Friday, November 9, 2007

Cold Comforts

The weather has turned colder and the leaves have started to fall. Coming home at the end of a long work day and commute is a great feeling. Although there isn't much time for hearty soups, stews or braised meats most night's, I did manage to make chili after work.
Normally I wouldn't have time for that either- all the chopping of carrots, celery, peppers and onions, that is. But I turned to Nigella Express and tried her recipe for Quick Chili. I was not expecting much to be perfectly honest. With a bottle of tomato pasta sauce, some Heintz sweet chili sauce and some spices, what could I expect? I was pleasantly surprised. It wouldn't replace my regular chili recipe on a weekend, but it makes a great midweek supper if you're in a rush. Here it is over some rice and with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.

The night before, I had some extra time and was inspired to finally try Laurie Colwin's recipe for Gingerbread from the book Home Cooking. Gingerbread is a sacred entity in our house, and I've been happy with my mother in laws version for years. Norma's gingerbread is a loaf, and quite a dense one too. But it is spicy and moist and layered with a thick blanket of icing and a single glace cherry. You can pick it up and eat it with your hands. It's pretty good. But Laurie Colwin is quite convincing and her version beckoned me to try it.

The recipe is from Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking. Here is the recipe:
1 Stick of Butter
1/2 Cup of Light OR Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Molasses
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 generous TBSP Ground Ginger
1 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp Lemon Brandy OR Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1. Cream 1 stick of butter with brown sugar. Beat until fluffy and add molasses.
2. Beat in eggs.
3. Add Flour, baking soda and ginger. Add cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
4. Add lemon brandy or vanilla. Then add buttermilk and turn batter into a buttered 9" tin.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for between 20 and 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick and cool on a rack.
For the icing, she suggests Chocolate or Lemon.
Chocolate Icing
1. Cream 1/2 stick of butter. When fluffy add 4 TBSP of unsweetened cocoa.
2. If you have some, add 1 tsp of vanilla brandy or vanilla extract. Then add about a cup of powdered sugar, a little at a time, until you get the consistency you want.
If you prefer the lemon icing, substitute for the cocoa the zest of one big lemon, one tsp of lemon brandy 9 (or extract) and 1 TBSP of lemon juice, and proceed as in chocolate icing.

Above is a nice thick slice which is really different than Norma's version. It was more cakey and light, but still had all the spiciness we love. I topped it with her lemon icing and had a slice almost every night this week. It's so good that I might even be brave enough to serve it to my Scottish gingerbread loving in laws. Imagine that!


Aimée said...

I've had molasses on my shopping list for a week now so I can make gingerbread. Yum! We love it too, warm with applesauce. Look for a recipe coming up soon. I'd love to try your family recipe. It sounds great!

Kelly-Jane said...

I thought the same of Nigella's quick chilli, a good midweek rushed supper when you want something a bit more home-made tasting =) Great cake too.

Kitchen Goddess said...

The NE chilli looks yummy, so glad to hear a good review of it as I'm considering making for a while now but I've had niggling hesitations about it.

The gingerbread looks fabulous, I'd love to try your recipe out.