Thursday, December 31, 2015

Week 52 - Cookies

The last cooking challenge for 2015 was all about cookies. Most people doing the challenge did some sort of sweet cookie, but I really wanted to do a savory cookie because I wanted to make cookies for dinner. I found an option for a ham and gruyere thumbprint but that was a lot of work, so when I found this recipe for savory masala cookies, I decided to do that. Unfortunately, getting this challenge completed really wasn't as simple as it should have been.

First, I planned to make the cookies along with the Indian chickpea salad. I scheduled it for the Tuesday before Christmas, but then we had to change the day/time of our haircuts to Tuesday night, so no cooking on Tuesday night. So I decided that even though it would be a ton of food, I'd just make it an Indian night on Monday instead, and make the dal (I would have pushed the dal off to another day, but it had already been soaking overnight) along with the chickpea salad and the cookies, and have lots of leftovers for lunch for the week. But when I went to take out the ingredients for the cookies, I realized we didn't have any flour, or at least not enough for the cookies. Who plans to make cookies and then forgets they're almost out of flour?

We bought the flour over Christmas weekend (after having to go to 2 stores to find some), so I planned to make the cookies the day we returned. The only problem was that I didn't have any cilantro. The last time the cookies were on the schedule, there were other recipes with cilantro that week, so I had plenty of cilantro on hand. This time, no cilantro, and of course I didn't realize that until dinnertime when I was about to make the cookies. You would think I would have learned from the flour incident. Since we had already bought ingredients for every other meal this week, now the cookies were just going to be an add-on and not dinner. At this point, I might as well have just made sweet dessert cookies - except I had already bought the onions and jalapeños for these cookies. What a mess. If I didn't actually like the cookies as much as I did, I would call this the PITA cookie challenge.

The ingredients for the cookies (mostly following the recipe) were:

- 2 cups flour ($0.22)
- 1 tsp baking powder ($0.10)
- 2 tsp sugar ($0.05)
- 1 tsp cumin ($0.05)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 2 onions, finely chopped ($0.70)
- 2 jalapeños, finely chopped ($0.26)
- 1 bunch of cilantro, leaves finely chopped ($1)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil ($0.65)
- 4 tbsp butter, melted ($0.37)
- 1/4 cup water ($0)

The total cost of the cookies was approximately $3.45. That would have been a pretty cheap, under $10 dinner if I had combined that with the chickpea salad like I originally planned.

The steps for making the cookies were:

1. Prep vegetables - finely chop onions, jalapeños, and cilantro leaves.

2. Mix dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, sugar, cumin, and salt. (NB: The original recipe said dry ingredients, but had listed the cumin and salt in a separate section under spice blend instead of with the other dry ingredients, so I missed them until I was ready to put the cookies into the oven (will address that later). If I make these again, and I might, then I would put the cumin and salt into the mixture at this point, so that's why I'm listing them here now even though it's not what I did.)

3. Add onions, peppers, and cilantro to the dry ingredients, and mix well.

4. Add the coconut oil and melted butter and stir well. (It was all very crumbly and dry at this point, but I think it's supposed to be.)

5. Add water to create the dough. Cover for about 30 minutes. (Mixing the dough with the water at this point almost felt like mixing mashed potatoes. It certainly looked like mashed potatoes.)

6. Uncover dough and roll out cookies. (The dough at this point had the consistency of stringy white cheese.) The first section of dough that I picked up, I rolled it out and then picked up sections to create cookies. Considering I wasn't using a cookie cutter and was just putting them together in clumps anyway, I just decided to make cookies with my hands after that. They weren't all the same size, but that was okay with me.

7. Put cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. (It was at this point that I started wondering where the flavoring of the cookies would come from. The onions? Cilantro? Maybe, but I realized the cookies didn't even have any salt. Then I realized I hadn't made the spice blend and didn't remember it being in the recipe. So before I put the cookies in the oven, I mixed up some cumin and salt and sprinkled it on top of all the cookies.)

8. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

I wasn't sure if these cookies would be any good when they came out of the oven, but when I tried them, I really liked them. It probably helps that onions and cilantro are 2 of my favorite ingredients, and I love cumin. The cookies were really soft, not like most cookies we bake (well, A does most of the baking, but it's not like eating one of his chocolate chip cookies). They kind of reminded me of eating a baked mashed potato cookie with onions and herbs in it. I would try this again - but for dinner.

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