Sunday, June 27, 2010

SMS: Gingersnaps

I love gingersnaps! I had the privilege of having one of the world's sweetest and kindest women for my grandmother. As a kid I loved visiting her house. It was one of those places where a kid could really be spoiled. She always had yummy treats at her house that my parents didn't keep regularly stocked around our house. One of the treats she frequently had at her house were gingersnaps. They weren't homemade but they were still yummy, especially dipped in milk. Since those days I have come to like these crisp little cookies even more because not only are they just plain good but I also have sweet memories of my lovely grandmother attached to them. This recipe is the first time I have ever made gingersnaps. I thought the recipe was great, although mine were slightly overcooked, so I probably need to lower the temperature in the oven or reduce the time. The only other thing I had a problem with was I only had half of the ginger I needed. I improvised and used a little more of the other spices but the flavor, while still yummy, wasn't quite right for gingersnaps. I definitely plan to make them again, this time with enough ginger. Check out the other amazing SMS bakers to see some really great looking cookies and for the recipe and some yummy looking variations on the recipe, head on over to our lovely host's blog, The Ginger Snap Girl.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Dining with Dad

Here I am posting on the last day of the week, again! Hmmm, I need to get more organized. We have so many things going on during the summer that posting gets pushed to last.
Okay, so this week I made two recipes from How to Cook Everything. The first one is Everday Pancakes with one of his variations, and the second recipe was The Best Scrambled Eggs.

The Everyday Pancake recipe is a really great basic pancake recipe. It will probably be my go-to recipe for pancakes because it is so versatile and quick to whip up. I love all of the add in suggestions and look forward to trying a lot of them. Some of them sound so good, like substituting coconut milk for regular milk (love coconut milk) and some of them sound intriguing like spooning the batter over cooked bacon. I didn't pick anything as exciting as either of those two suggestions this time. My husband is a big fan of grains so we added one cup of cooked wheat berries to the batter. He liked it a lot and everyone else seemed to enjoy them as well (particularly my littlest guy). The wheat berries kind of give the pancake a chewy texture but it worked. Here is the recipe-

Everyday Pancakes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional (I left it out)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter (optional), plus unmelted butter for cooking, or use neutral oil
  • 1. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Beat eggs into 1 1/2 cups milk, then stir in 2 tablespoons melted cooled butter, if using it. Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour; don't worry about a few lumps. If batter seems thick, add a little more milk.
  • 2. Place a teaspoon or 2 of butter or oil on griddle or skillet. When butter foam subsides or oil shimmers, ladle batter onto griddle or skillet, making pancakes of any size you like. Adjust heat as necessary; usually, first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to surface and bottoms brown, after 2 to 4 minutes.
  • 3. Cook until second side is lightly browned. Serve, or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200-degree oven for up to 15 minutes.

My second recipe, The Best Scrambled Eggs, was also pretty good. They take quite a long time to cook but they have a very creamy texture. I probably won't make these too often. They were tasty but not enough to justify the extra time they took. One of the things I love about scrambled eggs is that they only take about five minutes to whip up so this just isn't as useful to me but for a special occasion they would be a yummy addition. The recipe only makes two servings so I doubled it. I also didn't have cream on hand (well actually I did but it was put in a part of my fridge that freezes and was totally solid) so I used 3 tblsp. of whole milk with 1 tblsp. butter. Here is this recipe doubled-
The Best Scrambled Eggs

  • 8-10 eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1.Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them just until the yolks and whites are combined. Season with salt and pepper and beat in the cream.
  • 2. Put a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the butter or oil and swirl it around the pan. After the butter melts, but before it foams, turn the heat to low.
  • 3. Add the eggs to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. At first nothing will happen; after 10 minutes or so, the eggs will begin to form curds. Do not lose patience: Keep stirring, breaking up the curds as they form, until the mixture is a mass of soft curds. This will take 30 minutes or more. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SMS: Chocolate Orange Macaroons

This week our SMS host was Ellen of Blue Tree Green Heart. She picked these wonderful, super easy Chocolate Orange Macaroons. They are seriously the easiest cookie I have ever made. They even beat out no-bake cookies, I think, on the easiness scale. This recipe has five ingredients and it literally takes only about 5 minutes to mix it all up. When these first came out of the oven and I tried one warm (because that is the just the kind of impatient person I am) I thought they were pretty good but as they cooled they tasted so much better. I took some down to my mom and dad and they seemed to like them too, especially my mom, who ate "a few" more than the two she planned to eat. Give these a try, especially if you are a fan of coconut! Also be sure to check out how the other bakers did this week and take a look at Ellen's post, she has some really great photographs!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Herb Garden

I love fresh herbs, unfortunately I CANNOT seem to keep them alive! I don't know what I am doing wrong, but despite my best efforts I keep killing them. Luckily, the grocery store has them so when I am in need, I can drive five minutes and pick them up.
The herb I decided to play with this week was thyme, and just for the heck of it, I looked it up on Wikipedia. Here are a few interesting factoids about thyme: Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing that thyme was a source of courage . It was thought that the spread of thyme throughout Europe was thanks to the Romans , as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavor to cheese and liqueurs". In the European Middle Ages , the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.
I made Italian bread sticks, also called grissini. They are an item that I buy from Whole Foods whenever I go there because they are just so yummy. I discovered them a couple years ago and have a mild addiction to them. Now I can make my own and season them however I like and as an extra bonus, homemade just tastes fresher and yummier. These are really easy to make, and the recipe says you should get 50-100. I got around 60-70 ish, so not too shabby. The dough is mixed in the food processor, which I love because it makes it so darn easy!
These are very customizable. The first pan I actually started cooking before I realized I hadn't added any herbs (duh), so they ended up being plain. After that I added thyme to the dough, and for my last two pans, just to jazz them up a little, I sprinkled one with onion powder and one with garlic powder. All of the variations were just lovely and would be great dipped in just about anything (ranch and marinara are my faves).
Anyway without further ado, here is the basic recipe, and if you are going to add herbs, he suggests 2 teaspoons of rosemary, thyme, sage or a combination of the three which you are supposed to add along with the olive oil, oops.


2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups all purpose or bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1/2 cup semolina or cornmeal

1. Combine the yeast, sugar, flour and salt in a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the oil and, again, pulse a couple times. With the machine running add 1 cup of water through the feed tube. Continue to add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball. The dough should be a little shaggy and quite sticky.
2. Put the olive oil in a bowl and transfer the dough ball to it, turning to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place. Reshape the ball, put it back in the bowl, cover again and let rise in the refrigerator for several hours or, preferably, overnight.
3. Heat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets with olive oil and sprinkle very lightly with the semolina.4. Cut the dough into three pieces: keep the other 2 covered while you work with the first. On a well floured surface, roll a piece of dough out as thinly as possible into a large rectangle, about a foot long. Use a sharp knife or pastry wheel to cut the dough into roughly 1/4 inch thick strips (slightly smaller is better than slightly bigger).
5. Transfer the strips to the baking sheets, spaced apart and brushed with olive oil. Bake until crisp and golden, 10-20 minutes, then cool completely on wire racks. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

No SMS this week :(

I really wanted to make these cookies but apparently the stores out by me are deficient! I could not find shelled pistachios anywhere accept Costco, and I just didn't want that big of a bag. I looked in baking good and the snack aisle, and I even checked every checkout stand (I probably looked half-crazed) because sometimes they have those snack bags of nuts. NADA. I guess I could have shelled them myself but by the time I decided I was going to have to do that, if I wanted to make these, my littlest guy came down with a fever.
I realize in the whole scheme of things these are not big problems, they were more like irritating mosquito bite problems. Ah well, I will make these sometime this summer and I am enjoying seeing how everyone else fared. Also skip on over to our wonderful pinch hitter's blog, Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures.