Flying Flour, Splashing Spices, Roomful Aromas

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

N.M. Cookies

Many years ago the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie was the bench marker for all CCC to be measured against.  With the onset of the Internet, secrets of all sorts became public information.  Here is the 'desireable' Chocolate Chip Cookie.  My first experience was in the 80's in NYC at NM!  the cookie was the size of a desert plate and  yummy.  Here I give credit to NM for  a great recipe, a great cookie and great memory!  Dare I say I play with this recipe?  Oh, but I do.  My latest tweak was to change the oatmeal to  Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain cereal.  Oh, so crunchy and dunkable into that mug of milk.  Yes, I said mug because the cookie fits into the mug for the dunk! They don't quite fit the glass.  Besides, dunking in a mug adds to the ambiance of the experience, IMHO~
Here's the Toll House Version

N.M. Cookie
(Thanks to my niece, Christie for sharing this recipe oh so long ago!)

1 cup butter, softened                                          2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda                                                         1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups blended oatmeal                       12 oz. choc. chips
cup brown sugar                                               1/2 tsp. salt
1 4oz Hershey bar, grated                                     2 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder                                            1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups nuts

N.M. Version with Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain
instead of oatmeal! Crunchier!
Bake at 375 for 10-12 mins.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Peffernusse for Jack

Pfeffernusse for Jack, with help from TFL Baking Friends

I have a great neighbor, Jack, who like most of us gets naostalgic with the onset of the holiday season.  Moms, Grandmas, kitchen delights, aromas, tastes, flavors and textures long since missed haunt us from childhood.  Longing for hands-on and tastebud triggers, we search for recipes of delight.  Jack called night aksing if I was familiar with an old fashion German cookie, the Pfeffernusse.  So happens, I am and even have an authentic recipe from a work colleague from 1986 in Wichita, Kansas!  Jack was excited that I might just be able to recreate this childhood memory and taste of the 'pepper nut' cookie.

My recipe cookie is a quite small hard bit I have learned are called "buttons".  His cookie is round and coasted with powdered sugar. I did a search and found several versions.  Wanting the recipe to be as authentic as possible, I turned to fellow bakers on The Fresh Loaf site.  I got assistance right away from, Mini Oven, RonRoy!  Thanks! Ron sent me to an image link that lead me to a great resource, where Kristen had shared her heart warming story of baking pfeffernusse.  Flournwater sent me a 1939 recipe from the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions.  Black Friday? Not for me!  I have baker's delight going on in the kitchen and more recipes to try.

Pfeffernusse German Cookies Recipe
shared online by K. Hupp

For Jack
recipe #1 is K. Hupp's

This is a traditional recipe for Pfeffernusse cookies which are often made in Germany during the Christmas holiday season. They are spicy, crisp, peppery cookies which are wonderful for dunking in milk or coffee. Their taste even improves with age when kept in a sealed air-tight container at room temperature. Baked cookies can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
1/2 cup butter or margarine 3/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup honey 2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar for dusting
Grease cookie sheets and set aside.
Melt butter or margarine over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Stir in the molasses and honey and continue to heat and stir until mixture is creamy and well blended. Remove the saucepan from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir eggs into the cooled mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, anise seeds and salt until well blended. Stir in the molasses mixture and mix well until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 to 2 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roll dough into small balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Place dough balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. 
Bake in preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Use a spatula to move cookies to a cooling rack.
Place powdered sugar in a plastic bag. Adding a small amount of cookies at a time, shake gently to coat completely with powdered sugar. Recipe yields about 5 1/2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"CHOPPED" The Home Version

The Combsman came in from the bike ride/grocery stop and called me to the kitchen.  When I made my appearance he proudly placed a pack of diced ham on the counter saying, "Your secret ingredients are:
diced ham, medium shrimp and .  . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . .

freeze dried hash browns.  The clock starts now.

Just like the chef contestants on the show, I glared at the ingredients he presented as though each would speak at any moment.  Nothing was coming so I let the free writing spirit in me take over.  Quiche, omelet, and then it came: A simpler version of the Carolina Shrimp and Grits.  The hash brown potatoes in place  of  the grits. Make a cheesy rue sauce (no fancy culinary words here, I'm a good ol' Southern cook by the seat of my britches kind of 'chef').

I love surprises!
From the fridge I selected a red pepper and a nice sweet onion. These I diced and added to a hot pan with a bit of olive oil.  Saute was happening.  the oil for the hash browns was getting ready while they soaked.  Freeze dried, remember?  Never before seen much less appeared in this kitchen.  Strain the potatoes, add to the skillet.  Love that sing of flash fry, turned down the flame and paid attention to the onion/pepper combo.  It was ready to come out of the pan.  This is when I added the shrimp for a fast fry.  Aromas were building and things seemed to be working for me.  The timer showed I was 14 minutes in to the given 30.  I felt pretty good and in control.  I removed shrimp with a pink blush from the pan and let these rest in a bowl while I heated a tad of oil, stirred in a bit of flour to make the rue.  I added milk and made the whisk magic work for me.
And I didn't get CHOPPED!
 But, I didn't get a 10K prize either!
Reward: A Tasty Dinner with Combsman


Brought to you by the Combsman.  Yes, I do share the kitchen with the Combsman where he weilds a wild hand time and again with a yummy creativeness.  He loves a pie and I am not always n the mood to whip one up.  He has experimented with a variety of combinations for quick and easy pies.  Here is the winner from this summer, a luscious mango blueberry pie.  Mind you the mangoes are from the neighborhood ( I have wonderful neighbors who share) and the blueberries actually are Florida grown.

Here's the scoop:      
 Mango Blueberry Torte
by Combsman
2 C mango
2 C blueberry
1/4 c br sugar
1/4 c splenda (or regular sugar)
1/2 tapioca
dash of vanilla
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and allow it to sit 20 minutes.  Place in a prepared pie shell.
Bake in oven at 400 for about 40 minutes.  Allow to cool before serving with your favorite topping.

Lactose Intolerant?  The Combsman has a chocolate pie for you.  Oh yes he does.  Coming soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Novemeber is here and it is crunch time for writers the globe over.  Write on, Writers, maythewordsflow!