Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘ginger’

I am not a big sweet tooth, but there is something special about Christmas baking – the deluxe ingredients, the warm atmosphere, the special company.  As a child, I always knew Christmas baking season was upon us by the quadrupling of butter quantities in our fridge.  As per tradition, we would make the same six cookies: swedish pastries, candy cane cookies, pecan puffs, icebox, gingersnaps,  and shortbread. I continue to absolutely love these family classics, but for a cookie-exchange I wanted to try something new.

Sitelle came to my rescue and suggested this divine recipe.  It combines two of my favourite flavours – ginger and dark chocolate, in a soft and sparkly cookie. The dark chocolate gives these cookies a richness and the candied ginger gives them spunk.  In one word, amazing!

The recipe comes from the Holiday 2015 LCBO Food & Drink magazine.

IMG_0176

Chocolate Ginger Sparkle Cookies

Makes ~40 cookies

 

Ingredients

8 oz (250 g) dark 70% chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

2/3  cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup approx. coarse white sugar (or granulated sugar)

 

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot, not boiling water.  Stir until smooth and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add cooled chocolate, oil, and vanilla, and beat until well blended.  Stir in flour mixture until blended.  Stir in ginger.  Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place coarse sugar in a shallow  bowl.

Scoop 1-tbsp sized prices of sough and roll into balls.  Roll in coarse sugar to evenly coat dough and shake off excess. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Keep remaining dough and rolled cookies cold while baking the previous batch.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 8 or 9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed, starting to crack and edges are just set (the centres will still be soft).  Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Store cookies between layers of parchment paper in a cooking tin at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

My grandmother passed last month. Her passing was sudden and unexpected, so it took awhile to sink in that she was really gone.

In so many ways, she was a remarkable woman. She was incredibly strong, never one to complain. I never heard her say an ill word of anyone. She was a veteran, serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. And she was fiercely proud of all her grandchildren, cheering us on in life.

She also was a personal inspiration, one of my first mentors in the culinary world. She cooked simply, and loved to feed others. When I visited my grandparents in Edmonton, I loved wandering through their vegetable garden. Arriving mid-summer, there would be the soft fronds of carrot greens and the tender leaves of beets. Zucchinis would be hidden among the broad leaves and the herbs would be fragrant. Her rhubarb was prized: always abundant and ruby red.

To satiate my family’s sweet tooth, she would always have cookies or squares or a pie hidden away in a cupboard. To this day, I associate gingersnap cookies with her kitchen – our family would often indulge in a few of these cookies as a bedtime treat with a glass of milk.

To make sense of her passing, I recently felt a need to bake gingersnap cookies. Her recipe is sharper than some, with a healthy dose of ginger. There is certainly a time and a place for chewy gingerbread, but sometimes a crunchy version is just what you need. And these cookies are definitely snappy.

My family always makes these at Christmas, taking extra time to roll out the dough and decorate them with sprinkles and silver balls. During the year, they are a fabulous icebox recipe: simply roll the dough into a log, freeze, slice the log, and pop the rounds into the oven.   The challenge is always to limit yourself to one or two…

Gingersnaps

Icebox Gingersnap Cookies

(~100 cookies)

Ingredients:

1 c. butter

1 ¾ c. white sugar

2 eggs

½ c. molasses

3 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

4 ½ c. flour

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the molasses, spices, and baking soda. Sift in the flour, and mix until integrated within the dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut cookies using either the icebox or rolling pin method (see below). Place cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for ~10 minutes or until the bottom is golden. Transfer to a cookie rack and allow to cool.

To roll out the cookies:

Form the dough into a large ball. Cover in saran wrap and cool in fridge for 30 minutes. Roll dough out on a clean, floured surface using a large rolling pin to ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick. Use your favourite cookie cutter to make your favourite shapes. If interested, use sprinkles, silver balls, or other special ingredients to decorate prior to baking.

To make icebox cookies:

Roll the dough into 2-3 inch (5-8 cm) logs. Wrap in wax paper and cool in the freezer for approximately 60 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice the log into thin ¼ inch (0.5 cm) rounds.

Note that the logs keep beautifully in the freezer for up to 3 months. If not baking immediately, make sure to wrap the logs thoroughly to avoid freezer burn. When ready for delicious cookies, simply remove log from freezer and slice the cookies as above.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

The other day, a friend asked me the question “What is your favourite cookie?”   Now this is a truly challenging question.  How can one decide between such delicious cookies as oatmeal chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, and candy cane cookies?

I pondered for a few minutes, before I realized the answer was simple.  There is nothing more delectable than gingerbread.   Gingerbread can be soft or snappy; the spicing can be subtle or bold; the end product a humble round or fancily decorated.  And is it ever versatile –  a delight on its own, gingerbread is also delicious crumpled into the crust of cheesecake or on top of stewed rhubarb.  My personal favourite is with a tall glass of cold milk.

My friend Sam introduced me to these cookies ten years ago, and I have never seen a plate of cookies turn into crumbs so quickly as to when these are offered.  Very humble looking, they are delicately spiced and ever-so-chewy! The trick is to under bake them slightly – pull them out of the oven when they are are cracking, but still slightly puffy.

 

Ginger Cookies

Makes about 40 cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 tsp baking soda

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2 1/4 cup flour

 

~ 1/3 cup white sugar (for rolling cookies in)
 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and molasses.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix into wet ingredients.

Cover dough with waxpaper and freeze until firm.  Roll dough into balls, then roll in white sugar.  Arrange on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies until cracked, about 10-12 minutes.

(And if you want to save a few cookies for a snowy day, once the dough is rolled, freeze in an airtight container.   You can pop two or three onto a tray for a late night ginger cookie snack!)

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

The last few weeks have been busy.  My good friend Dora came to visit from Toronto, and we had a lovely time exploring Halifax and environs. We even had an opportunity to peruse Nova Scotia’s Ice Wine Festival, including a sampling with chocolate.  Then I was off visiting my sister in Montreal – and while it was fabulous to visit with her, the bronchitis that followed has kept me from the kitchen (needless to say having an appetite).

My friend Dora loves all things peanut – but lives with a brother who has an anaphylactic peanut allergy.  When she came for dinner, I decided to make a peanut-inspired dinner menu.

This peanut sauce from Rebar formed the basis of the pasta.  Intensely flavourful, this sauce was a cinch to blend together and absolutely delicious.  I’ll be looking around for more items to dip in it soon!

 

Peanut sauce with ginger, lime and cilantro (from rebar: modern food cookbook)

(makes 3/4 cup sauce)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon peeled ginger, minced

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves

juice and zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon sambal oelek (an Asian hot chili sauce)

1/4 cup smooth, natural peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

 

Directions:

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, add all of the ingredients from the garlic through to the sambal oelek.  Blend until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients, blend and season to taste.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

Despite sleeping for over 10 hours, I woke up Saturday morning with a stuffed-up head and a mild fever.  Looks like Halifax’s wet winter has finally gotten the best of me.  I decided the thing to do – between naps in bed and watching the West Wing – was to make a large pot of comforting soup.

I turned to Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowickz’ Rebar – a collection of delicious, inventive recipes out of Victoria, BC – for inspiration.  I was immediately drawn to their African yam soup.  The recipe looked simple, nutrient-filled, and packed with flavour – just what a girl needed when feeling under the weather.  (I note as an addendum that Monday evening, feeling reenergized sleeping off this cold, leftovers from this soup were superb.)

I leave you with Rebar’s description, which describes this soup beautifully:

“Silky smooth richness in this soup comes courtesy of peanut butter – there’s just enough of it blended in to make this soup luxuriant, rather than cloying.  Pineapple, lime and tomatoes add sweetness and tang, while the spices are lively and warming.  This soup can handle a generous dose of spice and heat, so arm yourself with a good hot sauce for last minute seasoning.”

 

African yam & peanut soup with ginger and pineapple

Serves 8

 

Ingredients:

8 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 teaspoons salt

6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) minced ginger

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 red bell pepper, diced

4 medium yams (sweet potato), peeled and roughly chopped

1 x 14 fl oz (398 mL) can water-packed pineapple, juice reserved

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

5 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

juice and zest of 2 limes, or more to taste

favourite hot sauce, to taste (I used sambal oelek here and loved it!)

 

Directions:

Heat stock and keep it warm on the back burner while you assemble the soup.  In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and a pinch of salt; saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, add garlic, ginger and spices and saute until soft and golden.

Stir in red pepper, yams, and salt and continue cooking until they start to stick to the bottom of the pot.  Add vegetable stock to cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Cover partially and simmer until the yams are tender.

Add pineapple with juice, tomatoes, peanut butter and remaining stock and simmer 30 minutes.  Puree the soup until smooth, either directly in the pot with a hand blender or in batches with a food processor.

Return soup to the pot and simmer for a final 10 minutes.  Season to taste with more salt, pineapple juice, and/or hot sauce.  Just before serving, add chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

Read Full Post »

The last time I made apple sauce was when I was about 10.  I was at my cottage for Thanksgiving.  My grandmother, having put the turkey in the oven, decided she needed some foliage to liven the table, so we went for a walk with a few of my cousins.  We happened across an apple tree along the side of the road.  Realizing that the only creature enjoying these apples were worms, we decided to pick a few. The apples, while fresh, were rather tart and slightly inedible.  Not to be deterred, my grandmother suggested we transform the apples into applesauce for our turkey dinner.  So we did, and it was delicious.

Last weekend, my department went apple picking in the Annapolis valley.  The sun was shining (dare I confess I got a sunburn in late September?) and the apples were crisp.  The trees were overflowing with ripe fruit, with countless varieties to choose among. I left with more apples than I knew what to do with.  While I’ve been enjoying an apple over lunch, I decided to recreate my memory of apple sauce.   Next up, perhaps a tarte tatin?

The apple sauce was a delight – especially with some blueberries and pecans mixed in.  I decided to sweeten it with Nova Scotia honey and spice it with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.   I made it earlier this week, but after a bowl or two forgot about it.  When I tried it again 96 hours later, the apple flavours had really intensified.  So if you are more patient than me, I recommend letting it sit for a few hours before you dig into this snack.  Next time, I’ll make a larger batch and freeze half, so I can have delicious apple sauce on hand!

Apple Sauce

Ingredients:

Apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (about 1-2 per serving)

Water

Honey

Your favourite spices (I used  about 2 teaspoons total of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger for six apples)

 

Directions:

Place the chopped apples into a large pot, and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot with 1/2 to 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil.  Add a few tablespoons of honey (depending on the tartness of your apples and your desire for sweetness) and season with the spices.  Simmer over low heat until the apples have juiced up and are really soft, about 20-30 minutes.  Puree in a blender, until it reaches your desired texture.

Bon appetit!

-Catherine

Read Full Post »