Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spekulatius cookies with clove

These have been my favorite holiday cookies for many years, and I was curious to see how the home-made version would turn out, compared to the consistent factory flavor I have become accustomed to. I followed the recipe, and only made one substitution of whole wheat flour (1 cup out of the 3 cups called for). I don’t have mace in my spice rack and have been attempting to not buy new spices, so I prepared the cookies with nutmeg as suggested. 
The flavor was delicious, but not the Spekulatius of my memories. I’d like to try another recipe and do better at rolling the dough out very thinly. I may invest in a shaped cookie mold rather than traditional cookie cutters (you may have seen these cookies in the shape of windmills in stores).
In some cultures, these cookies are made in December, so I used a pizza cutter this time to make squares to bring to a summer picnic. I learned that I prefer these cookies crispy, and by making a large batch instead of individual cookies, the edges were well done while the center was fully cooked by still soft (next time, I'll be sure to prepare separate, thin cookies to get the crispy effect).
Are there some cookies you prefer crunchy while others are better with less crisp? I think I like all of mine well done.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sesame aioli (dip/spread)

I’ve heard of aioli before, but was never sure exactly what it was (sounds exotic). After I found this recipe and tried it, with excellent results, I learned from an on-line search that aioli can be made several ways- most often with mayonnaise and garlic. It is used as a condiment, and I tried it as directed as well as inventing a new (to me) use for it. Thanks to Renee, her mother, and other sources for this delicious recipe- with slight modifications:

¼ cup mayonnaise (I used fat free)
1 TBSP sesame oil (I did not have the dark oil called for in the recipe,  but it was great with the regular version I had on hand)
2 tsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
½ tsp fresh ginger, minced (or, if you open your refrigerator like I did and look with dismay upon the shriveled piece of ginger that was fresh only “recently”, then you use powdered ginger!)
1 clove garlic, minced

Toast the sesame seeds on a baking sheet at 350 for less than 5 minutes, or in a toaster oven for 2-3 minutes. Do not over toast them as they burn easily.

Mix all ingredients together in a blender or in a small jar/plastic container with a tightly fitting lid, and shake well.
Serving suggestion: as a dipping sauce for fresh asparagus (steamed or roasted), or just pour a few spoonfuls over the asparagus on a plate.

Alternate serving suggestion: mix into some tuna for a stupendous tuna salad! It didn't look too glamourous, so I did n't take a picture of the tuna salad with aioli.
Do you have a favorite type of aioli? How do you serve it?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mushrooms without spices

Rather than skipping a post this week due to no new recipes with spices, I thought I'd share some photos I've taken of mushrooms! I've always been a fan of both edible and non-edible fungus, and have an interesting variety here (no idea what type the ones growing in the ground are).
All images are copyrighted.
Thanks to photographer Shari Altman for urging students to experiment with the placement of an item in the photo (just in one corner or filling the frame).
Where in the world are these cuties? OK, not everyone thinks mini mushrooms are cute!
And finally, chopping some during a cooking class:
Do you have a favorite type of consumable mushroom and/ or spice that you use to prepare them with?