Monday, December 20, 2010

Separating the boys from the (gingerbread) men

Santa is about to make his arduous journey around the world. Why not treat the old man to some gingerbread cookies with a kick? Yep, these are not gingerbread boys; they're full grown gingerbread men made with a healthy dose of spiced rum. Although they are robust and rum-y, kids can eat these, too as the alcohol evaporates during baking.

I prefer metal cookie cutters because they have a sharper edge, cutting all the way through the dough. And the older the cutter, the closer it is to my heart.

To lessen the amount of times you have to roll out the dough, try to get as many cookies from the dough each time you roll.

Boozy Gingerbread Men

-1/2 cup softened butter
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup molasses (If you don't care much for molasses, you can substitute some of it with sorghum, maple syrup, and/or honey. Example - 1/2 cup molasses & 1/2 cup honey.)
-1/2 cup spiced rum
-4 cups flour, plus a little bit more for rolling out the dough
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1.5 tsp. ground ginger
-1/8 tsp. ground clove (optional)
-1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)

To make the dough:
Beat butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Add molasses (and honey/maple syrup/sorghum if desired) and rum. Beat until fully incorporated. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add the dry mixture slowly to the wet mixture until combined. Don't over stir. Flatten dough slightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (This dough can be made two days in advance if it's kept in the fridge.)

Tips for rolling out the dough:
Keep the dough as cold as you can. Divide the dough into six smaller pieces. Use one small piece at a time and keep the other pieces in the fridge. This will make it easier for you to roll out as well.
Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch. Work on a lightly floured surface or between sheets of parchment paper. If the dough is sticky, it's better to roll it out on flour.
Having trouble lifting the cookie from your work surface? Slide a thin spatula under it to transfer from the surface to the cookie tray, then next time you roll out the dough, add a bit more flour.

Bake on a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 6 min. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet.

Decorating: if you like dried fruit, nuts, or seeds, you can dot the cookies with them before they go into the oven.
If you like a drizzle of icing, here's a good recipe:
Combine 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 3/4 tsp. of vanilla extract, and 1 tsp. of milk. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Let dry.

Store cookies in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's POM time

Hello guys! Sorry no recipe this week, but I had to share some good news. Last week, Karli and I got a very cool email. A fella from POM Wonderful messaged us to see if we would come up with a recipe using their delicious and nutritious pomegranate juice and blog about it. My internal response was something like, "Hells yes!" The POM fella is sending us a case to experiment with. I can't wait to get started! Unfortunately, my experimentation won't begin until after this crazy holiday season. Speaking of, boozy gingerbread cookies are coming next week. See you then!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Potato & Leek Soup

Leeks are perhaps one of the most beautiful vegetables. Their interiors are so vibrant. This soup is a great way to use left over mashed potatoes. Just whip them right into the broth. This soup can be made vegetarian or vegan as well. It's just a nice soup to make on the fly for a cold day.

There is fennel bulb in this soup that mustn't be overlooked. The subtle fennel flavor adds a lot to this simple soup. The fennel fronds can be used as a tasty garnish, too.

Here are the cooked, wilty veggies after about 8 minutes. They were cooked in olive oil, but to really add some flavor, cook some bacon in the pot, discard and reserve the bacon to garnish the finished soup, and cook the veggies in the delicious, fatty bacon grease. Yes, I know, it's a heart attack waiting to happen, but what a tasty way to go.

Potato and Leek Soup

- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 leeks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (Discard the coarse, green leaves at the top.)
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 3 cups mashed potatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth OR 2 cups of broth and 2 cups of milk

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, fennel, and salt - cook stirring occasionally until soft - about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the mashed potatoes and broth (and milk if using) and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through - about 4 to 6 minutes.
Puree the mixture in the pot using an immersion blender (or use a stand blender).
Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Dish out and serve with crackers.

Makes about 4 servings.