Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Perfect Ginger Cookie

Though not a lifelong quest, I do love a good ginger cookie that isn't too sweet, or too heavily gingered, or overly gooey or excessively crunchy.  A friend shared a dairy-free version the other evening after dinner.  Even knowing what these morsels didn't contain, I still devored more than one as if they were the last cookies on the planet.  Yet, still not quite perfect. 

Today, I tried a recipe shared by our neighborhood babysitter.  Scrumptious.  Perhaps not perfection, but pretty darn close.  And the 3-plus dozen that I made this afternoon are . . . gone (hence, no photo to share).

Yummy Molasses Ginger Cookies

1 cup sugar (plus a little extra for rolling)
3/4 cup shortening (or substitute equal part butter at room temperature)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (heaping) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (heaping) ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients and set aside.  Cream sugar and shortening.  Stir in egg and molasses.  Mix in dry ingredients and stir by hand until blended.  Chill dough for 15-30 minutes (for easier handling, but not necessary).  Form 1-inch balls of dough, roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 9-11 minutes (until you see lots of cracks on the top).  Makes 3-4 dozen.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Chowder Kind of Day

What is there to do with more than 2 feet of snow on the ground?  Cook!  And nothing is better than a warm bowl of corn and chicken chowder on a cold snowy day.  I wholeheartedly trust any of Ina Garten's recipes - and this one is one of the best.  I will note that fresh summer corn gives it a much sweeter taste, but in the dead of winter, frozen corn is just fine.

As adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

2 large chicken breasts, bone in
8 ounces bacon, chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large onions, chopped
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flower
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken broth
2 pounds medium white boiling potatoes, unpeeled and diced
10 cups fresh corn (or 3 pounds frozen corn)
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

Boil chicken breasts in a pot of water until cooked.  Remove and let cool, then debone, shred and save until later.  Strain and reserve broth.

In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp. Remove and reserve.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the bacon drippings in the stockpot and cook about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and turmeric and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Add the corn* and chicken to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar cheese.  Cook for 5 more minutes (do not let boil again) until the cheese is melted.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

I think I'll get another bowl.

*If using fresh corn (about 10 ears), cut kernels off the cobs and blanch for about 3 minutes in boiling, salted water.  Of course, this step is not necessary with frozen corn.