food amongst family and friends

My Favourite Things – Gingerbread Bars December 21, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Bars,Desserts,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

That’s right, I’m still alive, you can call off the search party. I have no idea where the month of December has gone, but it has obviously not been spent posting all the delicious things I’ve been cooking; sorry (I feel a New Year’s resolution coming on). This has become my favourite Christmas treat over the last few years; I think Katie made them the year my first daughter was born (almost 6 years ago) and the next year I stole the recipe and have made them every year since. So instead of boring you with the new stuff I tried, I thought I would go for an old(ish) favourite. The recipe, I believe, came out of a Bon Apetit magazine, but don’t quote me on that. They are the perfect gingerbread – somewhere between cookie and cake, just the right amount of spice, and almost impossible to wreck. And, the best way to eat them, as you can see, is with good vanilla ice cream and totally evil drunken sauce (or good quality caramel sauce for the kids and non boozy folks out there). Try them, you won’t regret it. Unless you don’t like gingerbread, in which case, skip it.

2 cups flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp each, nutmeg and ground cloves

1/2 tsp each, baking soda and salt

10 Tbsp butter, room temp

3/4 packed dark brown sugar

7 Tbsp white sugar, divided

2 large eggs

1/4 cup light (fancy) molasses

1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour a rimmed cookie sheet (like you would for a loaf pan).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour through salt). In a large bowl, using your electric mixer (a stand mixer would be great here), beat together butter, brown sugar and 6 Tbsp white sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in molasses. Add dry ingredients, and beat just to blend.

3. Here’s the tricky part; spread batter/dough evenly into the pan. I’m not being facetious; this is a serious pain in the butt. Every year it makes me crazy, but last year we decided to flour our hands (repeatedly) and press it out, which seems to work the best. The dough is somewhere between cake batter and cookie dough and its very sticky and resistant to spreading. Alternately, I would try a spatula sprayed with cooking spray.

4. If you used flour to press it out, skip this step, but otherwise, sift 2 Tbsp flour over the top of the bars. Then sprinkle with the remaining Tbsp of sugar (I cut this back from 2 Tbsp and it’s still lots; do it to your taste).

5. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 21 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack, then slice and remove. I slice it big (into about 15-18 bars) for dessert as shown, or smaller (into 24-28) to put on a plate of squares. These freeze beautifully if you are trying to plan ahead.




Mom’s Wild Rice and Mushroom casserole December 5, 2011

Filed under: Mains,Sides,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 12:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This is straight from my mom, no idea where she got it from, but it is hearty and nutty and wholesome and perfect for a cold day along side some sausage or pork chops or just in a bowl on it’s own for lunch. The kids love this and grown ups think it’s fancier than it is, so it works for whoever it is you have to feed. Feel free to play with the types of rice (straight wild is really lovely) and mushrooms to make it your own, although I wouldn’t recommend any white rice as it would probably disintegrate.

1 1/2 cups rice (I used 1/2 cup wild and 1 cup of a wild and brown rice blend)

2 tbsp butter

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 can water chestnuts, chopped

1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds

40 oz (4 3/4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup cream (whipping is best but I often use coffee cream because I have it in the house)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Fry mushrooms in the butter over medium heat until soft in either a smallish dutch oven (mine is a 2 L) or a medium skillet.

2. Transfer mushrooms to 2 L casserole dish (or leave in dutch oven) and stir in rice, water chestnuts, almonds and broth. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone.

3. Stir in cream, and cook until liquid no longer pools, but it’s still saucy, about 15-20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.



PS If your dutch oven isn’t hot (ie you prepped this ahead of time) it will take quite a bit longer to cook. In a pinch or if I need to shorten the cooking time, I have cooked this on the stove for a bit to get a nice simmer going before popping it in the oven.