CookiePie’s Gingersnaps

UtHC is delighted to welcome Beth from CookiePie as a guest blogger for this post.

When Aimée wrote and asked me to guest-post on UtHC, of course I immediately said YES! Who wouldn’t want a chance to visit one of the warmest, loveliest, and certainly tastiest blogs out there? Then panic set it — What would I write about? What would I bake??

But of course, part of what makes UtHC a must-read is how welcoming it is, so that inspired me to submit these gingersnaps. What could be better on a cold, rainy autumn day (as it is here in NYC) than freshly baked gingersnaps warming up the kitchen and filling the apartment with the wonderful aroma of delicious spices and molasses? My husband, Mark, came home while I had one batch in the oven and my hands covered in dough as I scooped the next batch into balls and rolled them in sugar, and said, “Man, it smells good in here!” That made me smile.

I hope you’ll try out these cookies on a day when you want to warm up your kitchen! I love them with a cup of tea or cocoa, but a glass of milk is always a good way to go (or some vanilla ice cream!). Enjoy!

CookiePie’s Gingersnaps

By the way – this recipe is from my new cookbook, “You Made That Dessert?“. Recently Aimée was kind enough to participate in an online book tour in which she made another recipes from my book: Geraldine’s Chocolate-Date Cake .

Makes about 3 dozen

2 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper, and stir with a fork to combine.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the egg, molasses, and vanilla, then beat until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a flexible spatula. Beat again until the mixture is uniform. (The mixture may look curdled and separated at first, but don’t worry; as you beat it, it will come together and turn a pale brown.)

Stop the mixer and add the flour mixture. Use a flexible spatula or wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir well so that all of the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Use a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons to scoop out pieces of dough and roll them, one at a time, in your palms to form balls that are about 1 1/2 inches wide. One at a time, roll the balls in the sugar until they’re coated, then place the dough balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (don’t crowd them-they will spread a lot). Use the bottom of a glass to lightly press the balls into discs.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes, until lightly browned. Let them cool on the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to remove the gingersnaps and place them directly on the wire racks to cool completely.

If you like the recipes you’ve seen so far, pick up the book at your local bookstore, or online.

Blueberry Maple French Toast

This will be short as I’m packing for a mini-weekend getaway with Danny and I’m nowhere nearly ready.
I used to be an organized packer, but apparently motherhood has turned me into a scattered, last minute throw-it-all-in-the-duffel kind of packer. It doesn’t help to have the added pressure of remembering each child’s appropriate stuffed animal and sippy cup, OR ELSE. Heaven forbid they should show up at the grandparents without them.

Anyway! We’re off to travel Quebec’s wine route in the Eastern Townships on a much deserved break. It’s been two years since New York, our last getaway as a couple with no kids.

I wouldn’t leave you high and dry for a recipe so here’s a strong recommendation for your weekend breakfast: Deep-Dish Blueberry Maple French Toast. Yesterday I hung out over at Endless Simmer and shared this recipe with their readers, not to mention a personal glimpse into a weekend morning here at UtHC.

So jump over to visit the ES gang and be sure to bookmark this French Toast for your brunch! It’s PRI-tty amazing.


The Root of Evil

Ed. Note: From time to time Under the High Chair will feature guest posts and I am pleased to introduce Kevin for the first of these installments. Kevin is a self-taught cook, an enthusiastic foodie, an even more enthusiastic engineer and also happens to be my brother-in-law. He lives here in Montreal and has a seldom updated blog.
Let’s give him a warm welcome!

The Root of Evil: a.k.a Turmeric

I’ve been trying to make curry for a week. Each evening with the best of intentions, I get stymied every time. Two nights ago was the same. Nope, didn’t make it then either. Not for lack of trying though.

As planned, I went grocery shopping for the remaining ingredients for my curry marinade: plain yogourt, cardamom pods, lamb. I had bought the other spices (chili, turmeric root) at Marché Jean Talon the previous weekend. (Note: the correct spelling is not “tumeric” but rather “turmeric”. I still pronounce it “tumeric” though.)

My local grocery store doesn’t have lamb. It’s not a popular meat in my neighbourhood. I even ask the lady behind the meat counter, you know, the one who slices ham and other sliced meats. “Lamb” I say, met only by a puzzled look. “She must speak French” I say to myself. “Agneau.” The same puzzled look. I repeat again, in each language, now questioning myself if I’ve used the correct words. I’m reminded of the prank my brother and I used to play when we were little when shopping with my mom where we’d ask the butcher for snake meat or fox or other bizarre requests. I’m getting through to this lady just as much, which is nothing. Just as I’m about to avoid language altogether and start baying and baaing with lamby gestures, another lady walks by and says to me “They don’t have it here. No lamb.”

Undeterred, I buy chicken. Chicken curry should be just as nice as lamb curry.

Back home, I quickly pull out my coffee/spice grinder and grind up the chili spices. Next I open the turmeric. Remember those hard little knobs of yellow turmeric root I bought? I break off, with great difficulty, a piece a little shorter than an inch. I drop it in the grinder and press the button. The hard turmeric gets stuck beneath the blade, causing an awful sound. I shake the root loose and get assaulted by the loudest sound ever to come out of my kitchen. I immediately stop thinking I may have dropped a pebble in there instead. Nope, no pebble, just the unscathed turmeric root. I think that perhaps the pieces need to be smaller to begin with, so I take the hard root out and try to break it by hand. No way. I double check to make sure this isn’t some sort of prank, that this isn’t a stick or stone. I drop the turmeric into my mortar and proceed to hammer it with my pestle. I think I’m going to break something and I’m getting afraid that when, not if, something chips off, my unprotected eyes will be in prime danger zone. So just before I make contact, I close my eyes. Again and again, hammering away. When I open my eyes a dozen blows later, the root is intact, with a yellowish smudge on the bottom of the mortar.

1. The bruised, but intact, turmeric root on the bottom. A fresh sample above.
2. The grinder which tried so hard, but failed.

I tell myself that I need to simply be more persistent with the coffee grinder and so plop it back in and press that button. This time I pulse, shake and wait. I can see yellow dust swirling around. Horray! I just need to hang in there! I look into the clear top of the spice grinder and see a white object. “So there WAS a pebble in the turmeric!” I open the grinder and pull it out. I can see other small white chips and bits lying at the bottom. But this is no pebble. It’s plastic. I look under the blade and see a missing piece of plastic exactly the shape and size of this “pebble” in my hand. My grinder is being ripped apart by this stubborn turmeric root. And that yellow dust amounted to less than a mustard seed’s worth of turmeric powder. Interspersed with the plastic from the grinder of course.

But I will not let this turmeric root get the best of me. I will smash it into bits and then add a bit of water before assaulting it with the mortar and pestle again. I go to my tool box and see my hammer and safety glasses. Yes! Then I catch a glance of myself in the mirror.
What am I doing?! At 10:30 PM no less. And what will the neighbours in the adjoining apartments think of this night time hammering!

3. The chipped (broken?) grinder.
4. Yes, I got this far, but no further.

I return to the kitchen, hammerless, and put the turmeric root back in it’s container. Back to the shelf. I refuse to succumb to powdered turmeric from the grocery store though, with it’s food colouring and sawdust flavour. I’ll figure out a way. I’ll grate, chop, pound, pulverize and destroy this evil root! I may even put it in whole with the marinade so it imparts it’s flavour. I’ve heard that wetting it before grinding can help too. I’ll try tomorrow. Something, anything!
But one thing is sure: I need a new spice grinder.

My persistence (and Google) paid off and I now know how to get a little mound of ground turmeric in quick order. Grate it. I simply used the fine portion of my grater, as I didn’t have a “box” grater one normally uses for nutmeg and other nuts. I am curious to know if my Microplane would work equally well, but in case it doesn’t, I don’t want to risk having a dulled Microplane.

5. Grated turmeric root; in a mortar just in case hard bits got through.

Chicken Cardamom Curry

(adapted from the excellent Elaichi Gosht Kebab, or skewers of cardamom-flavoured lamb, from “Indian
in 6: 100 Irresistible Recipes That Use 6 Ingredients or Less

1 large onion, chopped roughly
1/2 cup of plain yogourt; do not use non-fat yogourt

2 heaping teaspoons of garlic ginger paste

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon powdered cardamom

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 pounds of chicken or lamb, cut into strips or cubes

Put the spices, onion, yogurt and paste in a blender and blend until smooth.

Marinate the meat in the yogurt overnight.

On a lightly oiled baking sheet, place the meat and put in a 425 °F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove meat and place on a hot grill for a few minutes to char a bit. You can also try the grill exclusively.