Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bizcoff: Cookie Clone Saves Airfare

Homely. Yummy.

In November 2010, Salon's Francis Lam wrote a glorious essay praising the Biscoff© that Delta serves to grateful passengers. If you look forward Delta flights just for the cookie, save your airfare and head to the kitchen.  

The lovely people at matzo&rice posted a recipe for a clone of this admirable cookie. “Rice” worked it all out, rolled the dough, cut extraordinary shapes, and took terrific pictures.

Not for me. I fulfilled my obligation to roll-and-cut in 1982 after my last Gingerbread Person Marathon. Since then, I have been resolutely in the slice-and-bake camp. For my Bizcoff, I added lime zest, changed the directions for mixing the butter and sugar, added directions for slice-and-bake, and increased the baking time because I like them crisp.

These are way too close together.

These cookies are crazy-easy. They use things in your pantry, the rolls keep in the fridge for a week, and in the freezer for a month. This recipe can be doubled or tripled. You may be heavy-handed with the spices. Obsess, if you will, to  make them identical, or you may have oddly shaped rolls. 

From "I want a cookie" to "Let's eat" is 17 minutes from frozen,

Ginger Bizcoff, a clone of a Biscoff© cookie adapted from matzo&rice.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp lime zest
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp.  vanilla extract
½ cup small pieces of candied ginger

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and lime zest), baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer (a stand-mixer if you have one), cream together butter and sugars at medium high speed for five minutes.  Yes. Five minutes. Add the vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is well combined. It will be thick. 
    a.    Roll out dough to ¼ inch-thick. Use cookie cutters or your imagination to make shapes.
    b.    Place cookies onto parchment paper, and press a piece of candied ginger into the center of each. Bake for 13-17 minutes or until the outer edges begin to brown. If you don't separate them (at least 1/2 inch all around), they will run together.  If that happens, cut them apart as soon as you remove them from the oven.
     a.     Roll the dough into logs on waxed paper or parchment. The larger to the log, the larger the cookie.  Refrigerate for at least an hour. Double wrap in paper and plastic, and freeze for up to a month. 
     b.     When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.
     c.     From the fridge or freezer: With a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch slices. Place on parchment or silicone mat with 3/4 inches between cookies.
    d.     Press a piece of candied ginger into the center of each cookie.
    e.     For very crisp cookies, bake for 15 minutes from the refrigerator, 17 minutes from frozen, or until the outer edges are slightly brown.
    f.      Cool on cooling rack before serving. Unlike Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are great as "warm" cookies, Bizcoff are much better after they have cooled completely.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Goldilock's Spicy Cheddar Shortbread: at last

Goldilock's Spicy Cheddar Shortbread
Cheddar Shortbread is the lazy cook's substitute for Cheese Straws. They are a snap to make if you think of them as slice-and-bake cookies, and the rolls  can live well-wrapped, unsliced, and unbaked in your freezer for up to a month. 

My first two batches were Thanksgiving appetizers, and the third time was the charm. The first were too bland; the second were too spicy. This third version for Goldilocks, is just right for me.  Feel free to adjust the cheeses, cayenne, sugar, and mustard to your taste.

Shortbread Alerts:
Too Bland & Too Spicy
  • The Cheese matters for flavor. Cheese is the front flavor, so pick what you like.  Weighing out leftover  cheese chunks on your kitchen scale will make you feel like an Alchemist.
  • The Cheese matters for color.  If you want pale shortbread, use white cheddar and fresh ground white pepper.
  • Room temperature butter matters. Cold butter can be beaten into submission by your stand mixer, but the result will be a crumbly mess that will require a lot of handwork to create the "cookie" rolls.
  • Salt matters. Do not imagine that the saltiness of your cheese will be enough salt to support the flour.
  • Sugar matters.  A small addition of sugar brings these to life.  Inexplicably, sugar is omitted from most published recipes.
  • Silpat or other silicone mats should be your gift to you.  In addition to saving the planet (no foil or parchment), these mats clean up in a minute.
Shortbread on a roll

6 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (fine grind)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
8 ounces finely grated cheese
2 cups flour

  1. Baking right now?  Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. With an electric mixer: beat the butter, mustard, sugar, salt, ground pepper and cayenne until smooth. 
  3. Add the cheese and flour and beat until well mixed.  You may have dry bits, which you will have to pull together by hand to shape the dough into logs.  Wrap tightly in parchment or waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for up to 1 month.
  4. Cut the logs into 1/4" slices, and place on a silicone mat.  They can be close together, but not touching.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and begin checking for slightly darkened edges every five minutes after that.  Baking time will depend on: 
    • Whether your dough was refrigerated or frozen; 
    • Whether you use a thick and sturdy or light and flimsy sheet pan; or   
    • How true your oven temperature is on baking day.
  6. Remove from the oven and let the shortbread sit on the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely. Store airtight. Unless you live by yourself and have Mighty Willpower, these will have a very short life. People will sneak back to the buffet table and attempt to stuff them into their pockets. Make sure that there are adequate napkins to protect their pockets from shortbread crumbs.

Friday, September 24, 2010

3 C's (chili, cayenne, cocoa) for the Colwin-Hepburn Brownie

Although I respectfully revised it in a 2007 blog post, I stand second to none in my admiration for Laurie Colwin's  version of Kathryn Hepburn's iconic from More Home Cooking. (pages 75-80)

Now inspired by a throw-away line about chili and chocolate in the first episode of Top Chef Desserts, I have made the Colwin-Hepburn brownie faster and easier, and with a kick for 2010.  It has one bowl and the three C's: chili, cayenne, and cocoa.

Note on pan size:  I use an 9-inch round which makes a very short (1/2 to 3/4") brownie.  Baked in a smaller round or square, the brownie will be taller.  Take your pick, decide on whether you like under-or-over-baked brownies, and check the oven after 30 minutes of baking. Use a toothpick or skewer to check for doneness. "Done" means that you see crumbs and not liquid gunk on the toothpick, and that the brownie is beginning to shrink from the sides of the pan.

A Brownie With Affection for Laurie, Kathryn and the Three C's

1 stick plus 2 T butter
6 T Penzey's Dutch Process or other high butter-fat cocoa
1 tsp Penzey's ancho or other red chili
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 325. Spray your pan.
2.  Use the microwave: In a medium bowl, melt the butter, cocoa, chili, and cayenne.  Stir after 20 seconds on high and continue in 10 second increments. Your goal is to melt not boil this mixture.
3.  Add the sugar. Mix well.  Do not be tempted to add the eggs before the sugar. If your butter mixture is too hot, you will have scrambled eggs.
4.  Add the eggs. Mix well.
5.  Add the flour and salt. Mix gently.
6.  Spread in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes and check it with a toothpick (as above) every five minutes after that. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SweeTango, An Apple Lifelist Challenge and My Hot Dog Lifelist

Had my first SweeTango apple this morning. It was very good -- crisp, bright, and with a clearly identifiable and sweet flavor. It is not, however, a Honeycrisp, which remains a favorite, along with Gala, Pink Lady, Jazz Apple and, to give body to some Very Important Apple Crisps, the Granny Smith.

As someone with more than a quarter of century of concern for The Employment of Lawyers, I must report that SweeTango is the subject of litigation about its commercialization. As Ed Lotterman in the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, it is also at the center of a public policy controversy that "...has important implications for the way we pay for and perform research and disseminate new technology in an era where taxpayers are less willing to foot the bill."

While waiting for this dispute to be resolved -- which could take a lifetime -- why not take up a Real Apple Challenge? Check out the All About Apples Variety List and set up an Apple Lifelist. Our friends who are serious Birders chart all of the birds that they have identified.

It is a modest and pleasant obsession, which I has taken me to Los Angeles (Pinks), Chicago (too many to report here), New York (Nathan's, Gray's Papaya and many pushcarts), Atlanta (The Varsity), Pennsylvania (A Chili Dog from "The O" in Pittsburgh is at right), Macon (the excellent Nu-Way), Minnesota (Chris & Rob's), and, my personal favorite, for the adventure and for the taste -- to Reindeer Sausage with Mike Anderson at the start of the 2003 Itiderod.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Tiny Peugeot Pepper Mill Ends Traveler's Tasteless Black Pepper Dust Misery

Tasteless Black Pepper Dust is one of the lesser miseries of a frequent traveler.  On a room service breakfast before the caffeine kicks in, or in an airport where flavor is hard to find, Black Pepper Dust is one more reminder that you are away from the comforts of home.

For me, the Last Black Pepper Dust was on an otherwise excellent Southwestern Omelet at the San Pedro (CA) Crowne Plaza. While I am sure that one of the helpful servers would have found a pepper mill, I was not sufficiently caffeinated to make the request. 

Problem Solved:  I am now the proud owner of a Peugeot Reims 4-inch Pocket Stainless Steel Pepper Mill. It comes with a pouch. It will travel with me tomorrow as I head out to the U of Iowa College of Law for a Pass the Baton "Professionalism Has Attached" presentation.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Sacred Literature of Fresh Tomato Deliciousness: Laurie Colwin

If you do not already own Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, stop now and run to a bookstore, or do a quick-as-a-wink click to Amazon, Jessica's Biscuit or your Kindle. Her essays are priceless; her thoughts on tomatoes and the recipes in the "Tomatoes" chapter of More Home Cooking, should be required reading and eating.

If it were not a copyright infringement, I would reproduce the chapter in its entirety -- but I know better.  She begins:
There are very few things that mankind cannot live without. For centuries, we survived without compact discs, automated bank tellers, iceberg lettuce, and bubble gum-flavored toothpaste, to say nothing of the internal combustion engine.

But life as we know it would be unimaginable without the tomato...
And later one of my favorite sentences in tomato literature: "In summer, the idea is to eat as many tomatoes as you can and enjoy the luxury of getting sick of them."

Two of my three favorite recipes in this chapter are directions for a fresh tomato sandwich slathered with mayo and celery seeds, and for a tomato pie with a double-biscuit pie dough and copious amounts of Cheddar. That she details its origin -- from a friend who found it in a school cookbook and who changed it to make it her own -- reflects her devotion to story telling.  In addition to writing about food,  she was a novelist, and I am not surprised to believe that the animating spirit of all of  her food writing was "What is a recipe without a story?"

In the spirit of story-telling, she gives basic-but-not-definitive instructions for slow-roasted tomatoes, one of the best foods on earth.  Through some delightful trial and no inedible error, I devised a recipe that works in the dead of winter with fresh and canned Roma tomatoes.  If you can bear to turn on your oven for three hours in the summer, you will be rewarded with the Concentrated Tomato Deliciousness that comes of baking chopped fresh tomatoes, some hot peppers, garlic, and olive oil.

Will you share it? I dare not predict.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Sacred Literature of Fresh Tomato Deliciousness: Lynne Rosetto Kasper

One of the many wonderful aspects of Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Splendid Table universe (the radio show, the books, the store) is her unabashed enthusiasm and entirely appropriate devotion to fresh tomatoes. A quick browse for "fresh tomatoes" in The Splendid Table website shows 185 hits, including one of my favorite ways to drag my senses back to summer,  Fresh Heirloom Tomato Soup with Cream.

Because you can freeze it, this soup can sit quietly next to your stash of  Marian Burros' Plum Tortes until the dead of winter. If you don't look out the window at the snow, the soup and the torte will bring summer back to your kitchen.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Sacred Literature of Fresh Tomato Deliciousness

Pinch a foodie, a food lover, a gourmet, a gourmand, epicurean, connoisseur, or any sentient being during high summer and you are likely to find someone who is passionately fond of fresh tomatoes.  For those who write, after they've finished their first few Tomato-paloozas, they will have an overwhelming urge to share.  We all benefit.

Today's entry into The Sacred Literature of Fresh Tomato Deliciousness is "The greatest five-minute tomato pasta" from Francis Lam, a senior writer at

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Super Simple Scallion Pancakes 2010

July 4th Weekend wasn't just a nanoscapes Painting Marathon for me, but an opportunity to revisit Scallion Pancakes. My recipes from 2006 date were from the "It's complicated, so it's ok" period. Complicated is fine; unnecessarily complex is unnecessary.

An undated NY Times clipping (and I searched the archives, to no avail) and some trial and error lead me to create "Super Simple Scallion Pancakes."  You have the basic ingredients:  flour, salt, water, scallions and red fresno chili, sesame and canola oils.  Make the dough in two minutes, and refrigerate it for an hour or overnight.

 "Rolling and folding"  seems more natural than the "coil and roll" instruction from my earlier efforts.  In the spirit of multiple layers of puff pastry, cover two pancakes  with scallions, stack, fold, roll and fry. 

A small rolling pin (steal it from your children) and silicone baking mats make these a snap. Unable to leave anything alone, I cut the salt in half, added wheat germ and cayenne to the dough, and red tiny diced red fresno chili to the scallion mixture.

Super Simple Scallion Pancakes (adapted from the NYTimes)
Makes 4-6 pancakes

2 c all-purpose flour
1 T wheat germ
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sesame oil
1 c finely chopped scallions (or a mixture of scallions and garlic chives)
2 T finely diced red fresno or other chili pepper
Dipping Options:  soy sauce, salt, rice wine vinegar

1.  Mix the flour, wheat germ, cayenne, and salt in a food processor or bowl.  Add 3/4 cup of COLD water and mix until the dough forms a ball.  Cover and refrigerate for one to 24 hours.
2.  Cut the dough into 1-1/2 balls.

3.  On a silicone mat (or parchment or waxed paper), roll the dough balls into 4-5" rounds or near-rounds.  Don't obsess with roundness.
4.  Each finished pancake will use two dough rounds. Brush one with sesame oil and top with scallions and red fresno or other chili.
5.  Top with a second dough round and press the edges together.  Brush with sesame oil and top with scallions.

6.  Fold the rounds of dough in half.  Press  down with your rolling pin or your hands.  Fold in half again and then roll the pancake back into a circle.

7.  Heat 2-3 T oil in a non-stick pan.  Fry the pancakes for 2-3 minutes per side, being careful not to burn the cakes.  If you do this in batches, clean the pan between each batch or you will have an ugly burned flour smell in your kitchen.

8.  While these are best served right out of the pan, it can be tedious to tend to the frying while your guests are grabbing the pancakes out of your hands.  They can be kept in a warm (250 degree) oven.  You can also freeze them. Reheat at 350 in single layers on pre-heated sheet pans on top of your silicone baking mats. Check after 10 minutes.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hot & Sour Soup -- fast and fresh

Hot and Sour Soup makes or breaks a satisfying Chinese restaurant meal for me. (Kudos to Schuang Cheng in Minneapolis and Szechuan in Rosedale, MN for making my favorites.) Thanks to the late Bethann Thornburgh, I can make wonderful soup at home in 30 minutes.

Between 1969 and 1976, Thornburgh wrote Recipix, a series of cartoon-strip recipes for the Washington Post and she published them as 50 step-by-step recipes-in-pictures from around the world. I copied her Hot and Sour Soup directions (not the adorable drawings) on a 3x5 card that has lived on my refrigerator since 1982. With a stash of dried shitake mushrooms, chicken stock (Penzey’s Chicken Soup Base is great), soy sauce and sesame oil, this is fast, easy, and foolproof. It is delicious with or without tofu, fresh mushrooms, and scallions, and you can add rice or noodles to the broth. You are the boss of this soup.

This makes 4 appetizer portions, but you may double or triple the recipe.

HOT and SOUR SOUP adapted from Recipix

dried shitake mushrooms (5-6), soaked in hot water
1-2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 block of firm tofu, cut into ¾” cubes or rectangles
2T cornstarch mixed with 3 T water
4 c chicken stock (canned or paste)
1 T soy sauce
½ t white pepper (black will do)
2 T white or rice wine vinegar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 t sesame oil
1 t hot oil
2 scallions, chopped fine

  1. Put the dried mushrooms and 1-2 cups of water in a microwave safe bowl with the mushroom cap side up. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let them soak until soft. Drain the liquid or (adding one more step) strain it through a coffee filter and use it for the soup stock. Cut off the stems and then slice into ¼” strips.
  2. While the mushrooms are soaking, slice the tofu.
  3. Combine the stock, soy, dried and fresh mushrooms. Boil. Cover and simmer for three minutes.
  4. Add the tofu, pepper, and vinegar. Boil again.
  5. Re-mix the cornstarch and water, and add to the stock over medium-high heat. Stir until the soup begins to thicken.
  6. Slowly pour in the beaten egg while stirring the soup.
  7. Remove from the heat and add the sesame and hot chili oil.
  8. Garnish with scallions. Should you be making this in the dead of night with no fresh vegetables in your fridge, know that Penzeys sells a very satisfactory Dried Chive.

  • No tofu? No problem. You will make mushroom soup.
  • Add rice for Hot and Sour Chicken Rice Soup. Add cooked rice at Step 4.
  • Add ramen noodles at step 4. At that point it probably ceases to be Hot and Sour Soup and morphs into Spicy Noodle Soup.
  • If your pantry doesn't distinguish between "hot oil" and "sesame oil," perhaps because you have one or the other or only "Hot Sesame Oil," do not fret.  Go with what you've got.
  • Vegetarian option:  Penzey's makes an excellent Vegetable Soup Base.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

LBJ's Pedernales River Chili

Recently, my pal Nancy McCormick was lamenting the loss of her Mother's chili recipe, which she recalled as belonging to former President Lyndon Johnson.  Between Nancy and her brother, the document was lost years ago.

As a proud owner of a copy of the 6th edition of The Congressional Club Cookbook (1961), complete with a forward from Jacqueline Kennedy, I suspected that if LBJ's chili recipe had been published, that it should be in that book.  Sure enough, I found Pedernales River Chili, attributed to LBJ.

Not surprisingly, it called for that great Texas ingredient, Ro-Tel, originally an enthusiastically spicy tomato and green chili mixture.  Whether leading or following our growing national obsession with spicy food, Ro-Tel is now available in more flavors, including habanero Ro-Tel.

I have adapted this recipe slightly, added some clarifying instructions, and a link to instructions for grinding your own meat. 

Pedernales River Chili  (adapted from The Congressional Club Cookbook)

4 pounds chili meat (course-ground)
1 large onion, course chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp cumin seed
6 tsp chili powder (more if needed)
2 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes
salt, to taste
2 c. hot water

Put the meat, onion, and garlic in a large saucepan or dutch oven.  Break up the meat, and cook until it is brown and the onion and garlic are soft.  Drain off some of the fat.  Add the oregano, cumin seed, chili powder, Ro-Tel, and hot water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about an hour.


1.  To thicken, add 1T cornmeal about midway through the cooking.
2.  If 2 cans of Ro-Tel and 6 tsp chili powder blow your gasket, a taming addition to this and any other chili is 1/4 cup dried sweet corn (Cope's is my favorite), which tames the heat and adds a slightly sweet flavor.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Secret to Ginger Chili Jelly: Incendiary Simple Syrup

I love hot pepper jams, but never found them to be hot enough. Why? Traditional recipes call for 4 cups of peppers and 5 cups of sugar. I have kept a detailed Jam Book since 2002, and no matter how much cayenne I have added or what combination of peppers I have used, the sweetness always whomps the heat.

In April 2010, I had a vision of Ginger-Chili Jelly with a golden glow and a fierce bite, and insight into making it work.

Crank up the sugar.
Three Simply Incendiary Simply Syrups solved the sugar problem: (1) sliced whole fresh ginger, (2) sliced fresh haba┼łero and red fresno chilis, and (3) fiercely hot dried chili flakes from Penzey’s. I cooled and strained each one, and then reboiled and strained the ginger syrup because it was cloudy.

Instead of making a long-day project, I made the syrups ahead and refrigerated them overnight. Armed with syrup, I could reduce jelly making to its essence: boiling. (1) Boil the lids, bands and jars for critical sterilization; (2) boil the syrups, cider vinegar, sugar, and pectin according to the pectin package directions; and (3) boil the jelly-filled jars to seal the deal. If you can boil water, you can do this.

It took two tries to get it right.
With the first (red jam on the left), I was a Jelly-Coward, and added hot peppers, making Ginger-Chili Jam. Good flavor, but the peppers were chewy in an unattractive way, and it wasn’t jelly.

On the second try, I focused jelly recipes calling for sugar and fruit juice. I suspected that even Simply Incendiary Simple Syrups would fail me, so I made CHILI LIQUID to take the place of fruit juice and to bump up the heat. Bingo.

This golden jelly has just the right glow and both a slow and after bite, just what I wanted.

NOTE: This is NOT a primer on preserving. Read and heed the directions on the pectin package and consult comprehensive how-to sites or some excellent books on preserving including:

Linda J. Amendt’s Blue Ribbon Preserves (source of Onion Hot Pepper Relish, my MN State Fair Blue Ribbon 2007 winner).

Mary Anne Dragan’s well preserved: pickles, relishes, jams and chutneys for the new cook (source of Gingered Pear Jam, Red Onion Relish, Butterscotch Peach Jam, and Pear & Ginger Jam, my 2004 Blue Ribbon winner.)

Should you have any notion that making jam or jelly is anything but a calming exercise, you need only read "Jam Anxiety" in Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking. Five pages of her jam anxieties that will calm yours.

DAY 1: Make Simply Incendiary Sugar Syrups

1. GINGER SYRUP. Boil for one minute. Cool and strain. This may be cloudy and require reboiling and straining through a coffee filter.
• ½ pound fresh ginger, cut into 1-inch chunks
• 2 c sugar
• ½ cup water

2. DRIED PEPPER SYRUP. Boil for one minute. Cool and strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
• ¼ cup medium hot crush red peppers
• 1 c sugar
• 1/3 cup water

3. FRESH CHILI SYRUP. Boil for one minute. Cool and strain.
• 4 habanero peppers, sliced
• ½ pound red fresno chilis (or other red, spicy pepper)
• 3 c sugar
• 2/3 cup water

DAY 2: Make the Jelly

4. Sterilization: Wash the jars, lids and rings in hot, soapy water. In a large pot or kettle, boil the jars for at least 10 minutes. Note: STERILIZATION is not optional.

5. Reheat the syrups and strain through a coffee filter. You should have 3 cups of GINGER CHILI SYRUP.

6. CHILI LIQUID. Boil for one minute. Pour into a strainer over a bowl and let the liquid infuse while you prepare to make the jellys. You should have 3 cups of CHILI LIQUID.
• ½ cup red chili flakes
• ½ cup sugar
• 3 c. water

7. You are now ready to prepare the Ginger Chili Jelly according to the pectin package directions.
Prepare the jelly with
• 3 cups CHILI LIQUID (#6)
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 4 cups of sugar.

a. In a large and deep pan, mix the CHILI LIQUID, vinegar and pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil (won’t stop when you stir).
b. Add the GINGER CHILI SYRUP and sugar, bring to a boil. At a full rolling boil, BOIL FOR ONE MINUTE. Remove from heat.
c. Pour into hot jars, seal with lids and bands. Boil for 10 minutes.

Ginger Chili Jelly is a friend to cream cheese, a glaze for grilled meat and fish, a wonderful addition to the end of a stir fry, an astonishing addition to vanilla ice cream, and a messy but yummy addition to popped corn. In the spirit of President Richard Nixon, who famously ate cottage cheese with ketchup, you should know that Ginger Chili Jelly is also a friend to cottage cheese.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

No more dried lemons

The March and April 2010 issue of Cooks Illustrated has changed my life, or at least changed my fridge. It turns out that if you store lemons (and other citrus, I assume) in sealed zipper-lock bags, they will stay juicy for quite a while -- up to four weeks in the CI test.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

For My Facebook Friends of the Mighty Mo and Hot Shoppes

Finding Facebook Friends of the Mighty Mo and Hot Shoppes brings back memories from early childhood to high school. Brain-freeze from the Orange Freeze. The best fries and onion rings. The Mighty Mo itself – the first triple decker burger in DC, whose two beef patties and special sauce pre-dates Mc-Whatsis. And everyone’s best treasured memory – Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake.

While I have Mighty Mo memories, I also own two relics of the Hot Shoppes era. The Marriott Hot Shoppes Cookbook: Sixty Years of American Cookery has a history that begins with A & W Root Beer stands, where J. Willard Marriott got his start, and 188 pages of recipes. For reasons that are lost in the mists of time, I also have a laminated Mighty Mo curb service menu. Where were you when these were the prices?

Crisp Hot French Fries 25¢
Golden Brown Onion Rings 35¢
Mighty Mo - All Beef ‘n Cheese – 3 stories high! 65¢
Filet of Fish 65¢
Pappy Parker’s Smoky Mountain Fried Chicken Party Pack (20 pieces) $4.25
Orange Freeze 35¢
Milk Shake 35¢
Our Famous Ice Cream Cake – strawberry or hot fudge 45¢

Why I expected magical secret complicated recipes is beyond me. If you take your own trip down memory lane with the incredibly easy Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake, use good chocolate for your fudge, and don’t forget Mighty Mo sauce for your next burger. No brand names or recipes for key ingredients were specified, so you’re on your own.

Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake

Two 3”x3”x1/2” slices of plain yellow cake (day old)
3”x3”x1/2” vanilla ice cream square
4 T heated hot fudge
2-1/2 T whipped cream
1 drained maraschino cherry

On a serving plate, sandwich the ice cream square between two cake layers.
Drizzle 1 T of hot fudge over each of the four cake corners, leaving the center free from fudge.
Place the whipped cream in the center of the cake.
Top with the cherry.

Mighty Mo Sauce

½ c ketchup
¼ c chili sauce
1-1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 drops Tabasco
½ cup finely chopped sweet pickle
1-1/4 cup mayonnaise

Combine the first five ingredients. Add to the mayonnaise, stirring until well-blended. Keep refrigerated.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Minnesota State Fair's Darned Good Meatloaf

I heard the Siren Song of Meatloaf this week, and remembered “State Fair Ham Loaf” from the estimable Minnesota State Fair: An illustrated history (Kathryn Strand Koutsky & Linda Koutsky). This beautiful history of the Fair has nearly 185 pages of pictures and text, with an additional 20 pages of recipes from State Fair contest winners, 4H ribbon-winners, and a variety of historic sources.

Given my personal history, Ham Loaf is impossibly exotic. For many of you this may take you right back to childhood.

There was no ham in my childhood. I’m Jewish, and, although my Mother didn’t keep Kosher, she never permitted pork in her house. She had obscure boundaries, though, because her shrimp creole and crab cakes were fabulous, and she made terrific meat and cheese lasagna. But I never understood why she would never order a cheeseburger.

Church-sponsored dining halls are a long-standing Minnesota State Fair tradition, and the original Ham Loaf recipe dates from 1930, when it was served in the St. Paul Hamline United Methodist Church dining hall.

You can put this together in less time than it will take to heat the oven. In adapting this recipe, I cut it in half, doubled the spices, cut out an egg, and mixed the whole thing in a food processor. The end result will look like a thick pink paste. Process the ham and the rest of the ingredients and then add the ground beef. This makes a great cold meatloaf sandwich.


¾ pounds ham (buy a chunk from your deli counter)
1-1/2 cups dried fresh breadcrumbs
1 small onion, chopped
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp fresh ground pepper
¾ tsp curry powder
¾ tsp dried sage
¾ tsp allspice
1 c milk (low fat is fine)
1 egg
¾ pounds lean ground beef

1 c brown sugar
1/3 c vinegar (cider preferred)
¼ c brown mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan.
2. In your food processor: pulse the ham and onion. Add the remaining ingredients except the beef and make sure that they are thoroughly mixed. Add the beef and pulse until everything is well-combined. Spread into the prepared pan.
3. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Pour half of the sauce over the top of the loaf.
4. Bake for 60 minutes.
5. Drain the liquid that is collected in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over the loaf.
6. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Pour off the liquid.

While this is very good hot from the over, it makes an even better MEATLOAF SANDWICH.