Tag Archive for 'ginger'

cookie-o-logy

A friendship that can go the distance is worth waiting for. It had been four score and umpteen days since my former Florentine roomie had visited the San Francisco Bay Area. We had seen each other in between, and talked as often as life would permit, but having her here made each morsel taste more flavorful. As is often the case, my memories are provoked by food related stories. This story would start the same, but to the keen eye there are differences. We were two young American brown-eye’d girls living in Florence, and life was just FUN. Our apartment, the nicest I had ever had, was on Piazza D’Azeglio and it was a location that completed the vision of what life in urban Tuscany was like. Funds were often quite limited, so we cooked…and we cooked, and found that we just loved the ritual of shopping, preparing, cooking and eating an array of fresh flavors.

My earliest recipe development takes root in Piazza D’Azeglio. Dishes I still covet today all began in this lovely, tiny, modern kitchen; risotto with mushrooms (Porcini Risotto), pasta with tuna (Pasta al’Tonno), rabbit stew (Coniglio a la Campagnola -I know, how politically incorrect!). But I have digressed, my love for Burley (her given name: Kimberly), grew in Italy, and has never wavered.

Now back to food, upon her arrival I quickly found myself in the kitchen, with her by my side. We played and fussed with this recipe until it was anything but Italian, but it was all too reminiscent of so many things that comprise our friendship: chocolate chunk cookies (not easy to find in Italy), pinenuts (traditionally found in pesto sauce, we wanted to pair it with a sweet combination), oatmeal (get healthy- it is 21st century), and ginger (well, sailing on the Almafi coast can make you a bit ill and digesting ginger does help). Mix it all together and what have you got? The perfect cookie to take with you when you go sailing and want to feel indulgent- Ginger, Chocolate Oatmeal & Pinenut Cookies, AKA Race Committee Cookies, concocted by two girls who used to live in Italy. (Did you manage to follow that complex web of cookie-o-logy?)


Ginger, Chocolate Oatmeal & Pinenut Cookies (AKA Race Committee Cookies)

Ingredients

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup candied ginger, chopped into pieces
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped (we used Scharffen Berger’s Ben Tre Dark Chocolate for this recipe)
1/2 cup dark chocolate, grated
1 cup pinenuts, toasted (or substitute chopped macadamia nuts)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small pan, on medium-low heat toast pine nuts. They will brown quickly so be sure to watch them closely. When light brown in color, remove from heat and set aside.

In a large-size bowl, beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Then add in eggs and vanilla and beat well.

In a small-size bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, shredded chocolate and salt; mix well. Add this mixture to the butter mixture and blend well. Stir in oats, coconut, nuts chocolate chunks; mix well

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.

Yields 4 ½ dozen (unless you eat too much of the batter, which I am prone to do!)

Note: A great tip is to bake half and freeze half in a log shape in plastic wrap and then foil. Then for quick, hot, fresh baked cookies, cut a few sections off and pop them onto a cookie sheet and place them into a pre-heated oven. They may require a few extra minutes of cook time once frozen, but they will be a delicious TREAT. And for those of you that read my Halloween post earlier this week, consider this post the Treat to my Trick post.


Luscious Holiday Pear Pie


To say that I’ve been thinking about this pie for a few weeks would be an outright lie. I’ve been contemplating this concoction for over three months. Last night, I couldn’t take *thinking* about it any longer, I had to rally and it was worth the effort. The wafting fragrance was to me in one word, Christmas. It smelled like Christmas…let me know if this tangy pie reminds me of your holiday. Enjoy!

Fresh Pear Ginger-Spiced Cranberry Brown Sugar Streusel PIE

Streusel Ingredients

1 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
whip cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

Pear Filling Ingredients

3 lbs (5-6 medium size) Anjou or Bartlett pears
2 TBS lemon juice, fresh squeezed
2/3 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups cranberries, fresh or thawed frozen
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 TBS crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Crust Ingredients

To save time, buy ready made 9-inch deep dish pie crust and cook according to package directions. Alternatively, you can make the crust with this recipe. This pie dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or can be frozen for 3 months. If frozen, thaw the night before using or at least 6 hours before. The secret to a perfect pie crust _ _ _ _ _ _ (BUTTER)! If making crust from scratch, please scroll down to the bottom of this post for the directions and be certain to make this before you start the filling to minimize the fruit from forming excessive liquid in the waiting process.

1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
8 TBS unsalted butter, cold and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 to 4 TBS ice water

Directions- pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, position rack in center of oven.

Peel and core the pears. Cut length-wise into 8 wedges and then slice cross-wise into 1/2-inch slices. (End result should be approximately 7 cups of fruit). In large bowl, add the sliced pears and lemon juice.

In a food processor, pulse the cranberries with the sugar until coarsely chopped. Add this into the pear mixture.

In small-size bowl, add the flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and crystallized ginger. Mix together well. Add the dry ingredients into the pears and toss well to combine.

Place cooked pie crust on a foil lined baking sheet. Mound the pear filling into the pie crust.

Directions- brown sugar streusel

In a medium-size bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Using your fingers blend the softened butter into the mixture. The mixture will be somewhat firm. Sprinkle the streusel over the pear filling and press it into the top of the pie filling in all of the open spaces. (Note: If you crumble the topping vs. gently pressing it onto the pie filling it will spill over.)

Bake pie 40 minutes and then rotate. The pie filling should become bubbly and the red color evident in through the streusel. Return pie to oven and cook for another 25-30 minutes. (Note: If the crust or streusel browns before the filling has thickened, loosely cover the top or edges of the pie with either a bit of aluminum foil or a pie shield.)

Cool approx 45-60 minutes before serving. For extra bonus calories, top the slice of warm pie with fresh whip cream or ice cream. Depending on the preference this recipe yields 6-8 servings. Pie is best stored at room temp for up to 2 days, in cool conditions.

Directions- pie crust (for the die hards)

In a medium-size bowl, add flour, sugar and salt mixing well. Add the butter by rubbing the chunks between fingers (smearing the butter into the flour mixture). The consistence should be flaky.

Drizzle 3 TBS of cold water over the flour mixture. Dough needs to hold itself together, if it doesn’t then add an additional 1 TBS of water.

With well floured hands, form the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour, best if it can chill for up to 4 hours.

Before rolling out the dough, allow to sit at room temperature to soften slightly. Depending on how long the dough was chilled this will take between 5-20 minutes. Be certain to roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface- rolling ‘around the clock’ (in a center out to edges in a clockwise direction is usually best). Dough should be 13 to14-inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. (Note: only add extra dusting flour as needed as this will make the crust thicker and clunky).

Gently transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie dish, trimming any overhanging dough. To get a thick edge crust, roll the dough under itself into a cylinder form on the rim of the dish. Crimp edges if you like the extra flair.

Using a fork, prick the sides and bottom of the crust. Refrigerate about 1 hour until firm.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, position rack in center of oven. Line the chilled pie crust with aluminum foil and fill it with the contents from a few bags of dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the foil/beans or weights. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake approximately 5-7 minutes longer until bottom of crust looks dry but is not browned. Allow to cool 10 minutes before filling. A dry crust will minimize ending up with a wet soggy crust when filled.