Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

These are a favorite staple at my house. They start disappearing before I can even get the dough in the fridge to chill. My boyfriend, the consumer friendly judge, refers to the chilled dough balls as little turds. Little turds that he greedily pops in his mouth and runs with his Cheshire grin beaming brightly. Be forewarned..make a double batch. I always make a double and then turn around and make another double. These freeze well, if they survive the turd thief.

This recipe comes courtesy of Martha Stewart. The original can be found here.

I have tried little tweaks but honestly this recipe is pretty much perfect. The only things I can suggest is to be sure to use fresh ground spices if you can and instead of semisweet I use bittersweet or a blend of bittersweet and milk. Sometimes I roll the chilled dough in a mix of cinnamon and sugar instead of plain sugar. These always come out very thin crisp out layer and a chewy rich center.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies - adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies Cookbook

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh ginger (grated)
1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 nutmeg (grated)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature ( 4 oz)
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfered molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water
7 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
1/4 cup large grain organic sugar
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and fresh ginger on medium speed until lightened, about minutes.

Add brown sugar, beat until combined.

Add molasses; beat until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water.

Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture.

Beat in baking soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture.
Mix in chocolate

Chill for 30 minutes. When chilled roll into balls or use a cookie scoop. You can bake at this point. I usually scoop the balls to single layer pan and freeze for an hour. They bake up a little thicker and chewy and moist straight from the freezer.

I did want to get pictures of the dough before I rolled them in sugar and baked. However the turd thief came home from poker early and they were in danger of being devoured before I could get them in the oven.

Once chilled, roll in sugar or as mentioned earlier cinnamon sugar.

Place about 2 inches apart and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Or until the surfaces begins to crack and the insides of the cracks look slightly dry.

Let cook 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

For the last couple of weeks I have been deep in an IT project at work. Monday afternoon I came home, it was a nice day out and the kitchen was warm, and I needed to lose myself in a creative but devoid of thinking project..hence cinnamon rolls!

These little buggers have been in my repertoire for years. I can almost make them in my sleep; dancing around the kitchen in a smooth rhythm.

The dough is a subtly sweet dough that I use for anything from danishes (with addition of a butter block) to bierocks. The dough is very stable and with a few modifications it can used for a variety of uses. That said... sorry Charlie but no recipe on this one. It has taken 15 years of tweaking to get my signature dough and I very rarely give it out. So those that have it, know you are a rare breed to get a copy.

A pile o' buns

A variation of the top picture. I like the top one because the the cinnamon roll is in focus, but in this one his eyes tell the story.


Friday, April 17, 2009

No Bake Cookies

It is Friday and my co-workers needed a chocolate fix. Or at least that is what I told myself was the excuse to make cookies over my lunch hour.

Apparently my excuse was valid as I have no cookies left! So instead of cookies you get the note left for me in my empty container.

Most of the recipes are pretty close to the same. This is my tweaked version.

1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup brown (dark or light) sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup peanut butter
3 cups steel cut oats
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, pretzels, lo mein, whatever you like (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 T corn syrup (clear or dark)

Line cookie sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Combine sugar, butter, cream and cocoa in medium saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to rolling boil. Keep boiling for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat

Add peanut butter. Stir

Add oats, peanuts or other additions, vanilla, and corn syrup. Stir

Drop by heaping teaspoon or small cookie scoop.

Let cool and firm up. For the lunch hour variety, stick the cookie sheet in the freezer while you eat your lunch.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Homemade Peeps, Alaska Style

Marshmallows are surprisingly easy to make. Go ahead, turn your nose but these infinitely better than their cousins in the plastic bag. And best of all, with a few modifications you can make any flavor you can dream of.

Make the marshmallows as directed in this recipe. Add the coloring midway through the whipping so that it disperses evenly. Once the marshmallow is set, cut out and roll in sugar.

This was my first time making homemade marshmallows. I followed the recipe as directed but they came out crinkly. The mixture set up as I was pressing it into the pans. In the future I think I will whip it a little less so that I get a smooth surface. Also, the sugar didn't stick at first so I used a barely damp pastry brush to wet the surface of the peep and that did the trick.

We woke up Easter morning to fresh snow. These guys enjoyed their frolic in the powder :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Potato Wrapped Snapper

We picked up a bag of snapper from one of our friends the other day. I wanted to do something different than our old standby. Fish is an easy and economical food for us in this town. This coming year we plan to fill our freezer thus I need to expand my fishy recipes. This one is definitely a keeper!

Potato Wrapped Snapper

Fish - any fish would work. Salmon would be good too.
Seasoning or marinade for the fish
Russet or other starchy potato - peeled
Potato Starch
Italian Panko
1 Clove Garlic - pressed
Seasoning for dry mix

Cut fish into 2-3 inch x 1/2 - 3/4 inch pieces. Marinade or otherwise season. This can be done the previous day.

Using a mandolin, CAREFULLY, slice the potatoes. Paper thin is best. Mine doesn't go that thin so I will tell you what I did about that later on. Do not rinse potatoes. The unrinsed starch will help them stay folded on the fish.

Mix potato starch, panko, garlic clove, and any other seasonings. Set aside.

Lay down the potatoes like so on a piece of plastic wrap. As mentioned above, my mandolin only goes so thin. To make the slices cooperate I placed them in the microwave for about 45 seconds. They came out flexible but not cooked all the way through and nice and tacky.

Spread panko and potato starch mixture on the slices.

Top with a piece of fish.

Fold the potato around the fish and wrap tightly with the plastic wrap. Continue with the rest of fish.

Pan fry at medium - medium high heat for 3 minutes on each side, or until the fish is done and the potatoes are browned.

Place on a bed of rice and top with your favorite sauce.

Thank you Dennis!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yam Gnocchi...You Say Ricotta, I Say Potato

When I need something rich and a total carb and butter load, I turn to Gnocchi. Or in this case, I had too many root veggies rolling around and had to use them up.

Some like potato. Some like ricotta. I like a combination of both. Or a combination of what veggies I have running amok in my kitchen. Beets, yams, sweet potato, turnips, and parsnips all work well. It is also a great way to use up extra leafy greens such as kale, chard, collard greens and spinach. When that is the case for me, I steam then process in a blender or processor and strain out the excess moisture.

I have no recipe for mine so here are a couple of basic but sturdy recipes from

Potato Gnocchi

For this batch I used yams, sweet potatoes, russets and ricotta.

First I formed a soft tender dough until it felt right and rolled into little ropes. Next I cut the rope into pieces about the length of the first knuckle of my index finger to tip.

Next, I rolled them into balls.

And then from there rolled them on the back of a floured fork. Here is my little army awaiting the boiling water.

I like mine boiled and then pan fried until brown and crispy. To this batch I added some chopped apple sausage.

It was the perfect comfort food!