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Posts Tagged ‘molasses’

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

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Baked Beans

Sitelle and I have been negligent of Gourm(eh?) of love.  Sitelle has a good excuse, being in the Gambia and all, while I have just been over-run with my thesis.  But my thesis is now off with my external examiner(!), so I’ve had a little more time to breathe, sleep, and most importantly cook.

When I was little, my grandparents used to throw a Christmas carolling party for our extended family (we’re talking fourth cousins being invited here).  It was an evening of good cheer and off-tune carols, with a delicious potluck feast.  One of my favourite dishes was my grandmother’s baked beans, with just the right balance between salty bacon and sweet molasses.  Baked beans are one of my absolute favourite comfort foods, and I still dream about her baked beans.

I got fed up with canned pork and beans the other day.  So I thought, how hard can it be to make baked beans from scratch?  And indeed, making the beans is easy enough – its all the time in between that tries one’s patience: soaking of beans overnight, boiling the beans for at least an hour, and then baking them slowly for four to five hours.  The end product, however, is certainly worth it – both in abundance and in flavour.  (Although admittedly, not quite as delicious as grandma’s!)

The recipe below is slightly modified from the Joy of Cooking. 

Baked Beans

(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

2 cups dried navy beans (or white kidney beans)

1/2 cup beer

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup chili sauce

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

A few slices of bacon

 

Directions:

Soak the beans overnight.  Drain then cover with fresh water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer slowly, covered, until tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water.  Combine the beans in a greased casserole with the remaining ingredients.  Lay the bacon slices over the beans.

Bake the beans, covered, for 4 to 4 and 1/2 hours.  Uncover for the last hour of cooking.  If they become dry, add a little of the reserved bean water.

Bon appetit!

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