Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Cookies: Molasses Crinkles

Who am I kidding, we make these year round here! That being said, these are probably my husband's favorite cookie (they compete with chocolate chip cookies). This version of the recipe comes from his mother. I actually made these before I met him, with the exception of the step that calls for refrigerating the dough. That step makes a much bigger difference in the texture than I realized, so when I tried to make his favorite cookies using my version of the recipe . . . let's just say that didn't go terribly well for either of us.

This year I think marks the best batch of these yet. I used the paddle attachment for my kitchen aid--I had previously only used the whisk to cream butter and sugar--and I think I got the best batch of dough every. I baked them on parchment paper, another first, and I don't think I'll ever go back.

Without further ado, I present the recipe for Molasses Crinkles:

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger

For dipping balls of dough: 1/4 cup white sugar, water

1. Mix first four ingredients well.
2. In a separate bowl, sift remaining (dry) ingredients together.
3. Slowly stir/mix ingredients from step 2 with those from step 1.
4. Wrap dough in wax paper or plastic wrap, chill for at least one hour.
5. Remove dough from refrigerator and form small, walnut-sized balls. Roll each ball in white sugar, and place about 3 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with 2-3 drops of water for a crackled surface.
6. Bake each batch of cookies for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. No change for altitude.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Chicken Tikka

Equipment Needed: approx. 20 wooden (or metal) skewers, broiler pan, blender (or food processor)


2 cups nonfat (plain) yogurt

1 t cumin

1 t coriander

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 (1 ½ inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped

2 T fresh lime juice

1 ½ t salt (kosher, if you have it)

¾ t ground turmeric

½ t garam masala (Indian spice mix, can be made home!)

½ t black pepper

¼ t cayenne

5 pounds skinless boneless thighs, cut into 1 – 1.5 inch cubes

Olive oil (to brush pan, do not combine with marinade!)


Combine and puree all ingredients except chicken and oil in blender/food processor until mixture is smooth and all elements are well combined.

Put chicken in large bowl, or divide between two sealable plastic bags, add yogurt mixture, cover. Marinade in fridge at least four hours, turning (if in bags) or stirring (in bowl) occasionally.

If using wooden skewers, soak in water 30 minutes before using. Remove chicken from fridge, bring to room temp. Preheat broiler, brush broiler pan lightly with oil.

Divide chicken among skewers (roughly 5 pieces per skewer), leaving about 1/8 an inch space between cubes. Arrange about five skewers across pan. Broil about four inches from heat, turning over once, until browned in spots and just cooked through, 9-12 minutes in total.

Transfer cooked skewers to large plate or platter, cover loosely with foil to keep warm if desired. Broil remaining skewers in same manner. Remove chicken from skewers, serve warm or at room temperature as desired.

Note: In Indian cooking, tikka refers to chunks of meat cooked on skewers. Now you know!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Recipe 2: Orange-Polenta Biscotti

Meet my friend, orange-polenta biscotti. My college roommate introduced us, and we've been buddies ever since. This biscotti might not be biscotti to the purists; it is a bit softer, and you don't risk breaking your teeth when you bite into it. You could dip it into tea or coffee, if you chose, but since I detest remotely soggy biscotti, and I hate crumbs in my tea, I've never tried it.

Anyway, this is orange-polenta biscotti. The first time my college roommate made them, they didn't last 2 hours. The second time (later that afternoon), they lasted much longer, but only because she said should would kill us if we ate them all again.

I made these today. I don't think I've eaten more than 5. I had to make sure they turned out, though. I needed a random sample of reasonable size!

Orange-Polenta Biscotti

1/2c unsalted butter (diced)
1c sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla
2tsp grated orange zest
2tbsp fresh orange juice
2 1/2c flour
1/2c polenta
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs.
Stir in vanilla, peel and juice and set aside.
Mix flour, polenta, baking powder and salt in separate bowl.
Mix flour and egg mixtures.
Shape into two logs about 2 inches by 14 inches and put on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes or so till golden on edges.
Cool 10-15 minutes (they crumble if you don't!)
Cut into ¾-inch slices.
Put back onto baking sheet and bake about 10-20 minutes
Turn over and bake another 10-20 minutes.

I baked mine for about 20 minutes after I sliced the logs, then finished them with 5 more minutes at 350. YMMV.

Local grocery stores carry polenta in their "bulk" sections, though if you don't live in Hippytown, as I do, you may not find it there (or your grocery store may not have a bulk section). You need dry polenta, not the kind that comes pre-cooked in a tube.

Tastiness rating: ***** (nom)
Appearance: *** Most of my biscotti looks like professional biscotti. That being said, it also isn't gorgeous. Perhaps a glaze would fancify it?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recipe 1: Pasta Carbonara with Turkey Bacon

I love turkey bacon. Well, I love bacon, and turkey bacon is even easier to love, because it only has 35 calories in each slice.

Anyway, last night I made pasta carbonara with turkey bacon. I used the Paupered Chef recipe, but used my awesome turkey bacon. I also made a few other adjustments.

First, I fried the turkey bacon (2 slices, chopped) in about 1.5 tbsp of olive oil. Turkey bacon is not as oily as its pork-based counterpart, so I added extra oil to compensate for that. You should also add a bit of salt, because our friend turkey bacon is also less salty. While your bacon is frying (it needs to be crispy), cook 2 oz of spaghetti according to package directions.

(I suppose this is the part where I apologize for the awkward in-progress pictures. In my dreams, I aspire to be like Pioneer Woman in my picture taking. I have aways to go yet.)

Anyway, this is the part where you dump the pasta you've cooked in with the bacon (turkey or otherwise) and mix it around, then add an egg white (just put the yoke in a bowl and put the bowl in the fridge*) and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese to the mix. (Unless your me, and you are a) lactose intolerant and b) only have about 1/4 cup of cheese to add). Mix it around some more, till it's all combined. As the original recipe poster said, "it will look kind of gross."

Dump the whole mixture into a big-ish soup bowl, and plop the egg yolk you saved earlier on top. Add a bunch of black pepper.

It will still look a bit gross. Mix it all up, so that the egg yolk coats everything.


Tastiness Rating: **** (it's still better with real bacon, but this is almost as good)
Appearance: :-( Not so much. So this is ugly tasty cake. :)


*If you're like me, you like to set everything up before you start frying. If you separate the egg in advance, the yoke get's a bit gooey as it warms up and sticks to the sides of your bowl/whatever you put it in, instead of your pasta. Hence, refrigeration.

Friday, January 15, 2010

why tasty cake?

While I was in Japan a couple years ago, I frequently sent messages to friends and family with the text "ate tasty cake." It doesn't matter where you are, in Japan, there are pretty much always delicious-looking, individually-portioned desserts, often for only a few hundred yen (a few dollars, at the time). The tiramisu, above, came from a convenience store. When was the last time you bought something this gorgeous at your local 7-11? If I hadn't been walking 5-7 miles a day, I'm sure I would have gained several pounds in the two weeks I spent in Japan. (There was other amazing food, too. Seriously delicious stuff!)

Now, a few years later, when I'm snacking on something or making dinner, people in my family will sometimes ask, "tasty cake?" And so, "tasty cake" has kind of come to indicate delicious, well-presented food. Thus, the title of my food blog. My food-related goal this year is to make delicious food that looks nice, in hopes that it will be easier to eat less of food that satisfies my eyes as well as my stomach. We'll see how it goes!