Saturday, December 23, 2017

German Lebkuchen

Somehow the season has rolled and rolled and I found myself not doing any baking.  I had great intentions but it just never came together as I had planned.  In fact, I found myself without any Christmas cookies and only four days left to make it happen.

I have wanted to try to make German Lebkuchen for years. I love the soft and chewy texture of this gingerbread cookie.  Today's cookie is a descendent of medieval gingerbread which was made with a combination of spices and honey and dried bread crumbs.  The most famous Lebkuchen comes from Nuremberg and while most associate the cookie with Christmas, I have seen it in the marketplace during other times of the year also. They were just as good in the spring as they were in the winter!

When it comes to the recipe, there are just as many recipes as there are bakeries selling the cookies!  The recipe I used came from the Viking River Cruise collection of recipes.  It was simple and tasty.


German Lebkuchen
adapted from Viking River Cruises

Cookie dough
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg
1/3 cup candied citron, diced (I omitted the citron.)
1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Icing
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk or water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Garnish
Sliced almonds
Candied citron or ginger

In a medium saucepan, bring the honey and molasses to a boil.  Remove from heat; stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and spices.  Stir the molasses mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the citron and hazelnuts.  Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° F. 
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a floured, hard surface roll out a small amount of chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick.  If the dough is sticky, use more flour.  Cut the cookies into rounds or stars and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the cookies are baking make the icing by heating the granulated sugar and liquids in a saucepan, but do not bring it to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the confectioner's sugar.  If the icing crystallizes, reheat and add some more milk or water. 

Transfer the cookies to a rack and while still hot, brush them with the icing.  Decorate the cookies with the sliced almonds or candied citron or ginger.

Let the cookies cool completely.  Store them in a sealed container.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Thanks for the Memories....Potato Soup - #soupswappers

I must admit that I was challenged by this month's Saturday Soup Swapper theme.  For the life of me I could not associate a soup with a specific memory.....that is, a soup that I hadn't already posted.  In fact, I was close to crying out "uncle" and waiting for January.

But then, Terry got sick....really sick...the ugly kind that seems to be going around right now and makes you miserable for a few days. This afternoon he was feeling pretty good and was a tiny bit hungry.  Then I remembered...his mom always made him potato soup when he was recovering from the flu.  He said potato soup always got him back on the road again.  So, I borrowed Terry's memory and suggested that I make potato soup for dinner.

The last time he was sick and I made potato soup for him I might have gotten a little too creative for a sensitive tummy.  I added a bit of beer....  (stop laughing)  Yes, it was a dumb thing to do.  I, myself, cannot believe that I did that.  It was not welcomed.  It was suggested that I make plain potato soup.

Remembering that plain potato soup was the memory....I asked if the thought of adding bacon bothered him...well, of course not, bacon is good anytime....  So for dinner tonight we had Baked Potato Soup!  It was super.  I don't believe that I will be waiting until he gets sick to make this again.  It was that good!  Each man was for himself when it came to the garnish.  Yes, I wanted the cheese, bacon and green onion and a little dollop of sour cream...why not, it is baked potato soup!


Baked Potato Soup
adapted from Guy Fieri of Guy's Big Bite

Yield:  4-6 servings

4 large baking potatoes
10 slices of Applewood bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups low fat (2%) milk
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Garnish
2-3 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Bake the potatoes in the microwave per the directions for your microwave.  When finished set aside.

Cook the bacon lardons in a Dutch oven over medium heat, until crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pan to paper towels, leave the drippings in the pan.

Add the flour to the drippings and stir to combine.  Cook until the flour and the fat combine, about 1 minute.  Pour in the milk while whisking to incorporate.  Cook the mixture over medium heat until it bubbles and has thickened.  Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking.

Remove the skin from the potatoes and roughly chop.  Add them to the milk mixture.  Mash the chunks with the back of a wooden spoon, leaving just a few chunks.

To the mixture add the bacon (leave out a tablespoon or two for garnish), 1 cup of the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper.  Stir until the cheese has melted.  Remove from heat.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with cheese, bacon bits, chopped chives and a dollop of sour cream as desired.


Thanks for the Memories is hosted by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm.  Thank you for stretching the brain this month! It was a delicious bowl of soup!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!