Thursday, April 12, 2012

Swedish Gingersnaps

Swedish Gingersnaps

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in a friends and family cookbook that we put together about twenty years ago!  Jack and I were living in Chicago. My sister-in-law from Minneapolis and I collaborated on it long distance!  It was a blast...we should do another, one of these days.

So what did I change?  Well, the original recipe called for vegetable shortening and white sugar.  I changed it to unsalted butter and light brown sugar (but less of it) and salt.

These cookies aren't a crisp cookie.  They're firm but moist...a little chewy.  And buttery.


What you need:

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup light brown sugar (that's what I used but you could use dark brown, of course)
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Set aside.

Place the softened butter in a large bowl...

...and beat for 30 seconds or so.

Add the egg and molasses and mix well.

Add the brown sugar...

...and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt, spices)...

...and mix thoroughly.

Chill dough until easy to handle.  Form into balls and dip in sugar.   Place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Today I baked them for 9 minutes.  Don't over bake.

They may need to sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Cool completely.

You are forgiven if you snitch a couple of warm cookies but if they fall apart, don't say I didn't warn you.

Lovely with a glass of cold milk (except if you're lactose intolerant, like me).   On the other hand, these cookies are surprisingly good with a glass of wine, as well.  Something bold and red.  Your choice.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Pie

My late Mother-in-law's recipe for Fresh Strawberry Pie has been a favorite in our house forever.  It's so simple to make.  It's light and luscious...a perfect spring or summer dessert with (or without) a dollop of whipped cream.

You'll need pastry for one crust pie.  You might have a favorite recipe or you could try one of my favorites.  I use one of two recipes, usually...both flaky and easy to make.  You'll find the recipes in this article I wrote for Squidoo.  One is Julee Rosso's (Great Good Food) recipe for Flaky Pie Crust and the other is from my trusty old  Betty Crocker Cookbook.  You can't go wrong with either recipe.

OR... if I am in a time crunch (or I'm feeling lazy) I have absolutely no qualms about buying Pillsbury's unroll-and-fill refrigerated pie crusts.  They're a fine alternative.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Bake the pie crust according to directions and allow to cool.

Wash 1-1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, slice them and fill the cooled pie crust.  You could get fancy and layer the sliced strawberries in a decorative manner but I generally just pile them in.

The glaze:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons strawberry gelatin (such as Jello brand)
Pinch of salt
 1 cup cold water
Few drops of red food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and, stirring frequently, cook until the glaze becomes clear and starts to thicken.  Cool.

Pour the glaze over the strawberries in the pie crust and refrigerate until set.  Slice and serve.  This pie is best served the day it's made but if there are any leftovers, do keep it refrigerated.

There you have it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Raffa's Chopped Salad

There used to be a cozy little restaurant in Bel Air, California, that was within a block of where we stayed one year.  The food was excellent and the ambiance was relaxing.

My daughter Jen is a good friend of the former owner.  She lived nearby while she was living in Los Angeles.  When he decided to sell the restaurant she begged him to get the chef's recipe for this chopped salad.

The combination of ingredients is brilliant...the crunch of the celery and carrots, the peppery radicchio, that burst of flavor from the corn and the garbanzo beans.  Toss in some mixed greens and you've got yourself a satisfying meal!

I love a chopped salad.  You're gonna love this one.

Raffa's Chopped Salad

1/2 cup chopped radicchio
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 cup corn
2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped mixed greens

Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl.  Just before serving, drizzle with Raffa's Vinaigrette and toss together.   Or let everyone dress their own individual salads.

Raffa's Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 Tablespoon honey
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

The original vinaigrette recipe was four times this amount.  Fine for a restaurant but waaaay to much for a family.  I just halved it and then halved it, again!

Serve this with some crusty bread and it's a very fine and filling vegetarian meal!