Squash Oatmeal Cookies

When Autumn arrives and weather turns chilly I start to crave things made with squash and lots of warming spices! 😀 These squash-oatmeal cookies fill the house with warmth and wonderful aromas as they bake. Enjoy these soft and chewy cookies with a cup of hot tea or, my new addiction, home-made chocolate-milk made with grass-fed sheep milk.

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Ingredients
(Makes about 15 cookies)

Wet
1 Cup Mashed Squash
(I use homemade mashed either delicata or butternut squash as I like the sweetness and smooth texture. You can find directions on how to make home-made squash purée here.

1/2 Cup Hot Water
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Blackstrap Molasses
1 Egg (lightly beaten)

Dry
1 Cup Light Spelt Flour
1/4 Cup Fine White Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Almond Flour
1 Cup Quick Oat
1/4 Cup Palm Sugar
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp Vanilla Powder (if you are using vanilla extract, add 1/2 Tsp to the wet ingredients instead)
1 1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Ground Ginger
1/4 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Tsp. Ground Cardamom

Add-ins
1/2 Cup Black Currant
1/2 Cup Raisin

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Lightly beat all the wet ingredients in another large mixing bowl.
4. Add the “dry” mix to the “wet”  in three portions and mix well after each addition.
5. Fold in the currants and raisins and mix until very well combined.
5. Scoop the cookie batter using an ice-cream scooper (or just use your hands or a large spoon) and flatten the cookies a bit (not too much, the cookies flatten a bit in the oven as they bake).
6. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly brown. My cookies are perfect at the 17 minute mark but everyone’s oven is a bit different. Take out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy these soft warming cookies 🙂

 

Rosewater/Cardamom Rice Cookies, Noon-Berenji (نان برنجی)

noonBerenji
The smell of Noon-Berenji as I bake them brings back so many nostalgic memories of my childhood days at the time of Norooz back in Iran. These cookies are incredibly delicate and aromatic because of the cardamom and rosewater in the recipe. As mentioned below I use less sugar than the traditional recipes would call for. Also, some recipes call for shortening instead of ghee but I never use shortening. Ghee adds a lot of flavour to these cookies and is a lot healthier than shortening. But, be sure to use ghee and not butter, since butter has too much moisture to be used in this recipe and will result in harder cookies.  The other note I want to make is that be sure to use really high quality and fine rice flour since the texture of these cookie depend greatly on the quality of the rice flour you use. I always buy my rice flour from an Iranian store since I have tried other more commonly available white rice flours like Bob’s Red Mill and was never satisfied with the final result since these rice flours are too coarse for this recipe. Also, make sure to sift the sugar and flour first and rest the dough at least overnight.

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Ingredients
500 Grams. Fine White Rice Flour
150-200 Grams. Organic Powdered (Icing) Sugar (depending on how sweet you like them, I use 150 but the traditional versions are sweeter)
250 Grams. Ghee (Melted but not hot)
1/4 Cup Rosewater
1 Egg White (room temperature)
2 Egg Yolks (room temperature)
1 1/2 Tsp. Freshly Ground Cardamom

Method:
1. Cream the melted ghee and icing sugar together using a hand mixer until you have a very smooth and creamy mixture (about 3 mins)
2. Add the cardamom to the ghee/sugar mixture and mix well.
3. Mix the egg yolks, whites and rosewater in a small bowl and whisk until fluffy.
4. Add the egg mix to the ghee/sugar mixture.
5. Sift the flour into the rest of the ingredients using a fine sieve and then using a spatula gently mix everything until you reach a smooth consistency. You might need to use your hands and knead the dough for a bit.
6. Shape the dough into a round ball, cover and rest the dough in the fridge overnight.
7. Two hours before you are ready to bake the cookies take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature (otherwise the dough would be too hard and you won’t be able to shape it!)
8. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Knead the dough and take small amounts and shape into small balls and then press lightly with the palm of you hand to create round cookies. You can now decorate the cookies using the smaller side of a round piping tip (you can see how I decorate mine in the pictures). Place the cookies on a baking sheet covered with unbleached parchment paper and top if with some purslane seeds or ground pistachio.
10. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 15-20 (depends on your oven, my oven runs a bit hot so my cookies are usually done in about 15 mins). Keep an eye on the cookies after 15 mins to avoid over-browning and burning.
11. Once baked, take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool for half an hour (these rice cookies are very delicate so let them cool a bit to avoid crumbling) before transforming them into a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy these delicate, fragrant cookies with a hot cup of freshly brewed tea!

Makes about 50-60 cookies.

Spiced Red Lentil Stew

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This is another one of my favourite comforting one-pot meals. This stew is loaded with veggies and incredibly flavourful with all the added spices.
A few notes:
– of course you can add or substitute the veggies if you like. Sweet potato, turnip, beets and even some chopped greens would all be good.
– If you like spicy food and can handle the heat you can add a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce at the end.
– The amount of liquid I’ve mentioned in the recipe makes a thicker stew-like consistency, but if you prefer you can add more liquid to thin it out a bit and have it as a lovely soup instead!
– I use the less sweet variety of squashes like delicata or pink-banana for this stew. The addition of squash puree creates a creamy texture.

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Ingredients
1 Cup Red Lentil (wash and soak for 24 hours or overnight)

2 Celery Stalks (finely chopped)
1 Large Carrot (finely diced)
1 Small Potato (finely diced)
1/2 Large Celeriac (finely diced)
1 Large Clove Garlic (crushed)
1 Cup Squash Puree

2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil (for vegan) or Ghee

2 Tsp. Ginger Powder
2 Tsp. Turmeric
1 Tsp. Coriander Seed
1 Tsp. Cumin
1/2 Tsp. Cardamom Powder
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon powder

2 Cups Water

1/2-1 Tsp. Salt (start with less and add to taste)
Black Pepper (to taste)
1 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice (or more as you like)
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander

Method
1. Heat the oil to a large pot and sauté the chopped veggies (carrot, celery, potato, celeriac) and garlic for 2 minutes. Then add the spices and the squash puree and sauté for another 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant.

2. Rinse the soaked red lentil and add to the pot with salt and pepper.

3. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Now lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer the stew over medium heat for at least one hour (the more the better but if you have soaked the lentils one hour would be enough). Stir the stew occasionally until the consistency is to your liking.

4. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the fresh lemon juice.

5. Turn off the heat and add the finely chopped coriander.

Serve hot with a side of Basmati rice and green salad or thick stirred yogurt!

Serves 4-6.

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