Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bourbon Country - December 14, 2013

Kentucky is bourbon country and these days it feels like everyone is in to bourbon.  I love the taste, especially in sweets, but prefer not to drink it straight.  My husband has become a fan and has been given many bottles by family and friends which gives me an opportunity to try adding it to special recipes.  And, what's more special than Christmas treats!

I have been making cookies, cakes and candy for Christmas baskets.  I added a new cookie this year that I found in Southern Living magazine.  It's a bourbon pecan gingerbread cookie with molasses.  It seemed to have just the right Southern and holiday feel, but after making the first batch, I decided it needed some adaptation (I added more sugar and made it half walnut and half pecan to take advantage of a native Kentucky nut I already have put away in the freezer).

Bourbon-Pecan (and Walnut) Gingerbread Cookies
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 c. toasted and ground nuts (I used half pecan and half walnut)
3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. bourbon
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 T. molasses
6 eggs, beaten
1 T. lemon zest
1 T. orange zest
2-3 c. toasted pecan halves
12 T. bourbon
5 c. powdered sugar

Stir together first 8 ingredients.  In separate bowl, stir together next 8 ingredients.  Combine the two and chill covered in fridge 12 hours.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Drop teaspoons of dough on parchment lined cookie sheets and press 2-3 pecans on top of each cookie.  Bake 14-16 minutes until browned.  Cool five minutes.  Mix bourbon and powdered sugar.  Add water as needed to make glaze.  Drizzle over cookies and cool.

I decided these cookies needed ice cream, but that would be even better with a bourbon sauce.  I just created a simple sauce that could be used for bread pudding, but it's great on ice cream too.

Bourbon Sauce
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. bourbon (or more if you like)

Melt butter in heavy pan.  Add water and sugar and cook about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Beat egg and slowly add sugar mixture while beating to avoid cooking the egg.  Add bourbon and beating one last time to mix well.  Serve warm on ice cream.

If you think this is good, you should taste my mother-in-law's award winning chocolate bourbon sauce.  She's giving it away for Christmas gifts this year and maybe she'll share the recipe here if we're all really nice!

One Year Ago - Chocolate Toffee and Jam Cake

Friday, December 6, 2013

Spice Up Your Nose With Horseradish - December 6, 2013

It took me many years to adjust to the heat of spicy peppers and I'm still not a fan of Scotch bonnets or other crazy hot peppers.  But, I have always loved the heat of horseradish.  If you go too crazy it really does rise up to your nose and make you sneeze, but just right and it creates a spice or heat with a bit of sour that I love.  Even so, I never thought of horseradish as something I could actually grow until I met a local farmer who grows horseradish as their major cash crop right here in Louisville.

I investigated and found that in addition to the great taste, horseradish has some other benefits. The biggest is the fact that I haven't found a predator in our area.  Rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks are consistently stealing our tomatoes, greens, rhubarb, beets and other plants, but none have taken a liking to horseradish.  It doubled in size the first year after planting but did not create any off shoots.  You have to wait until you have two frosts in the Fall to harvest and that just happened here about a week ago.  I carefully dug up the tap (or major root) and found one nice offshoot which I broke off and brought inside.

You can keep horseradish in the fridge at least a week without bothering and it will be fine.  In fact, it isn't even spicy until you start slicing or peeling and exposing it to air.  When you are ready, you can peel and then just place in a food processor to break up, but you will get a kind of lumpy result. The best solution is a microplaner (also the best tool for ginger).  Just be prepared that once you start grating, the flavor begins to get stronger and keeps doing so until you submerge in vinegar. Eventually, it will make you cry and your nose will drip, so have your vinegar mixture recipe ready first and then begin grating.

Homegrown Horseradish
2 T. white vinegar
2 T. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 root horseradish

Mix all ingredients except horseradish root in a small jar.  Peel and grate the root and as it gets the appropriate heat, drop into mixture.  Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

If you search previous blogs, you'll see that my favorite use of horseradish is either a great bloody Mary or my friend Mary's horseradish dip, but just to add something new, I tried these great green beans with a bit of kick:

Ballgame Green Beans with Horseradish Sauce
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 T. olive oil
2 T. mayonnaise
2 T. horseradish
1/2 tsp. sugar
pinch of ground mustard
1 lb. green beans

In small bowl, stir together garlic, olive oil, mayonnaise, horseradish, sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Steam green beans until cooked, but still crunchy.  Transfer to medium bowl and pour sauce over them.  Let cool and transfer to sealable container.  Refrigerate until ready to serve or pack to take to the ballgame.  Serve green beans chilled or at room temperature.

One year ago - Jam Cake and Cider Caramels