Friday, March 28, 2014

Cardamom Ginger Crunch

Usually when I'm going to blog about a recipe, I have a pretty good idea as I'm making it and end up snapping pictures of the various stages (sometimes coming dangerously close to interfering with said recipe...)

But I didn't plan ahead here. In fact, it was almost midnight and I was feeling restless when I stepped into the kitchen to whip up this crunchy sweet treat. And oh man, was it worth it! My coworkers thought so too, once I brought it into work so I wouldn't eat the whole thing myself...

So even though I don't have the requisite pictures, I felt compelled to share. Any time you get the chance to envelop your kitchen in spices and melted butter, you're going to feel pretty serene. Then you take a bite and it's even better.

Rather than ground cardamom and ginger, I worked with cardamom pods (which I cracked, extracted the seeds from, and then ground the seeds) and freshly grated ginger. For the glaze, I went with a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg rather than more cardamom, plus the grated ginger. I didn't have confectioners' sugar—see above about not planning ahead—so I threw granulated sugar into the blender with a little cornstarch. Et voilà! Crunchy, spicy goodness.

Cardamom Ginger Crunch (adapted from Saveur)Yield: 12 pieces Ingredients:
For shortbread:
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and grated
3 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and ground
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch kosher salt

For the glaze:
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch kosher salt
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar (or 1/4 granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cornstarch, blended together at high speed)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease 7x11 in. baking dish with baking spray. For shortbread, put butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together with mixer on medium until fluffy. Add flour, gringer, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Mix until fully combined but still crumbly. Pour into baking pan and press flat (about 1/4 inch thick). Bake for 15 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Make the glaze by combining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then pour over cooled shortbread. Let cool again. Cut into rectangles and serve.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rosemary Pepper Drop Biscuits

This week at the Country Roads' Test Kitchen, I'm trying out Café Sbisa's shrimp épicé. In the New Orleans restaurant's dish, pan-seared shrimp swims in a delicious sea of andouille cream sauce. Café Sbisa serves their shrimp over a baked Focaccia biscuit, but I elected to go another route.

Rosemary pepper drop biscuits: simple, delicious, and cheap! I found the recipe on a blog called Budget Bytes, which I'm bookmarking right away. I find it far too easy to let my culinary ambitions lead my poor wallet all over town, so lately I've been trying to make my cooking experience work toward my finances. It does seem possible!

These biscuits provided an impeccable delivery system for the andouille sauce (which I must describe to you: notes of honey, soy, and ginger; sharp red onion; ripe tomatoes; and, of course, andouille and cream. It's even better than it sounds.)

It'd be a crime to miss a drop. And here's why you don't have to:

Rosemary pepper drop biscuits (from Budget Bytes)

Yield: 8 biscuits

(Note: Budget Bytes has, as expected, excellent budget-related info related to this recipe. Check it out at the link above!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp sugar
approx. 1 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Roughly chop the rosemary to prevent large, sharp pieces. Combine the dry ingredients (rosemary, pepper, flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder) in a large bowl and stir until well combined.
  2. Take the butter out of the refrigerator just prior to using it. Slice the butter into pieces. Add the pieces of cold butter to the dry ingredients and work it in until the mixture takes on a sandy texture.
  3. Starting with ¾ cup, add just enough milk to moisten the mixture into a thick, paste-like texture (see photos below). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop 8 dollops of the biscuit dough onto the paper (about ⅔ cup each).
  4. Bake the biscuits in the fully preheated 400 degree oven for 18-22 minutes or until they are golden brown on the surface. Serve warm.