Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sea Salt Ginger Cookies

 There's a type of cookie I like but you just don't see or hear much about anymore. And that's a Ginger Cookie. When I was a kid I remember Ginger Snaps, Ginger candies, Ginger Bread! I loved the taste of ginger.  So I searched and searched for a recipe and found a good one I thought I could adapt at Dinner and Dessert. What appealed to me was that these cookies weren't thin and gingersnap like, but instead a cake cookie which is what I wanted.

I also wanted a cake-like cookie because I thought a sprinkling of sea salt might work with a ginger cookie.  All I'll say is, I was right. These are delicious!!!  The sting of double measured ginger with the saltiness and the sweetness of molasses and brown sugar. Definitely a cookie I will make again, and again, and again. Do give it a try.

Adapted from Dinner and Dessert
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger (yes, two)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sea Salt for finishing touch

Melt butter and pour into mixing bowl with both sugars. Combine well.

Add beaten egg and molasses and mix together.
Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and ginger and mix thoroughly.

Add flour. You may need to add 1/4 cup or two more until you get a nice thick cookie dough.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. (The stiffness of the cookie dough and the chilling will keep the cookies from spreading too much while baking.)

Spoon tablespoon size of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, or just greased pans. Leave about 1 1/2 space between each one.

Bake at 350 degrees for 9 - 12 minutes. Each batch of mine took exactly 12 minutes. The best way to tell is to take them out of the oven when the very edges are beginning to brown.

Immediately sprinkle the tops of the hot cookies with sea salt. Don't overdo it but a light visible sprinkling is perfect.

Let cook for five minutes, and then remove from baking pan to wire rack and let cool completely.

Psst, the picture below is my new Convection Toaster Oven. Bakes, browns, toasts, defrosts and broils. I'm liking this oven.


Salt on Foodista

Friday, January 4, 2013

Himalayan Salt Block

You know what a Himalayan Salt Block is?  Well, neither did I. Due to my penchant for cooking, baking, and posting on this blog, my children occasionally provide me with gifts related to food, which is kind of cool.

Last year my youngest Son gave me an Ice Cream Maker for Christmas. My daughter bought me some beautiful Creuset dishes.

This year he gave me some infused oils and balsamics. (Try some garlic infused grapeseed oil in your mashed potatoes sometime.)

My daughter this year gave me a Himalayan Salt Block.

A Himalayan Salt Block is 600,000 years old, and is pure salt mined in the Himalayas and is pink in color.

You can heat them up and actually cook on them or chill them and use them as a serving platform. In either case it imparts a bit of saltiness to whatever you cook or serve. Fancy restaurants will sometimes heat up a block (it retains heat for quite a while) and bring it to your table and actually sear steak or seafood and vegetables on it right at your table.

After using it, you merely wipe it clean and use it again and again.

I thought this was a COOL Christmas Present and couldn't wait to try it.

I drove home Christmas Day back to Seattle, and got on the internet and began reading about my salt block. I read use, and care, and preparation, and recipes etc. etc. for about two hours.

A Salt Block can be heated directly over flames such as a gas grill or a gas stove, but it cannot be heated directly on an electric stove. The block must be elevated over the electric element by 1/2 inch or so. Fortunately, my pressure cooker had a metal trivet that was the perfect height so I used that.

I decided that I was going to make (plebian, I know) a cheeseburger on my new salt block, just to try it out.

So I set it carefully on top of the trivet on the heating element, and as per instructions, starting heating it very slowly. In fact I was over conservative, and I let it heat at a certain level for 30 minutes at a time, before I raised the temperature. The first time you use it you're supposed to "temper" by slowly heating it over time. I gradually upped the temperature over a two hour period, just to be on the safe side.

The burger was ready, cheese at the ready, and a hamburger bun buttered and ready to toast on the block also. (Along with some Burgerville special sauce)

The block was HOT and water drops sizzled when splashed on it.

I was at my desk ready to go, when I heard a KABOOM from the kitchen!

I ran out and saw the salt block had exploded and cracked through the middle.  As I was standing there, it blew up again, showering me and my entire kitchen with salt. I was ducking and covering my eyes as it exploded FIVE more times! I turned off the heat, and had salt EVERYWHERE! In my hair, clothes, kitchen, floor, etc. etc. It's been a week and I still find chunks of salt somewhere.

We do have a happy ending however. The next day I called my daughter and thanked her for the exploding Christmas Gift, after which I emailed the place she bought it from in Portland, Oregon. They immediately agreed to replace it, and ended up sending me not one, but two new stones. They explained that every once in a while, a block deemed cooking worthy can have defects that can't be detected visually, and that sometimes this happens.

I'll have you know I heated one up yesterday morning and cooked bacon and a sunnyside up egg, and they were delicious.

More to follow I'm sure as I continue to experiment with recipes for the Himalayan Salt Block. As long as I don't blow myself up.  Ha ha.