Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can we tempt you with these Amish Molasses-Ginger Drops?

If there was only a way I could invite you in to smell the aroma that graced our kitchen while I was making these Amish Molasses-Ginger Drops for the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day today.

While the cookies are filled with alluring spices, the dough is given a fresh twist with tiny shreds of brilliant lemon zest. To infuse those bright oils in the zest into the cookies, we borrowed a tip that we have really taken a liking too and used quite a few times now from Dorie Greenspan. The technique is to take the zest and first rub it into the sharp grains of granulated sugar, which makes an incredibly fragrant sugar - you can use the same process when a recipe calls for any zest to be added. Most recipes will just have you add any zest with the other wet ingredients, but in my opinion, this lures the essence out from the zest and is worth the extra minute or two.

While most of the sweetness comes from granulated sugar, the cookies are also given the addition of a rich, thick molasses to give them a robust background to stand up to the spicy ginger and cloves in the dough. This also has the benefit of giving the cookies an attractive burnished finish. Once the cookies had cooled from their trip in the oven, we took one more additional step to push them over the top.

Confectioners' sugar, a little softened butter and a squeeze or two from a fresh lemon are stirred together to create a gleaming white creamy frosting that we swirled on top of each cookie. To tie in with the ginger in the cookies, we thinly sliced a few rounds of crystallized ginger and placed them on the frosting, livening each up with a pleasurable sweet heat. A little crispy around the edges with a candy-like chew as you reach the center, I can see us making these moist cookies several more times, especially in the fall.

When I looked at the forecast for the week when I was menu planning, they had talked about it being quite hot and humid today (the dew points are in the 70's... aka instant-sweat if you step outside!), so I took that into account when choosing a dinner tonight. Once was bad enough, but I didn't want to reheat the house by having to turn the oven on twice in one day!

I probably should have chosen something that didn't need the stove entirely, but I did need to boil a pot of water to prepare this Soba Salad with Soy-Wasabi Vinaigrette. The good news is that this heat doesn't tend to linger like the oven does! The noodles you need for this salad are Japanese curly noodles, which you would typically find labeled as "chucka soba". Depending on the store, I've seen them in various locations from the ethnic section to the pasta section or one place even had them with Ramen noodles. The noodles cook quite fast and have a very mild flavor.

This salad is packed with vegetables such as edamame (green soybeans), crisp snow peas, tender whole baby carrots that we quartered and peppery radishes. While the radishes are kept raw for their crunch, the others are steamed just until crisp-tender, then shocked in icy water to set their color and stop any carry-over cooking. If you have a steamer than sets on top of the pan that you cook the noodles in, you could save yourself some time by pulling the noodles out with tongs and placing them into a colander to drain and rinse, rather than dumping that hot liquid. The water will come back to boil in a snap, so you can continue on with the veggies right away.

To moisten and dress this noodle salad, a combination of tangy rice vinegar, soy sauce, dark toasted sesame oil, spicy wasabi and a pungent clove of minced garlic are whisked together. If you've never had wasabi before and like things on the milder side, you might want to reduce the amount of wasabi to two teaspoons. We like things pretty hot and we both thought the wasabi could have even been bumped up a bit for our tastes. If you feel the need to add some meatiness to this veggie-filled dish, I would think some sautéed or poached shrimp (add them when cooking the noodles!) would be a nice touch.


  1. Yes, I am tempted.....to find a new job! Where people bring me treats! These look super yummy!

  2. Your ginger cookies look so yummy. A great twist on the standard plain cookie

  3. Delish - on both accounts!

  4. Hi Joe, I'm back from a 10 days vacation and first thing I did was to come visit your site. I'm looking at your cookies and they are calling my name. I can smell them from my home.

  5. Thanks! None came back home, so I think that is a good sign that they were well received!

  6. Brown rice is probably my favorite starchy carb these days, now that I have to curb my wheat intake. I am definitely going to try this method for cooking it. Thank you for sharing it!

  7. Sue - Let us know how it works for you.