Category Archives: Ginger

Garden-Inspired Shortbread Cookies

Buttery, crumbly shortbread flavored with herbs from the garden.

Sondra Wells used to make lavender shortbread for parties. Her friends and family would go crazy for them. So much so, that they told her she ought to sell them.

Now, she does. Her Botanical Bakery of Napa makes seven types of itty-bitty shortbread cookies inspired by the garden: Cinnamon Basil, Fennel Pollen, Cardamom, Lemon Thyme, Naked, ginger Squared and her original Lavender.

They’re all made by hand with Straus Organic Creamery butter, organic hard red wheat flour, and pure cane sugar.

The results are two-bite cookies that are buttery, crumbly and sandy — everything you’d want in shortbread.

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New Newman’s Own Organics Cookies

wo new cookies join the Family Recipe Cookies line of Newman's Own Organics.

Newman’s Own Organics has launched two new cookie flavors that are dainty two-bite wonders.

Dont’ let this close-up fool you. These Ginger Snap and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies measure in at only 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

They’re crunchy little things. The oatmeal one has a hearty grain flavor from organic whole wheat and organic oats. It’s like a better version of a Chips Ahoy! The ginger snap, which has a nice kick of heat from candied ginger, has a classic, but more intense appeal. These would be fabulous ground up for a pie crust, too.

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Scenes From the Food Gal’s Cooking Demo At Macy’s Union Square

Yours truly with Chef Earl Shaddix of All-Clad. (Photo courtesy of Barry and Eva Jan)

It was an unbelievable standing room-only crowd a couple of Saturday afternoons ago at Macy’s Union Square San Francisco, when I did my first cooking demo ever.

Chef Earl Shaddix of All-Clad was on hand to act as host and assistant, when I demonstrated how to make my late-Mom’s one and only tomato beef chow mein.

The event was crazy fun. It was a blast. And it was downright exhausting. I was so pooped that I joked to some of my cookbook-author friends afterward that I don’t know how they do these all the time without keeling over.

The day was a total whirlwind. The event started at 2 p.m., but I got there two hours earlier in order to make two batches of the dish ahead of time to ensure there was plenty for samples and to prep for the third batch, which I would make in front of the audience. From the second I got there, it was non-stop chopping, peeling, stirring and talking — until I finally left the store at 4 p.m. to go back home. Whew!

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Bakesale Betty Cookie Mix

Bakesale Betty's ginger molasses cookies to bake at home.

The good news is that you no longer have to brave the humongous lines if you want a Bakesale Betty ginger molasses cookie.

The bad news is that you still will if you want Betty’s famous fried chicken sandwich.

That’s because blue-wigged Betty, aka owner Allison Barakat, has now packaged her popular cookie in a mix that you can buy to make at home. The Ginger Molasses cookie mix is sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma stores. It won’t be available on the store’s Web site until the fall, though.

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Take Five with Pastry Chef Rodney Cerdan of the Village Pub, On His Candy-Filled Childhood

Rodney Cerdan, executive pastry chef of the Village Pub, who is never far away from a good cookie.

Rodney Cerdan is a very dangerous man.

If left to his own devices, he will ply you with chocolate honey mousse cake, peanut butter brownie bars with fluffs of toasted marshmallow, chewy almond cookies and bags of homemade sticky caramels to no surrender.

He can’t help himself. As executive pastry chef of the Village Pub in Woodside, Cerdan, 33, has been baking since he was 7, when he’d commandeer his Mom’s toaster oven before taking on the full-size one.

After stints at Roy’s Restaurant in San Francisco, Delessio’s Market in Bakery in San Francisco, and Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop in San Francisco, Cerdan took over the head pastry job at the Village Pub in October 2010.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sampling of his newest desserts (about $10 each) on the house that reference homey favorites, but have been reborn with contemporary flair. They included a fluffy, airy chocolate honey mousse cake with spicy ginger ice cream; and a Meyer lemon pudding cake with an ethereal texture made all the more luxurious with dollops of lush white chocolate.

Cerdan's chocolate honey mousse cake with ginger ice cream and ginger chocolate bark.

Cerdan, who is of Spanish-Basque and El Salvadoran heritages, joined me at the table to chat about his failed attempt at an acting career, what it was like to grow up with a mom who worked at See’s Candies, and what his all-time favorite dessert is.

Q: Your Mom wrapped candies at See’s. That must be every kid’s fantasy, right?

A: She used to bring home 10-pound boxes. The fruit-filled chocolates were always my favorite. I used to take a knife to the bottom of each candy until I found the ones that I was looking for.

I got pretty good at identifying them just by sight. But it’s been awhile. I’m not sure I could do it now. I’d have to brush up on it.

Q: When you were 7 years old, you wanted an Easy-Bake oven?

A: Yes, but I couldn’t have one. But I found that the toaster oven was better. There was none of that pushing a tiny pan under a light bulb.

I would grab a box of Bisquick and make all the recipes. Then, I’d make my own coffee cakes and pigs in a blanket. I made my own pasta at 9.

I’d watch all the PBS cooking shows, especially Julia Child and ‘Yan Can Cook.’

Q: So was this how your love for baking started?

A: My Mom would come home smelling of chocolate and vanilla. That pretty much did it. (laughs)

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