Lemony Ginger Cups with Cannoli Cream

Remember those crispy ginger snaps we just blogged about? We did that on purpose to set it up for THIS post. Because Valentine’s Day is coming up and we wanted to create an amazing dessert to celebrate. Though to be honest, we don’t actually celebrate Valentine’s Day because it’s also our son’s birthday and he takes precedence. <3

We took that same ginger snap recipe and baked them into cups in mini muffin pans. You do that by rolling them into balls and then pressing them into the muffin cups so they are a little over the edge. We also had to freeze them for about 20 minutes so they wouldn’t collapse into the cups while they baked and become muffins. We baked them for about 12 minutes just like the cookies. Even so, I still had to press them back into cups while they were warm because they rose so much. I did this with the rounded end of a handle because they were too hot to do by hand. A pestle would work, too. You end up with this:

Ginger Snap Muffin Cups

Next, I made lemon curd. I am famous for not following recipes. This time, however, I have no Kate-invented recipe to offer you. Because I use Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd because it is AMAZING. Like, out of this world so lemony and the perfect texture. I follow the recipe exactly. The only advice I can give is to keep the temp at medium to medium-high for the whole 8 minutes. You run the risk of it not setting well if you turn the heat down and then you’ll be whisking forever. Also make sure you don’t run out of water in the pan.

Finally, cannoli cream. Cannoli is that amazing Italian dessert that is sort of like puff pastry made into hollow tubes and then filled with ricotta that’s been mixed with cream, cinnamon and spices, sometimes (often?) chocolate chips, and various other ingredients – but mostly ricotta.

However, mine is really just whipped cream with some ricotta and cinnamon thrown in. That’s the recipe we are offering in this post. Just whipped cream was too light and fluffy and didn’t add enough contrast to the lemon curd. Adding ricotta to the whipping cream adds a great flavor and substance.

Now that all the components have been made (you made them, right?) it’s easy to put it all together, even though it can feel like a marathon completing the steps to get to this point. Once the lemon curd and cannoli cream are made and chilled and the ginger snap cups are baked and cooled, just fill the cups with lemon curd and pipe the cream on top. Don’t just drop the cream – remember how thick it is. It will look terrible if you just shake it off a spoon. I simply put some in a plastic sandwich bag, cut off a corner, and squeeze it in circles around the top which, as you can see, is really pretty.

(I left one plain so you could see the lemon curd!)

Turns out Radishes are Delicious cooked.

We usually think of radishes as something eaten raw. We usually put them in salads or on veggie platters. They are crisp, slightly sweet, and have that sharp flavor you either love or hate.

Well, I got curious the other night (when we made the Orange Teriyaki Drummies) about how they would taste sautéed. Usually I’ve gone for a daikon radish when cooking, but regular radishes are what I had. I could tell almost immediately I was going to enjoy the results. The smell in the kitchen was sweet (no, literally…when you cook them they give off a sweet smell).

Besides the nice surprise with the radishes, this recipe is EASY. It’s just TWO vegetables that compliment each other nicely, the oil you cook them in, and some salt or soy sauce. The napa cabbage gets sweet while you cook it, too, so a little salty flavor really is necessary.

Napa I already knew was one of my favorite stir-fry veggies. I actually might have a bit of a reputation for my love of all things in the cabbage family. When you cook cabbage, though, it collapses. It is not going to be a crispy addition to your stir-fry, trust me. Normally I only cook it for a minute or two at really high heat after the crunchy veggies have cooked for a few minutes so it doesn’t collapse and make the whole stir-fry soggy.

This time, though, I wanted it to steam the radishes for a bit so they could have time to release their ‘sting’ and get even sweeter. It worked like a charm. Radishes and cabbage are a perfect match. Just make sure you cook it until the liquid released from the cabbage is completely dried up.

Most of my stir-fries have cabbage, onions, and broccoli as main-stays. I also love red bell peppers, carrots, and mushrooms. I’m curious what your stir-fry mainstays are. Let me know in the comments!

Orange Teriyaki Drummies

Being a lover of Japanese food and fully understanding that people who know me will be confused by my use of soy in this dish, I’m going to tell a story. When I was growing up, there were a lot of processed foods in the house. I got sick a lot. Like, hours of abdominal cramping sick. We discovered later that I was allergic to soy. I have the soy version of celiac’s disease. I learned to cook so I could control my soy intake to zero. Because it’s in EVERYTHING. When we realized this allergy, though, there was also a moment of “huh…but I don’t get sick from my favorite Chinese restaurant”. After lots of research, we discovered fermentation kills the enzymes that are trying to kill me. So soy sauce and miso (explained below) are on my food list and I use them generously in my cooking.

Teriyaki is a wonderful export from Japan, but most of the recipes I see for it aren’t very Japanese. The reason, I think, is that people aren’t familiar with Japanese ingredients and go for something they know. That’s why I think we should talk about this.

Teriyaki is a sauce that’s made with mirin, sake, shoyu, and sugar. Huh? Where’s the pineapple juice? That’s not Teriyaki anymore, but it is really good Hawaiian food. Also, skip the brown sugar, ginger, and garlic. That’s still not a Teriyaki sauce.

So what are all these ingredients?

  • Mirin – this is a sweet, tangy rice wine for cooking.
  • Sake – this is actual rice wine. In Japan, tea is a ceremony. So is opening a barrel of sake. It’s called “kagami biraki” and it’s done at special occasions like weddings.
  • Shoyu – well, that’s soy sauce. Like, just use soy sauce. It’s the Japanese word for the stuff you find everywhere.

All of the above ingredients should be readily available in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Other ingredients that don’t have anything to do with this recipe (and might be harder to find) but I hope you’ll become familiar with:

  • Tamari – this is the soy sauce you buy when you have celiacs. It’s gluten-free. I have it on hand because I have friends who thank me for it. It’s also the oldest version of soy sauce in Japan.
  • Sushi rice – This stuff is awesome. Obviously, it’s rice. But no, it doesn’t come ready to wrap around fish. For that, you have to add vinegar and sugar. That’s another post for later. And it shouldn’t be confused with sticky rice…which is Thai.
  • Dashi – this is a broth or stock made from seaweed and fish flakes. No, really.
  • Miso – Like soy sauce, it’s made from fermented soybeans (or rice or grains, actually, but always fermented). This time made into a paste that is used as a base for soups and lots of other Japanese dishes…and it’s delicious.
  • Anko – adzuki bean paste…err…red bean paste. It’s a great filling for dumplings as a sweet treat.
  • Daikon – this a giant, beige radish. If you like radishes, you are in for a treat when you eat this. It’s popular in Japan, but also in Korea where they make a version of Kimchi with it (and which is one my favorite foods).
  • Pickled Ginger – OMG. I could eat it for hours. This is a common ingredient you get with sushi…but you aren’t supposed to put it on your sushi. You are supposed to eat it between bites.
  • Wasabi – that’ll clear your sinuses. The stuff you get here probably isn’t real wasabi. Still delicious and sharp-tasting, though. It’s a relative of horseradish, by the way.
  • Panko – these are bread crumbs that are larger than what we normally see. They are very weirdly made…they electrify them while they bake to make them more oil-resistant later. *Crunch*
  • karashi – when you ask for hot mustard in a Chinese restaurant they roll their eyes in the kitchen. Even though you can get those little packets, I’m told they don’t actually eat that in China. In Japan, however, karashi is a thing.
  • Mushrooms – Shiitake, in particular. They have a great, strong flavor and can resemble jerky if you cook them right (don’t tell my Japanese friends I said that).

Oh, wait…I promised you Orange Teriyaki Drummies. There are a lot of other great Japanese ingredients I’ll share later, but let’s get on with THIS recipe.

I made this recipe up tonight and we had it for dinner. That’s common enough. The photography might not be great because it was just “let’s make that” and the response from Chris was “okay”. That’s common, too.

What’s even more common is that I took that totally authentic sauce that, if you’ll recall, is made from mirin, sake, shoyu, and sugar, and ADDED to it. Right after I told you “bad cook, don’t do that”. Well, I wasn’t really saying that…I was saying if you don’t have ALL FOUR base ingredients, which most recipes don’t, it’s not really teriyaki. That’s why I’m calling this “Orange” Teriyaki Drummies. Because I added orange. See?

Orange Teriyaki Drummies with Braised Napa & Radishes

Okay, I added a little more than orange. And while I think this would be an awesome appetizer and tagged it as such, we made a meal of it. It’s so easy to make that I hope you’ll make it soon and let me know what you thought.

I hope you liked the not-even-close-to-definitive list of ingredients I added, too. I’m curious, though…what’s your favorite Japanese ingredient?

Caprese-Style Sausage Pizza

I found lots of Pinterest entries for caprese pizza, but they were all devoid of my favorite pizza topping, sausage. Also, they usually made it look impressive with a balsamic glaze to go over the top. I like skipping the sauce for this pizza and just putting oil and balsamic vinegar UNDER the cheese.

I start with fresh ingredients – which during the winter can be expensive so it becomes a special treat, but during the summer it’s affordable and so delicious and easy.

It’s especially easy if you start with Chris’s Pizza Crust – which rises while you add the toppings, so you’re not waiting forever to bake it. Yeah, you can buy a pizza crust or a mix for crust, but it won’t taste as good and his crust is as easy as a mix, if you ask me.

Fresh mozzarella cheese is the extra-white looking, squishy ball of cheese you can get in the deli area of the grocery store. It’s not the block you get in the dairy isle. It has a completely different texture and is totally necessary for this recipe. I also like buying the vine-ripened tomatoes in the winter (they might say hot house) because they are the closest you are going to get to flavor when they are so far out of season. Red onions are always good, and provide a great sweetness when they bake in the oven. Either mild or hot Italian sausage is good, depending on your heat preferences. If you want it even hotter, it wouldn’t be out of line to add pickled peppers.

Country Gravy (aka white sauce with sausage)

***this post does contain one affiliate link***

A funny story…about a year ago we hosted an Englishman for a week or so.  We offered him biscuits and gravy for breakfast…and the look on his face!  Because in England, they call cookies ‘biscuits’, and ‘gravy’ ONLY refers to pan drippings from cooking meat.  So if you want to offer this to a Brit, offer them a white sauce with sausage over flaky scones (that’s a bit more to say but it will keep them from making that ‘gross’ face). He was a sport about it, though.

Chris and I love cooking together.  Since he does the baking and I do the cooking, biscuits and gravy means we get some time together in the kitchen. As far as timing, I wait until he’s put the biscuits in the oven and then I go to work (because, frankly, he takes up all the counter space rolling out the biscuits).

Just as Chris introduced his pastry cutter, I would like to talk about whisks. When whisking things like batter or scrambling eggs in a bowl, you use a whisk like we usually think…but whenever you are whisking right against the bottom of shallow pan, as when mixing flour into butter or melting chocolate, there is special kind of whisk called a gravy whisk (I like this one: Rosle Stainless Steel Spiral Whisk, 10.6-Inch)*. When a recipe calls for ‘deglazing’ a pan with wine or broth, they are asking you to use this special whisk. Its superpower is that it’s shaped so you can get right against the bottom of the pan and the edges, which keeps things from sticking and burning. So here’s a picture:

Country Gravy has a lot of names: white sauce and Béchamel are the two most common alternatives. Just don’t call it Alfredo sauce – that’s just cream and no flour. Béchamel is French, and historically considered one of their ‘mother’ sauces…or, as I say it, base for adding other yummy stuff. It is very versatile and once you get down the basics you can make all kinds of things with it.

The sauce here is a basic Béchamel with sage and sausage as the flavors meant to stand out. I’ve also added onions to give an earthy, sweet undertone. Actually, you’ll find I do that with a lot of recipes. Garlic gives it a little zing, but unlike a lot of my recipes, don’t use much.

As far as the sausage goes, I use Jones breakfast links** most often. It’s a little more work to cut them up as opposed to buying bulk ground sausage and breaking it up as you cook it, but I like the flavor and texture better.


*This post contains an affiliate link. But only only because I really like that whisk.

**not an affiliate link. I like them so much I’m just advertising for them anyway.

Send some sweetness & spice straight to your inbox...