Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Snappy Cookie

I found this ginger snap cookie recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks called English Traditional Recipes - A Heritage of Food and Cooking and wanted to give them a try because they use one of my favorite ingredients called treacle. Treacle is a syrup that is similar to our corn syrup but it has a far greater depth of molasses flavor and it is wonderful in place of honey on toast or English muffins. I have used it in a number of recipes in the past in place of corn syrup and it adds a whole new dimension of flavor. I have never had any trouble finding treacle on my grocery store shelves, usually somewhere around the syrups. I'm sure it can also be ordered on line at multiple sites who sell English food products. It's a wonderful addition to my pantry. Ginger Snaps

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup treacle (corn syrup may substitute)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Gently heat the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Let cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and ginger and stir in the the butter mixture to make a very soft dough. With a teaspoon, make balls of dough and place them on the baking sheet, well spaced apart. Flatten each ball slightly with a spatula. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes until just golden brown. Leave to cool on baking sheet 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and crisp up. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Here is a wonderfully simple recipe for buttermilk biscuits. They go together super quick and I was so surprised at how truly flaky and light they were. Hopefully you can see by the photo the actual layers that defined themselves as they baked. The secret for success, as is with most quick breads, is not to overwork them. They are perfect with a little honey or jam as an accompaniment.
Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

8 Tbsp cold butter (divided)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt 4 Tbsp butter in an 8 or 9 inch baking pan. Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in remaining 4 Tbsp. cold butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. make a well in the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk all at once. Stir only to moisten and until dough is free from sides of bowl.

Gently knead dough 10-12 times. Do not overknead the dough. Roll or pat out to at least 1 inch thick and cut biscuits with a 2 or 3 inch cutter. Place biscuits in the baking pan with the melted butter, turn biscuits over so both sides are coated. Place close together in pan and bake 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Chicken in Every Pot

On a cold, windy almost Spring day, nothing fits the bill like a steamy bowl of chicken noodle soup. As a child I adored Campbell's chicken noodle soup with it's overdone noodles and it's microscopic small bits of chicken and overly salty broth. My taste buds have matured (an understatement at best!) and I like to make my own chicken stock and then doctor it up with a variety of fresh vegetables and wonderful egg noodles. There are times when I make this soup when it is more of a bowl of veggies and chicken with a little moisture thrown in versus a soup. But however it turns out, it's always very satisfying and comforting.I am not going to write out a recipe for this as I don't really have one. I just make a light chicken stock, cut the chicken off the bone when cooked, simmer a variety of vegetables in the broth and in the end, put the chicken pieces back in along with pre-cooked egg noodles. I have found trying to cook the noodles in the broth doesn't always work and the noodles tend to be undercooked.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Award

Thanks so much to Debby at A Feast for The Eyes for this lovely award. What a wonderful community of food bloggers out there in cyperspace!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Butterscotch Pudding

Not to put down Jell-O, because I have always been a huge fan, but do you know how easy it is to make your own pudding? Well I'm here to tell you, it's very easy. I found this recipe in the February 2009 edition of Gourmet magazine and it just sounded so darn enticing, I'd thought I'd give it a whirl.

The pudding took a total of 10 minutes to make and then a couple hours to cool. I had all the simple ingredients available and it turned out amazingly creamy, rich and tasty. So, next time you're in the mood for pudding why don't you skip the cardboard box of powdery stuff and make it from scratch. You'll be glad you did!

Butterscotch Pudding
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extractWhisk together the sugar, salt and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the milk and cream. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently then boil for 1 minute, whisking continuously. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter. Pour into a bowl and cover with buttered parchment or wax paper and cool completely. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

30 Minute Pasta

Pasta can be such a quick and easy way to make a luxurious dinner. This dish is one that can be put together in no time with just a little prep work and pre-planning to make sure you have the all the ingredients on hand. One thing needed is creme fraiche, which is an unctuous sour cream kind of sauce. This can be purchased at bigger grocery stores or you can make your own which I did. Chop and grate a few things, cook the pasta, saute the scallops, combine it all together and voila, dinner is ready.Fettuccine with Lemon, Parmesan and Scallops

1 lb. fresh fettuccine (dry can also be used)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 cup creme fraiche, at room temperature (to make your own, combine 1 cup heavy cream with 1/3 cup sour cream and leave at room temperature up to 6 hours then refrigerate)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. medium scallops (16-20 per lb)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Coat saute pan with 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil and heat until very hot then add scallops and cook 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side. Take scallops out and put on a plate, drizzle with 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and lightly season with salt and pepper. Set aside.Cook fettuccine in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta well and return to the pot. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in the microwave and then add the lemon zest. Pour this over the pasta and toss to mix well. Add the creme fraiche, half of the Parmesan and half of the dill.

To serve, mound some pasta into 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with 4-5 scallops and then sprinkle each bowl with remaining cheese and dill. Serves 4.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jam Cakes

Sometimes it's so nice to have an individual cake just for one. I think that is why the cupcake is all the rage right now. I came across this recipe for individual jam cakes and they are just delightful. The nice thing about this recipe is that it is versatile. Instead of orange zest, lemon would work fine. As well, the variety of jams or jellies one could use are endless. I opted for blackberry jelly and it was a wonderful compliment to the ever so slight orange flavor given by the zest in the cake and the juice in the glaze. Jam Cakes

1 stick butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated citrus zest (orange, lemon or lime)
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
6 Tbsp jam or preserves
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed citrus juice (orange, lemon or lime)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard 6 cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and zest until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time until creamy, set aside. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches to butter mixture and set aside.In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; fold into batter. Divide half the batter into six muffin tins. Make an indentation in the middle of each; fill with 1 Tbsp of jam. Top each with remaining batter and smooth tops down. Bake until cake tester inserted in top cake layer comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Unmold cakes and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar and juice. Place rack over wax paper and drizzle cakes with glaze. Makes 6 individual cakes.