Sunday, September 27, 2009

another ratatouille moment

Spade recently came across another favorite treat from his childhood and this one is courtesy of Angie also. It seems some of his favorite foods had skipped a generation, from his mom, past me and showing up again with our daughter-in-law. (Not that I didn't try!)

Here are Angie's Ginger Cookies

Measure these dry ingredients into a large bowl:
4 ½ Cups flour
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ t salt

In a mixing bowl, cream together:
1 ½ cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup molasses

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.
Form the dough into balls about an inch in diameter.
Put about ¾ c sugar in a bowl and roll the cookies in the sugar before placing them on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8-9 min.
(Mine seem to take a couple minutes longer than that.)

This makes a big batch of cookies. After I cook one cookie sheet full, I form the rest of the dough into balls, roll them in sugar and place them on waxed paper on a baking sheet, then put that in the freezer for a couple of hours. When the cookie dough is frozen, I put all the frozen dough balls in a large zip lock bag and keep it in the freezer.

Then, when we're in the mood for cookies, I just put the frozen cookies on a cookie sheet, pop it in the oven and cook it for a minute or two longer than unfrozen dough would cook.

Having a bag of frozen cookie dough in the freezer is a great thing that lets you go from hungry for a cookie to eating a warm one in about 15 minutes time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

now you tell me

When I was growing up, macaroni and cheese was not on the menu. But since it is was a favorite in Spade's family, I've made it often for the last 32 years.

I've used the same recipe, with minor variations, these past many years and never felt a need to venture from it. Then last week I came across a recipe that Angie had copied for me from the New York Times a couple of years ago. It had been sitting in my notebook untried when I came across it and I suddenly felt like doing something new.

Everyone loved the results and later Spade told me that that was just like his mother used to make and he liked it more than my faithful recipe that I've been using for three decades. :)

It's not the creamy dish I usually make, but it's plenty cheesy with a nice crispy cheesy crust on top.

I don't have the link to the original recipe, I'll just copy it for you the way Angie did for me.

Crusty Macaroni and Cheese

Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
Yield 8 to 12 servings

3 tablespoons butter
12 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
12 ounces American cheese or cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 pound elbow pasta, boiled in salt water until just tender, drained and rinsed under cold water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2/3 cup whole milk

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Combine grated cheese and set aside two heaping cups for topping.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheeses, cayenne (if using) and salt to taste. Place in prepared pan and evenly pour milk over surface. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes. Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more until crusty on top and bottom.

The menu we eat is pretty simple and we do it almost the same time after time. We have the macaroni and cheese along with broccoli and canned stewed tomatoes. (or canned diced tomatoes or one of the variations of canned tomatoes). It sounds so boring when I write it out, but it's really a favorite meal and doing it just this way is a familiar ritual we always enjoy.

Except that now I don't have to make the white sauce and melt the cheese! After all these years! I'm loving the change!