Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gingerbread Cookies

I haven't made this yet, but my mom gave it to me and said they were amazing. Will make this weekend. Just didn't want to lose the recipe.

Gingerbread Cookies

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbls cocoa powder
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses

1. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
2. Beat butter, sugar, egg, and molasses until fluffy. Stir in other dry ingredients.
3. Refrigerate for several hours or over night.
4. Roll out dough until slightly more than 1/4 inch thick.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

Sugar Icing
1 package confectioners sugar, 1 lb.
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Beat until smooth. If not enough water, slowly add more teaspoon by teaspoon.

Tips: oven temperature is really important when baking cookies. If you don't have a fancy oven (i.e. owning your first home or renting), an oven thermometer is worth it to make sure your oven is just right.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

E and I made this bread over Thanksgiving which was then served to W who went back for seconds. The bread was good straight out of the oven

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Makes 2 loaves

* 1 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
* 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 1 tbls honey
* 5 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
* 1 cup warm milk
* 4 teaspoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 2 cups dark raisins
* Canola oil, for bowl and plastic wrap
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 7 teaspoons cinnamon
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 1 large egg white, beaten

1. In small bowl, combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast and honey. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. (We wrapped the bowl in hand towel to keep the water warm.) Mix 1 cup warm water, 1 cup warm milk and 3 tablespoons melted butter in large mixing bowl and then add yeast mixture. Gradually add flour, powdered milk, sugar, and salt. Mix until blended. Knead by hand, 15 or 20 minutes. Add raisins and 3 teaspoons cinnamon, and mix until blended.

2. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand into a ball. Place dough, smooth side up, in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans generously, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon, and set aside. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and cut in half. Cover one piece of dough loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap.

4. Press the other piece of dough into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush with half of the beaten egg, sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar, and drizzle with half the melted butter. Rub the surface with the back of a spoon to blend butter and cinnamon sugar. Starting at a short end, roll up dough tightly, and pinch together along crease. Roll the dough back and forth to make it cylindrical, and pinch the ends together. Transfer to a loaf pan, seam side down, and cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Repeat process with second piece of dough. Let loaves rise in a warm place, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Thirty minutes before this final rise is completed, place a baking stone, if using, in the lower third of oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

5. Brush tops of loaves with egg white, and sprinkle each loaf with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Bake 15 minutes; lower oven to 400 degrees, and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Changes: the honey with the yeast was added. The original recipe called for powdered milk but I didn't have any and unless I am in Guatemala don't keep it in the kitchen. So I substituted a cup of warm milk for one of the cups of water. I kept the milk warm so it won't stop the growth of the yeast.
E also blended in some of the cinnamon into the main bread which I thought was a nice touch.
When I make it again, I may add more butter between the layers. Mmmm...butter...

Bread tips
: I had heard that yeast tends to negatively react to metal. After some online research, this seems to mainly apply to acidic breads like sourdough. I don't think this bread is acidic so I won't worry about it.
If your house isn't very warm in the winter, you can use your oven to help the bread rise. Heat the oven to the lowest temperature possible, turn off the oven door and place the bread bowl inside covered with a slightly damp cloth that is not touching the dough.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pork Roast

I made a port roast this weekend with D., cab never came, and missed the symphony. Life is hard, but meat is good. We got the recipe partly from How to Cook Everything.

Pork Roast Recipe

One pound carrots
One medium onion
Two large red potatoes
Three cloves chopped garlic
Olive oil
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Two and a half pounds of pork shoulder

Heat oven to 450. Coarsely chop all veggies to be one inch or a little more. Cook one and a half to two hours until the meat thermometer says 160 to 170 degrees. We did it to 160.

Thoughts and feelings: the shoulder is really fatty and the meat was tough. The carrots, onion, and potatoes were amazing. I am not sure how to make pork roast tender and flavorful. Next time I am going to slow cook at 300 for a really long time and maybe marinate it. Also, I am not going to do it right before the symphony.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cauliflower-Cheese Soup

This soup is great on a cold wintery night, and as an added bonus, cauliflower is in season. This recipe is from The Moosewood Cookbook (the revised classic) with a few variations of my own.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

1 medium potato, diced
1 large cauliflower, cut or broken into pieces
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cup onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups grated cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp dill
black pepper, to taste

1. Put potatoes, cauliflower, carrot, garlic, onion, and salt in pot and almost cover the veggies with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until all the veggies are tender. Puree in a blender or food processor.
2. Add these to the puree along with all remaining ingredients. Heat gently, and serve topped with a little extra cheese.

I don't blend all of the ingredients thoroughly so the soup has some consistency to it. You can also put aside two cups of florets of cauliflower, steam them, and put them in the soup after you puree it.

The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, but I don't like them so I never add them.

I also used smoked swiss cheese this time and it was delicious. Enjoy with all its variations.