Posts Tagged ‘dough’

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.

Homemade Fresh Pasta

May 22, 2011

There are certain things I just won’t cut corners on. I won’t make cookies from a box, bag or anything that says “break and bake.” I won’t ever buy marinara sauce from a jar. And I certainly wouldn’t dream of buying a pre-made cake.

But, before you think I don’t have a full-time job, multiple hobbies and a life outside the kitchen, let me tell you what I DO cut corners on. I will, every once in a while, buy a pie crust (my grandmother would cringe). I have been known to buy jams from a jar, salsa from a jar and – gasp – dips from a jar. But the one shortcut I did every week, every Thursday, without batting an eyelash, was buy fresh pasta. That is, however, until I went to Italy.

When I experienced a cooking class outside of Varenna with the talented Moreno, I had a new outlook on Italian cooking. Much like the view I have on cooking, Italians enjoy making the food as much as eating it. And, the more steps of the process your hands touch, make or mold, the more love you can put into the dish you will serve your loved ones. Dear Moreno made pasta from scratch. No attachments to mixers. No crank machines. Just his hands, a rolling pin and a few simple ingredients.

I would be fooling myself (and overestimating the size of my kitchen) if I thought I could make pasta with a rolling pin. But it did inspire me to make pasta. After all, I call it a sin to not make your own gravy, so why would I buy fresh pasta?

Step one was a pasta maker, and I was lucky enough to get one from my parents for Christmas. I couldn’t wait to try it. I searched back for Moreno’s recipe which had semolina flour (and I couldn’t find it anywhere) so I looked up a few recipes online for all-purpose flour. I cleared a Sunday afternoon, got out my machine, and went to work.

I would be lying if I told you the first time it was perfect – in fact, it was far from. The dough just didn’t feel right in my hands (sign one) then the crank number the recipe called for made the pasta feel too thin (sign two). But, it gave me enough hope to try again.

Four times, and four recipe alterations later, I finally got it. The perfect pasta noodle. While I am still mastering tagliatelle, I think ravioli might be a natural progression. However, anything more complex, I am buying from the store!

A few tips when you make pasta:
1. Don’t cut short kneading the dough. If you don’t do it for at least 10 minutes, the dough won’t be right. You will be tired, and wonder why, but you feel it in your hands when the dough takes form.
2. Don’t forget to let it rest. It needs this time after being needed for so long. At least for 3o minutes.
3. Don’t be afraid to use flour once the noodles are made in order to separate them.
4. Go into the process knowing you will tweak your recipe many times before finding one that works.
5. Allow yourself at least an hour for the process (if not a little more).
6. It tastes better and is much more fun if you make it while sipping red Italian wine and listening to Italian music.

I would love to give credit to someone this recipe but I used one I found online and changed it so much, I don’t even recognize it anymore. So, I suppose I should credit myself (although there surely are many duplicates out there).

So in Italian fashion, when I make pasta, the whole meal tastes of the love I put into it. I recently revisited my pistachio cream pasta the time I finally nailed my noodle recipe. It was almost like a different dish – a dish entirely made from scratch. No shortcuts. But lots of love.

HOMEMADE FRESH PASTA
Serves 2-3

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, plus one egg yolk
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon olive oil
½ Tablespoon warm water

Put flour on a marble, wooden or smooth countertop and create a “volcano” and create a well in the center. In a bowl, mix the eggs, salt and olive oil. Pour the egg mixture into the well and slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs, pulling flour from the area around the well. You might have to add the yolk in multiple phases in order for it to fit in the well without spilling over.

As things begin to get incorporated, keep kneading (even if your well breaks) and add the water if necessary. This will be messy, but keep going! Once you have the mixture in a ball form, begin kneading the dough. Fold it in have and press against the counter. Start a timer and knead for no less than 10 minutes and you will see your dough begin to take shape.

Once your 10 minutes is up, cut your dough in half to form two little balls. Put them in a bowl (or two separate bowls) and cover with plastic wrap. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

If you are using a crank machine, take the first ball and press onto the counter to push into a flat pancake. Make sure your pasta maker is on the widest setting (mine is 7) and crank the dough through. Keep flour on the dough to keep it from getting sticky. Keep changing the setting every time until you get the thickness you want (for mine the perfect thickness is level 3). Then, crank it through the cutting side, keeping it floured and you have fresh pasta! This pasta can also be frozen, I am told, but I have yet to do it.

The flour with the well of egg mixture in the center.

My husband demonstrating how to knead the dough!

The balls of dough after they have been kneaded.

Passing the dough through the pasta press.

Cutting the pasta. The last step!

Dinner!

Squash Apple Turnovers

December 8, 2010

In my butternut squash risotto recipe, I declared that I can finally and confidently cut a butternut squash. Although after demonstrating my Iron Chef knife skills, I realized that I needed to broaden my squash usage beyond dinner that night because butternut squashes are HUGE. It is such a rich, flavorful and fantastic seasonal ingredient, so I knew I couldn’t let any extra go to waste.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and thought it was a great alternative to the typical dinner, and also was a great vegetarian option for those who say “no” to meat (like my friend Emily!). Serving with a light salad (and using up the rest of the expensive and yummy goat cheese in it) made a light yet comforting cold weather meal.

So don’t dismay when your butternut squash takes over your Tupperware – this recipe will give you a yummy way to utilize one of my favorite vegetables!

SQUASH-APPLE TURNOVERS
8 Servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cups (1/4-inch) diced peeled butternut squash
1 cup (1/4-inch) diced peeled Jonagold apple (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled goat cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 (11.3-ounce) can refrigerated dinner roll dough or pie crust dough
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté for 3 minutes. Add squash; sauté for 5 minutes. Add apple; cook 6 minutes or until squash and apple are tender. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Gently stir in cheese and thyme.

Separate dough into 8 pieces. Roll each portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Combine mustard and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl. Lightly brush top sides of dough circles with mustard mixture. Spoon about 2 tablespoons squash mixture onto half of each circle, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Fold dough over filling; press edges together with a fork to seal. Brush milk over dough. Place turnovers 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 19 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Spiced Beef Empanadas with Lime Sour Cream

September 26, 2010

Do you ever get into a food rut? You know, when you keep finding new ways to dress up a chicken breast, and keep brainstorming new veggies and nuts to put in your couscous for a different flavor. We have just finished (or are finishing) months of great grilled meats and kebabs and are a bit too early for stews. So, as I put together the menu for last week, I was feeling some culinary restlessness. So, on the menu I put items I have never made before. And not “I have never put those spices on a pork loin before,” but “I have never made that type of food or attempted that culinary technique before.”

It is liberating to throw out what you know and venture into a land of unknown and savory promise. And with my motto being “we can always get take out” I truly figured I had nothing to lose. They all seemed like easy enough recipes, just different. It was exactly what I needed.

So, the first “new” meal was empanadas. It isn’t surprising that other countries have their version of a meat pie. I have made Kibbeh from Lebanon, we have pot pies, there are Russian meat pies, and the Spanish have empanadas. Then, adapted by Latin American countries, they shrunk it a bit and established the same technique.

I got this recipe out of Real Simple, thinking it couldn’t be overly difficult. Like any food where you have to mold each bite, it does take a bit of time, but it isn’t terribly complicated. And, with a store-bought pie crust, the effort is significantly decreased.

The spices in the meat are amazing, but I will note this – the recipe calls for 80/20 meat and I did find it to be a bit greasy. Next time I will be opting for a leaner choice. Also, my biscuit cutter was a bit small, so next time I will be purchasing one that is the size they recommend – providing a better meat to crust ratio. Might even jazz up the sauce a bit with some creme fraiche.

But all and all my culinary experiment was a success. Not only was dinner amazing, but I learned I could do something new, and I expanded my skill set. I suggest you all do the same!

SPICED BEEF EMPANADAS WITH LIME SOUR CREAM

Makes 24

1 tablespoon olive oil
small onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground beef (80 to 85 percent lean)
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
2 store-bought refrigerated rolled piecrusts
large egg, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon lime zest

Heat oven to 375º F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the raisins, ketchup, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the piecrusts. Divide the beef mixture among the circles, brush the edges with water, fold in half, and press with a fork to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush with the egg. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Put the sour cream in a small bowl and sprinkle with the lime zest. Serve with the empanadas.

Ham, Gruyere and Shallot Pizza

October 31, 2009

Ham PIzzaPizzas really are so much fun to make at home, and there are so many different kinds to suit your mood. This particular recipe came from Real Simple and the moment we tasted it, we knew it was a winner.

I was a bit unsure about the thyme, since I don’t typically think of it as a pizza herb like basil or oregano, but it really works. Don’t forget the cornmeal on the bottom of the pan – gives the pizza that crunchy bottom of the crust you get at restaurants.

HAM, GRUYERE AND SHALLOT PIZZA
Serves 6

cornmeal for the pan
1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, cut into thin rings and separated
12 sprigs fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (2 ounces)

Heat oven to 425º F. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the cornmeal. Shape the dough into a 14-inch circle (or rectangle on jelly roll pan) and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the oil and bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the shallots, thyme, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Top the partially cooked dough with the ham, shallot mixture, and cheese. Bake until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted, 12 to 15 minutes.

White Four-Cheese Pizza with Basil and Garlic

May 3, 2009

img_0319White pizza always sounds a bit strange – isn’t pizza supposed to have tomato sauce? But there is something about white pizza that I just love – a great variety vs. the traditional pizza we all expect.

Pizza is an easy weeknight meal that doesn’t entail much prep work, unless you want to make your own dough. I use refrigerated dough in this one, but you could easily make your own if you choose. I am sure if you have a love for other white cheeses, they would deserve some real estate on this pizza as well. This recipe is thanks for Bon Appetit.

WHITE FOUR-CHEESE PIZZA WITH BASIL AND GARLIC
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 13.8 oz tube refrigerated pizza dough
All purpose flour
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-1/3 inch cubes
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons thinly sliced basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in small bowl.

Roll out pizza dough on lightly floured work surface to 14×10-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to prepared pan, pushing dough slightly up sides. Brush dough with garlic oil. Top with mozzarella cheese and goat cheese, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Crumble ricotta cheese over, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil.

Bake pizza until crust is golden brown and cheeses melt, about 18 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes.img_0313


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