A well-stocked spice cupboard can enhance any meal, but it can really come in handy when you cook with your longer-term food storage items. The right spices and seasonings can perk up these basic foods. I love quality spices, and have learned that they can make all the difference in a recipe. I’ll be posting a few ideas for some items to add to your spice cupboard that you may not have considered. I’ll include some recipes so you can try them out too. Here is the first:
Alison’s Pantry Lemon Zest and Orange Zest : In a previous blog, I linked to a great method for storing lemons while they’re on sale. For the rest of the year when citrus prices are high, or if you just don’t want to mess with grating zest, these little wonders are heaven-sent. I used to grate and freeze citrus rind for easy use later, but now I save myself the time and just use these. With little ones underfoot, I sometimes feel like I don’t have time to cook the “fancy” recipes I enjoy because they have too many steps. I feel like these zests save me a lot of time by eliminating the step of grating. The flavor is the same fresh, potent citrus zing without any effort. Here are a couple of recipes I love to use the zests in:
1. Soft Gingersnaps
(I’ve tried a lot of gingersnap recipes, and I still haven’t found one that compares to this one. The Lemon Zest is what makes them special.)
2 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. vegetable shortening
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1/3 c. unsulphured molasses
1 tsp. AP Zesty Lemon Zest (or 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Sugar to roll the cookies in.
Heat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease baking sheets (the light shiny aluminum ones work best). Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, shortening, sugar, egg, and molasses. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the ingredients for about 2 minutes until well blended and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and stir in. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet about a third at a time. The dough should hold together well but still be soft. Use a cookie scoop, or roll dough into rounded tablespoons, and then roll in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheets about 2″ apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes for soft cookies, 12-13 minutes for crunchy ones.
2. Gooey Cinnamon Sticky Buns–This recipe from a 2006 O Magazine is my favorite cinnamon roll recipe. I don’t even try to make this one healthy. The best thing about the recipe though is that it goes in the refrigerator overnight so you can have warm, fresh rolls in the morning. I replace the grated orange zest with the AP Orange Zest granules to save time. I have also converted this recipe into orange rolls by making the dough as the recipe directs, then sprinkling in white sugar and more orange zest for the filling. Then I frost it with a basic buttercream frosting that is dressed up with some cream cheese, a little bit of orange juice and a shake of orange zest. My family actually likes them better than Oprah’s version. 🙂 Here’s a link to the recipe, where it is easier to print:
3. Frosted Lemon Drop Cookies: This is another great use for the lemon zest. Alison includes this recipe on her website: http://www.alisonspantry.com/p_details.asp?PaID=8&PDID=6463
These zests are also good for healthier fare. Combine either one with dried or fresh herbs and rub onto a whole chicken before roasting. Sprinkle a little into fruit salad. Use your imagination!