Friday, March 27, 2009

Ginger Orange Cookies

These cookies are very spicy and gingery, with an added zing of orange.

The recipe:

Preheat oven to 325° F

2-1/2 c. unbleached white all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. (4 Tbsp) light molasses
1 Tbsp. orange juice
zest of 1 orange, grated medium or fine

Prepare cookie sheets -- I like to use baker's parchment, the cookies don't stick at all, the cookie sheets stay clean, and the parchment can be re-used several times.

Sift flour, baking soda and spices into a bowl and set aside.

Cream together the softened butter and 1 cup of the sugar. Stir in the egg, molasses, orange juice and orange zest and stir until the mixture is very smooth.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until well blended, making a soft dough.

Shape the dough into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the cookie balls into the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and place on the cookie sheets. Place in oven and bake for about 13 minutes, until the cookies are cracked and just firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

I find these quite addictive!


- Bring the butter and egg to room temperature before you start.

- If you don't have unsalted butter, use salted butter and omit the salt from the flour mixture

- You can use lemon or lime juice and zest instead of orange; in that case cut the amount of juice down to 1-1/2 tsp

- You may also add a tablespoon or two of grated fresh ginger, chopped candied ginger, or some of each.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chicken With Pineapple

Here's a meal that is easy to make, is not expensive, and is very delicious. We just had this last night, and it was definitely a hit!

1- 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cubed
1 large sweet bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large red onion, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 20-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice.

Combine pineapple juice, soy sauce, grated fresh ginger, black pepper, ground ginger, thyme, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and corn starch in a bowl. Whisk until well blended, then set aside.

Sauté chicken with about 1 Tbsp. olive oil until it is a little browned, about 4-5 minutes on medium high heat. Remove chicken and sauté the pepper and onion in another 1 Tbsp. olive oil, until the onion pieces are translucent and the pepper pieces are cooked but still crispy. Add the chicken back into the pan with the pepper and onion, then add the pineapple chunks, maintaining a medium high heat. Stir and heat until everything is hot, including the pineapple. Now give the sauce a whisk (corn starch tends to settle) and then pour it into the pan, over the rest of the ingredients. Continue cooking and stirring, deglazing the pan while you go. When the sauce is thick and clear, the dish is ready to serve.

Serve over rice. Serves 4. Mmmmm!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Heavenly Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Finally, a pineapple upside down cake that lives up to expectations. This is an adaptation of a recipe I found at, modified in the following ways:
  • no maraschino cherries (pretty, but they just distract from the pineapple flavor)
  • substituted almond essence for vanilla and changed the amount
  • added a dash of cinnamon
  • used unsweetened soy milk in place of regular milk
  • used canned pineapple slices in their own pineapple juice -- no thick sweetened syrup
  • melted the butter for the cake part
Here's the adapted recipe:

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup plain soy milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp. almond flavoring (*)
1 20-oz. can pineapple slices in pineapple juice (10 slices)
2 Tbsp. of the pineapple juice from the can of pineapple slices

(*) Vanilla works too -- but try the almond if you have it!

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Place 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup) in an 8" square glass baking dish and place it in the oven that is preheating. Remove the dish when the butter melts, and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter. Now arrange pineapple slices evenly over the butter and brown sugar mixture. Cut the extra slices in half and place them on the sides of the dish. If there are still extras, cut them in quarters and place them in between the whole slices and in the center parts.

Combine the flour, white sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a mixing bowl, stirring until they are evenly mixed. In a smaller bowl, combine the milk, egg, almond flavoring and the 2 Tbsp of pineapple juice, whisking together until the egg is evenly incorporated. Melt the remaining half stick (1/4 cup) of butter.

Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter into the dry ingredients and stir just enough to moisten all of the flour mixture. Now spoon the batter into the baking dish, being careful not to disturb the arranged pineapple pieces.

Place the baking dish into the preheated 375° F oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake should be golden with the sides pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan, and a skewer put in the center should come out clean.

Let the cake cool for a few minutes, then turn it upside down onto a serving dish. Serve while warm. This cake really has a nice texture, and really enhances the pineapple with caramelized brown sugar and butter that is such a classic flavor. I suggest serving it with tea or coffee to accompany. Mmmmm!