One of my childhood memories is waking up on a summer morning to the smell of hot pickling liquid. My mom canned pickles, relish, jams and jellies throughout the summer. We would enjoy the result months later, as would family and friends who received tasty treats in the winter.
A couple of years ago I asked my mom for her bread & butter pickle recipe. She laughed and pointed me toward a worn copy of the Ball Blue Book that she had used for 40 years. My recipe is an adaptation of that one with a bit more instruction.
Pickling is easy and doesn’t take a lot of special equipment. It’s a fine way to spend a summer afternoon, especially if the weather isn’t super-duper. The taste of a homemade pickle, in deepest winter, will brighten your day. Continue reading →
It takes longer to cook a pot of white rice than it does to make this dish. So start your rice and then take your time prepping your ingredients. Once the rice is cooked throw a clean towel between the pot and cover to absorb steam. Then spend 3-5 minutes cooking the shrimp.
Shrimp Stir-Fry II
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 13 minutes
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp. dry sherry
1 tsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped chives
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
kosher salt & black pepper
Combine the sherry and soy sauce in a bowl; add shrimp and toss until coated with the liquid. Set aside for 10 minutes to marinate. Combine the chives, garlic, ginger and 1 tsp. peanut oil in a bowl; set aside. Mix water, sesame oil, Worcestershire, sugar and cornstarch together; set aside.
Put the remaining 1 Tbsp. peanut oil in a non-skillet and heat over high heat, 3-4 minutes. Add the shrimp in a single layer and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, tossing frequently, for about 1 minute. Move the shrimp to the edge of the pan.
Add the chive mixture and press into a flat disk; cook until fragrant then toss/stir into shrimp.
Quickly remix the cornstarch mixture and add to the skillet. Mix in with the shrimp and cook until it thickens, 30-40 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat and serve over rice. Add freshly ground black pepper and/or Sriracha sauce to taste.
I try to buy already deveined shrimp because deveining shrimp is one of my least favorite kitchen tasks. Just remember that you are removing the vein on the outside curve of the shrimp, not the one that is on the inside curve. The outside one is the intestine, the inside one is just a regular blood vessel. For a nice visual on how to devein shrimp visit SimpleRecipes.com
Our sister-in-law asks for this every Thanksgiving and it is delicious. The original recipe came from an early 2000’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated. While the active in the kitchen time is probably 45 minutes be sure to set aside at least 6 hours before you want go somewhere (like to bed). You’ll need that much between baking and cooling time.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours active, 6 hours before you can put it in the fridge (24 hours after overnight refrigeration).
1.5 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp. ground ginger, divided
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 tsp. ground cloves, divided
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
9 whole graham crackers, broken into large pieces
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
3 8 oz. bricks cream cheese (1.5 lbs. total), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
5 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon clove. Set aside.
Put a kettle or large pot of water on to boil. You’ll use it for the water-bath later in the recipe.
Line a baking sheet or cutting board with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the canned pumpkin over the paper towels. Top with another triple layer of paper towles and press until towels are saturated with liquid. Remove the top layer of towel and discard. Fold the bottom layer of towels in thirds, like in a letter, so that the pumpkin is left in the center of the towel. Set aside.
Adjust the oven racks so that one is in the center of the oven and a second rack is located below that. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine the cracker pieces and sugar/spice mixture in the bowl of a food processor. Processor for about 30 seconds in multi-second pulses. You should end up with a fairly fine powder. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
Dump crumb mixture into the springfold pan and spread evenly. Using a ramenkin or measuring cup press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place a sheet pan on the lower rack and bake the crust on the middle rack for ~15 minutes, until fragrant. Cool on a baking rack while making the filling.
Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of stand mixer at a medium speed for about 90 seconds. Combine the remaining sugar, ginger, cinnamon, clove along with the nutmeg and allspice. Add about half the sugar mixture to the mixer, stop and scrap the bowl, add the remaining sugar mixture, beat for 1 minute.
Add the dried pumpkin and vanilla; beat for 1 minute. Stop and scrap the bowl.
Add 2 eggs, beat for 1 minute. Stop and scrap the bowl.
Add remaining eggs; beat for 1 minute. Stop and scrap the bowl.
Add the heavy cream; beat on low for about 30 seconds. Stop mixer, scrap bowl thoroughly and give a final stir by hand.
Wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan with aluminum foil. Place the springform pan a roasting pan and fill the springform pan with the cheesecake mixture. Shake the springform pan gently to settle the mixture and smooth the top.
Transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Carefully pour the hot water you boiled earlier around the springform pan so that it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
Bake for 85 minutes and check the temp. of the center of cheesecake. Once the temp. reaches 145 to 150°F remove it from the oven to a cooling rack. If not at temp. then bake another 5 minutes and check again.
Immediately after removing from the oven run a small knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the cake from the side of pan.
Rest cake in roasting pan until the water has cooled substantially, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the roasting pan, discard the aluminum foil and set the cake on a cooling rack. Cool for at least 3 more hours before wrapping in plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.
Before removing the side of the springform pan run a knife along the inside edge once more. Remove the side and slide a thin metal spatula, such as a frosting knife, between the crust and the pan bottom. Transfer cheesecake to a serving plate. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Make sure to remove the cream cheese and eggs from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you start making the recipe.
All springform pans, even the best, will allow a small amount of fat to escape while baking the crust. The baking sheet should catch any drips and save you from a smoky oven (and shrieking fire alarm). Likewise the double layer of aluminum foil should keep the water bath from reaching your tasty creation.
You can enjoy the cheesecake after a 4 hour rest in the fridge however it will taste better if you allow it to rest overnight. Trust me.
Last weekend I roasted some cubed butternut squash, tossed it with finely chopped red peppers, and served it as a side dish. I had a fair amount left over and got it in my head that I wanted to make dessert with it for some reason or another. If I’m being honest squash pie isn’t my favorite pie. It falls well behind apple, chocolate cream and chicken.
Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel
Google found me 12 Perfect Fall Desserts Made with Winter Squash, one of which seemed to fit what was in my head. Crystallized ginger was not to be found at my local mega mart though so I used some homemade candied tangerine peel that Ted made back when tangerines were in season. The result was surprisingly moist with the squash basically disappearing into the cake.
3 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices (on the bias)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz. lite coconut milk
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
Place onions in a food processor and pulse until finely cut. Transfer to a bowl.
Place peppers in the food processor and pulse until finely cut. Transfer to a strainer to remove as much moisture as possible.
Combine the spices in a bowl and stir until well blended.
Prep remaining vegetables and set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until smoking.
Add the onions and drained peppers along with a good pinch of kosher salt. Stir in the oil to coat and allow to cook for ~5 minutes until softened. Add the ginger and garlic; cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds, a minute at most.
Add the spice blend and stir into the onions/peppers. Allow to cook for about a minute, stirring a few times to prevent burning.
Add the carrots and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes
Add the coconut milk, cauliflower and drained tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer, recover and cook for 15 minutes
Add the frozen peas and cook to heat them through, about 5 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley (if desired).
You may ask why I process the the onions and peppers separately. I found that the peppers produced so much liquid when chopped in the food processor that I wanted to strain that off so the dish didn’t have to work at evaporating the liquid. I actually took the pepper liquid, and the drained tomato liquid, combined them in a small pan, and simmered them until they reduced to about 1/3 of the original volume. I added that into the curry along with the coconut milk. I really didn’t notice them in the final product so I left that out of the recipe text.
This recipe is adapted from a great book I picked up years ago named Something for Everyone. The premise was to provide recipes that would make a dish for a family of vegetarians and non-vegetarians from one recipe. It appears to no longer be in print.
Hermits were a regular part of the snack rotation of my childhood. I suspect, like so many recipes from that time, it came from the back of a box or can of something. My guess is the corn syrup, or maybe the flour. In any event they are delicious and remind me of simpler times.
This recipe is based on one from The Way We Cook by Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven. I’ve tweaked the ingredient list a bit and written up the instructions in my own words. Enjoy.
Servings: 15-20 bars
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (plus cooling time)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups currants
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13″x9″ baking pan with vegetable spray. (see notes)
Combine the dry ingredients (the first 6) in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.
Add the oil, molasses, corn syrup, water, milk and eggs in the bowl of stand mixer. Beat until well combined. Add the sugar and beat until mixed.
Add the flour in 3 installments, mixing until just incorporated after each addition. Remove from the mixer, scrap the sides of the bowl with a spatula and stir in the raisins.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared 13″x9″ pan. Allow it to settle into the pan in a (fairly) even layer.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
Cut the hermits while still warm. Store leftovers (ha) in a ziptop bag.
I made a sling of sorts in the pan with a piece of pre-cut parchment paper that is sized for a half sheet pan. I sprayed the bottom and sides of the pan then laid the parchment into the pan to form an U. The spray on the bottom helps the parchment to stay in place while you spread the batter. When the cake was ready for serving I ran a knife along the edges not covered with parchment and lifted the entire cake from the pan with no fuss.
The original recipe called for “dark” raisins, whatever those are. We prefer currants over raisins anyway so it was an easy substitution.
Ted does most of the dessert baking for our Saturday night gatherings. This week though he had other plans so I used the opportunity to try a recipe I had bookmarked (like in a real book) some time ago. The gingerbread flavor was pretty subtle here so perhaps my ground ginger was a little old, or maybe more was needed. Still it made a lot of tasty cake.
This recipe is from of The Way We Cook by Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven. I’ve tweaked the ingredient list a bit and written up the instructions in my own words. Enjoy. Continue reading →
Our favorite winter farmer’s market has returned and with it a bounty of root vegetables. One of our favorites is rainbow carrots. They come in purple, yellow, white and the usual orange. They are a wee bit of color in the otherwise drabness of winter.
This recipe is inspired by one we saw Jamie Oliver make on Food Network (or maybe it was Cooking Channel).
This recipe yields a cookie full of ginger flavor and just a bit of heat. It is based on a recipe from the November 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. I reworked the instructions so they follow the way I made the cookies.
Servings: 32 cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: approx. 2 hours
2 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. pepper
340g (about 2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp.) unsalted butter (straight from the fridge is fine), cut into 1 Tbsp. slices
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar (used in step 8).
Combine the ground spices in a small bowl. Set aside.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Place butter in a cold skillet (preferably not non-stick or darkly colored). Heat skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Once melted continue to cook for 4-6 minutes. The butter will foam and take on a brownish color. The milk solids will darken as well. When foaming ends and the butter smells slightly nutty transfer it to a large bowl.
Add the spices and mix until thoroughly combined.
Add the brown sugar, molasses and grated ginger; mix to combine.
Add the flour/soda/salt and stir to incorporate. Don’t over mix; you want all of the flour to be incorporated into the dough however white flecks on the dough aren’t a problem.
Press a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and refrigerate for 60 minutes.
Arrange the oven racks so one is in the top third of the oven and the other is in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
Put the granulated sugar in a bowl or pie plate. Scoop dough with a #40 disher. Roll each scoop into a ball and then toss dough ball in sugar. You should be able to get 16 balls on a sheet pan.
Bake first tray for 16 minute on the top rack.
Rotate first tray 180 degrees and place it on the bottom rack. Put the second tray on the top rack. Bake for 14 minutes.
Remove the first tray from the bottom rack and transfer cookies on parchment to a cooling rack. Move the second tray to the bottom rack and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove second tray from the oven and transfer cookies on parchment to a cooling rack. Cookies are tasty after 15 minutes however allow them to cool completely to get the snap we seek in gingersnap cookies.
Ginger syrup is simple to make at home and produces the best ginger ale you’ve had in your life. I think we first realized the potential while at Ming Tsai’s restaurant Blue Ginger in Wellesley for a birthday dinner. The house ginger ale is out of this world and the Blue Ginger Gimlet, using the same syrup was just amazing.
Drink recipes can be found in the notes at the end of the recipe.