Archive for November, 2012

Ginger Pennies

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

By popular request, here is my adaptation of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Ginger Pennies from Rose’s Christmas Cookies, my most-used cookbook ever. This book is so beloved that it is no longer a book, but a pack of loose pages.

Piping out these cookies is tedious, but they are delicious – crisp, buttery, and flavorful – and worth the effort.

  • 1-1/2 c bleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c unsulfured molasses (preferably Grandma’s brand)
  • 12 Tbs unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks) (don’t substitute another fat)
  • Equipment: buttered or greased cookie sheets (strongly suggest you use insulated sheets, not the thin ones); reclosable gallon-size freezer bag or a pastry bag and 1/4″ tip.

    Place 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    To mix the dough in a food processor:

    In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt until they’re mixed evenly.

    Process the sugar, egg, and molasses in the food processor. Cut the butter into 1″ pieces and add to the processor with the motor running. Process until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary. Pulse in the dry ingredients until well blended.

    To mix the dough in an electric mixer:

    Soften the butter to room temperature. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt until evenly mixed.

    In the mixer bowl, cream together the sugar, egg, molasses, and softened butter. Add the dry ingredients on low speed until well blended.

    Forming the cookies:

    Scrape the mixture into the gallon freezer bag, close securely, and cut off the corner of the bag to create a 1/4″ diameter hole (or you may use a pastry bag with a 1/4″ round tip). Pipe very small 1/2″ mounds on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 1″ apart. The small peaks that form on the mounds are ok. (If you want to use parchment instead of greasing the sheets, tape the parchment down while you’re piping. If you don’t, the parchment lifts up with each piping and this slows you down a lot. Parchment seems to yield slightly better shaped cookies.)

    Bake for about 5 minutes or until browned. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back half way through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 3 minutes then slide them off onto wire racks to cool and crisp. Keep them separate as they are cooling or they will stick together. If they don’t get crisp, add bake for just a little longer, but don’t let them burn.

    Allow the baking sheets to cool completely before using for the next batch.

    Store in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep several months at low humidity.

    Yields 25 dozen tiny cookies.

    Brussels Sprout Leaf Salad

    Saturday, November 10th, 2012

    This refreshing and delicious salad is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ cookbook Weeknights with Giada.

  • 1-1/2 lbs Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 packed cups (2 oz) baby arugula
  • 1/2-1 Belgian endive, cut into 1/4″ cross-wise slices
  • 1/3 c sliced toasted almonds
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 c grated pecorino romano cheese
  • Toast the almonds by arranging them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes until lightly toasted. Check them after 4 minutes to make sure they aren’t browning too quickly. Take them out as soon as they are lightly brown. Don’t let them burn. Cool completely.

    Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Have ready a bowl filled halfway with ice and water.

    Use a small paring knife to separate the leaves from the sprouts (reserve cores for another use). Add the sprout leaves to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain and transfer the leaves to the bowl of ice water. When cool, drain in a colander. [Giada says you may core quarter the sprouts instead of cutting off the leaves. In this case, blanch for 2 minutes instead of 1. I haven’t tried this.]

    Combine the sprouts, arulula, endive, and almonds in a salad bowl.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Use as much dressing as you like – I usually use less than recipes call for. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.

    Serves 4.

    Roasted Beet, Fennel & Orange Salad

    Monday, November 5th, 2012

    This delicious salad, adapted from Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day, was a big hit at a recent Thanksgiving-themed potluck at work. It is refreshing and surprisingly light. It was yummy with the roast turkey we had at our luncheon and would be good with other roasted or braised meat dishes.

  • 6 medium beets (red, gold, or other types or a mix), trimmed and washed
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1/4 c water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 navel oranges, peeled and cut into 1/2″ rounds or quarter-rounds
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored & sliced very thin (save some sprigs of the leaves for garnish)
  • 1/2 – 1 red onion, peeled and sliced paper thin
  • 3 oz crumbled plain goat cheese (about 3/4 c) or more
  • 2 T minced fresh chives
  • 2 T minced fresh mint leaves
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Put the beets on a baking sheet with sides or in a glass baking dish. If you’re using a combination of beets, separate the colors into two or more baking dishes to keep the red beets from coloring the yellow ones. Pour the orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, and the water over the beets. If you’ve separated the beets into multiple baking dishes, distribute these ingredients equally over the dishes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the baking sheet or dish tightly with foil and roast the beets until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. This will take from 40 to 75 minutes, depending on the size and type of beet. Remove from oven, uncover, and cool to room temperature. Reserve the cooking liquid to use as a dressing.

    Peel the cooled beets. Don’t peel the beets under running water or wash them because this will wash away some of the flavor. Slice the beets into 1/4″ rounds or quarter-rounds.

    Arrange the beets, oranges, fennel, and onion on a platter or on salad plates. Don’t toss the veggies, just arrange them. Make it pretty.

    Pour the reserved cooking liquid over the vegetables. You will not need to use it all – add to taste. If you’ve separated the beets by color, taste the two cooking liquids and use the one you like the best. I ended up using about half of the red beet liquid and none of the yellow beet liquid. Season with salt (a nice finishing salt if you have it) and freshly ground black pepper and top with the crumbled cheese, chives, and mint. Garnish with fennel or mint sprigs.

    Serves 6-8

    Notes: You can substitute other cheeses. Foster recommends Stilton or blue cheese as an alternate. She also says you can roast the fennel and onions instead of using them raw and serve the salad warm.