Monday, August 26, 2013

Gluten-Free Gingersnaps

Kind of a goofy headliner picture but I wanted you to see how nice the bottoms look as well as the pretty sugared tops. These cookies are simply marvelous in every way.

On a quest to use the cream cheese and apples in the fridge, I came across a cheesecake recipe. The crust is made from gingersnaps. I'd never had a gingersnap before so figured I'd might as well just make some and while I'm at it could make them gluten-free. Finding a gingersnap recipe, I substituted the regular flour with Pamela's. It worked out real swell, almost too good.

Gluten-Free Gingersnaps
adapted from Chez Panisse Gingersnaps at David Lebovitz
click to print

2 c Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2/3 c butter, at room temperature
2/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c mild molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
turbinado sugar, about 2 tbsp

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper.

Beat the butter just until soft and fluffy.

Add the sugar and continue to beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

Stir in the vanilla, molasses and egg.

Beat in the dry ingredients gradually until the dough is smooth. Scrape bowl down.

Divide the dough in two equal portions and roll each into a log on a lightly-floured surface until each is about 2-inches (5cm) around.

After seeing how goopy the dough was and how it smeared across the floured surface, I used WAY more flour for the second log. It was still annoying but not nearly as much. I'd consider chilling the dough a little before doing this part.

Wrap each in plastic wrap then roll them lightly on the counter to smooth them out. Refrigerate or freeze the cookie logs until firm.

I chose to refrigerate my logs overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice cookie dough into 1/4-inch (a scant 1 cm) rounds with a sharp knife. Dip one side and press firmly in a bowl of coarse sugar and place sugar-side up on baking sheet, evenly-spaced about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway during baking, until deep-golden brown. Bake on the lower end of the range for softer cookies and more for snappier ones.

I baked toward the longer range thinking I wanted a graham cracker-like consistency for the cheesecake.

Cool cookies two minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

I didn't know a cookie including ground black pepper existed. It is probably the second best thing to happen to a girl*. I've eaten a handful of the crispy rounds of goodness and wonder if there will be enough left for the cheesecake. I cannot stress how delicious these are. Sweet, but not crazy, molasses-flavored yet not overbearing, peppery but not ridiculous. Absolute winner! Because they are so flavorful, any hint of being gluten-free is completely masked. Pamela's is a perfect stand-in in this recipe. You'll have NO clue these are gluten-free. These cookies are just outstanding!

One super awesome thing is that, if you have a fairly well-stocked baking section in your kitchen pantry, you'll have everything you need to make these cookies 95% of the time. My molasses was ancient but this was a perfect way to use it.

While I chose to refrigerate my cookies overnight, the time it took to do work was 2 hours. I'll make the label 2.5 hours, assuming 30 minutes of chilling in the freezer.

  • Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend: $1.93
  • butter: $0.75
  • sugar: $0.32
  • vanilla extract: $0.04
  • mild molasses: $0.25, SWAG
  • egg: $0.30
  • turbinado sugar: $0.09
Total: $3.68 and rounding up for spices, $4 making each of 45 cookies about $0.09 each.

*Invention of tampons will always be number one in my book.

Private Selection Turbinado Sugar

I've never had reason for a sugar more coarse than granulated. For upcoming cookies where this is optional, I figured, okay, now's the time to break into this world.

I don't get why people are so against sugar. It's only 4 grams of carbs per tsp.

I don't get the serious seal on things. Even when you pull the peel tab, the sticker sticks like hell.

Here's where it is though. Compare the turbinado (right) with the granulated (left) sugar. Clearly, the turbinado is brown and large, essentially huge. The big crystals is what gives a cookie a crunchy topping. I consider that a pro.

Private Selection Natural Cane Turbinado Sugar available for $3.19 a 907 gram box making each of 227 tsp about $0.015.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cherries with Almonds and Mint

A sucker for anything to do with my favorite fruit, cherries, I had to try this recipe after finding while trolling on Gordon Ramsay's Twitter. I do regret that I didn't try this last week as I'd originally intended.

For the convenience of other American's who are unaccustomed to the metric system, I've Americanized the recipe. With any luck we'll convert to the metric system in my lifetime, which makes way more sense.

Cherries with Almonds and Mint
adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Tweet
click to print

1.1 lbs ripe cherries, pitted
2 tbsp sugar
splash of amaretto liqueur
lemon juice
50 g slivered almonds
mint leaves, chopped
yogurt (or clotted cream or creme fraiche)

Warm the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan until the sugar begins to dissolve and the cherries start to release their juices.

Add the amaretto and lemon juice; cook for a few more minutes until the liquid is reduced.

Divide the cherries among servings bowls and scatter the almonds and mint over. Serve with a generous dollop of yogurt.

Oh man, I am SO glad I tried this. It is just fantastic! Prep time takes longer than it takes to execute the recipe and it is completely worth it. I really should've measured out the ingredients nuts and toasted them since they are a little on the non-crisp side but still, just excellent. THIS is how fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt should taste. I am kicking myself for not trying this sooner since cherry season is over. Next year though, next year.

The original recipe says to serve the cherries with crème fraishe or clotted cream. I think yogurt is not as sweet as either of those options (a guess, having never tried either) so this is a little on the tart side. Still perfect. I imagine the cherries would be equally fantastic on ice cream or stirred with yogurt into granola.

  • cherries: $3.29
  • sugar: $0.06
  • amaretto liqueur: $0.39
  • lemon juice: $0.76
  • slivered almonds: $2, SWAG
  • mint: $0.79
  • yogurt: $1.75
Total: $9.04 or about $2.26 for each of four deliciously generous servings.

Fage Greek Yogurt

I need a vehicle for the cherry recipe to ride on so picked yogurt.

I've purchased Fage in the past and it's good stuff. Like Chobani, it's tart and twangy but best of all it meets my requirements for being just milk and bugs.

Fage puts in a loosely placed liner on the top of the yogurt. It's hard to see but is made evident when you can't jam a spoon through it.

Here it is, stirred up, ready to roll. Lick the spoon when you're done scooping.

Fage 0% fat plain yogurt available in the dairy case at Ralph's for $3.49 a 500 gram container, making each of about two servings $1.75.

Ole Pacifica Mint

I didn't realize until very recently, as in earlier today, that Ralph's has a section of fresh herbs in bunches in the produce section. No packaging except the rubbery thing with a tag binding the bunches. This mint is the first of many herb bunches I'll be selecting from that little section.

Ole Pacifica fresh mint available in a fairly big bunch in the produce section of Ralph's for a mere $0.79!

Disaronno Originale Amaretto Liqueur

I've come to realize that a dish is made great with liquor. It's just a fact.

The next Ramsay recipe I'll execute called for some amaretto so I went out and got some.

I picked a middle-of-the-price-range amaretto. It's funky with the square glass bottle and square screw-top cap. Hopefully the flavor isn't funky.

Here's a clip from Wiki:
Disaronno Originale (28% abv) has a characteristic bittersweet almond taste (although it contains no almonds or nuts) and is known for its distinctive appearance. Disaronno has been in production since about 1900. It claims its "originale" amaretto's "secret formula" is unchanged from 1525, and claims the Luini tale as its own particular history. Its production remains in Saronno, but the product is sold worldwide.
It is slightly disturbing that it tastes like almonds but has no almonds in it. That screams science project to me. Regardless, it's what I bought and I'm rollin' with it. It does smell good.

Disaronno Originale Amaretto Liqueur in a 750-mL bottle for $19.99 at BevMo!. That makes each of 50.7 tablespoons about $0.39.

Grocery List, 082513

Work has been cranking up the last couple of weeks, last week being quite exhausting. I didn't get anything done with boxes sitting in the living area - or much of anything else for that matter! Having scheduled tomorrow off work, I hope to at least get those boxes conquered and maybe cook some food.

Regarding the Ramsay dessert recipes. The peaches, for the second time in a row, went from rock hard to mush. Depending on what they look like at the store, I may get some more and just make the recipe even if they are rocks. The cherries, slightly wrinkled, may finally make it into an adaptation of the original recipe, depending on whether I make it to the store to get mint.

Poring over the magazines looking for something I'd like to consume, all I can think about is the cream cheese and apples that have made long-term homes in the fridge and WILL be going into a recipe of some sort even if it kills me.

Ok, here it is:
Garlic Shrimp and Avocado Tacos
Apple Pie Cheesecake
Cherries with Almonds and Mint
Roasted Peaches with Vanilla, Spice and Honey

I shopped:
Grower's Direct:
  • peaches (4): $2.51/2.54 lb
  • limes (3): $0.36/0.52 lb
  • lemon: $0.76/0.51 lb
  • red onion: $0.68/0.99 lb
  • Roma tomatoes: $1.75/1.77 lb
  • spinach: $0.99/bunch
  • avocado: $0.99
  • jalapeno: $0.15/0.12 lb
  • cilantro: $0.59
  • TOTAL: $8.78
  • Turbinado sugar: $3.19
  • Breyers ice cream: $4.99
  • salt: $0.59
  • whole milk: free with ice cream purchase!
  • mint: $0.79
  • shrimp: $9.69
  • TOTAL: $19.25
Grand Total: $28.03
Total for the year: $1251.92