? Oh, they were definitely good, rich and flavorful, but still not the perfect cookie I was hoping for. They were a bit too crunchy for my taste.

I'm sorry NYT!! This has to be probably the ONLY semi-negative review of this recipe anywhere. I searched the internet to see if any other poor souls had the same fate as we did, but it seemed that it worked out perfectly for everyone else. I so envy all the KA owners.

Here is a link to the recipe, but I think I prefer this one.

If anyone else had a similar experience with this recipe, I would love to hear! Let's start a club and exclude all the cool kids (aka KA owners)! :P

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not-So-Far Away Travels

The last blog was about chips (chocolate that is), so this one will be about trips. aahh..things are making sense now, no? See...I didn't just choose this blog title because it rhymes and sounds good, unlike many of my actions, this one actually had a point. So, here goes a trip. It wasn't very far -- just a few blocks from my place.

Actually, I've ran past many of these parts on countless morning runs, and never really thought twice about taking a picture. I'm glad I did though. Maybe it was the cloudiness, or the rain from the night before that left things a bit greener than usual, or maybe because I finally stopped sucking at taking pictures with my new camera...but something about the colors in these photos makes me long for more rainy days.

Doesn't this bench just say "sit here"? Well, it did to me. So I sat down, and noticed someone else must have too. Someone else also ate breakfast on it, and this someone else dropped some Cheerios (click on photo to confirm), woops. Oh well, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who liked it. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chocolate Chip Banana Crumb Muffins

I like to make these muffins when I am craving a wholesome dessert, as opposed to the brownies, cupcakes, and chocolate chip cookies, which, although very satisfying taste-wise, often leave my belly grumbling for some more. These muffins are pretty wholesome and filling -- made with bananas, a bit of applesauce, whole wheat (pastry) flour, and walnuts. Of course, I add chocolate chips (did you see the title of this blog?) to make sure no cravings are left unsatisfied.

The original recipe is actually the most popular recipe on allrecipes. Here is my wholesome, chocolate-craving satisfying rendition:

UPDATE: I initially forgot to list one of the most important ingredients: the Chocolate Chips (duh)!! Forgive me, this is my first posting. Clearly, I need practice.

Chocolate Chip Banana Crumb Muffins (adapted from allrecipes)
(Makes 12 muffins)
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/6 cup canola oil
  • 1/6 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Crumb Topping
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 3/4 cups all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, oil, and applesauce. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. Crumb Topping: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.