Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rosemary ginger snaps

I'm writing this from the Albany airport (free wifi, thanks Google), in the throes of Christmas cookie withdrawal. I have eaten soooooo many Christmas cookies in the last ten days. To ease withdrawal systems (and cause Mom asked for it), I am posting one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. It comes from a King Arthurs cookbook, I think one called "the Baker's Companion" or something like that.

It makes 10 - 12 dozen, and can be halved. I love the combination of rosemary in these cookies, and go towards the higher end of the 4-6 t. spectrum.

* 1.5 cups, (3 sticks) butter, brought to room temperature
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 eggs
* 0.5 cup dark unsulphured molasses
* 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 4 – 6 teaspoons rosemary, crushed or powdered
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 0.5 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* granulated sugar, I like a raw brown sugar (like sugar in the raw), or you can use red or green colored sugar to make them more Christmasy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, or prepare the dough a day ahead and chill before baking.

In a large, standup mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one a time, and continue to beat in until each egg is mixed well. Add the molasses and continue to beat until well combined.

Sift together the flour, soda, salt, rosemary, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Roll nickel-sized pieces of dough into balls between the palms of your hands. Then roll them in granulated sugar and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Stuffed squash

This is a great winter recipe. We’ve been getting a lot of cabbage and squash in the CSA. I’ve written this recipe calling for all fresh ingredients, but when I made it, I actually used about half a recipe of leftover plain sautéed squash in place of the fresh cabbage and brown sugar. If you make it in that manner, just stir in the cooked cabbage in the mixing bowl step and heat the assembled squash a little before broiling, so everything is warm.

Serves 8 as a side or 4 as a main course

4 acorn or kabocha squash – acorn squash has a better shape and I prefer the texture for this application.
1 c. bulgar wheat
2 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 apple, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 half head green cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
1 t. caraway seeds
2 t. brown sugar
salt and pepper, preferably Maldon smoked sea salt
Slices cheddar cheese, preferably Cabot Hunter’s extra sharp, enough to cover the 8 squash halves.

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Cut the squashes in half at their equators. Remove the seeds and dribble some oil onto the cut sides. Use your fingers to coat all the exposed squash flesh with the oil. Place the squash, cut side down, on a foil lined baking sheet. Cook for about one hour, until the skin can be indented with a spoon. If in doubt, cook for extra time… it is difficult to overcook the squash at this step, and no one like undercooked squash.
3. Cook the bulgar: bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the bulgar, simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Melt the 2 T. butter over medium-low heat, add onions and apples and a few pinches of salt. Cook till thoroughly soft and beginning to caramelize (10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
5. Turn the heat up a little and add the garlic, cabbage, and caraway seeds. The goal is to cook the cabbage quickly (hence the thin slices). Since the cabbage is bulky, but cooks down, it is easiest to add it in a few handfuls, stirring the whole time. Cook till the cabbage it is tender, but still has a textural bite to it.
6. Combine the bulgar and the veggie-apple mixture in a mixing bowl, add in brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Undersalt a little, as we’ll add some more in the stuffing stage.
7. Assemble the roasted squash halves cut side up on the same foil covered baking sheet (you may need to pour off the juices liberated during cooking). Fill each one with the stuffing. Sprinkle a little more of the smoked sea salt on top, and finish with some slices of cheddar cheese.
8. Return to the hot over if the ingredients have cooled, otherwise, placed under preheated broiler for 4-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Variations – Kind of like the summer grain and veggie salad, this stuffing is very adaptable to varied vegetables and herbs. Cooked sausage or toasted nuts may also be added. A bread crumb topping could be used in place of the cheese (though I think the cheese makes this a winner!)

Plain sauteed cabbage

I’ve made this a lot lately cause we’ve gotten so much cabbage in the CSA! At first I was making a lot of cole slaw, which is okay, but I’ve really been preferring my cabbage cooked lately. This recipe is super simple and adaptable to other flavors… and was conceived when there was little other produce in the fridge! Most recently, I served it alongside roasted carrots and parsnips, and our first elk roast that was the fruit of Andy’s hunting trip in Montana. It is good as written, but can be even better if you cook some onions (substitute for onion powder), garlic, and apples first and toss in some caraway seeds.

I like to quarter the cabbage, core it, and cut it in half across its equator before slicing, so the slices are thin and not too long. The idea with thin slices is to cook it quickly. Long cooking times produce the bitter off-tastes that many people associate with cabbage. This side dish can accompany meats or potato or squash dishes.

Serves 6-8 as a side

2 T. butter
2 t. onion powder
1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced.
1 T. brown sugar
2 t. soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet; add in onion powder.
2. Add in salt and cabbage in handfuls, stirring constantly.
3. Cook for a few minutes till the cabbage is tender but still retains some crunch.
4. Stir in the brown sugar, soy sauce, and pepper to taste.

Use leftovers to make stuffed squash.