Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ginger Spice Cookies

We didn't do a lot yesterday, mostly hung around the house watching tv and sitting in front of the fireplace.  We were still stuffed from the huge Thanksgiving dinner that my mother-in-law cooked the night before.  The table was loaded with turkey and gravy, sausage stuffing, brussels sprouts, green beans almondine, roasted leeks and carrots, salad, two kinds of cranberry sauce, bread and butter.  And just when we thought the table might collapse under the weight of all that deliciousness, my mother-in-law walked into the dining room carrying a bowl of mashed potatoes.  And not a little bowl, but a huge bowl with enough potatoes piled high to feed a small army. Oh and I forgot to mention that all this came after champagne, red wine and a generous selection of hors d'oeuvres, including a knockout edamame hummus that is definitely a contender for the best hummus I've ever tasted. And then we finished off with apple pie and homemade ice cream.

Thus, yesterday was spent recovering from the excess of Thanksgiving and family togetherness but I still wanted to cook something fun for the kids so I baked these cookies.  I've been trying to perfect a recipe for thin, chewy spice cookies for a while now and I think I've finally got it.  There's enough ginger to be pronounced but not so much that you can't taste the molasses or other spices.  These are pretty darn good.  I hope you try them.

printer friendly recipe

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour (buy it here)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon dried orange peel
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream together the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the molasses.

Beat in the egg until well combined.

Sift together all the remaining dry ingredients, except for the remaining sugar.

Add half of the dry ingredient to the butter mixture and stir well.  Repeat with the other half.

Chill in the fridge for two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll tablespoons of dough into small balls.  Roll each cookie dough ball in the remaining sugar until coated.

Place the cookie dough balls on a nonstick baking sheet about two inches apart.

Use the bottom of a glass to gently flatten each ball into a small circle, about 1/3 inch thick.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until deep golden brown.

Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

One Pot Meal: Spatchcock Chicken with Brussels Sprouts & Potatoes

Happy Thanksgiving!

I roasted a spatchcocked chicken a few weeks ago along with some brussels sprouts and potatoes.  It occurred to me this morning that this dish would be perfect for a casual Thanksgiving meal for a small group of people, if roasting a big turkey isn't part of the game plan.  Turkey is great but it's a bit much if you don't have a dozen people to help you eat it.  And you don't have to dirty up a lot of pots and pans to cook this chicken.  One roomy roasting pan is all you need.

Don't know how to spatchcock a chicken?  It's pretty easy to do.  Watch this:

And now I am off to the in-laws' house for our Thanksgiving dinner with the family.  I'm not cooking a damn thing this year and I am a-okay with that.  But I have big plans for Christmas dinner...

printer friendly recipe

4 pound whole chicken, spatchcocked
1 pint brussels sprouts, cleaned and root ends trimmed
4 potatoes, cut into two inch chunks
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
2 teaspoons savory leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spread the brussels sprouts, potatoes and garlic in an even layer in the bottom of your roasting pan.

Lay the spatchcocked chicken on top.

Drizzle with the olive oil.

Halve the lemons and squeeze over the entire pan.  Tuck the lemon pieces into the vegetables.

Sprinkle the chicken and vegetables with the rosemary, savory, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.

Roast for 50-55 minutes.

Serves 4.

Friday, November 5, 2010

One Pot Meal: Lamb & Lentil Soup

Dried leaves falling from the trees, gray clouds in the sky and a blustery wind beating against my door.  You what that means... soup!  Really, what's better on a miserable day than a bowl of steamy hot, meaty soup?

I had some beautiful lamb bones stored in the freezer, leftover from a fantastic piece of lamb that I cooked for a back porch dinner party this summer with a couple of our friends. (Which was amazing by the way, butterflied leg of lamb with mint and basil pesto, YUM!)  Waste not, want not is a kitchen credo I try to incorporate whenever possible so I saved those raw lamb bones, which still had a good amount of meat on them, to serve as the basis for another meal.  I'm not made of money and it's always good to stretch a buck with the groceries.  I already had the lamb bones from another meal but you can always ask the butcher at the supermarket if you can buy a few bones.  They're usually cheap, generally not more than a few dollars per pound, so don't feel like you have to splurge on a pricey leg of lamb before you can make this soup.

If you don't have lamb bones then beef bones will work too. And if you don't have bones, well, then I feel a bit sorry for you but don't worry, the lentil soup will be tasty all on its own if you skip the bone parts.  In lieu of bones, you can add in some chopped cooked leftover meat near the end of cooking, whatever you happen to have.

Oh and I have to mention that my kids, ages six and eleven, loved this soup.  They ate a few bowls each.  Inexpensive and kid approved.  Score!

printer friendly recipe

2 pounds meaty lamb bones
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced small
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced small
2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cup dried lentils (any color you like)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 quarts low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the bones and cook on all sides until deeply browned.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and potatoes.  Add all of the herbs and spices.  Mix well.

Cover and sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes.

Add the lentils, tomato paste and broth.   Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 2 hours.

Remove bones and pick off any meat.  Add meat to pot.

Makes 8 very generous servings.
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