Moist Zucchini Bread

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Zucchini bread was one of my very first attempts at baking from scratch.  The recipe for Mom’s Zucchini Bread does not disappoint:  a moist, mildy sweet, home-y bread that can be served at breakfast or tea, or anytime in between.  The smell of fresh zucchini bread baking (or any bread for that matter) evoke memories of chilly fall days and Thanksgiving dinners of years past.

Recipe:  Mom’s Zucchini Bread

*I follow this recipe pretty closely as written.  The only minor change is using parchment paper to line the baking pans (for easy removal and clean-up).  You can also use a muffin tin, for zucchini muffins.  This bread also freezes well.

Grated Zucchini:

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Batter in Parchment-Lined Pan:

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Ready to Bake:

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Chai Time!

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Tea time is a sacred hour between 4 and 7 PM in Indian households.  It is an opportunity for families and their guests to unwind, chat, and relax in an informal setting.  Dinner is usually later (8 PM onwards), so tea and fixings are designed to curb the appetite before a meal. Biscuits and samosas with chutney, are ideal snacks served during tea hour.

I am a huge fan of little bites and small plates, so I savor tea time.  Below are some tried and true recipes for snacks served during Indian chai time.  I am also a fan of English High Tea!  Tea, scones, and tea sandwiches, oh my!  English tea snack recipes to follow soon!

Baked Samosa Recipe:

http://www.cooklikepriya.com/2013/09/baked-samosa-oven-baked-samosa-step-by.html#more

* Feel free to mix up the filling.  I use a standard potato/pea filling instead of the one listed in the recipe.  Show Me The Curry has a nice potato filling recipe:  http://showmethecurry.com/appetizers/samosa-indian-appetizer.html

Crust:  I recommend reducing the ajwain (bishop’s weed) to 1 tsp, instead of 2 tsp per the recipe (2 tsp makes the dough a little bitter).  I substituted 3 tbsp of melted butter for the oil for a flakier and tender crust (you can also use ghee for a similar texture and richer flavor).  I also baked the samosas at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for a good hour on the bottom shelf of my oven, frequently turning the samosas as they browned.  Lower temperatures do not provide enough heat to brown the samosas.

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Nan Khatai recipe:

http://showmethecurry.com/desserts/nan-khatai-eggless-cookies.html

*Wonderful recipe!  I follow this recipe down to the last detail!  I have made these cookies numerous times,  for consumption and as gifts.  I always get compliments on these.  You can also mix up the topping with slivered almonds or a design.  A dozen of these make a wonderful Diwali gift for friends and family.

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Sweet and Savory

I love snacks (who doesn’t?).  I love having them around.  I religiously have snacks at tea time and sometimes make a meal out of them.  In keeping with my philosophy of eating primarily home-cooked food, I decided to make some (relatively) healthy snacks to have at home for those middle-of-the-afternoon munchies.

“Chevra” or mixture is a savory snack common in most parts of India.  It is served at breakfast or tea time to add a bit of substance and flavor.  I used to make a simplified version that I grew up on which was pan fried flattened rice (poha), spiced with chopped chillis and served with peas, for a light breakfast. I found another version on Pinterest, which has more ingredients in it, and has a bit more kick.  Once the mixture cools down, you can store it in an airtight container for a few weeks.

http://www.stellasmeza.blogspot.com/2013/05/chevra-or-chevdo.html?m=1 

*I omitted the yellow lentils, rice crispy cereal, corn flakes, and shoe string potato sticks.  For a simpler, but similar concoction, I used 2 cups of thin flattened rice (called poha and available in most Indian markets) which I pan-fried with 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet or pan until the flakes were crisp, but not too brown.  (This was after the asafetida, green chilli,  and curry leaf steps, listed in this recipe).  After removing the crispy poha and curry leaf mixture from the stove and placing it in a large round bowl – I added a handful of roasted and salted peanuts (Trader Joe’s Old Fashion Blister Peanuts are great), and about a cup of thin sev (I used the packaged Deep Foods Thin Sev found in Indian markets).  I would recommend adding the salt (to taste), last, as the salt in the peanuts and the sev will make the mixture pretty salty.  You can even add some lightly toasted shredded coconut for added flavor.  The combinations are endless!

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Chocolate is another one of those necessary evils to have around.  I’ve wanted to try my hand at making truffles for awhile now and coincidentally came across a nice little write up in the Food section of Huffington Post about homemade truffles.  The Lemon Chiffon Truffle recipe in particular, caught my eye (and caused me to salivate).  The recipe is fairly straight forward.  I would recommend using a melon baller, which makes it easier to scoop out the chocolate and creates truffles of the same size and shape.  I would also recommend leaving the truffles in the freezer overnight, to really solidify the chocolate.  (Also, do not recommend making these when outside temps are high, without the AC on.  Otherwise, get ready for a gloppy mess!)  You can purchase chocolate wrappers at any craft supply store or Amazon.com, for a neat little gift!  I keep a dozen or so of these in the fridge for a sugar fix, or for unexpected guests.  People will think you slaved over the stove for hours!

http://sweetannas.com/2011/03/lemon-chiffon-truffles.html

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