Cooking for two is boring -- I want to cook for the entire blogosphere!

Sunday, June 14

Quick Buttermilk Scones with Ginger

So you make a buttermilk cake and find yourself with half a quart of buttermilk. What to do? I made somethin' out of nothin' by turning my breakfast dilemma (empty fridge) into something delicious - buttermilk scones. These are basically quick drop biscuits, but they turned out so tender and buttery that A) it's hard to believe they're low-fat and B) I may have to cook with buttermilk all the time!

Buttermilk Drop Scones with Ginger
recipe from The Joy of Cooking

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1 cup non-fat buttermilk
3 1/2 tbsp melted, warm butter
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger (or dried fruit of your choice)

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Wisk together dry indredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Wisk together wet ingredients and candied ginger, then pour all at once into dry ingredients.
  • Mix with a fork just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The dough will be quite sticky. Use a soup spoon or ice cream scoop to drop the dough in mounds about 2 1/2 inches wide one inch apart on the baking sheet.
  • Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Saturday, June 13

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Last week I made an amazing buttermilk cake, which turned out to be the very same on my friend C had found on Smitten Kitchen the week before. We all must have been struck by the simplicity and quiet elegance of this cake - the sort of thing you'd take to a picnic and serve with sparkling lemonade and linen cocktail napkins. It's also a wonderful vehicle for early summer berries, especially when you can't pass up a great deal at the farmer's market and come home with two quarts of strawberries.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine, June 2009.

Is it obnoxious to say I think mine looks the prettiest?

Sunday, February 22

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Grown-up dessert! A layer of dark chocolate topped with sweet, rich pecan filling. This pie has a buttery, shattery crust and a strong hit of chocolate, so use the best you can find. I had a big bar of bittersweet Sharfenberger that worked beautifully.

The recipe is wonderful as is, but I have a few tips.

When making the crust, use 1/2 to 1 tbsp of vodka if the dough needs moistening after the initial 3 tbsp of water. This is a Cook's Illustrated tip that keeps the dough from getting too tough while making it easier to roll out.

Because you're putting a layer of chocolate on the bottom, the pie is best served a little warm. If you eat it straight from the refrigerator, you've got a hard piece of chocolate to bite through (not the most appealing).

As always, I also suggest making your own brown sugar. Just mash together regular sugar and molasses with a fork until it turns the desired shade of brown (whether you're looking for light or dark brown sugar). The taste is always much richer than conventional brown sugar.

Here's the recipe, from Gourmet: Chocolate Pecan Pie.


Monday, January 26

Gingerbread Biscotti

If you have candied ginger in your pantry, it's probably been there for a while. It's a hard product to find a use for! I didn't want that to happen to me, so I found a recipe that uses a whole cup of chopped candied ginger. Luckily, I can always nibble on a biscotti with my morning coffee and be a happy girl. This recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, my favorite cookie cookbook.

Gingerbread Biscotti

6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup (6.5 oz) finely diced crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, beat together butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled.

Add the flour, spices, and chopped ginger and mix until smooth. The dough will be soft and sticky but should hold its shape when you drop it from a spoon.

Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and shape it into a rough log, 14 inches long, 2.5 inches wide, and .75 inches thick.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on the pan anywhere from 5 minutes to 25, depending on what else you're doing in the kitchen. Meanwhile, lower the oven temp to 325.

Wet your hands and lightly dampen the cookie log (alternately, spritz it with a spray bottle). This will make the biscotti easier to cut. Cut into 3/4 inch slices, making sure your knife is verticle so the cookies aren't off balance.

Set the biscotti upright on the baking sheet and bake for another 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Biscotti will last about a week at room temperature; longer if you freeze them.

Thursday, January 22

Ginger Tea

Being on a ginger kick means having a lot of ginger around the house to use up. I can only eat so many ginger-and-garlic stirfrys, so it's lucky I came across this recipe for ginger tea in this month's Better Homes and Gardens (I wasn't even in the dentist's office - through some twist of fate, I subscribe!). It's soothing for the stomach and the mind, too, if you ask me.

Ginger Tea

3-4 quarter inch slices fresh ginger
2 long lemon peels (2-inch each)
1 tsp honey (or more, or less, depending on taste and the size of yer mug)
1 sprig rosemary (if you have some around the house)

All of the above goes in a small tea pot or your big tea mug. Boil some water, and let the tea steep about 5 minutes, longer if you like a spicier flavor.

Better Homes and Gardens also recommended doubling or tripling this recipe, steeping a big pot of tea in a pot or saucepan, cooling it, then serving with sparkling water for a ginger seltzer. Haven't tried this, but my guess is if you doubled the amount of honey it would be divine. Like homemade ginger ale!

Tuesday, January 20

Chocolate Ginger Cookies

I made my favorite ginger snaps for friends this Christmas and then found myself craving more. In the search for something different, I scoped out these Martha Stewart cookies from her Martha Stewart Living cookbook. They are grown-up cookies, not too sweet, but full of molasses and ginger flavor and melty layers of dark chocolate. They're also sparkly and tea-sized. In short, perfect for the holiday cookie tin. I wish I had spied them earlier.

Chocolate Ginger Cookies

* 7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
* 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
* 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift or wisk together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined. (I always make my own brown sugar by mixing molasses with regular sugar - try a teaspoon or two here with 1/2 cup white sugar, and mix together with a fork.)

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

Heat oven to 325°F.

Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; I used a melon baller for this. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes (I don't know if this is necessary - only if the dough gets really soft). Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.