I was a bit of a whirlwind in the kitchen this weekend, and a lot of great stuff came out as a result.
First off, I am sure you may be anxiously wondering what I did with my Alma’s caramel sauce. As suggested by a reader, I first sampled it warmed up with fresh Concorde pear slices which was quite good and simple.
Thinking about ginger + caramel + pears, which is one of my favorite dessert combos, I decided to make gingerbread which seemed fitting for the drizzly Portland Friday that faced me.
I recently got this book from the library:
If you are an NPR fan, you may be familiar with Lynn Rossetto Kasper’s Sunday night cooking/food show, The Splendid Table. It’s also available as a podcast for your bus-riding pleasure!
So far, I am really enjoying this book. It has some great simple recipes, with a focus on weeknight cooking, so most of the recipes are not too fussy & require only a handful of ingredients. It’s also the kind of cookbook that’s perfect for just curling up in a chair and reading – if you’re a cookbook fan, you’ll understand what I mean. I also like how frequently they will have a recipe, then a variation or two on the same idea. I’m going to give a few more recipes a spin, but this may be a contender for adding to my shelf.
I have already made a chowder from it – using a great suggestion from the book to add both smoked & fresh salmon. I decided to next try the “Dark and Moist Gingerbread” and furthermore, the variation called “Apple Chunk Double Gingerbread” as I had both some apples and candied ginger clunking around in the kitchen.
It was fantastic – just what I like in a gingerbread – dark and smoky and moist. Perfect with tea, and even better with a little of that previously mentioned caramel sauce & a few Bartlett pear slices to scoop up the extra sauce bits.
Dark and Moist Gingerbread – from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper2 cups minus 2 Tbsp flour 1 generous tsp baking soda generous 1/2 tsp salt 1 Tbsp ground ginger 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground cloves 1/4 tsp ground black pepper 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted 3/4 cup mild or dark molasses (I used Aunt Patty’s Blackstrap – from Fred Meyer’s natural foods section) 3/4 cup very hot water (190 F – I just boiled water in my tea kettle & let it rest a few minutes while mixing the other stuff) 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed (I used light ’cause that’s what Trader Joe’s sold me!) 1 large egg Variation for apple chunk – double ginger: 2 Tbsp finely chopped candied ginger & 1 apple, peeled/cored/cut into small chunks (the book suggested Granny Smith, but I used a mystery apple from the produce drawer)
Preheat your oven to 350. Butter & flour an 8-inch square light-colored metal baking pan. (To flour: dump some flour in your tin and then shake around over a sink, tapping it so that the flour just barely coats the sides & bottom).
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) and all spices. Add apples & ginger, if using, at this point.
In a large bowl, beat together butter, molasses, hot water, and brown sugar till somewhat frothy. Add egg and beat well, then gradually add the flour mix. Stir till just mixed in.
Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 35 minutes or till a tester in the middle comes out clean. Mine was a still a little gooey, but I decided to go with it, as the edges were done and pulling away. It set up well, and I kinda like my baked goods a little soft in the middle.
Cool on a wire rack, but be sure to eat some while still warm! It gets even better in a day or two if it lasts, as the flavor just deepens. Great with caramel sauce, if you got it, pears, and/or fresh whipped cream. Or just plain with hot tea.