Holiday Sea Creatures

In case your endeavors with holiday cookie cutters go awkwardly wrong, I present an alternate suggestion:

Draw faces on them.

Magic! Lopsided Santas become Christmas Whales. Mis-shapen reindeer are transformed into Holiday Octopuses. Mangled gifts take on new life as Yuletide Jellyfish.

Oh, come on. They’re cute.

Advertisements

Oh Snap.

Gingersnap, of course!

My mother has thrown down the gauntlet, and challenged me to a gingerbread house contest. The deadline is New Year’s Eve, and I’m in the process of testing out gingerbread recipes, because mine has to win. Not every recipe is cut out for a career in architecture, so I’m finding other uses for the copious amounts of gingerbread dough in my fridge.

This particular recipe, the gingerbread from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything (which, side note, is becoming my new favorite resource, even though I totally used to say I wasn’t into cookbooks), makes perfect ginger snaps. I’ve been dipping them in my morning coffee.

The Recipe: Gingersnaps, adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe featured in How To Cook Everything

Yield: 4-5 dozen
Time: 40 minutes

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp for sprinkling
1 cup mild molasses (or blackstrap for more savory gingersnaps)
1 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Do This
Cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and ginger — which, by the way, smells really awesome.

Mix the baking soda with a couple of tablespoons of warm water, and add to the butter/sugar/molasses mixture. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, and blend well. Shape the dough into a big lump, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 350, and remove your dough from the fridge. While the oven is preheating, let the dough hang out and soften for a few minutes, then roll out to your desired cookie thickness. Gingersnaps are supposed to be fairly crisp, so I like to aim for about 1/4″ or thinner. Cut out desired shapes (I was boring this time and went with round, but you can use cookie cutters if you like) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sugar, just for fun. Bake for 8-10 minutes (until the edges of the cookies start to turn golden brown) and cool before tasting. The cooling step? Not optional. If you try to sneak a cookie before they’ve cooled off, you’ll discover that they’re so soft that they’ll break into little mushy, delicious bits.

Of note: I chose to do round cookies with this recipe because the dough didn’t want to play nice with the more intricately-shaped cookie cutters. It was alternately too hard (right out of the fridge) or too sticky (after 10 minutes) and I couldn’t get the dough to the consistency I was looking for. But, that’s the way the cookie crumbles! I’ve got plenty of gingerbread recipes to try out, so expect to see an abundance of festive treats.

Hello, Friends

I’m being shameless this weekend, and mostly posting about my fancy new kitchen things. We had some out-of-town visitors, and ended up going out to eat more than cooking, so there aren’t any fun food pictures to post.

That said, meet my new friends. They’re going to be responsible for some fun food pictures!

Interesting tidbit: Crate & Barrel likes to refer to these little guys as pancake molds. I bought them because my other cookie cutters are flimsy, and I wanted something sturdy and non-stick. I’m pretty sure I can dual-purpose these little gingerbread dudes, and have festive cookies and pancakes.

Want ’em? They’re just $5.95 apiece at your local C&B.

Well, That Didn’t Work

Creativity is awesome. I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be such a thing as a foodie if people didn’t get creative with cooking.

But…sometimes creativity gets taken too far, and you end up with fish on a cookie*.

See, I ordered a container of red miso from Asian Food Grocer (love them, by the way!) , but I didn’t have any plans for it. I just wanted to try miso, and wasn’t exactly sure what to do when a giant tub of it arrived at my house.

So I started brainstorming. Miso soup? Too boring. Miso glazed meat? Maybe. Hmm, miso and ginger are friends…what about miso and gingerbread? Yes! That’s it! Scallops marinated in miso, pan-seared (um, we’ll use that term loosely, since you can see in the photo that they’re a little less than seared) and served on savory gingerbread, with….well, why not grapefruit? Yeah! That’ll be awesome.

It wasn’t. But oh, I had hopes for it.

On the plus side: I really enjoy the savory gingerbread I made. I used blackstrap molasses and quite a bit less sugar than I put in my cookie gingerbread, and it worked out deliciously well. Just, uh, not with scallops on top.

And I want to make something tasty with miso, still. Suggestions are absolutely appreciated…even creative ones.

* Yep. That would be the actual description given by my taste-testers. Fish on a cookie.

How Do You Build A Gingerbread House?

With a gingerbread hammer, of course. Next question, please?

Cherry, Walnut, and Lots of Chocolate

I remixed my Toll House Remix cookies. This time, cherry extract and chopped walnuts share the stage with all of that chocolate. I also topped the cookies with walnuts, but that was mainly to distinguish them from the other batches of chocolate-y cookies I was making.

Not surprisingly, these are delicious dunked in ice cold milk.

I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

I love cookies that look like coffee beans.

Coffee-flavored shortbread cookies (made with Intelligentsia coffee), shaped like coffee beans because that’s just cute. And also because that’s how Martha Stewart makes her (very similar) espresso shortbread cookies.

Update: the recipe! I do have to admit that I’ve only made these once, so I can’t vouch for the reliability of the recipe, but they were delicious when I made them! I’m definitely planning on making these again, so I’ll post edits if there are any.

The Recipe: Coffee Bean Shortbread, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Espresso-Bean Shortbread, featured in Holiday Party Foods 2003

Yield: 4-5 dozen
Time: 5-6 hours, including chilling time

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp ground coffee (I used Intelligentsia’s El Gallo Breakfast Blend)
2 tbsp hot water
3 cups + 2 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp salt

Do This
Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir the coffee grounds into the hot water until it forms a nice, coffee-smelling paste. Scoop the coffee paste into the butter/sugar/vanilla mix, and blend well.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients, and combine into the dough. Once everything is well-blended, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours (the dough might be sticky, but chilling it will firm things up).

Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 325. While the oven is preheating, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and shape the dough into small ovals. Use a butterknife or skewer to etch a line into the center of each oval — magic! It’s a coffee bean!

Bake your coffee bean cookies until golden brown at the edges, around 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then serve with your beverage of choice.

Incidentally, they go well with both coffee and tea.