Homemade Gummy Bears

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Who doesn’t love a gummy candy? This stretchy, chewy concoction is a staple in our household and my kids are absolutely nuts about it. As hands-on parents, my wife and I prefer homemade treats whenever possible; that way, we know exactly what and how much of it is going on in the preparation.

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to find a good candy recipe that has the right ‘gumminess’ to it; most recipes rely on store-bought flavored gelatin, which, to be honest, doesn’t ‘feel’ that good. Obviously, I took the Gummy Challenge head-on and came up with this really good (and somewhat healthy) recipe after a few failed attempts. The gummies turned out surprisingly chewy and tangy, with a good stretchy consistency. Here, I am presenting two variations of the recipe; ‘Citrus Blast’ and ‘Very Berry’. But before you proceed any further, pay heed to my words: once you pop, you can’t stop!

Tools and Utensils:

  • Silicone molds (easy to remove the gummies once set and no need to grease – available online or in stores)
  • Plastic molds/ice-cube trays (apply some cooking spray/oil before pouring the gummy mixture)
  • Dropper
  • Saucepan
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Bowls (if you wish to mix in different food colors)
  • Whisk
  • Ziploc bags
  • Airtight container

Ingredients for Citrus Blast:

  • 1 cup cold juice comprising of:
    • 1 cup minus 3 tbsp fresh orange juice (without pulp)
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice (without pulp)
    • 1 tbsp lime juice (without pulp)
  • 6-8 drops orange oil
  • 4-5 drops lemon essence

Ingredients for Very Berry:

  • 1 cup cold juice comprising of:
    • 1 cup minus 1 tbsp mixed berry juice (without pulp)
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice (without pulp)
  • 4-5 drops strawberry essence

Common ingredients:

  • 30 gms gelatin (I got 3 sachets of 10 gms each)
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch citric acid powder
  • a few drops of natural food colors (optional)

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Method:

  1. Pour cold juice into a saucepan and add corn syrup to it; mix well till both are uniformly combined
  2. Add gelatin to the juice and whisk it all up so that no lumps are visible
  3. Set the mixture aside for 5 to 7 minutes to let the gelatin bloom
  4. Put the saucepan on a medium-low flame and add the sugar to the gelatin mixture; cook for 8 to 9 mins, stirring constantly
  5. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the oil, essence and citric acid powder
  6. If you want to use food colors, divide the liquid into separate bowls, add a few drops of color to each bowl and mix well
  7. Using a tablespoon or a dropper, pour in the hot mixture into silicone molds; work fast as you don’t want the liquid to start solidifying
  8. Refrigerate the molds for 90 minutes
  9. Remove gummies from the molds and place them on a tray
  10. Keep the tray in an open place, covered with a thin cloth, for 36 hours (larger candies) or 8 hours (tiny candies/gummy bears) to let the sugar crystallize – this will give the gummies their stretchy texture
  11. Keep them in a cool dry place (use a ziploc bag or an airtight container) to preserve freshness; for the gummies to really feel like the store-bought ones, consume them after 7-8 days
  12. Consume them within 1 week

Try going insane with whatever tickles your fancy; just substitute the juice, oil, and essence to experiment with interesting combos. Do share your exploits in the comments section below so that others can try them too. Enjoy!

NOTE FOR VEGETARIANS: Try using 10 grams Agar-Agar (also known as China Grass) powder as a substitute for the gelatin. The texture of the gummies would be slightly brittle as agar coagulates differently. Alternatively, you can use vegetarian gelatin/gels available in the market. I haven’t tried china grass for this recipe but I’m sure they’d taste great. If you do try a vegetarian variant, please let me know!

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A Lemony Twist On Fresa Colada

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What a typical Londoner might call a bright sunny day, we, the residents of Dubai, call a well-deserved break from the blistering summer sun that beats (mercilessly) down upon us for a good six months each year (five-and-a-half if we’re lucky). I personally love the Dubai winter, especially because it brings with it, a plethora of fresh seasonal fruits from the Middle eastern region, the most noteworthy of which are the strawberries flown in daily from Egypt.

I couldn’t resist myself from buying a kilogram of these tantalizing berries when I last went grocery shopping. Needless to say, we got tired of eating all these strawberries pretty soon, so I thought of making a refreshing drink out of it. I added some coconut water and lemon syrup to compliment the sweet and sour berries and the drink turned out better than expected.

Here’s the recipe if you want to replicate it at home. It serves two people.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh coconut water (I use yellow Srilankan coconuts as they are a bit on the sweet side)
  • 6-8 medium strawberries
  • 2 tablespoon lemon syrup (alternately, you can use 1 tsp lemon juice and 2 tsp honey)
  • For garnish:
    • 2 medium strawberries (coarsely chopped)
    • 3-4 mint leaves
    • 5-6 ice cubes

Method

  1. Wash the strawberries and remove the leafy part; add them to a blender
  2. Add coconut water and lemon syrup the blender and mix well
  3. Pour the juice into mason jars and add in some ice
  4. Top the jars with chopped strawberries and mint
  5. Serve immediately

Hope you enjoy this drink as much as I did making it. I’d appreciate your comments if you do try this at home!

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Coolers To Beat The Intense Summer Heat

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It’s that dreaded time of the year again. We are on the verge of summer and we all know what that means; the scorching sun mercilessly beating down upon us. The Pakistani summer is characterized by an exponential increase in the sale of all things cool and refreshing, like ice-cream, kulfi (a frozen milk-based treat with nuts and saffron) and juices. The number of juice-walas (read, roadside juice stalls) propping up all across the country is directly proportional to the ever-soaring temperatures. These juice-walas serve all kinds of tempting (albeit unhygienic) concoctions using popular ingredients like watermelons, lemons and rooh-afza (a Pakistani drink concentrate).

Commuting to work during summers is a chore most people detest, and there’s nothing more enticing than the call of the juice-wala screaming ‘Thanda Thanda Limo Pani. Sirf Panch Rupay, Panch Rupay, Panch Rupay!’ (Cool, cool lemonade for just five rupees). Please do not pay heed to the juice-wala, no matter how thirsty you may be. The contents of the juice are questionable at best and you never know when, if ever, the glass was last washed. Instead, pick up some fresh produce on your way home and make one of these five lip-smacking coolers to satisfy your summer craving.

Watermelon-Strawberry Cooler

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Ingredients:

  • 300 grams watermelon (just the red fleshy part)
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4-5 strawberries (use frozen if fresh are not available)

Kiwi-Lemon Chiller

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Ingredients:

  • 3 kiwis (slightly ripe)
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • ½ cup water

Pina Colada

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Ingredients:

  • ½ pineapple (use 4-5 slices of canned pineapple if fresh isn’t available)
  • ½ cup of coconut water

Lime-Mint Mojito

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Ingredients:

  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup water

Apple-Pomegranate Cocktail

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Ingredients:

  • 2 apples
  • 1 pomegranate

For all the recipes listed above, use the method listed below:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix well; if you have a juicer/extractor or a hand-blender, those would work too
  2. Use a fine-mesh sieve to remove the pulp from the juice; press on the pulp using a spoon to get all the juice out
  3. Keep the juice in the freezer for at least 1 hour
  4. Add a handful of crushed ice before serving

These drinks are an absolute hit at dinner parties, so why not be the juice-wala your guests desperately need you to be? Remember: with great power (read, recipes), comes great responsibility!

Enjoy!

p.s. Each of the recipes listed above takes a maximum of 5 minutes to prepare and yields approx. 250 to 300 ml sufficient for one large or two small servings, depending on how thirsty you are.

Juicy Steak with Stir Fried Vegetables and Potato Wedges

I know it’s been quite some time since I wrote something. Life just seems to drag you into its drama and as we grow old, it gets more and more difficult to get out of it; the post-dramatic stress sets in shortly afterwards. Anyways, this post is more about enjoying the finer things and grabbing life by its horns. Get ready to take charge people because this recipe is sure to get you out of your funk.

Chicken Steak with Stir-fried Vegetables and Potato Wedges

Ingredients for Marinating

½ kg chicken or beef
5-6 tbsp ginger (finely chopped)
1 tbsp green chilies (finely chopped)
1½ tsp salt (or to taste)

Ingredients for Steak Sauce

1 medium onion (finely chopped)
3-4 tbsp BBQ Sauce
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1½ tbsp tomato ketchup
½ tsp mustard sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
4-5 tbsp water

Ingredients for Stir-fried Vegetabes

1 carrot
50 gms peas
½ cabbage
½ zucchini
½ onion
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Any other vegetable you enjoy eating

Ingredients for Garnish

Thick onion slices
Cabbage
Fried Eggs (sunny side up)
Cheese slices
Bread Croutons (deep-fried cubes of bread – OPTIONAL)
Dried Oregano
Potato Wedges (click here for recipe)

Method for Cooking

  1. If using chicken, marinate the meat using the ginger, chilies and salt for at least ½ an hour; for beef, marinate after hammering the beef for 5 to 6 hours
  2. Once marinated, you can either grill the meat using some oil in a grill pan (for people who hate setting up a grill) or flame-grill it (for a more authentic taste) until tender [NOTE: I prefer a very well-done steak so choose a consistency that suits you most]
  3. For the sauce, take some oil in a saucepan and add in the onion
  4. Once the onion turns transparent, put in the rest of the ingredients, followed by the water, and let it cook for 5 minutes [NOTE: A sauce manufactured by different brands may vary in taste, so you might end up having a steak sauce that’s either less spicy or too sour. So here are the adjustments you might need to make according to your taste – to spice it up, add some chili/tabasco sauce, and to decrease the sourness, add some tomato ketchup]
  5. Take a little oil in a pan and put in all your vegetables (the hard ones first, the soft ones a bit later)
  6. Season the vegetables using some salt and pepper and take them off the flame

Method for Assembling

  1. Heat the sizzle pans; if you don’t have sizzle pans for individual servings, you can use a regular pan and assemble everything in it [NOTE: Be very careful while handling a sizzle pan]
  2. Once hot, put in a dash of oil, some onion slices and some cabbage leaves onto it
  3. Put the cooked steak right in the center of the pan
  4. Generously pour the steak sauce over it
  5. Put some stir-fried vegetables on one side and the potato wedges on the other
  6. Add a cheese slice on top of the steak and sprinkle some oregano
  7. Finish it off with the fried egg (sunny side up)

Enjoy and do remember me when you steal all the credit!

Ciao,
Yousuf