Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Crisp, chewy gingernaps

 I think there is a time and place for baking large-scale and it begins right about midOctober for most of us, leading to New Year's, and for the ambitious few, an additional week or two. Why, even peeking into history, you'll see that Easy Bake ovens debuted during the last quarter of 1963 so three year olds thenceforth could channel their inner Julia Child right in time for Christmas. It's truth, seasoncentric chefs will always and ever be a very good thing.

But I also imagine we freefall into this three month trajectory where once the weather hits 50° you unknowingly crave things baked, crisped, slathered and smothered with fats,flour, sugar, scents, things that just about make everyone merry and bright, circling on to greater baking, cooking, eating. A gluttonous cycle that needn't, shouldn't ever end too quick and has us wondering why it really can't pull into the twelve month round. Perhaps, there might be a stretch limit to one-size-fits-all pants(?).

Getting to point, these have been a part of my cookieswap/holiday gift reportoire for more than I can remember. Why I've never tried to share it here is a question I'll never live down, have no explanation for and creates atmosphere for loud suggestions from The Two, my almost-on-to-a driving permit adolescent (munching on more than a few of these have helped ease her mother's nightmare-driven mind) and her few-month-short-of-teenstatus sibling, the friends they share lunchbox with, teachers/soccer clubs/random acquaintances of past and present who've all professed an unwavering love for this utterly blogworthy meilleur biscui.
There are some things to consider when baking the grandest of gingersnaps. First, that it is Perfection. Second, the requirement of smallish ginger chunks in a season scented batter create an extravagance not known to common cookie standard. Third, it warrants an aweinduced reverence, from the brown edged finish to a decadent cushion interior, giving way to that incredibly softfirm/crispchew phenomenon. Fourth, the appeal of a well rounded batch of flavor can expand past the "holiday baking" horizons to, well, anytime of the year.

I'll zip this up and have you on your way to prepare preTurkey day tasks. Just know it's that good and I couldn't leave you bereft of what will be the ultimate kickoff to happy holidays forevermore.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A page for my firstborn and her dear friend, who recently professed so much love for the cookie that we needed to rush-update just for her. Ms. M, this to you, but be warned we intend to overload you with a lot more goodies, all year through.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1½ sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 3 tbsp  chopped crystallized ginger
  • ½ cup sugar for decoration

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. 
  • Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until light fluffy and pale in color.
  • Add the egg and continue beating until smooth.
  • Bring mixer speed down to low, add half the dry ingredient mixture and the molasses. Stop and scrape sides of bowl with spatula if needed and continue to beat on low.
  • Add in the remaining dry ingredients and beat for an additional  minute on medium-low speed. 
  • Add crystallized ginger and mix with spatula to incorporate and all ingredients are combined.
  • With a tablespoon sized spoon, scoop out dough and roll between palms, then roll into half cup sugar.
  • Drop dough onto parchment/silpat lined cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes on center rack.
  • Remove from oven and allow cookies to stay on pan for about a minute before transferring to wire racks for complete cooling. 
  • Can be stored in an airtight container for upto a week.
Baking specifics- 
Cutting short the bake time by a minute, at 11 minutes, leaves you with a customary chewy, soft cookie, no crisp.
12 minutes render a more chewy- crisp form, what I like best, goes well with a glass of milk, or nothing at all. 
At 15 minutes, cookie texture is more crisp/ brown, and more true to the "snap" in Ginger's name.

Dough freezes well, double bagged for upto a month.

November  2014~ Chili roasted cauliflower
November 2013~ Peanut butter oreo blondies
Dulce de leche cookies
November 2012~ Cookies!
Pumpkin spice cake( and what this year's dessert will be. It is That Good!)
Stuffed whole chicken 
Sweet potato fries
Beef fry 
Fall cupcakes ( we were diligent in 2012, right?)
" But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" 2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stuffed acorn squash

What's appeasing to the eyes fills the belly well. Said someone once. Might have been me. So starts my story in scoring the most beautiful pieces of acorn squash ever. There is no dearth in gourds, grain, rice, corn that show up in market piles, everywhere in seasonally characteristic orange/gold/brick, hues that should be painting this part of the hemisphere, but are directly averse to my immediate world, the one of a thousand prickly trees, where "cactus green" is in vogue 365 days of the year. So, why can't I  love the blatant consumerism calling for cutest/warmest/fuzziest chunky sweater, beauteous store displays indicative of that-time-of-the year, heralding all that's warm, glowy, and cinnamon scented? Though possibly, don't you think the pumpkin latte rant has gone way too far?

Coming back to food, always and forever our recurring theme anyways, the dynamics of visual persuasion directly works in line here, when catching glimpse of deeply pigmented produce and the goodness of harvest it promises. Your inclination to buy becomes an overzealous purchase, to the tune of, well, let's feed the family, and throw in the neighborhood too.

Today, these ridged beauties fulfill their greater destiny, going beyond the 101 reasons why I love acorn squash. I believe the sweet flesh of Acorn sans much gilding is amazing on its own. But when it commits to multi purpose causes, amassing huge flavor and grand texture, you're appreciation for the gorgeous gourd rises several fold.

Transformed into edible meal pots, the squash roasts become far superior to any bread bowl, lending distinct impression to a mealmaking medley that packs its insides. Caramelbrowned onions, bright-crisp vegetables, enriching duo of of meats, wine for sharpness, balance and fluffy quinoa are just part and parcel of what could be the ultimate party in your mouth. With each element leaning and offering its own, a monumental transfiguration happens once the whole show comes together, warranting a fantasticness almost impossible to mess up.

Of course, the best part is that once you wipe through the contents, you're then ready to eat the vessel itself. Satisfying comfort in a bowl, from the bowl and of the bowl.
Really, can you and do you ask for more?

Of course, I'm not forgetting those seeds, scooped out and toasted with just the right pinch of this and that. Topped with this oomph garnish, you are given a total snout to tail experience, mind you, in a way more wholesome sense.

Refashion ingredients to suit your tastes, it's the broadest blueprint,  one of take-and- make- epic standard and an integral part of your Autumnal menu. Why, with all those holidays rolling in, you're bound to make it for company twice over. In which case, I think I need an invite as well.

Late I know, but I am squeezing it out before another week creeps up on me and I'm well into back to back runs of Hallmarks' countdown to Christmas.
Gorgeous gatherings

  • 4 acorn squash 1-1.5 lbs each
  • cooking spray
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ lb ground chicken
  • ¼ lb ground chorizo
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 2-3 tbsp sliced almonds
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ cup  shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • roasted squash seeds (optional


  • Heat oven to 375°. 
  • Cut a thin slice off bottom round of each squash to create a base and have it stand upright. Cut off 1 inch from top part of each squash and scoop out seeds and middle. Don't throw the seeds away.
  • Coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Place each squash open flesh side down on a greased foil lined baking sheet.
  • Bake until tender, 30-40 minutes, depending on size of squash.
  • While squash roasts, prepare filling.
  • In a large non stick skillet, heat oil over medium flame.
  • Add onion, garlic, red pepper and ground meats. Cook until meats are cooked through and slightly browned.
  • Add celery, carrots, mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes until vegetables soften.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour in wine. Scrape through the bottom of pan and deglaze any bits.
  • Add kale, almonds and cook for an additional minute until kale wilts. Turn off heat.
  • Mix in cooked quinoa, parsley and oregano and stir all ingredients thoroughly.
  • Once squash is cooked, remove from oven and flip each one over so they form bowls.
  • Divide filling equally between squash.
  • Sprinkle with cheese (optional).
  • Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.
  • When serving top each squash with roasted seeds.
~ To save on time, roast seeds as you bake the stuffed squash. Just line a large baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pinch away any flesh or strings from the extracted seeds, wash and dry on towel. Arrange on prepared tray and toss with oil, salt and few sprinkles of cayenne or black pepper. Place under the sheet of squash, in lower two-thirds of oven and roast till brown, about 15 minutes.

Nov 2014~Chili roasted cauliflower
Nov 2013~ Peanut butter oreo blondies
Nov 2012~ Stuffed chicken
 "And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
James 3:18