Posts Tagged ‘butter’

Molasses Cookies

February 3, 2013

IMG_9560I don’t know about you, but I have two types of stores that I could literally live in (while handing over my full paycheck in exchange for goods!). Kitchen stores (ie: Sur La Table) and spice stores (ie: Penzey’s). And the funny thing about spice stores is that I don’t even really need to be on the lookout for a spice to spend a good half hour in this olfactory heaven. I just glance at the spices available, and the recipes that they generally display to get your creative juices flowing.

So last time I was at Penzey’s, I spotted a recipe for Molasses Cookies. At first glance I thought to myself, not sure I have ever made those and it has probably been since childhood last time I tasted them. But, I started thinking that a spiced cookie would be delicious in the winter – might even warm me up!

This recipe is originally from Linda Aukerman and to my surprise, has no butter. Apparently, when baking with just shortening (vs butter) it really affects the texture of the cookie. And I have to admit, the crunchy outside and super chewy inside is worth the ingredient switch. And, combined with the warming spice mixture, make this cookie amazing.

These cookies were a clear winner the minute we tasted them – or quite possibly the moment they came out of the oven and we could smell them. They also disappeared at work quite quickly.

Thanks to Penzey’s and Linda Aukerman for sharing a recipe that does warm me up on a cold winter night!

MOLASSES COOKIES
1 1/2 cups shortening, melted and cooled (do NOT substitute butter)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra sugar or vanilla sugar for rolling (if you have a Penzey’s or spice shop nearby and can get the vanilla sugar, I highly recommend it!)

To the melted, cooled shortening add: the sugar, molasses and eggs. Beat well with hand mixer. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing to incorporate. Chill for at least an hour (can make the dough ahead and make the cookies the next day if desired). Preheat oven to 375. Using about a tablespoon of dough, form into balls. Roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets (although I would recommend a silicone mat or parchment paper), about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Check at 8 minutes. You want them to flatten but still be soft. Let the cookies cool for at least 2 minutes before removing them from the pan, as they can break if you try to pick them up when they are very hot. Cool on a cooling rack.

Pumpkin Bread

October 27, 2011

For those who read my blog, know it has been a long time since I have posted. A few months in fact. And the unfortunate reality is that it isn’t because of my lack of time to blog. It is my lack of time to cook. Apologies to all who blog, but the latter is much more concerning.

Cooking and baking is part of what makes me calm, helps me keep things in perspective, allows me to feel control when other things feel out of control. And, most importantly, it allows me to share my food with others, and therefore share my love through the gift of food.

But, my busy job and travel schedule has resulted in nights of take out, frozen pizza and late night visits to our favorite local restaurants.

So, this past weekend I was finally in town. No work trips. No packed social calendar. Just a weekend to enjoy fall and reset for the busy week ahead. And fall being my favorite culinary season, I knew I had to take this opportunity to get back to what I love.

So, after 8 mini loaves of pumpkin bread that filled our house with the scents of fall, and was shared with neighbors, coworkers and friends, I rekindled what had been missing in my hectic life.

Although I love my job, and feel blessed every day that I go into work, I remembered the many other things that make me who I am. I had been missing going for a run, reading the latest Bon Appetit and spending the time with my husband that we both deserve.

So on Sunday, with the aroma of cozy and spicy fall filling our house, after delivering a loaf to our neighbor and packing up the others for coworkers, after making my butternut squash risotto with a glass of red wine listening to Italian music…..I knew that my life needed to shift. I needed to go back to what makes me happy, and prioritize it, no matter how hectic my life becomes.

So, this pumpkin bread symbolizes my commitment to spend more time doing what I enjoy doing – and that is spreading love through food.

And, it was only fitting that the pumpkin bread recipe I found was that of Bobby Flay, who I surprisingly met the weekend before at Keeneland. A sign? Maybe.

So besides the emotional connection I now have to Bobby Flay’s pumpkin bread, it is quite possibly the best recipe I have ever made. Granted, there is more sugar than in a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but his mixture of spices (especially All Spice, my favorite cold weather spice) make this a  comforting taste of fall.

So, for those who need to rekindle their love of cooking, or those just looking to make a great fall treat for the ones they love, I thank Bobby Flay for giving me the recipe that made me realize what I had been missing.

PUMPKIN BREAD
1 9-inch loaf or a 4 small loaf pan

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* Scant 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, not flavored pie filling
* 2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in a small bowl.

3. Beat the butter, sugar, and oil on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times, until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

4. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Mixing on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (if you are using a small 4 loaf pan bake for only 45 minutes). Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Maryland Crab Cakes

July 4, 2011

I recently finished a book called “I Loved, I Lost, I Make Spaghetti” by Giulia Melucci. The book was a quick read, and a wonderful mix between Sex in the City and Bon Appetit. The book takes you through Guilia’s dating life, along with the food she makes along the way. Recipes sneak into many of the pages, so the creations can be made by the reader.

When I read her crab cake recipe, made for her boyfriend at the time as an “all American dish,” I thought I could give it a try with the crab I had from a month ago (frozen) on this Fourth of July Weekend.

I have to admit I have tried crab cakes before and although they are always good, I could never get the texture just right. I am unsure if it was this particular recipe or my previous “practice,” but these cakes had the perfect crab cake texture. After reading more on the subject, I have a few tips for making crab cakes that don’t turn into crab scramble.
1. Make sure your recipe includes an egg as a binder.
2. Make sure your recipe includes some panko/bread crumbs as an additional binder.
3. Make sure to refrigerate for at least one hour to solidify before baking or frying.

Now that I have the basics down, I might get creative with this classic recipe – but for now, this is one of the best crab cakes I have ever had. I created a lemon mayo sauce to be served on the side.

Thanks to Giulia Melucci for her recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

MARYLAND COLONY CRAB CAKES
Serves 2

2 tablespoons celery, minced
2 tablespoons scallions, green parts only, minced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 pound crabmeat
1 1/2 cups panko
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, cut into wedges

In a medium bowl, mix together all but the olive oil, butter (and lemon wedges, of course). Shape into 4 patties. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour.

Over medium heat, fry in olive oil and butter until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.Yields 4 small crab cakes (2 per person).

LEMON MAYO SAUCE
Add 2-3 tablepoons of mayo with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Put a dollop on the crab cakes.

Cheddar Chicken

April 25, 2011

Sometimes you want to make (and eat) something simple. Something humble. Something ungourmet. Something that uses ingredients you know taste amazing, but might not be best for your diet. Something that makes you feel warm, fuzzy and “oh so bad” for eating it. I found that dish last week, from a somewhat unexpected place.

In my Real Simple, I read an article about a woman’s comfort food that her mother made – a recipe found on the box of her mother’s new blender. The recipe was called Cheddar Chicken and only included 5 ingredients – chicken, Ritz crackers, cheddar cheese, garlic and butter. Now that you have read the list of ingredients, you can surely understand my sentiment at the beginning of this post.

The dish is so drenched in butter (from the pure butter and the crackers) with a hint of garlic and the sharp, gooey cheddar cheese. It tastes nothing short of amazing. Nothing gourmet. No rare ingredients. No need to spend hours in the kitchen.

So anytime you want something that makes you feel satisfied, a bit guilty and takes nothing more than 45 minutes with your pantry staples, put this one in the oven. Serve with rice pilaf and you have a simple, flavorful dinner.

CHEDDAR CHICKEN
Serves 4

16 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed (about 3⁄4 cup)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
wild rice pilaf and steamed green beans (optional)

Heat oven to 350° F. In a bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken in the butter, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help the crackers adhere. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle any remaining cracker mixture on the chicken and drizzle with any remaining butter. Bake until the chicken is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve with the pilaf and green beans, if desired.

Pimiento Mac and Cheese

April 4, 2011

Everyone has their own comfort food – the indulgence you turn to when you have had a bad day, the weather is glum or you just want to ignore calories and common sense. For some people it comes from a classic dish their mother made, for some it is the food of where they grew up. For me, it is the food that just makes me feel warm and cozy inside. Pasta. Spaghetti with a gravy that has simmered all day long or baked mac and cheese makes me want to put on my pjs, open a bottle of wine and watch terrible TV. And the best thing about comfort food, is it makes all of that ok – no guilt. Well, at least not until the next day…

So it is surprising, really, that I only have one version of mac and cheese on my blog so far. It has always been a go to – many types of cheeses with the salty richness of pancetta. But when I saw this unique version from Bon Appetit, I thought I would try it in hopes of finding another treat for the days I need a pick me up.

Oh. My. Goodness. There is something in this dish that is special – not your average mac and cheese. Yet it isn’t so gourmet that it loses the simple heartiness that makes the dish what it is. You taste this amazing pimento flavor, with a hint of heat and rich, gooey cheese.

Peppadew peppers are easy to find once you know where to look. In my grocery store they were with the pickles – but check around for where they might be at your store. There is something about the shells vs. elbows, as well, that really catch the rich sauce.

So, next time I have a bad day, the skies open up with some nasty weather or I just want to eat an amazing dinner, this one will be on my list.

PIMIENTO MAC AND CHEESE
6 Servings (although I think it is less)

1 7- to 8-ounce red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces 2 garlic cloves, halved, divided
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup drained mild Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chiles
1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
8 ounces medium shell pasta

Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper, and 11/2 garlic cloves to boil in small saucepan. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes.

Toast panko in skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm. Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor. Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and 1/2 garlic clove; then add cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Blend until sauce is smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 8-cup baking dish (or 6 individual dishes). Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain; return to pot. Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta into dish. Sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes (15 for individual). Let stand 10 minutes.

Oatmeal Cookes

March 28, 2011

I have to admit that when I was a child, I wasn’t always the biggest oatmeal cookie fan. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, necessarily, but when faced with a choice of something people called “healthy” vs. something studded with the terrible-for-you chocolate. Well. You know who won.

But the very reason I avoided oatmeal cookies growing up, seems to be the reason I am starting to become a fan. When eating a cookie, knowing I am getting healthy oats and fruity raisins seems to make me in denial of the plentiful sugar and butter components. And when I made this recipe, the chewiness (due to the brown sugar) and flavorful dough (did someone say butter?) made me wonder if faced with the oatmeal vs. chocolate question, would I still pick chocolate? Jury is still out, but I now add these oatmeal cookies to the “things I crave” list. So, if you need one stand-by oatmeal cookie recipe this is the one. Thanks to Bon Appetit’s Just Desserts cookbook for this perfect oatmeal cookie recipe!

OATMEAL COOKIES
Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 2/3 cups old- fashioned oats
1 cup raisins

Position 2 rack in the top third and 1 rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Live 2 heavy large rimmed baking sheets (or cookie sheets) with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until very well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture, then stir in oats and raisins.

Using trigger cookie scoop and about 2 tablespoons dough per cookie, arrange mounds of dough on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden brown, reversing baking sheets halfway through baking, about 14 minutes total. Transfer cookies to rack and cool completely.

Bacon Pierogi Bake

March 16, 2011

Since my husband is from Cleveland, he craves pierogis every once in a while. Pierogies are essentially Polish dumplings and can be filled with potato, ground meat, saurkraut or even fruit. The traditional pierogis are potato dumplings sauteed with butter, green onions and topped with a dollop of sour cream. For those observing Lent, it would make a great Friday night dinner.

But for every other night during this season, this recipe gives a great twist to a traditional favorite. Baking the pierogies gives you a nice break from standing over a stove – so would thus make a great company dish. The bacon really gives the sauce its flavor, along with the creaminess of the cream cheese. It comes out of the oven as comfort food at its best – baked dumplings satisfying potatoes and lots of cheese. It still baffles me that this recipe actually came from Cooking Light, but I will use that fact as a fuel for my denial.

I used these great individual baking dishes I got from Sur La Table but I am sure you can put them all in one dish together (although if you haven’t invested in individual dishes like mine, I recommend it since there are so many uses for them!).

Thanks to Cooking Light for allowing me to eat gooey cheese, heavy pierogies and a cream sauce without feeling like I am undoing my day!

BACON PIEROGI BAKE
4 servings

1 (16-ounce) package frozen potato and onion pierogies (such as Mrs. T’s)
Cooking spray
2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange the pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Coconut Bars

February 13, 2011

This past January, I spent 10 nights away from home on a business trip. My husband can certainly fend for himself – he was single for years before he met me after all. He is perfectly capable of dialing for takeout or making a simple meal for one. But, when you get married, you settle into roles. I make dinner, he takes out the trash. I scoop the kitty litter and he gets our cars cleaned. And, when I go out of town, I feel bad for putting my chores into his court.

So, I knew if I could at least make some sweets before leaving town, he would have something to nibble on that was made for him with love.

I had just bought The Gourmet Cookie Book which has the best cookie recipe from Gourmet magazine from the 1940s on. What I love about the book is not only the timeless classics, but the amazing photos of every recipe in the book. I made the coconut bars from 1953 because I had all the ingredients on hand – and it seemed a bit different.

These are sweet, so cut your pieces smaller than I did. But, they are simply amazing, and really require little ingredients. With some powdered sugar on top, they are beautiful as well.

So, if you are leaving town and want your family to have an always satisfied sweet tooth, these are great treats to leave behind!

COCONUT BARS
Makes 2 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup shredded coconut
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream 1/2 cup butter. Add gradually 1/2 cup brown sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup sifted flour and spread the batter in the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan, buttered. Bake for 20 minutes.

Beat 2 eggs and 1 cup light brown sugar until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup shredded coconut tosses with 2 tablespoons flour and a pinch of salt. Spread this batter over the baked crust and continue to bake for 20 minutes longer. Cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and cut into squares or bars.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints

February 6, 2011

When making cookies for some friends and their two kids, I figured I would make something fun, playful and something that is a sure winner with little ones. Chocolate is always a good bet (and I have plenty of recipes in that arena) but when I saw a recipe for classic peanut butter cookies, I figured that is a kid-friendly recipe as well. Then, when I read that you can make them into thumbprints with jelly to create peanut butter and jelly cookies, I knew I had to try it.

Last I checked, I am much too old to be considered a child, but I personally fell in love with these cookies. The basic peanut butter cookie recipe is hands down the best I have had, and the raspberry jelly I added gave it a great sweetness to offset the salty.

So, if you want to make something kids will enjoy (or the kid in you!), give these a try. Thanks Bon Appetit Desserts for this recipe.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY THUMBPRINTS
Makes about 2.5 dozen

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup old-fashioned (natural) salted crunchy peanut butter (preferable organic)
Raspberry/Strawberry jam (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Live 2 heavy large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add peanut butter and mix just until combined (do not overmix). Stir in flour mixture.

Form dough into gold-ball-size balls and arrange on baking sheets, spacing 1 inch a part. Either use a fork and flatter in a crosshatch pattern OR indent each ball with the back of a 1/4 teaspoon then fill with jam to create thumbprint. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios

February 4, 2011

I first discovered tagines last year when I was on the search for rich, winter comfort food. I found a lamb tagine that warmed your whole body, and paired perfectly with a glass of full-bodied red wine. I knew Moroccans were on to something…

A tagine is a spicy, rich stew from northern Africa. The name tagine is also given to the vessel it is cooked in – a shallow, round pot with a unique conical lid designed to lock in moisture and flavors, cooking the food gently in a small amount of liquid. My first few tangines I used my go to – my dutch oven. But as my love for the rich dish grew, I realized I needed to do it right. So, I bought a tagine at Sur la Table. And, of course, I couldn’t buy the tagine without a Tagine cookbook as well.

Although the tagine is big, bulky, and really doesn’t have a convenient storage location, it is well worth the purchase. The meat, when cooked in this vessel, is so tender and moist – despite being on a stove for so long (a testament to the cone-shaped lid). This particular tagine was my first in the authentic cookware and has a wonderful sweetness from the dates.

So, if you have a few hours to cook on a Sunday night (keep in mind about 2 hours is completely inactive cooking time), I would give this tagine a try. Cook it in any pot you use for long cooking, but if you get hooked on tagines like me, it is well worth the investment of an actual tagine. Plus, it is just plain cool to look at!

Thanks to Tagine: Spicy Stews from Morocco by Ghillie Basan for this fantastic recipe!

LAMB TAGINE WITH DATES ALMONDS AND PISTACHIOS
Serves 4

2-3 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil plus a pat of butter)
2 onions, finely chopped (I just used one)
1-2 teaspoons ground tumeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/4 lb lean lamb, from the shoulder, neck or leg, cut into bite-size pieces
8 oz moist, ready to eat, pitted dates
1 tablespoon honey
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pat of butter
2-3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
a small bunch of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Stir in the onions and saute until golden brown. Stir in the tumeric, ginger and cinnamon. Toss in the meat, making sure it is coated in the spice mixture. Pour in enough water to almost cover the meat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for roughly 1.5 hours.

Add the dates and stir in the honey. Cover with the lid again and simmer for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

Heat the olive oil with the butter in a small pan. Stir in the almonds and pistachios and cook until they begin to turn golden brown. Scatter the nuts over the lamb and dates and sprinkle with the flatleaf parsley. Service with buttery couscous.


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