Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Cookies

This year, I've really been getting into making decorated cookies.   The latest in my collection are these Thanksgiving themed ones....I bought a pumpkin cutter for Halloween and never got around to making any, so I wanted to try it out.  A cookie project like this takes 3 days - one to bake the cookies and let them cool, one to decorate and let them dry, and then they are ready on the third day.

I wanted an autumnal flavor, so I tried a Dorie Greenspan recipe from a 2007 vintage Bon Appetit.   Speaking of BA, have you checked it out lately? I have been finding it very inspiring and I love my recent subscription.    I thought the recipe sounded unusual because of the dry mustard....they came out delicious and perfectly spiced.  I used dark molasses instead of light and amped up some of the spices a little.  This recipe is definitely a keeper for me!  It made a nice crisp cookie which is critical for iced cookies like these.

Spice Roll Out Cookies
makes about 2 dozen

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice, nutmeg, mustard, and cloves into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat 1 minute. Add molasses; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Form each half into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic; chill until firm, at least 4 hours. I left mine in the fridge for 4 days until I had time to roll them out and bake.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper to 1/8-inch thickness for smaller (2-inch) cookies and 1/4-inch thickness for larger (3- to 4-inch) cookies. Using decorative cookie cutters, cut out cookies and transfer to prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.. Gather scraps, roll out dough, and cut more cookies, repeating until all dough is used. If not icing cookies, decorate with sprinkles or other sugar toppings, if desired. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are firm on top and slightly darker around edges, about 8 minutes for smaller cookies and up to 12 minutes for larger cookies. Cool completely on rack. Line baking sheets with fresh parchment as needed.

I have written very often on this blog about decorating with royal icing.   To get the recipe and technique, check out this blog post.  I had some brown left over from making footballs in early November that I kept in a plastic container in the fridge.  Royal icing is supposed to be good for a couple of weeks just sitting on the counter - but I put it in the fridge for good measure.   I had to add a little water to get it to the right consistency.  I used a Wilton #2 tip for the piping, and I flooded the pumpkin sections at different times to get the 3D affect.   To make the turkey tail feathers,  I piped 3 lines and used a toothpick in a figure 8 pattern.   I can't wait to try that same pattern with my Christmas tree cutter this year.    I made these cookies last week and froze them in a plastic container - to thaw them, keep them in the container and bring them up to room temp so the icing won't separate.

Mothers Kitchen Facebook Group

Hi everyone! I wanted to explain what this group is about...I've been writing my blog since January 2006. Almost 9 years! Over the course of the years, social media has changed quite a bit, and one thing I have noticed is that people tend not to comment on blog posts anymore...and I miss that interaction. So I am experimenting with facebook to see if a group will work well in that space. Also, I've found myself participating much less in yahoo groups and other email based social networking. So, I am going to try to keep the discussion going in facebook about food, cooking and canning etc. and see how it goes.  If you'd like to join the group, check it out here:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Chicken Shawarma with Toum

The other day, I was listening to the Splendid Table and it featured a discussion about toum, the Middle Eastern garlic sauce.   I work in Dearborn, which is home to the largest group of Middle Eastern people in the U.S. and toum is a restaurant staple.    It's hard to describe, but it is a very light condiment and packs the largest wallop of garlic in any food I have ever eaten.    However, on the radio show, it was suggested that toum could be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to a month.   It can be used whenever you'd use garlic - in a salad dressing, a marinade, etc.   I had made toum before, and it had egg white in it, but the recipe they discussed didn't, so I can see how it could be stored for a while.  It's just lemon juice, garlic and oil.   I like the idea of having it on hand for cooking, so I decided to whip up a batch yesterday.


Since I was making toum, I decided to make chicken shawarma sandwiches as well.   I marinated some chicken breast cubes in lemon juice, olive oil and some ground coriander and salt, and broiled the cubes.   I made a batch of Olga's Kitchen bread to wrap the chicken in, and added a dollop of toum and some dill pickle spears.   Delicious!

Here's my take on the Splendid Table recipe.    It requires a food processor, but I've made it in a blender before so I bet that will work too.  I tried their suggestion to peel garlic by soaking the cloves in lukewarm water, this DID NOT WORK.   I've tried the other method suggested in the past, which is shaking garlic cloves in 2 metal bowls; that is about 50 percent effective, so I didn't bother trying it again.   It's very messy and loud!  For perfectly peeled garlic, the best method I have found over the years is a garlic tube:
garlic tube

However, since the garlic for this recipe is going to be pureed, just smashing each clove with the side of a knife works great, so that's what I did.  

Makes about 2 cups

1 cups peeled garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, or more as needed
Juice from 1 fresh lemon
3 T water

Combine the garlic cloves and salt in a food processor. Puree until as smooth as possible, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed. With the motor running, gradually add 3/4 cups of the oil in the thinnest possible stream; do not rush the process or the mixture will separate. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Gradually add 1/4 cup more of the oil in the same manner; the mixture should begin to set up a bit.  Then gradually add the lemon juice. The mixture will become lighter and whiter. Add 1/4 cup more of the oil in the same gradual fashion as before, then slowly add the water. The mixture will loosen but should not be runny.  Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. The resulting garlic paste should be creamy white and fluffy, like beaten egg whites. If not, keep the motor running and add more oil to achieve the right color and consistency.  Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; seal and refrigerate for a few hours before using, and it's good up to a month.  Use it to add to salad dressing and marinades or anywhere else garlic is used.