A Tasty Blend of History and Food

March 9th, 2017

I’m a sucker for history and for food so I’m always interested in any project that combines the two. I recently received a copy of The Pleasure of the Taste from the Partnership of Historic Bostons. This booklet examines the intersecting culinary opportunities and habits of English settlers and their Native American neighbors in the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The book was put together by the Partnership, a nonprofit history group that “encourages discussion and debate” about daily life in Massachusetts in the 17th century.

Lorén Spears served as an adviser to the project. Spears is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and the executive director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island.

Spears obviously knows her way around a kitchen; she contributed a number of Native American recipes to the booklet, describing how they would have been prepared in the 17th century but also adapting them for modern kitchens.

The other major adviser was my friend Kathleen Wall, the colonial foodways culinarian at Plimoth Plantation. Kathleen is a wonderful source of knowledge about food in Massachusetts over the centuries and has frequently judged the charity pudding contest (last year it was a pie contest!) I organize from time to time.

Like Spears, Kathleen provided both vintage and modern-day versions of her recipes.

The recipes are not extensive, but they do give the reader (and the cook) a good idea of what Puritan housewives would have had to deal with in terms of cooking conditions and ingredients.

Samp was apparently a major staple of the 17th-century colonists’ diet. An adaptation of the Native American nasaump, this cornmeal-based bread constituted a major bread/starch for both communities.

The booklet delivers versions of both nasaump and samp, along with recipes for stews, tarts, and of course puddings. I’m going to start experimenting with the modern versions of the recipes, but as I go along I may in fact try a bit of historical reenactment.

The Pleasure of the Taste is charming: informative, quick to read, and useful. It may be ordered from the Partnership at www.historicbostons.com.

I leave you with Kathleen’s recipe for English samp, courtesy of the Partnership of Historic Bostons.

English Samp

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups boiling water or milk
1 cup cornmeal
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar (optional)
butter or bacon drippings as needed

Instructions:

Stir the boiling water or milk into the cornmeal in a heat-safe bowl. Add the salt and, if using, the sugar. Mix well.

Heat butter or bacon drippings in a cast-iron skillet. When the butter or drippings simmer, add the batter in half-cup measures to the pan.

Flip repeatedly. “They take their own sweet time,” Kathleen says of these cakes.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Kathleen sampling pudding.

Figging Around at Dancing Bear Farm

February 3rd, 2017

A black fig ripens on the tree at Dancing Bear Farm in Leyden, Massachusetts. Courtesy of the Recorder/Paul Franz.

The harvest season is over in Western Massachusetts—although local produce still abounds: apples, cabbages, squash. At this time of year farmers have the mental and physical energy to plan for next year. Best of all, they find time to dream.

At Dancing Bear Farm in Leyden Tom Ashley and his wife, my fellow journalist Trish Crapo, are dreaming of something they will call the figtorium.

The figtorium will be a greenhouse designed to accommodate Tom’s growing fig harvest. Dancing Bear Farm has been in business for 25 years, but Tom grew his first figs only eight years ago.

When I spoke recently with the couple, Tom explained that his love of figs began in the fall of 2008. He was inspired by a longtime customer named Marie. (He didn’t think she would want her last name reported.)

A teacher who lives in Brooklyn, Marie has a second home in Leyden. She has been a loyal customer of Dancing Bear since the farm started in 1981.

“She is Italian American and lives in an Italian neighborhood,” Tom told me. “Everybody there has their fig trees and their grapes and a small garden [of plants] that they brought from the old country.

“We’ve had a very nice relationship over the years of sending stuff home with her in the fall, garlic for her neighborhood. Eight years ago she brought me four dead sticks and said, ‘Here, put these in the greenhouse, and see what happens.’

“At that point I knew nothing of figs. They sat around the greenhouse for a couple of weeks.”

He received a phone call from Marie, urging him to plant the sticks.

“I said, ‘Yeah, sure. Figs. All right, Marie,’” Tom remembered.

Tom Ashley with some of his figs.

The sticks went into the ground. Two of the four took root, combined themselves into one large tree, and began producing fruit the following spring. The tree is still going strong today.

Tom said he was impressed when he tasted the fruit. “I had never experienced anything like that before,” he said. “I’d had dried figs or Fig Newtons…. It was very different from any other fruit. Very sweet.”

“Sweet but light,” chimed in Trish Crapo.

Tom discovered that his fig tree grew quickly. Soon it hugged the ceiling of his plastic greenhouse. “I had to prune the tree. It just took off like a sumac,” he recalled. “Whatever [cuttings] I took off the tree, I thought, ‘Those will grow, too.’”

He placed the cuttings in pots. “The next year, I had more figs and all these trees growing in pots.”

Soon Tom began doing research about fig trees. Native to many areas of the world and cherished particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, figs are an ancient plant.

They are also a healthy fruit—full of antioxidants. They contain ingredients that can help fight cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, and many other diseases.

“A fig may have been the fruit in the Garden of Eden, not an apple,” Trish Crapo informed me. In the warmer climates of figs’ native habitat they grow profusely outdoors.

I had never seen figs growing so I enjoyed visiting Dancing Bear Farm in late October to see what all the fuss was about. Tom Ashley’s fig trees were then lush and tall. The winding wood was pleasing to the eye, and the large leaves were highly decorative.

“No wonder they used to wear them back in the old days,” Tom told me with a smile.

He picked a fig off a tree for me to taste on the spot. Figs are unusual in that they don’t flower. Their flowers are actually the inside of the fig. My fig tasted sweet and rich. The skin, fruit, and seeds provided a nice combination of textures.

Tom and Trish first met at Hampshire College, where Tom managed the coop and was among the first people to think of starting an organic garden on a college campus.

“We already valued sustainability and local agriculture in 1980,” Trish said proudly.

Trish arranges figs on a plate.

After college the two looked for a plot of land of their own. They fell in love with the land that would become Dancing Bear Farm, which has a spectacular view of the Pioneer Valley. Soon they set down literal and figurative roots.

Looking forward, Tom sees his fig cultivation and the planned figtorium as key. He admitted that he could repair his current plastic greenhouse instead of constructing a new one. He sees defects in this plan, however.

“The greenhouse isn’t quite big enough for the trees, and it’s a little tight on the sides,” he observed. “Why would you put new soles on a pair of shoes that didn’t really fit you?”

With the figtorium—a larger, non-plastic greenhouse—he will be able to accommodate his fig trees and expand his fig crop. He hopes that figs will become one of three or four strong crops on which he can concentrate in future.

This concentration will strengthen his crops and give him more time to do the educational outreach he has already begun through newsletters to customers.

At the moment he sells both figs and fig trees. Eventually, he would like to work with etymologists to do research on the fig wasp—a miniscule insect that helps figs spread in the wild. He would also like to experiment with farming methods that might help fig trees survive in colder weather.

Tom hopes that the figtorium will make his life richer, more interesting, and less physically stressful.

“I want his life to be a lot easier,” Trish said of her husband. “He works really hard.”

Meanwhile, Tom takes pride in his figs and fig trees. Several years ago, he told me, his friend Marie brought him a new fig-tree cutting from friends who were visiting from Sicily. When the friends returned to the United States a couple of years later she brought them to Dancing Bear Farm.

The friends don’t speak English so not a lot was said. Nevertheless, Tom informed me, they managed to give him two thumbs up when they saw the tree their cutting had produced.

“We communicated back and forth our mutual respect. Marie told me later that my tree was doing better [than the one her friends had] back in Sicily,” he recalled.

“Somewhere along the line I seem to have developed a fig thumb.”

Tom Ashley and Trish Crapo frequently experiment with fig cookery. “In a way we’re in a unique position that most people are not in,” Trish told me. “We have too many figs. It’s a wonderful challenge.” They report that even the leaves can be used in cooking, to wrap around foods.

The pair gave me some figs to play with—and I remembered that years ago my graduate-school roommate Alice Gagnard and I used to receive care packages of fig jam from her mother in Alexandria, Louisiana.

I don’t have Louise Gagnard’s recipe—she unfortunately died while I was doing research for this article—but when Tom Ashley gave me some frozen figs I concocted my own version of the jam as a memorial tribute to Louise. She always had a pot of coffee on the stove and a smile on her face.

Louise raising a glass of sparkling cider. (Courtesy of Alice Gagnard Kendrick)

Fig Jam inspired by Louise Gagnard

Ingredients:

6 cups chopped figs, packed
4-1/2 cups sugar
the juice of 1 large lemon (if you really love lemon flavor, use the zest as well)
a dab of butter

Instructions:

In a 4-quart Dutch oven combine the figs, the sugar, the lemon juice, and the zest if you are using it. Mash the figs a bit with a potato masher. (They don’t have to be completely mashed.) Allow the mixture to sit for at least 1/2 hour to enable the figs to juice up a bit.

Stir again, turn on the stove, and bring the mixture to a boil, adding just a little butter to minimize foam. Reduce the heat and simmer the jam, stirring from time to time, until the jam becomes thick and starts to gel.

Test for gelling by using a candy thermometer (the mixture should come to 220 degrees Fahrenheit or a little under) or by inserting a cool metal spoon in the jam. When the jam comes off the spoon in sheets it is done.

Turn off the heat and stir the jam for five minutes to make sure that the figs are evenly dispersed throughout. Ladle the jam into sterilized jars, and process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. (If you don’t want to process the jars, you may keep the jam in the refrigerator for a couple of months.)

I’m enjoying my fig jam!

Soup Nights (and Days!)

January 16th, 2017

Betty Rosbottom spent her formative years in areas known for their food. In her childhood home of Memphis, Tenn., she enjoyed that city’s signature barbecue. She attended college in New Orleans, where she learned to love Cajun and Creole dishes. She spent her junior year at the Sorbonne savoring French cuisine.

Nevertheless, she spent no time in the kitchen herself until she married. “I couldn’t cook a thing during any of my upbringing,” Betty told me in a recent telephone interview. “I was just an appreciator.”

Her husband gave her a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a wedding present. “It was my first learning experience about food,” recalled Betty. “I was so naïve I thought ALL recipes were five pages long.”

Once she started cooking, she never stopped. She founded a cooking school in Columbus, Ohio, in the late 1970s and learned from guest teachers like gourmet legend Jacques Pepin and “queen of cake” Maida Heatter. Eventually, she attended the Parisian cooking school La Varenne.

Betty has written a syndicated food column, hosted a PBS food show, taught cooking in many venues, and written 11 cookbooks. The most recent of those books is Soup Nights, published just in time for National Soup Month (January) by Rizzoli.

I asked Betty about her earliest happy recollection of soup. Ironically, she told me, her first beloved soup—French Onion Soup Gratiné—graces the front cover of “Soup Nights.” She fell in love with this classic French favorite at les Halles, Paris’s big central market, during her junior year abroad. Les Halles has since closed; I am lucky enough to have visited the market and tasted that ambrosial soup as a small child.

Betty loves soup in general as well as in particular, however. “For me [soup is] just a sense of well being,” she explained. “Every culture has soups. They’re comforting. They can be hot. They can be cold. In the winter they warm you up, and in the summer they cool you down.”

They can also be very forgiving,” she added, noting that a thin soup can be thickened or a thick one thinned. “If you put a little too much salt in a soup, you can put in a raw potato.”

Soups are handy for anyone looking for a simple, inexpensive way to entertain, she noted. “Not only can you make soup in advance and it’s helpful for you as a host or a hostess, but it improves with time.”

I asked Betty to walk me through the process of creating one of the recipes in Soup Nights. She explained the thinking behind her Winter Tomato & Garlic Soup, which uses ingredients she tends to have in her cupboard—canned tomatoes, chicken stock, onion, garlic.

“I love tomato soup,” she enthused. “As a child I the only tomato soup I ever had was the one that came in the red-and-white Campbell’s can. It was a revelation to me that you can make tomato soup.

“I always like to give a kind of citrus taste to tomato soup. This one has orange zest. It lightens the soup a little bit.”

Eager to help readers figure out what to serve with their soup (her book features sandwiches, salads, and desserts as well as straight soups), Betty Rosbottom suggests pairing the tomato soup with Gorgonzola bruschette.

“When we have a nor’easter coming, this soup will serve a lot … and it gets better when you make it ahead of time.”

Betty Rosbottom wasn’t at liberty to tell me what her next project will be, but she predicted that it will be “very popular.” She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, but she is spending January in her favorite city in the world, Paris, doing culinary research.

In fact, when we spoke she was in her Paris apartment. The long distance connection made me happy if just a little jealous. During our conversation I could almost smell the onion soup!

Courtesy of Betty Rosbottom

“Midnight in Paris” Onion Soup Gratiné

© Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom, Rizzoli New York, 2016. Used with permission.

Ingredients:

for the soup:

2 quarts beef stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds yellow onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick, to yield 10 cups
kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar, plus more if needed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper

for the croutons:

18 baguette slices, cut about 3/8-inch thick
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 12-ounce piece good quality aged Gruyère grated to yield 1-1/2 cups and the remainder cut into slivers (1/4-inch by 1-inch long) to yield 1/2 cup

Instructions:

Set the stock in a pot over very low heat; then cover it. Keep the stock warm at a very low simmer while you prepare the soup.

In a 5-quart heavy pot (with a lid) over medium-low heat, heat the butter and oil. When hot, add the onions. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, and raise the heat to medium. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, the sugar, and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan so that the flour does not burn, until the onions are rich golden (like the color of light brown sugar), 35 to 40 minutes or more.

(While you are cooking the onions, the flour will start to darken too and the onions will cook down considerably. That’s okay.)

When the onions are done, add the simmering stock and 1/2 cup of the wine. Season the soup with salt and pepper, and a pinch or two of extra sugar if desired. Simmer, partially covered with the lid set ajar, 40 minutes more.

With a large spoon, skim off any foam that forms. Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine and season the soup again with salt and pepper. (Soup can be prepared three days ahead. Cook to this stage, then cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)

While the soup is simmering, prepare the baguette slices and the cheese topping. Arrange a rack at center position of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Brush the baguette slices generously on both sides with olive oil and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake until the slices are crisp, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove and cool. (The baguette slices can be prepared two days ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature.) Retain oven temperature.

Arrange 6 ovenproof soup bowls or ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and fill them 3/4 full with the hot soup.

Divide the slivered cheese among the bowls. Float 2 to 3 baguette slices on top of each serving, and sprinkle generously with some grated cheese. Depending on the size of your bowls or ramekins, you may have some soup, cheese, or croutons left over.

Bake the soups until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned, 15 minutes. Watch constantly. If desired, run under a hot broiler to brown more, 1 to 2 minutes. Serves 6.

Winter Tomato & Garlic Soup with Creamy Gorgonzola Bruschette

© Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom, Rizzoli New York, 2016. Used with permission.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained well
3-1/2 cups chicken broth or stock, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon dried basil
a scant 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more if needed
kosher salt

a scant 1/2 TSP red pepper flakes, plus more if needed
kosher salt
2 small pinches sugar
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Instructions:

In a heavy, 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the onions and stir until they start to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, 3-1/2 cups broth, basil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Stir well to combine and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, then return the soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.) The mixture will be somewhat chunky. Stir in the half-and-half, Parmesan cheese, and orange zest and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the soup is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. If the soup is too thick, thin it with 1/2 cup extra broth. Season the soup with salt if needed and, if you’d like more heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes. (Soup can be prepared two days ahead. Cook to this stage, then cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring often, over medium heat.)

Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with the Gorgonzola Bruschette alongside or, if you prefer, float one on top of each serving. Serves 6.

Gorgonzola-Rosemary Bruschette

Ingredients:

12 baguette slices, cut 3/8-inch thick
olive oil for brushing
1 8-ounce piece creamy Gorgonzola, such as Gorgonzola Dolce, softened slightly
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Instructions:

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Have a foil-lined baking sheet ready.

Brush both sides of the baguette slices generously with olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Bake slices until golden and just crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (Slices can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.)

Spread each slice with Gorgonzola; then return to the oven until cheese has melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle each slice with chopped rosemary.

© Harry Zernike. Used with permission.

Chili Peanuts

January 1st, 2017

bonne-anneweb

Happy New Year!

The Twelve Days of Christmas haven’t yet expired, and Kwanzaa is still with us. So here’s a savory edible gift to bring to friends during this festive season. These peanuts are just a little spicy and quite addictive.

I made them recently on Mass Appeal along with my beloved chocolate bark. Both food offerings were popular with Seth Stutman, Lauren Zenzie, and the gang at the studio.

And of course I gave them to my brother for Hanukkah—or maybe Christmas. (We celebrate both, and the presents are flexible.) They went well with the cocktail ingredients that were his primary present.

I wish you all a joyful and productive 2017….

The Peanuts

Ingredients:

a splash of canola or peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (go to 1-1/2 or 2 if you like spice)
3/4 teaspoon chili powder or Creole seasoning, plus more if needed at the end
1 teaspoon salt (less if using the Creole seasoning as it includes salt)
1 pound shelled unsalted peanuts (about 3 cups)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a large (preferably cast-iron) ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Pour the oil on top, and let it heat for a minute or two. Add the garlic, spices, and salt, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Stir in the peanuts and remove the pan from the heat. Transfer it to the oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove the peanuts from the oven and spread them to cool on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Taste one. They won’t be crunchy yet; that will happen as they cool. If they need more salt or seasoning, sprinkle it on top of them so they will absorb it as they cool.

When the peanuts are cool, transfer them to an airtight container. Makes about 3 cups.

And now the video! I was away from home when this segment ran so I didn’t have the video to upload and embed. But it can be viewed on the Mass Appeal website. If you stick around after the peanuts, you’ll see us making the bark.

peanutsweb

Laurie Neely’s Holiday Cookies

December 21st, 2016
Laurie Neely in Her Kitchen (Courtesy of Laurie's husband Ray)

Laurie Neely in Her Kitchen (Courtesy of Laurie’s husband Ray)

Laurie Neely of Orange, Massachusetts, has been baking holiday cookies since the day after Thanksgiving. By Christmas Day, she will have turned out hundreds. “There will generally be in excess of a dozen kinds [of cookies] and many dozens of each,” she told me in a recent interview.

An artist, writer, and animal lover, Laurie started baking seriously in the 1960s as a stay-at-home mother. The Christmas-cookie tradition began with a family recipe from her first husband, who is still a good friend.

Laurie has added recipes from friends, relatives, newspapers, and the internet to her repertoire over the years, adapting them to her taste.

Many of these holiday treats—including her pfeffernüsse cookies and the German molded cookies called springerle—need to age in order to achieve optimal flavor and consistency. Her gingersnaps take about three weeks to mature.

Laurie carved her own springerle molds years ago and sees cookie baking as deeply creative. “I was a potter for some time,” she explained, “and for me baking and pottery are just parts of the same…. I think the idea of creating art with your hands that people then eat is perfect.”

I asked where all the cookies go. Laurie replied that she mails batches to relatives around the country. After that, the cookies go to “family and friends and neighbors and anybody who leaves their car window down.”

“And my husband Ray is, like, ‘Don’t give them all away!’” she added.

Her family celebrates the season on Christmas Eve with a festive brunch that includes many, many cookies, she said. Her adult son is Jewish so this year the feast will include latkes for Hanukkah; that holiday begins on Christmas Eve.

When we spoke Laurie was baking a new-to-her recipe, wine cookies flavored with anise. The recipe came from her friend Gail and before that from Gail’s mother Mary and grandmother Emilia.

“Mary was an outstanding cook, and I am honored to use not only many of her recipes, but her KitchenAid mixer and quite a few other kitchen items as well,” said Laurie.

“This recipe is one I photographed from a well used card after Mary passed and we were sorting out and sharing her recipe file among family members.”

The photograph of the recipe resides in a special plastic bag Laurie treasures. Each year after Thanksgiving she reaches into the bag for the tattered, food-stained recipes that constitute her evolving Christmas-cookie tradition.

“I really do need to sit down—not at this time of year—and put [the recipes] in a database so when these scraps of paper finally die I have them,” she confessed. “But….”

Her advice to novice bakers is to buy quality ingredients; to use good pans (she relies on silicone mats for her cookie baking and favors insulated cookie sheets); and above all to relax, have fun, and be flexible with recipes.

“You need to stay with the basics. Your ratios of flour, shortening, and liquid are going to be crucial. But then you sort of play. The creativity makes for some pretty good cookies,” she suggested.

Laurie Neely loves the Christmas season and doesn’t plan to stop baking anytime soon.

“Advent has many associations for people,” she mused. “In some homes there are calendars with little paper doors to open heralding the coming Christmas, and in our churches there are wreaths to mark the Sundays as they pass. But in my house Advent has a scent: it smells like cookies.”

Here are two cookie recipes from Laurie’s kitchen. I don’t have anise seeds in the house (and I’d have to order them specially) so I’m holding off on the wine cookies until next Christmas. The gingersnaps are aging in a tin as I write, however.

I got a late start on my baking so they won’t be ready to eat in time for Christmas—but a cookie might taste pretty good in the new year!

Happy/merry to all….

sbuse

Mama’s Cookies with White Wine

Laurie Neely decided, “I may add a drop of anise oil or extract in the next batch [of these cookies]….They are light, mildly anise flavored, sweet, and just a little biscuity, leading me to think they will age well.

“So many of the Italian cookies improve when they age and harden and become great coffee accompaniments.”

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon shortening (Laurie used Earth Balance brand)
1 teaspoon anise seeds
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup semi-sweet white wine (Laurie used a Riesling)
3-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
equal portions of cinnamon and sugar as needed, combined

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl combine the sugar and the shortening. Stir in the anise seeds, the oil, and the wine. In a separate bowl combine the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture a little at a time until the combination achieves the consistency of not-too-firm pie-crust dough.

Shape the cookies by forming heaping tablespoons of the dough into logs in the palm of your (mostly closed) hand. Dip the tops of the cookies in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, and place the logs on greased cookie sheets.

Bake the cookies until they are a deep golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes about 3-1/2 dozen cookies.

Laurie took this photo of some wine cookies cooling.

Laurie took this photo of some wine cookies cooling.

Laurie Neely’s Gingersnaps

Laurie has adapted this recipe over the years, adding more and more ginger to achieve just the right flavor.

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (generous)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup molasses

Instructions:

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a large saucepan, melt the butter in the molasses. Bring this mixture to a boil; then let it cool. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Chill the resulting dough for a couple of hours; then preheat the oven to 375 degrees and roll the dough out on a floured board until it is 1/8-inch thick. Cut out shapes with a floured biscuit cutter or floured seasonal cookie cutters.

Bake the cookies for 8 minutes. The yield depends on the shapes you use to cut them out; Laurie Neely usually gets 3 to 4 dozen cookies from this recipe. Store the cookies in a tin for at least three weeks before serving them.

Gingersnaps at our house, waiting to mature. Can you tell that I'm not the world's greatest cookie cutter?

Gingersnaps at our house, waiting to mature. Can you tell that I’m not the world’s greatest cookie cutter?