Showing posts with label ginger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ginger. Show all posts

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ginger Syrup Cookies

A few weeks ago I came up with a recipe for ginger lemonade, and I think for me it’s going to be a summer staple. If summer ever arrives, that is--my heat's still on.

I seemed to recall having a bottle of ginger syrup lurking in my pantry closet, but I couldn’t find it when I was making that recipe, so I gave directions for making it. It’s not hard, but it does take a bit of time and planning (and I hate peeling ginger).

But because temperatures where I live have been hovering around 50 degrees (yes, I know it’s June), I started thinking about making ginger cookies—but not the traditional molasses-based ones. I wanted all ginger! And guess what? That missing bottle of ginger syrup miraculously reappeared! An omen! (Of course I hurried to order more, before I forgot the name.) Then I hunted down a recipe, improvised a bit, and voila! Ginger cookies.


1 cup unsalted butter at room 
temperature1 cup sugar
1/2 cup ginger syrup
3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
2-1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs
sugar for decorating (demerara sugar gives a nice crunch)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until they're light. Beat in the syrup. 

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and combine.

Add the eggs and beat. (Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.)

Using a tablespoon (I have a soup spoon that was my grandmother’s, which is the perfect size), scoop the dough into balls (about 1-1/2 inch in diameter). Roll in sugar.

Rolled in sugar
Place on the baking sheets, about 2-1/2 inches apart (they will spread a bit).

Bake for 10 minutes (they will still be soft and puffy). Remove from the oven and cool on the sheets for about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to finish cooling.

The recipe makes a lot of cookies--between 3 and 4 dozen. You could cut it down or share with neighbors!

The results? These are delightfully moist and chewy, and a bit lighter than the molasses variety. And they smell wonderful!

Books? You want books? Nothing new coming until November (A Late Frost, Orchard Mystery #11). But 2018 promises to be very busy, with a new County Cork Mystery in January (Many a Twist), a new series beginning in June, a new Relatively Dead mystery in the spring, and a new Orchard Mystery in the fall. Yikes! I'm exhausted just looking at the list.

They will be joining their friends:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Ginger Lemonade

Recently I was at a bookstore with a nice café for a signing. Since I was supposed to read something and I was thirsty, I ordered a cold drink. I was in a daring mood and asked for a ginger lemonade, which I’d never tried. And I really liked it!

I’m trying to find alternatives to caffeinated drinks—I confess that I love coffee and tea and various forms of iced tea, but that can add up to a lot of caffeine. But I haven’t been impressed by the non-caffeine commercial varieties of drinks. This, however, fit the bill nicely.

So I went looking for recipes for ginger lemonade. (I admit that you can always go the easy route: buy a gallon plastic jug of supermarket lemonade and a bottle of ginger syrup (if you can find or order one), mix and pour over ice. Done.) But where’s the fun of that? And how many preservatives come along for the ride? Ginger lemonade is pretty simple to make.

I was surprised to find a range of possible recipes online, and no two were the same. although they all boil down (a pun!) to making some sort of ginger/lemon syrup.

Variations include: how to deal with the ginger (slice or grate), what ratio of lemon juice to water to use, whether or not to include lemon peel, and what kind of sweetener to use and how much. But no matter how you make it, it makes a great drink for a hot day. Me, I opted for simple (I hate to grate anything—I’m always sure I’ll grate my fingers).

Ginger Lemonade


That thing in the middle is my lemon squeezer
6 cups water
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 ounces of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 
     (you should have about 1/3 cup of slices)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (three large lemons)

Sliced ginger


Steeped ginger and sugar
Combine one cup of water, the sugar and the sliced ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool (the longer it sits, the more intense the ginger flavor).

Juice from three lemons
Strain the mixture through a sieve into a pitcher. Add the remaining 5 cups of water and the lemon juice and stir. Serve over ice.

I was happy with the results. It might taste a bit sweet to some people at first, but if you add ice it will get diluted. I thought the juice:water ratio was just right. Feel free to experiment, especially on hot summer days!

One interesting point: I have a lot of vintage cookbooks, so I went looking in them to see if there was a ginger lemonade recipe from the past. I couldn’t find one. There are plenty of gingerbread or ginger cookie recipes, going back centuries, but nothing using fresh ginger. And then it hit me: it probably wasn’t available. Powdered ginger is easy to make and ship, but most ginger grows in exotic and distance places, and the fresh kind wouldn’t last over a long ocean voyage. So oddly enough, ginger lemonade seems to be a relatively modern recipe.

A note to my readers: I will be attending the Malice Domestic mystery conference in Maryland for a few days, along with many of my writer friends. If I don't respond to your comments immediately, that's my excuse! But I will read them when I return, I promise!

And if you're looking for summer reading and it's hot, try my County Cork series--the weather is pleasantly cool there all summer. The most recent book, Cruel Winter, takes place during a snowstorm!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Pear and Ginger Crumble

What, no cake? Well, it's still a dessert. One must be careful of withdrawal symptoms.

I found this recipe in a recent newspaper, and immediately I started tweaking. Hmm, pears and ginger—that sounds promising. Kinda early in the year for juicy fresh pears, but whatever—there are plenty of pears in the market. I like ginger. I have plenty.

The original recipe called for chopped nuts. I'm not wild about nuts, and I didn't like the combination of nuts suggested with the pear and other flavors. Axe the nuts. I swapped in candied ginger, which I do like. Adds an interesting texture to the crumble on top.

The suggested oven setting of 375 degrees seemed a little high—the top gets brown long before the pears get soft. I cut it down to 350 degrees and baked it longer.

Pear-Ginger Crumble

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-square baking pan (or any pan which would hold the same amount—a ten-inch round pan would do).

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
5 Tblsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped into 1/4-inch bits

In a bowl, whisk the flour, granulated and brown sugars, salt, and nutmeg to blend them. Add the butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the diced ginger and toss to combine.

Pear Filling

6 pears (enough to make about 
five cups of filling), peeled, quartered,
cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tblsp lemon juice
2 Tblsp honey
1 Tblsp grated fresh ginger

In a bowl, combine the pears, orange and lemon juices, honey, and ginger and toss. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the crumbs.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the pears are tender. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sure and it's not Saint Paddy's day yet, but here at MLK we'll be havin' a guest on the day next week, and my book's comin' out on Tuesday next, so I'd better be offerin' the giveaway to yiz now. Tell me what's your favorite Irish dish in a comment (with your email, más é do thoil é--that'd be "please") and I'll be drawing the name of the lucky winner out of a hat!

"Move over, Agatha Christie: a pub owner in County Cork fancies herself a young Miss Marple... A fine read in the classic style."
Kirkus Reviews

Snow is a rarity in Maura Donovan's small village in County Cork, Ireland, so she wasn't sure what to expect when a major snowstorm rolled in around Sullivan's Pub. But now she's stranded in a bar full of patrons—and a suspected killer in a long-ago murder.

Maura's been in Ireland less than a year and hasn't heard about the decades-old unsolved crime that took place nearby, let alone the infamous suspect, Diane Caldwell. But the locals have, and they're not happy to be trapped with her. Diane, meanwhile, seeks to set the record straight, asserting her innocence after all this time. And since no one is going anywhere in the storm, Maura encourages Diane to share her side of the story, which she'd never had a chance to do in court.

Over the next few hours, the informal court in Sullivan's reviews the facts and theories about the case—and comes to some surprising conclusions. But is it enough to convince the police to take a new look at an old case?

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Spicy Carrots

I love traveling. Or more specifically, I love being somewhere else—in this case, Ireland. Not the getting there (where’s that transporter when you need it?). 

Even when you’re there and having a wonderful time, after a while it gets very tempting to forget about cooking (much less going out and wandering the dark lanes trying to find a town with a restaurant) and settle for a dinner of bread and cheese (assuming it’s one of those countries that produces both good bread and good cheese, which Ireland does).

So what say you make one dish fresh? This is another one based on that lovely pub cookbook, intended as a side dish. There are always carrots, everywhere, right? They seem to keep forever. Well, here’s a way to dress them up, when you’re scraping the bottom of the vegetable keeper.

Note: Of course I have to use West Cork Irish Whiskey. The West Cork Distillers in Skibbereen is fairly new, but the three relatively young guys who run it are doing a great job. I should know, because I checked out the place and sampled a few of their products (which are now available in the U.S.). Research, of course—I do write about an Irish pub, where whiskey is served. 

And then I included the guys as characters in A Turn for the Bad.

Glazed Carrots with Whiskey and Ginger

1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup peanut oil
3 Tblsp salted butter
4 large carrots (about 1 pound), sliced into half-inch thick circles (if you want to get fancy you can slice them at an angle)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 Tblsp Irish whiskey
½ cup chicken stock


Mix together the sugar, pepper and salt and set aside.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a large skillet. Add the sliced carrots in a single layer and sprinkle with the sugar mixture. Cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then turn the slices (carefully, because you want to sort of caramelize both sides) and lower the heat if they seem to be cooking too fast. When the carrots are slightly browned on both sides (maybe even starting to blacken at the edges) remove them from the pan onto a plate.

Clean out the skillet with paper towels (do not wash!). Add the ginger and cook over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, until golden (but not burnt!). Add the ginger to the carrots on the plate.

Add the remaining butter, the whiskey, and the stock to the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 3 minutes or until the liquid thickens and becomes syrupy. 

Return the carrots and ginger to the skillet and swirl for 1 minute. Serve immediately.

There you go: quick, easy and colorful. And tasty!

If you want to find out what my friend the whiskey-maker does to help save the day, check out A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mysteries #4, from February 2016).

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and lots of other places (I hope!).

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ginger Biscuits

Here at MLK we offer you all kinds of recipes: treasured family favorites, crazy things we’ve stumbled over in our travels, quick and easy ones, innovative ones. Everything you will ever need! Which means we’re always looking for another recipe.

Recently at Malice Domestic I stopped at the vintage-bookseller’s table. They always put it right next to the entrance (how cruel!). I should know by now to shut my eyes and march past, but I don’t.

This year’s prize is The Complete Illustrated Cookery Book, with no apparent author, edited by “CHEF.” It contains “Over two thousand recipes” plus hints on just about everything else related to food and kitchens. There are pictures, some in color (all of which the editor promises were made from recipes included in the book). It was published in England in 1934.

The world has changed a wee bit since then. The thing weighs several pounds and is 2-1/2 inches thick, with small print. I sat myself down with it to skim through it, and ended up laughing hysterically. You’ll see why when I give you only a few examples of suggested recipes:

Baked Eels: to skin an eel, hold it with a cloth. The head should be cut off, the skin turned back at the top all round the neck, then drawn downwards. Draw the head one way and the skin the other. Open the fish and remove the inside. Cut off the back bristles. [Needless to say, I will not be cooking eel any time soon.]

To Dry Haddock at Home [another “I don’t think so” recipe]: Remove the eyes, the gills and the inside, and cleanse the blood from the backbone… Now fill the body and eye sockets with salt.”

Liver Crepinettes: One can buy pig’s caul from the butcher. [Not in this town!] …rinse it well and cut it in pieces with a pair of scissors to any size desired. [How do I know what size pieces of pig’s caul I want?]

But wait! There’s more!

Calves Brains en Matelotte: The brains should be washed in cold water with a little salt. Take away the loose skin and any clots of blood…

Is it just me or is this beginning to sound like a CSI episode?

Here’s a good one: Stewed Tendons of Veal [Yes, you read that right—the tendons, aka the gristles—do something else with those nice tender veal breasts they were attached to.]: Put them [the tendons] in a stewpan…put the pan over the fire, then simmer for 4 hours. [To serve] arrange the tendons in a circle round a dish with a fried crouton between each and fill the centre with a puree of green peas. [Are you hungry yet?]

And it goes on. There is a recipe for Larks a la Bourgeoise (doesn’t say where to get the larks); for a Pupton of Pigeons (which in addition to pigeons includes 1 sweetbread, ½ pound of bacon, and 1 ox palate (???). Later there is a recipe for a Turkey Stuffed with Truffles [really?], and instructions for How to Truss Blackcock [excuse me, I wouldn’t know a blackcock if I met one—apparently it’s a kind of black grouse]. The instructions include “scald the feet, peel off the skin, and cut off the toes.” And if you leave the head on, you must remember to tuck it under one wing. And finally, there’s Rook Pie (you must be sure to remove the backbone, else it will be bitter). [Would a crow do?]

Oddly enough (by MLK standards, at least), there is much more emphasis on meat and poultry than on desserts or sweets. But it may be revealing that a former owner marked very few pages—and the one for Rich Bride Cake was one of them. There is (hard to believe) only one recipe for Cookies in the book, with the notation “(An American Recipe).” It involves boiling them in lard. No thanks.

What? You want a recipe? I will gladly offer you Ginger Biscuits.

Ginger Biscuits


1/2 lb flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger (you can use more)
4 oz butter
4 oz castor (white) sugar
2 eggs

I don't know what I did before I
had a kitchen scale! (BTW, it also
works for postage.)


Mix together the flour and salt with the ginger in a basin. Beat the butter and sugar to a cream. Add the eggs one by one, beating each in well, then gradually stir in the flour. Should the mixture be too dry, add a very little milk.

About a tablespoon?

Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on greased paper on a greased tin a very short distance apart. Put them into a rather slow oven [I guessed 325 degrees, and I found 20 minutes worked well at that temperature] and bake a pale brown for 15 to 20 minutes. Note, Ginger Biscuits do not become crisp until they are cold.

That’s the recipe as given. I love the way older cookbooks assume you know what you’re doing in the kitchen and can fill in the blanks! You will note a few rather vague points, like the temperature of the oven, and the size of the spoon. I beefed up the ginger and the butter, and everything worked fine. I will say I approve of the greased baking sheet plus the greased parchment paper—the cookies slid right off.

Actually the cookies or biscuits were rather nice—not too sweet, not too spicy, and easy to make. I might just keep this recipe handy.

Hey, less than two weeks before Dead End Street hits bookstore shelves everywhere! 

No recipes, but I did send Nell back to the Reading Terminal Market again in the book. I can't stay out of that place! Maybe next week I'll give you a Philadelphia recipe? (Not scrapple, I promise--the less you know about that, the better.)

Dead End Street is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ginger Cake

by Sheila Connolly

All right, I’ll confess: I am officially addicted to The Great British Baking Show on PBS. I did my best to resist it—I kept seeing the TV listing go by and telling myself I didn’t need to watch one more contrived cooking show where judges make snotty remarks and some poor non-winner ends up near tears. I tried, really. And then I watched one episode (not even the first of the season!) and I was hooked.

I’m a sucker for anything baked. The problem is, many of the recipes the contestants make on that show are complex, and while I admire them tremendously for even trying, I don’t feel compelled to try to make them myself (but I did once make Spotted Dick!). At least I recognized most of them, and I will happily order them at any restaurant or bakery.

But I felt bad that I didn’t recognize either of the judges. In case you’ve never watched the show (your loss!), there are two official judges: Mary Berry, the doyenne of British cookbooks, and Paul Hollywood (really?), who is defined as a “top artisan baker,” whatever that means. There are also two contestant wranglers, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, who apparently have done a whole lot of successful things together that we on this side of the pond have never heard of.

I was ashamed that I had never heard of Mary Berry, who apparently has been writing cookbooks almost as long as I’ve been around. So of course I ordered one (on baking) immediately. But then I went trolling online for some of her recipes, and found one that she declared that one of her favorites was one that her mother used to make for tea: Ginger and Treacle Spiced Traybake. It sounded tasty (and it has ginger frosting!).

Then I tried to translate the English terms and amounts. Ha. I did add a scale to my kitchen equipment not too long ago, so part of that problem is covered. But the ingredients can be a bit mind-boggling. Muscovado sugar? I think it’s like dark brown sugar. Maybe. Ground mixed spice? Huh? (Don’t panic—I found a recipe! It’s pretty much what you’d expect, but it includes coriander too).

And then there was “stem ginger from a jar.” Right. Had to look that one up! As near as I can tell, it’s crystallized ginger steeped in ginger syrup. Don’t think I’ll find that in my local grocery store! But, miracle of miracles, I had on hand both crystallized ginger and ginger syrup. (Now you know why I buy weird ingredients when I see them.) So I combined them.

Then on to the making of the recipe. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160/Gas 4. Uh, Fahrenheit, anyone? (Would you believe that I have the conversion formula tacked to the corkboard over my desk? And the answer is…350!) Then grease a 12x9 traybake. Okay, I can handle that. It’s a baking tin. Got it.

So here is Mary’s recipe, with a few tweaks for those of us who don’t have all these lovely ingredients lurking in our pantry.

Ginger Spice Cake (inspired by Mary Berry)


1/2 lb (8 oz) butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup treacle (this comes in dark and light—the dark stuff is pretty intense, if you can’t find it in your stores, substitute dark molasses) (Note: this is sticky stuff, whichever you use. To measure accurately, Mary suggested measuring your sugar, the placing the container on a scale and adding the treacle until you reach the right weight.)

2-1/2 cups white flour
3 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
1 tsp mixed spice (I had to make my own—if you can’t find or make any, just add cinnamon, cloves, etc.)
4 large eggs (at room temperature)
4 Tblsp milk
3 finely-chopped bulbs of stem ginger from a jar (see above)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9” X 12” baking tin, and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Cream and butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the bowl, and beat until well blended. Pour the batter into the baking pan and level the top with a spatula. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake begins to shrink from the sides and is springy when you touch it. (Do not overcook or it will dry out.) Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn it out on a rack to finish cooling.


1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tblsp ginger syrup that the ginger has been steeping in
3 Tblsp chopped stem ginger

To make the icing, sift the sugar into a bowl and add the ginger syrup. Mix until it reaches spreading consistency. Pour it over the cooled cake.

Chopped ginger
Sprinkle with the chopped ginger. Let the icing set for a bit before trying to cut it.

The results? This is more of tea cake than a dessert cake. It probably could have used more chopped ginger, but I was improvising. I may order the real stuff and see what it's like.

Meg and Seth are getting married (in case you haven't heard) in "their" restaurant in Granford. The alpacas were not invited, but just about everyone else in town was. Well, maybe not the ex-con...

A Gala Event is available now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores.