Brown Butter Molasses Cookies

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No matter where I am in NYC, I can most likely name the neighborhood’s best cookie. Dumbo? Jacques Torres. Upper West Side? Levain, no doubt. Union Square? Try the chocolate chip at Paradis. Oh, and City Bakery. A solid cup of coffee alongside is a non-negotiable.

 
Call it old fashioned, but I love a classic molasses cookie. You don’t see them very often at bake shops. I’ve heard Pushcart Coffee has a good one.. I grew up eating my grandmother’s soft, chewy version, rolled in sugar. They were stored in a cookie tin with a piece of bread to keep them fresh (p.s. that trick works).

 
Using her recipe as inspiration, along with an updated mix of spices from December’s Bon Appetit, I’ve created a cookie fit for the holidays. Browning the butter is an extra step that gives these cookies some nuttiness. The combination of dark molasses and brown sugar lends some drama. A sprinkle of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom are a bit spicy, in a good way. Don’t forget to roll them in sugar, preferably the raw stuff (grab a couple more packets when you get your coffee). Which you’ll definitely want to be drinking while you eat one of these.

Brown Butter Molasses Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup dark molasses
  • ¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • Raw sugar, for rolling
  1. Heat oven to 375°. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until foaming subsides and butter turns a nutty dark brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk egg, brown butter butter, granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Mix in dry ingredients just to combine. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
  3. Place raw sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls. Roll in sugar and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart. Using the heel of your hand, press down on cookies to flatten slightly. Sprinkle with a bit more raw sugar on top.
  4. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and just set around edges (over-baked cookies won’t be chewy), 8–10 minutes. You may have to bake the cookies in batches. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Store in an airtight container with a piece of bread to keep them fresh for days.

Moroccan Carrot Salad with Ras el Hanout

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People often ask me what kind of cook I am. It’s like they’re expecting me to say I am an expert in sushi, or specialize in French macaron-making. The truth is, I don’t claim one particular food or cuisine as mine. I do, however, have certain ingredients and habits I gravitate towards. I strive for everything I make, whether it’s a Bolognese sauce or a taco, to strike a balance between sweet, heat, acid and salt. I also have an infatuation with spices, herbs and other little sprinklings to gild the lily.

Which brings me to this carrot salad. I love shredded salads because I can use my food processor and they allow me to use up the random veggies in my fridge (real talk).I remember a carrot salad I ate during a photo shoot during my college internship. Yes, this was a good 6 years ago now. It had cinnamon in it, raisins and a bit of a kick. I felt so New York City eating that salad. It was also college, so at that point I was subsisting on Barilla Plus with marinara sauce and turkey wraps from Campus Deli. You can imagine why I remember it so vividly.

Now I’m on the other side of the serving table. While I’m still no expert, I do know what I like.

Moroccan Carrot Salad with Ras el Hanout

1 lb. carrots, peeled, trimmed and grated (with a box grater or food processor)
1/4 cup raisins
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout*
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch cayenne
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Handful roughly chopped parsley

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, raisins and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, ginger, garlic and ras el hanout. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk. Add cayenne, salt, pepper and a bit more lemon juice/honey/olive oil to taste. Pour over carrot mixture and toss to combine. Sprinkle with parsley.

*Ras el hanout, literally ‘head of the shop’, is a Moroccan spice blend. There are many varieties, but is most likely to include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, chili pepper, coriander, cumin and nutmeg. Look for it at ethnic markets or in the spice section at Whole Foods (Frontier Organic brand). As a basic-pantry alternative, you can use a combination of ground cumin and a bit of cinnamon.

Creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup

When you are surrounded by food all day, it’s sometimes hard to decide what to feed yourself. The food I prepare for my clients ers on the side of traditional: proteins, veggies, starches. There are a lot of requests for boneless skinless chicken breasts, quinoa and freezable meals. At the end of the day, the thought of turning on the stove, well, turns me off. I liken it to people who spend all day on a computer – you just want to do something (anything) else when you get home. This soup is the exception. I make this creamy (creamless) carrot-ginger for clients, in some shape or form, all the time. It can be made in advance and reheats well, so it’s perfect for dinner parties (or lazy Wednesdays on the couch). A few tips:

  • Don’t stress about chopping the onions and ginger perfectly. All of their imperfections will be forgiven once blended.
  • Depending on my mood, I add curry or garam masala – or not. It’s delicious either way.
  • This can be made entirely vegan by using vegetable stock or water and subbing the yogurt drizzle for my new favorite thing – cashew cream (as pictured above).
  • Yes, you can freeze this one.

Creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup

Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil (olive, grapeseed or my favorite coconut oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 2″ piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp. curry powder or garam masala (optional)
  • 1 large bunch carrots (about 7 medium-sized carrots), peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups or more vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
  • 1-2 cups coconut milk
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • For serving: plain yogurt (thinned with a little water) or cashew cream(optional)

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, curry powder (if using) and a large pinch of salt. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes (you just want to sweat them, no color). Add carrots and cover with stock and/or water. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Simmer until carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes. Add 1 cup coconut milk. Let cool slightly. Puree in a blender, adding more coconut milk or stock to thin out. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper, for a little heat. Serve with a swirl of plain yogurt or cashew cream.

Grilled Asian Steak Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Lately, my cooking has been leaning towards the Asian persuasion. I can’t get enough of all things ginger, soy and sesame. One of my favorite things to order out is a good steak salad. There is something inherently delicious about crisp, leafy greens and crunchy veggies topped with tender slices of sizzling steak and piquant dressing. Don’t be shy with the marinade here – add a bit more of this or that as you please.

Grilled Asian Steak Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Serves: 2 (plus extra dressing)

Ingredients

For Marinade:

  • 1/2 lb. flank steak
  • 2 T. fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T. honey
  • Pinch dried red chile flakes

Ginger-Lime Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T. finely minced scallion
  • 1 T. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 T. olive, canola or peanut oil

For Salad:

  • 1/2 head red leaf or Boston bibb lettuce, roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shelled, cooked and cooled edamame
  • 1/2 cup cilantro

Directions

For Marinade/Steak:

Combine ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and chile flakes in a shallow dish or heavy-duty plastic bag. Place the flank steak in the marinade, turning to coat a few times. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours in advance).

Preheat a grill or broiler. Remove steak from marinade and scrape off excess marinade. Grill 4-6 minutes on each side or broil 7-8 minutes on each side (for medium-rare). Let meat rest while you assemble the dressing.

Dressing:
In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, scallion, ginger and honey.While whisking, stream in the oil. Taste and season with additional honey, lime or soy sauce to taste.

Salad:
Slice steak very thinly, against the grain at a slight diagonal. Place lettuce on a serving plate. Top with carrot peels, scallions and edamame. Top with sliced steak and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with cilantro.