Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baked Goat Cheese and Baby Greens


Baked goat cheese is such an easy way to top a salad. In fact, this whole salad is about as easy as one can get for a weeknight dinner, and sometimes, that's just what I need, especially when the spring itself seems to be barrelling along at its own pace, complacently disregarding its own potential easy everyday-ness. Let's insist on easy today, shall we?


Everyone seems to have recipe for these baked goat cheese rounds, and I urge you to try whichever one catches your fancy. However, you can't go wrong with the tried, the true, the Irma Rombauer. I have a soft spot for Irma, as The Joy of Cooking was my first post (complete with darned abysmal photography). Her work smacks of home, that clear, standard fare of foundational cooking. This salad is not going to win any awards, impress any that you deem worth impressing, or surprise any save those little blessed with excitement in their lives. However, if it's a Monday, you need dinner, and you love soft goat cheese sidled up to tangy vinaigrette, then you, my friend, have found a friend in Irma Rombauer.


Life has been a little hectic around here, and I am counting the days to spring break for no other reason than I have a stack of books on my bedside table, including Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens, Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, good old John Milton's Paradise Lost (I am five books behind for my book club, but I can catch up!), Nathan Englander's What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and Joshua Braff's The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green.  Have you read any of these, my highly (and enviably) literate friends? What kind of ride am I in for?  I can finish them all in a week, right?



Other than that, I ran the 5K portion of the Oakland Running Festival, and I ran my fastest race yet. I was 87th in my age bracket. Precisely where was my podium, I demand to know.  Luckily, no one is listening to my demands. Additionally, I have been falling behind in my own cooking (and thus my blogging), and I began a bullet journal as an attempt to keep some sort of order in my life.

Thus, with all of this sweet and slightly hectic mundanity, it seems only fitting to have a simple, highly spring celebratory salad such as this. Gather your favorite greens while ye may, throw together a simple vinaigrette, and warm some goat cheese. That's it.  And you'll be set for the night.



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Baked Goat Cheese and Baby Greens
Adapted from  The Joy of Cooking

Yield:
4 servings

Ingredients:  
6 cups mixed baby greens or mesclun
1 cup fine dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup and 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 rounds fresh goat cheese, each about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick
1 small garlic clove, peeled
salt and pepper to taste
1/3-1/2 cup red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a small baking dish.

2.  Wash and dry the greens and set aside.

3.  Stir together the breadcrumbs and the thyme in a small bowl.  In another shallow bowl, pour the olive oil.  Coat the goat cheese first with the olive oil, then the breadcrumbs.  Place the cheese on the baking dish and bake until golden brown and lightly bubbling, about 6 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a small bowl, mash together the garlic and 2-3 pinches of salt.  Add vinegar or lemon juice, shallot, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.  In a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to create an emulsion, 1 cup extra virgin olive oil.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

5.  Toss the greens with just enough vinaigrette to coat and divide among 4 salad plates.  Place a round of baked cheese in the center of each salad and serve at once.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Potato Pizza from The Cheese Board


Pizza has always played a substantial role in my life, yet for many years I even reported that I did not like it much. And it’s true that there are pizzas that I don’t care for: those with thick, spongy crusts and pooled oil on the surface. I like crispy, light crusts straight out of a wood-fired oven with a smattering of veggies and rich cheeses on the surface. Lucky for me, such pizzas are easier and easier to come by—from the CheeseBoard and Pizzaiola to Piaci’s and Zachary's*—and are just as easy to make at home, even sans a wood-fired oven.

*Okay, Zachary's is stuffed pizza, but I make an exception for Chicago-style pizza, especially in the Bay Area.

As many of you know, I spent two years of my undergraduate days flipping pies at a pizza shop in central Ohio, so I have a lot of definitive opinions on pizza making. Thankfully, the Cheese Board’s take on pizza falls right in line with my own. Or perhaps, one should say my own way of thinking falls right in line with that of the Cheese Board.


The goal here is to make a crispy, thin crust with just the right amount of sturdiness and crispiness without producing a crust that tastes like cardboard. Then, you have to top that perfect crust with interesting combinations. This recipe provides both. While this potato pizza may seem a little heavy on the starch—what, with dough and sliced potatoes—don’t let starch aversion keep you from making this pie. It has been a perennial favorite from this cookbook, so this posting is one that comes with years of testimonial about its tastiness.

The toppings are simple: thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes, slightly browned onions, grated mozzarella and swiss, and rosemary. The toppings are savory and smack of the heartiness of winter (if in this case it's the first of the spring--I promise this pizza is great any time of year). Yukon golds are a sweet, waxy potato with lovely yellowed flesh, but if you cannot find them, any red or white skinned, waxy potato will do. The crust is quite easy to make, and the Cheese Board calls for using bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content, which allows for a crispy bit of magic to take place (okay, that magic actually comes in the form of gluten development, but let's call it magic). This magic allows for the dough to have even more strength and structure--much needed properties when you plan to load up on toppings (which we, indeed, do plan to do). See here for even more answers to your flour-based questions. However, if you don't have bread flour, don't worry. Just use regular, all-purpose flour. Your dough will be slightly chewier, but it will still be just as tasty.

Everything else is as easy as, well, (pizza) pie.


The last time I posted from this cookbook, the husband had just finished graduate school; he was on the lookout for gainful employment, and unfortunately, the very night we made the four-cheeses pizza, he got an email that a newly created job for him was not going to fly. What followed was an extensive and drawn-out search for a job that finally landed on one some six months later. As I said in that post, after that email, we redirected our focus onto the pizza--well, not the pizza necessarily, but onto just sharing this one meal together. And things did, indeed, work themselves out.

This time around, cracking open the cookbook to page 215 was far more joyful; we made this pizza up in Fort Bragg, at the in-law’s home (I can't quite figure out the light in their kitchen, so I am never entirely pleased with my photographs that I take there). They purchased this little cabin in the woods with the intention of slowly converting it into their retirement home. With new windows and an expansive deck, with newly-trimmed trees to afford a view of the ocean and recently torn down walkway structures, the house is beginning to feel like their home, filled with light and warmth from a cozy, wood-burning stove (which sadly, does not double as a pizza oven).

The husband and the father-in-law spent the morning walking into town for handmade tacos to be procured from the all-purpose room of a local church, while the mother-in-law and I sat overlooking redwoods, sipping coffee or tea and eating homemade bread. Then the husband and I went into town to the shop for the goodies for this recipe, and that evening, we along with a guest up from the Bay Area ate around the table with windows overlooking a soon-to-be rehabilitated garden, filled with deer-resistant plants. The moon was full, but even on such a bright night, the sheer number of stars makes you feel small but cozy.  This recipe from this cookbook, admittedly, seemed a lot better.



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Potato Pizza


Yield:
Three 10-inch pizzas (one can easily split this into thirds, if one is not so inclined for so much pizza)

Ingredients:  
2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
8 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 recipe for Yeasted Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
Fine yellow cornmeal or flour for sprinkling
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Instructions:
1.  Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  If using a baking stone, preheat the baking stone on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes.

2.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt and pepper.  Arrange the potatoes on the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the slices are almost completely cooked through. Let cool.

3.  Meanwhile, combine the onions and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy medium skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Set aside to cool.

4.  To make the rosemary oil combine the remaining tablespoons olive oil and the rosemary sprig in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, taking care that the oil doesn't bubble. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool in the pan.

5.   To shape the pizzas, transfer the dough to a lightly flowered surface and divide it into 3 pieces.  Gently form each piece into a loose round and cover with a floured kitchen towel.  Let rest for 20 minutes.  Scatter cornmeal over 3 inverted baking sheets or a pizza stone.  Shape each round into a 10-inch disk. 

6.  Mix the cheeses together. Line up the 3 pizzas for assembly. Sprinkle half of the mixed cheeses over the pizzas, leaving a 1/2-inch rim. Scatter the caramelized onions on top of the cheese and layer the potato slices on top of the onions, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. 

7.  Place a baking sheet with a pizza on the lower oven rack and bake for 8 minutes.  Rotate the pizza to the upper rack, place the second pizza in the oven on the lower rack, and continue baking for 8 minutes.  Then, finish baking the first pizza by sliding it off the pan directly onto the baking stone.  Rotate the second pizza to the upper rack and put the third pizza in the oven on the lower rack.  Bake the pizza on the stone for 4 minutes to crisp the bottom until well browned.  Finish baking the second and third pizzas in the same manner.

8.  Immediately after removing each pizza from the oven, brush the rosemary oil on the rim and drizzle it over the rest of the pizza. Garnish with the parsley.



To make the dough
Yield:
Three 10-inch pizza crusts

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour

Instructions:
1.  In a large bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water until dissolved.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

2.  Add the olive oil, salt, and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl.  Using a wooden spoon, mix for at least 5 minutes to form a wet dough.  Pour 1 1/2 cups of the flour onto a work surface, place the dough on top of it, and kneed for about 8 minutes to form a soft dough with a nice sheen; it should be a little sticky, but not too wet.  If the dough sticks to the work surface, rub a little olive oil on it.  If the dough is impossibly sticky add the remaining 1/2 cup flour by the tablespoon as needed.

3.  Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large oiled bowl.  Turn the dough over to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  Or, put the dough in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight; the next day, let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours before proceeding with the recipe.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Colcannon


Yep, I am giving you a recipe for mashed potatoes. However, these are not just any mashed potatoes. These are colcannon.

"Colcannon?" you ask.  According to Oxford Companion to Food, the word colcannon is from the Irish cal ceannann which literally means white-headed cabbage.  And it's an old dish: one of the earliest Irish references to the dish as a mash of potatoes and cabbages is found in a diary from 1735; it was later introduced to England, where it became a favorite of the upper classes. People, we're eating history when we're eating colcannon.

And it really couldn't be easier to make: Mash kale and steamed potatoes together with shallots, milk and butter.  Sure, it's simple. We need simple.


Let's state the obvious. I am making colcannon because one of my favorite holidays celebrating one of my favorite places to visit is upon us. However, I have done it all wrong. I have chosen the wrong holiday: "In Ireland colcannon was associated traditionally with Halloween festivities, when it was used for the purposes of marriage divination. Charms hidden in bowls of colcannon were portents of a marriage proposal should unmarried girls be lucky enough to find them, whilst others filled their socks with spoonfuls of colcannon and hung them from the handle of the front door in the belief that the first man through the door would become their future husband" (again, according to Oxford Companion to Food, gleaned from this fun website on Irish food).


While I was not hiding charms in the potatoes or filling my socks, I was eating these alongside  traditional corned beef. And I did so in the traditional Irish manner (according to the cookbook's instructions): "Push back of a large soup spoon down in the middle of each portion to make a crater, then put a large pat of room temperature butter into each one to make a 'lake.' Diners dip each forkful of colcannon into the butter until its walls are breached."

Once more, unto the breach, dear friends. Once more.  For Harry, England, and Saint George!

(Sorry.  I got carried away. Is it wrong to quote Henry V when eating Irish food? Captain MacMorris (Shakespeare's only Irish character) would say no.) Forks in hands, people. It's time to breach the walls of your colcannon.


Let's get back on track here and back to the Irish: because I love a good potato poem, I leave you here with section three of the poem "Clearances" by Seamus Heaney (which was voted Ireland's favorite poem of the last 100 years--see, a country that holds a national poll to choose a favorite poem. No wonder Ireland is one of my favorite places to visit):

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.




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Colcannon


Yield:
Serves 4-8

Ingredients:  
2 to 2 1/2 lbs russet or other floury potatoes
5 Tbsp butter
3 lightly packed cups chopped kale or chopped greens (such as sorrel, spinach, broccoli leaves, or even cabbage)
1 1/3 cups milk
4 scallions, green part only, minced
salt and pepper

Instructions:
1.  Put the potatoes into a large pot, with the larger ones on the bottom, and add water to come halfway up the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water begins to boil, carefully drain off about half of it, then return the pot to the heat, cover it again, reduce the heat to low, and let the potatoes steam for about 30-40 minutes. Turn off the heat; cover the potatoes with a clean, damp tea towel; and let sit for 5 minutes more.

2.  Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes.

3.  Combine the milk, scallions, and remaining butter in a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the greens and stir in well. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and set aside.

3.  Drain and carefully peel the potatoes, then return them to the pot. Add the greens and their liquid and mash until smooth, leaving a few small lumps in the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.  To serve in the traditional Irish manner, push back of a large soup spoon down in the middle of each portion to make a crater, then put a large pat of room temperature butter into each one to make a "lake." Diners dip each forkful of colcannon into the butter until its walls are breached.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blood Sausage in Puff Pastry and Chorizo in Puff Pastry


I love morsels: hence the name of the blog. I love those little tiny bites to eat, those nibbles, canapés, hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, cocktail snacks—whatever you want to call them. Thus, it was almost written in the stars or the tea leaves or the cards (choose your divining practice) that tapas and I became such good friends.

The very philosophy of tapas is morsels (sometimes coupled with sauces) is something I can get behind: a banquet of bites combined to make a meal. I am in! It’s true that I am thrilled with a life of tasting, sampling,  pausing, coming back for favorites. Sure, tapas can stand on their own to make a meal when combined with other tapas, yet they can easily be adapted into an appetizer for a main course. And that’s just what these two tapas did as openers to a larger, delicious spread put out by the in-laws on the night of the Oscars (I know, I know--I am late in posting this; however, I have been busy teaching a class on fiction writing and traveling up the coast to Fort Bragg, where the husband and I rode our bikes along the ocean. My dilatoriness comes with a reason, I promise.)




First off, it’s true that you can make your own puff pastry, and I am certain that you can do it to miraculous results, as long as you have three hours. I, however, did not have time to make my own, and I find that store-bought sheets fare just as well as homemade without all of the fuss. Even the kitchn grants you permission to snap up a box of store-bought over homemade, when necessity dictates. However, if you feel you must make your own, you can find a couple of recipes here and here. Store-bought generally uses shortening over butter, so homemade is going to have that rich, buttery taste; however, sometimes convenience does trump butter. Not very often, but sometimes.

Now, let’s address our tapas one by one, shall we?




As far as I know, this was the first time I had ever eaten morcilla or blood sausage. Sure, the thought of eating pork blood and fat with a little rice and onions encased in intestines is, well, repulsive even as I write that sentence. Don’t let your rational thinking get in the way, for morcilla turns out to be rich, savory, and certainly satisfying. Like all sausage, morcilla's flavor is determined by the seasonings included by its manufacturer, but by and large, it is a wonderfully hearty and complex sausage; this simple tapas celebrates the richness of the meat. Combined with sautéed onions and a smattering of herbs and spices, morcilla turns out a heavily seasoned filling for a puff pastry roll. While eating this particular tapas is not an elegant affair because the meat comes tumbling out when you try to lift the pastry (I recommend a fork for this one), it is certainly a satisfying one. 

 

The second chorizo tapas is about as simple as a tapas can be. Slice sausage, slice dough, put sausage on dough, seal, bake, eat. Sure, there is nothing fancy here, so that means you should splurge on your favorite chorizo, for that sausage is doing all of the heavy lifting. Chorizo can be boiled down to two kinds: Mexican and Spanish. Mexican chorizo is seasoned with vinegar and chile peppers and needs to be cooked before eating. Spanish chorizo smacks of garlic and paprika, can be sliced like pepperoni, and is a vibrant red color (although its flavoring can range from spicy to sweet). (Click here to learn more, again from kitchn.)  Among the Spanish chorizo, one can further distinguish one's sausage: we used was a softer, semicured chorizo rather than a drier, firmer, fully cured chorizo. It was quite tasty and made for an easy bite you can just pop in your mouth.


Coupled together, these two tapas are pretty heavy on the pastry and the meat, so you may want to serve them separately and save one for another night. However, feel free to make them at the same time, for both freeze easily

Then you have tapas on hand the next time you need a morsel.  

Or a nibble or a bite or a snack.
 



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Blood Sausage in Puff Pastry


Yield:
Serves 4

Ingredients:  
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp minced onion
3 ounces morcilla (blood sausage), skin removed, finely chopped
¼ tsp oregano
¼ tsp paprika, preferably Spanish style
salt
pepper
¼ pound puff pastry dough

Instructions:
1.    Preheat the oven to 450°F.
 
2.    Heat oil in a skillet and sauté the onion until wilted. Add the morcilla and mash with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and stir in the oregano, paprika, salt and pepper (the mixture should be well seasoned).
 
3.    Roll the puff pastry to a 3½ x 9-inch rectangle about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place the filling in a narrow strip down the center of the pastry. Wet the edge of one long side with water, bring the two long sides up and pinch well to seal. Wet and pinch the open short ends to seal as well. (May be prepared ahead and refrigerated or frozen.)
 
4.    Place pastry roll seam side down on a cookie sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, reduce to 350°F and bake for 4 minutes more until browned.
 
5.    To serve, cut the pastry roll into 1-inch wide strips.

Chorizo in Puff Pastry

Adapted from  Tapas: Little Dishes of Spain


Yield:
Serves 4

Ingredients:  
½ pound puff pastry dough
¼ pound Spanish chorizo sausage, in ¼-inch slices
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Instructions:
1.    Preheat the oven to 450°F.
 
2.    Roll the puff pastry to the thickness of 1/8-inch thick, and then cut into circles ¼-inch larger than the chorizo slices. (I used a small  biscuit cutter.)
 
3.    Center each slice of chorizo on each circle, wet the edges of the dough with the egg yolk, and cover with another circle of pastry. Seal the edges well with a fork. Refrigerate each puff as it is made so that the pastry does not soften. (May be frozen at this point.)
 
4.    Place the puffs on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed.






Sunday, March 8, 2015

Yankee Ginger Snaps (and a bonus cookie)


This cookbook is ambitious and impressive. With recipes for wedding cake (all three tiers), apple pie, hot cross buns, sweet potato bread, red velvet cupcakes, beignets, cherry and roasted quince galette, fortune cookies, ravioli, calzones, bagels, and flourless double-chocolate brownies, Nancy Cain leaves no traditional bread product unturned in her new cookbook, Against the Grain.
 


Certainly gluten-free cooking is catching hold these days, and when I had the opportunity to grab this cookbook, I did. While I am not gluten-free, I have friends who are, so I want to have a reliable cookbook on hand should I be doing some cooking for them. But even further, as a culture we do have quite a reliance on wheat. While I want to support the most significant industry from the husband’s home state of Kansas, I also think it’s important to diversify one’s cooking—to not just rely on the standby, to mix it up. So even if I can and do relish eating wheat, I am not at all averse to adding gluten-free flours into my repertoire.




Immediately, I liked this cookbook. Delightfully, Cain gives detailed explanations as to why gluten-free baking works (and sometimes doesn’t) with an extensive introduction for the scientist in you. She examines hydration ratios, flour mixtures, kneading challenges, pregelatinizing starches, and delayed fermentation all with an eye toward making the best gluten-free products she can; and certainly Cain has to stand behind these recipes, as she is the owner of Against theGrain Gourmet out of Vermont.



Committed to more natural cooking, Cain set out on her gluten-free baking journey with a mission to make her goods gum-free. Further, she wanted no mystery additives (you know, the ones you can’t even pronounce). Thus, she eschews xanthan or guar gums in favor of well-chosen starches and proteins or chia seed or flaxseed slurries. Further, she also explains the origins and properties of a multitude of gluten-free flours—both grain and non-grain based, including teff, corn, millet, oat, coconut, flax, amaranth, and quinoa. That said, her recipes are straightforward, well explained, and easy to follow. In sum, this cookbook is one you can turn to if you are gluten-free baking novice— like myself— who wants to know why gluten free baking works, but also if you just need to grab a quick recipe and rely on its success.




Finally, what I particularly like about this cookbook is that before every one of her over 200 recipes, Cain tells a story in her headnotes. I love the stories behind food. For me, as for any literature buff, food is never just food. It is about consumption and denial, community and isolation, abundance and scarcity, connection and detachment. (Her headnote for the ginger snaps talks about her adaptation of an old Yankee Magazine recipe and her family’s love of this particular cookie.) Cain’s stories are as lovely as her scientific introduction, her extensive list of flours and equipment, and her luscious photographs.



Okay, given all that, let’s turn to this post’s particular recipe—Yankee Ginger Snaps

 

Two ingredients in this recipe may throw the gluten-free baking novice for a loop: buckwheat flour and tapioca starch. Both can be found at well-stocked groceries, health food stores, or online here or here. Buckwheat flour, it turns out, is not wheat at all, which is confusing, given its name. Instead, the flour comes from a fruit related to wild rhubarb and sorrel. Who knew rhubarb and sorrel were related? Further, Cain by and large uses light buckwheat flour, which keeps baked goods a light golden color. However, regular buckwheat flour works just as well in recipes for darker goods. Tapioca starch (often labeled as tapioca flour) is ground from the pulp of the cassava (or manioc) plant, the starch forms a gel when heated, which is precisely what is needed to provide chewiness in baked goods, such as cookies.



These cookies were quite yummy. Snappy even. I did put in an additional teaspoon of ginger (note the range from 2-3 teaspoons of ginger), for we are a family that likes a spicy cookie. The lower amount would make a far milder cookie. The cookies were moist and chewy, rather than crumbly and sharp. Thus, the snap in this cookie comes not from the sound of breaking one into two pieces in order to dunk them into your tea; instead, the snap comes from the bite of the ginger. I would also argue that if you didn’t tell anyone these cookies were gluten-free, they wouldn’t think to ask. It’s not that one needs to hide gluten-free cooking, but it’s just that when one says ginger cookie, one expects a ginger cookie. This recipe delivers, gluten or no.



And as a final note: we have made quite a few recipes from this cookbook. While I think some tweaking is in order (definitely use light buckwheat flour for the peanut butter cookies, cook the cheese bake just a little longer), all in all, this cookbook is a keeper.


(I am going to tell you a secret:  these gingersnaps weren’t on page 215. Classic Peanut Butter Cookies were. So, as I said, Cain generally uses light buckwheat flour, which wasn’t available to me, so I used plain old buckwheat flour. The flour itself is light and its taste blends right into the cookie; however, the color, especially for a peanut butter cookie, is off. Given that we eat as much with our eyes as with our stomachs, I chose to feature the Ginger Snaps. These peanut butter cookies look more like chocolate cookies. That said, the taste was great, and I am not going to deny you the glory of page 215 gluten-free peanut butter cookies. We all concurred that the recipe needed a little more peanut butter and a little less sugar. But more importantly, it needs light buckwheat flour.  I am putting the recipe (without the changes to peanut butter or sugar) below.)





-------------
Yankee Ginger Snaps
Adapted from  Against the Grain

Yield:
3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:  
1 2/3 cups light buckwheat flour

1 cup tapioca starch

2-3 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp round cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

½ cup canola oil

1 large egg

1 cup sugar, plus 2 Tbsp for rolling 
¼ cup molasses

Instructions:
1.         Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


2.         In a large bowl, blend the buckwheat flour, tapioca starch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and baking soda. Set aside.


3.         Using a hand mixer or a stand up mixer, combine the oil, egg, and 1 cup of sugar in a medium how until the batter Is light yellow. Beat in the molasses. Stir in the dry ingredients until the dough is fully blended (Cain suggests working by hand because the dough will be quite stiff, but I used the stand mixer the whole time).


4.         Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.


5.         Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The cookies will spread a little and be soft and fragile when you remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.






Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
Yield:
20 Cookies

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp salted butter

¼ cup coconut oil

½ up packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

½ cup organic natural peanut butter

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1½ cups light buckwheat flour

½ cup tapioca starch

Instructions:
1.         Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 


2.         In a bowl, use a hand mixer on high to cream the butter, coconut oil, sugars, vanilla, and egg until the dough is light and creamy. Mix in the peanut butter until thoroughly blended. Beat in the baking soda and salt.


3.         Beat in the buckwheat flour and tapioca starch. The dough will become very stiff; use your hands to gather it into a ball.


4.         Roll the dough into 1 ½-inch balls and place them on the baking sheet. Using the tines of a fork, press down each ball until it is between ¼ and ½ inch thick. (The cookie will spread some as it bakes.) Turn the fork 90 degrees and press down the tines again to create a crosshatched pattern on the top.


5.         Bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool for 5-7 minutes on the pan before transferring them to a cooling rack. The cookies will be soft and fragile when removed from the oven, but will set and harden as they cool.