Monday, December 11, 2017

Gingersnap Cookies


I don't recall how long I have been making this recipe but I do know that, for some reason, I only make them during the Christmas Holiday. They are definitely good enough to be made at any time of year.

They are spicy (maybe that's why they are perfect for the holidays), buttery, crisp and easy to make.


In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, the spices and the baking soda and salt. Set that aside.


In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (you can also easily use a hand mixer with this recipe) whip the softened butter until fluffy.
 

Now add your egg and the molasses and mix until completely incorporated.
 

Add the flour in additions and incorporate on low speed until just mixed.
 

Form into a 10 inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is very firm or overnight. Most of the time I prepare the dough the day before baking.


With a 1 Tbsp. scoop form one-inch balls

 
 
and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart


Bake until brown and set


 


 Gingersnap Cookies
Makes approximately 5-1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
 1 large egg
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses

Method:
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, white pepper, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, using a handheld mixer or the whisk attachment of the stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and molasses.  Add the dry ingredients in two additions, and beat on low speed until just blended.  Form the dough into a 10-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll tablespoons of the dough (or use a Tbsp. scoop) into 1-inch balls and arrange them about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.  Bake on the upper and middle racks of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until browned and set. Shift the pans halfway through the baking time.  Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets.

These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.      


 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cream of Chicken Soup


I normally make this when I have leftovers from a roast chicken or a store-bought rotisserie chicken. It's one of Lovey's favorite leftover dishes. Especially when it is cold; like it is today.

One of the things I love about being retired is that I have the option of prepping dinner early.  It's easy to do so with this recipe, then it's really easy to throw together and serve within 30 to 40 minutes.




Dice the onion, carrots and celery into 1/4" pieces.  It's a plus to use celery stalks with the leaves; the leaves add an enormous amount of flavor. Mince the clove of garlic and set all this aside.


 
 Cut your left-over chicken into bite-size pieces 


Measure out your chicken broth (store bought or homemade)




 and the flour


 
bundle the herbs and tie into a bouquet garni.  I usually wrap these up in a piece of cheese cloth but I just threw it in there bare today.


 
Now you are ready to create your soup.  Melt a stick of butter and sweat the vegetables.


Add the flour, mix well and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.


Add the broth and gently whisk until the broth and roux are combined. Bring to a boil



and throw in the bouquet garni. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.


Add the chicken and return to a boil.

 
 
Remove soup from the heat and add the cream and sherry.

NOTE:  Sometimes I like to add rice to my bowl. Steam up a little rice or use left-over rice.


Cream of Chicken Soup
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion
2 stalks celery with leaves
3 medium carrots
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
7 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken, leftover roast chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tsp. dry sherry
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
cooked rice (optional)

Mise en Place:
  • chop onion, celery and carrot into 1/4" pieces and  set aside
  • mince garlic and add to other vegetables
  • Measure out flour
  • measure out stock
  • gather parsley, thyme, and bay leaf into a bundle and tie into a bouquet garni
  • chop chicken into bite-size pieces
  • if using garnish, roughly chop the 2 Tbsp. parsley
  • cook rice if using
Method: 
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 12 minutes.  Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 more minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the bouquet garni. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and return to a boil.  Remove from heat.

Stir the cream and sherry into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with chopped parsley if desired. Serves up nice with a side salad or sandwich. We like grilled cheese.

If using rice, place 1/4 cup cooked rice in bottom of bowl and ladel soup over rice.       

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lemon Spaghetti

This is a wonderfully light and bright dish to make as a side or an entreé.  Most of the time Lovey and I make this as an entreé and serve with a grilled chicken breast or poached fish.

It is so simple and easy to throw together and although it only takes minutes to prepare you can still make the sauce ahead of time, set in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours so all you have to do at dinner time is boil your water for the pasta.



Ingredients are few.  You have spaghetti (naturally), grated fresh Parmesan Reggiano, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper



Simply throw the olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan, and salt and pepper into a large enough mixing bowl to easily toss a pound of cooked spaghetti.  Set that aside.


Before I boil my pasta I add a lemon half (one that I juiced and zested) and any basil stems and little un-used leaves to the salted water.  When your water comes to a boil add your spaghetti and cook until al dente.  


 
Drain and pour into mixing bowl that has the sauce.  Sprinkle with the lemon zest.  At this point you may also add chopped basil if you choose to use.  Toss to coat the spaghetti and season to taste, if needed. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid from the spaghetti at this point.

 

If this is going to be the main dish you can serve as is...



or top the spaghetti with the sliced grilled chicken breast...



or poached cod.


Lemon Spaghetti
Adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis
Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)

Mise en Place:
  • grate Parmesan
  • grate zest from lemons
  • squeeze juice from lemons
  • chop or chiffonade the basil if using

Method:
In a large mixing bowl mix together the Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Whisk together and set aside.  NOTE:  If you make this sauce ahead of time mix in a smaller bowl, cover with plastic wrap then store in refrigerator for up to 8 hours.  You will need to allow the sauce to come to room temperature and then transfer to the large mixing bowl.

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.  If using a whole wheat pasta it may take a little longer for it to become tender.

Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the spaghetti to the bowl lemon sauce, toss with the lemon zest (and basil if you are using). Toss the pasta with enough of the reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten.

Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Transfer to bowls and serve.

Serving Options: Top with sliced, grilled chicken breast or poached or sauteéd fish such as salmon or cod.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Butternut Squash Soup

 
I wanted to try this butternut squash recipe from Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year cookbook.  She is my number one favorite food writer and I have every book she has ever written.

I believe this is going to become my "go-to" butternut squash soup recipe.  In the past I have pretty much always made this Cream of Butternut Squash Soup which is really good but this recipe is so light and simple.  Not just in how it's made but  because it doesn't have added cream, sherry, etc. the beautiful fresh flavor of the squash is the star of the show. 


Aside from a little olive oil, salt and water these are the only ingredients to create this soup. Since everything is going to be pureéd you don't have to be particular about chopping the vegetables.


Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in a little olive oil until tender.  Notice my last sentence..very to the point and boring.  Here is how Ruth instructs: "Slick the bottom of a casserole or Dutch oven with olive oil, add the vegetables, and let them tumble into tenderness, ......"  How great is that? (bold emphasis is mine).



 Add the squash and potato to the vegetables and add salt and water.


Cover and simmer until everything is soft.

 

In batches, transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and pureé until smooth.



Return to pot to re-heat



Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar.  I topped mine off with a little splash of Apple Balsamic that I bought at Vomfass in Scottsdale. Perfect.


Butternut Squash Soup
From My Kitchen Year - 136 Recipes that Saved My Life" by Ruth Reichl
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 stalk celery
2 carrots
1 yellow onion
1 pound butternut squash
1/2 pound potato (preferably waxy like Yukon Gold)
salt
water

Mise en Place:
  • roughly chop celery (I like to pull most of the strings off the stalk first)
  • peel and roughly chop carrots
  • roughly chop onion
  • peel and cut the squash into 3/4 " pieces (butternut is easier to cut if you peel it first. Be sure to peel down to the bright orange flesh)
  • peel and roughly chop the potato
Method:
Drizzle a little olive oil to cover the bottom of a Dutch oven.  Sauté the celery, carrots, and onion until tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the squash and potato into the vegetables, add a couple teaspoons of Kosher salt and toss.  Bring 2-1/2 cups of water to boil in the microwave then add to the vegetables.  Cover and allow to simmer until all ingredients are soft.

Transfer the mixture, in batches, to a blender and pureé.  Be sure to cover the lid of the blender with a folded tea-towel in case their are any "explosions" - this is a hot mixture.  Return the pureé to a pot to re-heat.

Serve in bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil or Balsamic vinegar.