cleverchickadee


Black Chocolate Ginger Cookies, a Recipe by quornflour

#recipe #nomnom #food #cookie #backing #quornflour

I am sure I have mentioned it before, I am a big fan of ginger and chocolate. Especially since I discovered that Hershey’s chocolate baking powder also comes in “Special Dark”. It’s almost black, it is amazing.

I figured since the Dark Chocolate Ginger Cake I made a while back was such a hit, I would try making some chocolate ginger cookies.

I also happened to have my kitchenaid mixer out after having made Strawberry Rhubarb sorbet, so I swapped out the bowl and the mixer thing and went to work.

Heat your over to 375◦.

Toss these into the mixer in the order below, give the mixer time to mix thoroughly before adding the next.

  • 1 ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ginger powder
  • ¾ cup hershey’s special dark baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped candied ginger (chop it into pieces about the size of chocolate chips)

Place ping pong ball size balls of dough on parchment paper covered cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 minutes and let cool on a rack.

Enjoy.

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Party Bracelet by quornflour

Occasionally TxK and I plan events and parties as part of our jobs. It is not uncommon for party (club) bracelets to be used as identifiers.

Recently I had an event from work and the location asked that I make sure to check folks in and have an identifier: bracelet, nametag, etc. I had already planned to hand out a thumb drive to attendees and they were on a lanyard. Thing is, most people, even the nerds I works with, do not want to walk around with a USB around their necks. I had originally wanted to get some fancy VIP embossed fancy nametags.
Then the reality of how much time I had hit. Then Hurricane Sandy came around. Boston fared well, but it put a damper on a few of my plans and the night before the event I realized that I had not made the name tags or ordered the party bracelets. I went to an office supply store, but they did not have what I needed. The guy recommended I check out a party supply store.

Now this was on Halloween. Party supply stores often sell costumes. The place was a zoo. But that was good, as I wandered around looking for the bracelets (which I eventually found and bought a pile of so that I would have them on hand), I came across bags of glow sticks. It was perfect. The event was going to be held in a lowly lit club, I could hang them with the USB drives and make people wear them so they wouldn’t lose the thumb drive. It was perfect.

Not to mention that snapping of the tube to make them glow is kind of satisfying after a long few weeks.



Clever Kids by quornflour

Recently, while staying with friends in Seattle, I was making dinner. My friend’s youngest daughter was home and needed something to do.

We were throwing a party and there were to be a load of people at the house. Yes I go visit friends, cook food, invite people over and leave the dishes for someone else. Ok, sometimes I help with clean-up, but as my friend once said, “it’s a cook thing you are an excellent chef, because you make a mess in the kitchen!”

Anyway, I was at my friend’s house and her younger daughter who is in first grade who is super smart and helpful needed a project.

So first up I had her make some Caprese skewers, I had picked up a pint of colorful cherry tomatoes and some tiny balls of mozzarella, pretty much everyone who has ever been on Pinterest has seen the various versions of this. Yes that is what I was making, but with a little more basil.

Simple instructions:

Cherry tomatoes, small mozzarella balls wrapped with basil leaves: stab on skewer.

After skewered: drizzle olive oil (garlic olive oil if you are fancy like me) and balsamic vinegar.

So first I had her (with a little help from her Uncle Peter who wrapped the mozzarella – not because she couldn’t but because he was there) make those.

Simple and delicious and saved me about 30 minutes.

I was preparing mussels, for which I wanted to use basil grass. Basil grass is finely sliced basil leaves, it is pretty and adds a nice burst of flavor since it crushes the leaves a bit.

So her second job was to make basil joint, cigars, rolls… they have many names, I suppose with a lot of people with kids, maybe rolls is a better word choice.

Anyway, to do this, you lay basil leaves on top of one another about 10 deep. You can use this for practice counting as well.



Then you roll them up starting at one long side.

Once you have done this, cut the basil in small strips and ta-dah! Now you are fancy with your basil grass.

Don’t you feel fancy?



Home Frites, because you are fancier than home-fries by quornflour

Sometimes, when a restaurant wants to seem fancy, you call French Fries “Frites”, I am pretty sure they are the same thing, but frites sounds fancier, “Oh look at me with my fancy steak frites!”

If you do not have a deep fryer, you might think, “oh bummer, I can never make frites like the fancy restaurants, oh woe is me.”

I am here to tell you that you are WRONG. Yep, that is correct, you can make super delicious fancy frites right at home without a deep fryer.

This recipe does take a little more work and time than others, but the great thing is that you can make a lot and freeze some for later to cut time when you need them. They are also more delicious than a lot of (though delicious) oven baked fries that often just make you say, “meh, they just are not as delicious.”

You will not be saying this about these.

You will need:

  • 5 or more pounds of potatoes (I prefer Yukon gold or red potatoes myself, regardless you are better off picking ones with a thinner skin so you do not have to skin it, because I ask you, “who loves skinning potatoes?” pretty sure the answer to that is, “sadists.”
  • 32 oz olive or coconut oil
  • Salt

You are also going to need to make sure you have a 4-5 quart Dutch (or French) oven, baking trays and a Chinese mesh strainer.

  1. Cut your potatoes into “fry” shaped pieces, about ¼ to ½ inch by the length of the potato
  2. Heat your oven to 350
  3. Pour the oil into the Dutch oven and bring up to temp, you will know it is ready because if you put a piece of potato in it, it will bubble wildly.
  4. Using the Chinese wire strainer lower a few potatoes worth of the cut potatoes into the oil, this should cause the oil go into a rapid boil.
    1. Remember oil is hot; it will burn if it hits you; so it is best not to make these naked.
    2. Once you are done frying all of your potatoes you can strain the oil with a coffee filter into a jar and save for a second use later.
  5. Cook these in the oil until they just barely start to brown on the edges (about 15 seconds) and remove them, spread them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 until golden brown (about 10 minutes)
  6. Set aside to cool. If you are going to freeze some for later, once cooled to room temp, spread them on a baking tray and place in the freezer, once they are frozen put them in a bag until ready for use.
  7. When you are ready to use them, heat a cast iron skillet, add about a tablespoon or two of olive oil, toss the potatoes in the skillet until brown and hot and crispy, serve warm.

If you want to make them extra fancy, this third cook is when you add spices or garlic. Some great things to add are: sage leaves; basil, garlic and parmesan; crushed red pepper flakes; curry powder; fajita seasoning… the options are endless. Some other great recipes that go well with these fries are: chicken nuggets, curry mussels, garlic mussels, spicy Buffalo chicken strips or even just on their own.



Wicked Good Lobstah Suppah, paht 3 –mussel madness by quornflour

As I stated before: mussels are my favorite mollusk. Not only are they delicious but they are also a pretty versatile protein source.

Did you know that a 3 oz (6oz with shell on, about 10 mussels) serving of mussels provides 340% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-12? Those 3 oz are about 145 calories and loads of other minerals your body loves. Wanna talk about protein for a second? 10 mussels provide about as much protein as 4oz steak with only a fraction of the fat and most of that fat is the good stuff.

They live above the mud hanging on to rocks with their beards and do not end up with the gritty sandiness that is often associated with their sweeter cousin the clam.

Sea birds also like mussels, however their hard shell can be a deterrent, a mussel will open to move and to eat, but when it senses danger it snaps closed. Birds, such as seagulls will take a mussel, fly high above a rock and drop the shell to the rock below to crack it open, then swoop back down to collect and enjoy the meat.

As humans we have tools and fire, which make enjoying mussels a little less taxing, when cooked a mussel will relax and open making the meat easily accessible. If a mussel does not pop open when cooked, I just assume let it be as I would a shrimp with a flat tail.

In childhood I remember mostly just eating them steamed in water and dipped in butter.

One of my favorite methods (probably because I love tomatoes so much) is to cook them in a creamy tomato basil style steam.

Here is what you will need:

  • 3 pounds of mussels
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 5 large tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes add a nice mixture of color) cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups of ½ & ½
  • ½ Cup grated parmesan cheese (or other similar hard cheese)
  • ¼ cup basil “grass”
  • 3 green onions cut into “grass”

If you want to make this more of a creamy sauce, you could start by making a roux, but to keep this gluten free and because I like the separation of the cheese for this particular recipe I did not.

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 4-5 quart Dutch oven, bring it to temp (spits when hit with a drop of water or thins like water)
  2. Add 2 cloves garlic and brown
  3. Once the garlic is brown turn the heat to low and add the tomatoes, stir and cover.

Meanwhile in a saucepan:

  1. Add remaining olive oil and also bring to temp
  2. Add 2 cloves of garlic and brown
  3. Turn heat to medium
  4. Add ½ & ½ and cheese and stir

And back to the Dutch oven we go…

  1. When it starts to form a light steam add to tomatoes and stir
  2. Add most of the green onions (save a few for garnish)
  3. Add mussels, cover until the mussels pop open (this won’t take long)
  4. Add basil
  5. Stir up and serve warm

Remember, like many sea creature, if you over cook them they will turn chewy and they will continue to cook for a few minutes after they are removed from the heat, so only steam them until they open.



Wicked Good Lobstah Suppah, paht 1 – Lobster Lessons by quornflour

I headed out to Seattle for work and am staying with friends while I am here. While talking, we decided it would be fun to have a little lobster dinner. Then I wanted to invite some friends and it turned into a full-fledged feast. Next thing I knew there were 24 lobsters and 6 pounds of mussels headed to Seattle: I ordered them from Maine Lobster Direct, and you can too.

We did a basic lesson on lobster, from what I could remember learning as a kid growing up in Maine. Pincher and Crusher claws…

Often when people draw lobster they show 2 crusher claws, the crusher claw is very likely what you imagine when you think of a lobster claw. It is the bigger of the two claws, the one with more meat in it. What a lot of people do not realize is that lobsters have two different claws and are both “left handed” and “right handed”. IOW the crusher claw is not always on the left or right. The Pincher claw is faster and when a lobster is young has two pincher claws, but as it gets older the claw that is used less for quickness is the one that develops into the crusher claw.

Sometimes when you see lobsters in a tank they will only have one claw banded, this is the crusher claw, it looks like it has molars on it compared to the other that has more of a small tooth look to it.

The Crusher claw is used for just that, and while small can be very strong and is capable of breaking a human finger. Once the crusher claw develops it is the final determination on if the lobster will be left handed or right handed and this will not change as the lobster ages. Lobsters can regenerate lost claws and if a crusher claw is lost it will always regenerate as a crusher.

When boiling a lobster, you want to cook it for 11 minutes for the first pound and a minute for every quarter pound after that. When cooking, you do not need to add anything to the water.

Overall lobster is pretty healthy as a protein source. They are low in fat (most of the fat calories in a lobster dinner come from dipping the meat in butter), there are only about 30 calories per ounce of meat; a 1.5 pound lobster will yield about 4.25 ounces of meat.

When serving your lobster, try using a bread tin, this will allow the water to drain out when you break the shell and reduce the mess on the table, it also works as a place to put your shell when done.




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