Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spiced Cocktails

Monica Bhide's blog, A Life of Spice, is one of my favorites, and has frequently inspired others of my posts (such as the particularly influential experiments with garam masala.) This month, she is hosting a contest for cocktails incorporating spices, so I have not only felt compelled to participate, but to rope in the creative concoctions of my spouse Will as well.

Will's tendency straight away was toward a coffee-based drink, heavy on the chile peppers. We went back and forth on this, me arguing that "cocktails" specifically refer to a type of drink that would not be found to include coffee, while he posits that the intention of the contest is simply to encourage the use of spices in interesting beverages perhaps including alcohol. Looking at some of the other submissions to the contest thus-far, I see others that are based on coffee, but I had already urged Will in another direction for his recipe.

Another internal debate about the intentions of the contest revolved around the distinction of "spices" - I love herbal cocktails and especially this past summer, Will and I both made numerous syrups of sugar solution steeped with fresh herbs like basil, tarragon, and mint. I'd love to do more with lemon thyme, lavender, or sage. They make particularly refreshing summer "coolers" with sparkling water and citrus flavors, and I can't resists but to post my favorite below, a grapefruit-tarragon drink. But herbs and spices, while commonly perceived together, and similar in their abilities to change a drab and boring dish into a sensational spotlight-grabbing star-of-the-meal, are fundamentally different. Herbs are like the leaves of a plant, while spices are the seeds and berries. If rules call for spices, then leafy green herbs will not qualify.
Finally, the contest rules did not specify a limitation on multiple entries, so I have posted each of my household's creations as we muddled, mixed, and mmmm'd in pursuit of the winner. They are listed in order of my personal preference (although the grapefruit-tarragon is my favorite, and appears last due to its supposed disqualification for lack of spice.) 

Corangiander Crush
1 shot vodka
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed
2 teaspoons orange brandy (such as Grand Marnier)
orange rind twist for garnish

At least 6 hours in advance (or a couple of days if you have time), stir together the vodka and coriander seeds. [Scale up the proportions to make more than one serving.] Allow to steep until ready to mix cocktail.
Strain vodka from the seeds into a cocktail shaker. Add orange brandy and shake with ice until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange twist.

Corangiander Crush (I didn't have any fresh oranges for garnish, so I used a chile pepper.)

Cloven Hoof
1 shot gin
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves, lightly crushed
1/2 thick "coin"-shaped slice of fresh ginger, peeled, and cut in 6 pieces
1 shot pear nectar
At least six hours in advance, (or a couple of days if you have time) stir together gin, cloves, and ginger. [Scale up the proportions to make more than one serving.] Allow to steep until ready to mix cocktail.
Strain gin into a cocktail shaker, reserving some of the cloves for garnish. Add pear nectar and shake with ice until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and float a couple of the reserved cloves on top.

The Cloven Hoof Cocktail

Poddy Toddy
1/4 cup boiling water
4 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 teaspoon honey
1 thai chili, cut in half lengthwise through the stem
2 shots brandy
whipped cream
ground cardamom (optional)

Steep cardamom pods in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Strain, and stir honey into water, add the chili halves, and reheat water until hot or boiling.

Remove chili halves and reserve. Add brandy. Divide liquid between two mugs. Top each with a dollop of whipped cream, a very light dusting of ground cardamom atop the cream, and  hang half a chili from the side of each mug.

Grapefruit-Tarragon Cooler
For syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 ounces fresh tarragon (or basil) leaves/sprigs

Bring water and sugar to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add herbs (stems are fine to include) to solution, stir to coat, and cover pot with lid. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain out leaves. Syrup keeps refrigerated for 3-4 weeks.

For cocktail
In Collins glass filled with ice, pour:
1 shot gin
1/2 shot syrup
couple of drops grapefruit bitters
Fill with sparkling water and garnish with a wedge of fresh grapefruit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Roasted Eggplant Dip

This post is about eggplant, and the side dish and dip I made from one. But it wouldn't be fair to write about the accompaniments without also sharing the entree that led me to consider eggplant as my side of choice to begin with.

I first tasted this delicious chicken and garbanzo tagine when a group of volunteers made it as the centerpiece of a thank-you luncheon. It is a great recipe because it can be made in advance and just gets better the longer it stews. And it can easily be made in a crock pot instead of on the stove as the recipe directs. Additionally, vegetables and tubers can be substituted for the chicken to make a vegetarian version. When I make it, I usually don't bother with the vanilla bean because they are so expensive, but it really adds a tremendous level of depth that it disappointing to forego.

This time, I was making it for a friend, and although it is already full of lots of ingredients of different colors and nutrients (onions, tomatoes, raisins, cilantro) I wanted something else on the plate. I decided that eggplant or carrots would be a good complement because it is a different color from all those already in the dish, and both are commonly found in other Moroccan recipes. I bought both at the market, and decided to decide what to do once I got home. Ultimately, I chose to use both of them together, and was surprised by how much Will and my guest enjoyed the creation, so here is what I did:

Eggplant and Carrot Simmer
serves 3
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large eggplant, peeled, cubed, and drained
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 medium carrots, sliced crosswise into rounds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds (if you don't grind your seeds fresh, you might want to use a little extra)
1 tablespoon pomegranate glaze
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (dried is no substitute, but if that's all you have, only use about 1 teaspoon)
chopped green tops from the carrots
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the eggplant cubes and toss to coat with oil. Add the onion and spread vegetables in an even layer, stirring periodically to prevent burning. Cook for about 15 minutes, until eggplant is golden and onions are soft. Sprinkle cumin over evenly, then add carrots and toss. Drizzle with glaze, and an extra drizzle of oil if necessary to lightly coat all the vegetables. Cover pan with lid (or with foil) and cook over medium low for about 12 more minutes. I removed the foil a couple of times and dried it off so the condensation wouldn't "boil" the vegetables - I didn't want too much liquid in besides what they sweat out themselves, but I wanted them to get nice and tender from the heat. Season with salt and pepper, and toss with dill and carrot tops. This can be served warm or at room temperature; I made it about 45 minutes in advance, and after adding the herbs, just removed it from the heat and kept it covered until I was ready to serve it.

Because my dinner party was only for three people, I only used half the eggplant in the above recipe. So for the other half, I decided to make an eggplant dip. There are lots of recipes for baba ganoush and eggplant hummus, and most roast the eggplant whole. That is what I will do next time, because it is super-easy. The recipe below is double what I made on this first attempt, but it was what I will do next time. If you are like me though, with only half a peeled eggplant left in your fridge, you can easily roast eggplant slices without their peel - mine took about 20 minutes.

Eggplant Dip
1 eggplant, about 2 1/2 pounds
1 large red bell pepper, or 2 small
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise on a cookie sheet or baking dish brushed with olive oil. Core bell pepper and cut in quarters. Wrap garlic cloves in a tiny piece of foil and add to the oven at the same time as the eggplant. The eggplant will take 25-30 minutes. The peppers only take about 20 minutes, so add them part-way through, skin side down on the sheet. They are done with their skins have bits of black char.

The hot peppers can be placed in a paper bag straight from the oven, and in about 5 minutes, they will have sweated a bit so you can easily peel off their skins.

When the eggplant and garlic are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add with the peeled peppers and beans to the food processor. Drizzle with olive oil and pulse. Sprinkle with cumin, add more oil if necessary, and pulse until until smooth and creamy. Season with salt, but keep in mind if you are serving it with salty pita chips, you might not want to add as much as if you are serving it with raw vegetables.

FYI, here are some other times I've played around with eggplant.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It's Sunday morning and I made bagels for breakfast. They'd been tickling me for a couple of weeks now, because a make-your-own-bagels article has been on the homepage of Epicurious for quite a while now, and since I visit the site almost every day, I've been getting a lot of exposure from that story. I had scanned the ingredients list when the article was first posted, and thought it was worht giving a try, but like I said, it's Sunday morning and I made bagels for breakfast, so when it came time to actually launch into the recipe at 7:30 a.m., I went for my Joy of Cooking which calls for a lot more yeast but only 30 minutes of rising time (verses rising overnight).

I was pretty happy with the results, though I wouldn't say they're anything near as good as what I could buy from a bagel shop. Perhaps it is the rush process of adding extra yeast and trying to quick rise? I'm curious if any of you readers have made bagels before and followed a process more similar to that described by Peter Reinhart... does just a 1/2 teaspoon of yeast followed by an overnight proofing session make the difference? Or is it the special flavor imparted by malt syrup (for which I substituted honey)?

These made for a hearty breakfast snack that was a big change from our usual, but not anything so special that I'm desperate to make again soon.

Bagelsfrom The Joy of Cooking1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (105-115 degrees F)
2 1/2 teaspooons (one package) active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon melted vegetable shortening
1 1/2 teasoons malt syrup (I used honey)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat, 2 1/2 cups all-purpose)
In bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle yeast over water and combine with sugar until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

With dough hook mixer attachment, stir in shortening, honey, salt, and 1 cup flour. On low/medium-low speed, stir in remaining flour and mix until dough is smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes).

Cover with plastic and allow to rest at about 75 degrees for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425. In large pan, bring to boil:
4 quarts water

1 tablespoon malt syrup (I used honey)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Divide dough into 8 pieces, and roll into a rope about 9 inches long. Twist into a ring and press together ends to seal. Drop four dough rings into boiling water, when they surface, flip them over, and boil for 45 seconds. Remove from water to an ungreased cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal, and repeat with remaining four dough rings. Bake for 20 minutes.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Six Pounds of Ripe Organic Peaches

It's Thursday before Labor Day. Our plans for Monday are a BBQ for 8, and I am bringing the dessert. Naturally, it needs to be pie with homemade ice cream. Naturally, the pie needs to be peach, because they are at their most delectable in Washington right now. Naturally, when you buy them by the crate, you end up with way more than you need for one pie for 8 people. What to do??

I let the peaches ripen for an extra day on their own, and launched into them full-force Saturday morning with a peach coffee cake for our breakfast.

On Sunday for dinner with another couple, I was at more of a loss... cake or cupcakes would be too similar to the coffee cake, a tart could be tasty, but with the pie for Monday would mean two batches of pastry crust. Maybe use a crumb crust instead? The balsamic custard was really delicious, but I really wanted new inspiration, which I finally found from Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker. She tried a pavlova for the first time, and I decided to do the same.

A pavlova is an almost limitless combination of meringue, topped with whipped cream, topped with fresh fruit. Other bloggers and authors have waxed on about the divine sensations this creates for the mouth, which I will skip except to say that it is very tasty. (I thought this post summed it up well, though the photos are a bit of a detraction.)

I discussed ambivalence toward meringue in my angel-food cake post, but pavlova seemed an appropriate way to counter such feelings as it's drenched whipped cream and delicious fruit. I found it especially appealing that there are so many opportunities for creativity by altering the recipe for the base, for the filling, or for the topping. I believe the original/traditional Pavlova is plain meringue, vanilla whipped cream, and fresh strawberries. I knew my version would be with peaches, so I started to think of how else to spice it up. Peaches and cardamom are a classic combination, so I googled "peach cardamom pavlova" and came to this post. While his photos are mouth-watering, I found the recipe itself lacking, but I had what I needed to put together my own perfect pavlova.

I incorporated the pistachios directly into the meringue. I followed this recipe but ground the nuts and powdered sugar together in the food processor until they were very fine, instead of just chopped. Pile the meringue on the baking sheet as high as you can get it - a couple inches if possible. Mine were only about 3/4 inch high, and while I like mine nice and crispy and not too uncooked in the center, it makes for a much less dramatic presentation if they are short and flat. For the filling, I brought one cup of cream to a boil with 5 crushed whole cardamom pods, and allowed to steep in the fridge overnight, before straining and whipping to soft peaks with one tablespoon light brown sugar. For the fruit, I sliced 1/2 peach per serving and tossed with just a splash of peach schnapps and a bit of brown sugar. Lastly for garnish, I candied some nuts (just saute a handful over medium heat in a saucepan with 1 teaspoon water and a couple teaspoons white sugar until nuts are toasted and glazed.) Layer them together and you have an exotically-scented crispy creamy smooth juicy sweet concoction. So sorry I don't have a photo!

Labor Day itself was pure peach pie. This is my previously tested recipe for peach pie and the crust is very easy to work with but not as flakey as I sometimes prefer. I kept the filling recipe the same though I probably used closer to 4 pounds of peaches (5 large) and didn't scale back the other ingredients. I would say we had 10 generous servings from this pie, and 5 pounds of peaches split between only 8 people as the recipe suggests would be... well, let's just a say, "American."

I know I am letting down readers with my photography - this is a photo of the
unbaked pie. The finished pie was perfectly golden and slices held together
even with loads of peaches melting out the sides. Be sure to serve with ice cream!

With another batch of delicious peaches, I made a peach crumb bar based on this recipe, with my modifications below. They were good, but I didn't love them. I thought they were a bit too oatey even though I cut back on what the recipe said, and even though the peaches themselves were perfectly ripe and flavorful, I didn't think the streusel topping was sweet enough in spite of how much sugar I added (though it was better with some sweet vanilla ice cream!) Also, though she called them "bars" they were too soft to eat like a cookie. Which was fine - we covered them with ice cream anyway, but they were definitely a fork-dessert.

Peach Streusel
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats, divided

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (add more?)3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup sliced almonds
5 large peaches (about 3 pounds) peeled and chopped - I slice into 1/2" wedges and then cut crosswise in thirds
squeeze of lemon (to retard browning)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9" pan with foil.
In a food processor, combine flour, 1 cup oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, salt, and spices. Process until finely ground and small clumps form. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup oats and process just until combined, but so some oats are still whole.
Press 1/2 of crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Mix almonds into remaining crumb mixture.
Combine peaches with lemon juice, and spread over crust. Sprinkle with almond-crumb mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Refridgerate leftovers. I put some in the freezer, and they held-up fine... the base gets a little soft, but not soggy, and you can wrap in foil and rewarm in the oven or toaster oven (about 8 minutes in the toaster at 350).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Banana-Basil Salsa

It isn't an entirely original idea to use bananas in savory recipes, as I discovered in subsequent searching, but as I didn't think to search until after I'd already made and consumed this, I'm going to take credit for my own creativity. I actually got the idea because when I planned my dinner menu, I was aiming for peach salsa. But when 6:30 rolled around and I went to start chopping the peaches which had been ripening in a paper bag for two days, they were completely moldy! The only other fruit we had in the house were two spotted bananas, so I decided to attempt a last-minute swap.
My basil plant is disappointingly bitter, but it made for a really nice foil to the sweetness of the banana. Because we had homemade pickled peppers in the fridge, I used those, but otherwise I would normally have used fresh. In that case, a touch more acid or spice to cut the sweetness could be in order - freshly grated ginger would be a good balance to the banana and basil.
I served this over grilled pork chops with a side of black quinoa with carrots and onions, and a dandelion greens and mushroom salad. It would also be delicious on chicken, shrimp, or white fish. We don't have a "no electronics at the dinner table policy" because when we like to be able to look up facts and figures and references to aid and enhance whatever we're already discussing. Our search for banana onion recipe yielded some pretty nauseating sounded results, and this was quite tasty, so give it a try and let me know what you think, or what other savory ways you find to use bananas!

Banana Basil Salsa
Serves 2
1 medium banana of your desired ripeness - mine was pretty ripe and you don't want it too soft or it will just be mush in your salsa, but I liked that it was pretty sweet
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded
squeeze of fresh lemon juice, about 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate
hot pickled or fresh peppers to taste, diced (I used 1/2 a serrano)
dash of salt

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


As has probably become clear, I am the baker in the family, and it is a general assumption that I will be responsible for desserts and birthday cakes under all circumstances. This year, to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday, we were going out of town for a weekend getaway with my inlaws so hauling a cake on a roadtrip to a hotel to a restaurant overnight was not a good option. But I still wanted to make something special that would take time and attention and show that I care. I started thinking about what would travel well and last better than baked goods. Preserves? Jam? But I don't know how much morning toast my in-laws eat, and we all can do a little better to cut back on the sweets and sugar. What about vegetables? I've never done canning before, but pickles can be preserved in the fridge for up to a few months without needing to be canned or shelf-stable. Pickles it is!

A romp through other food blogs told me now is the time of year for pickling anyway, when summer produce is at its peak. I realized this was something Will and I could do together, making it an even better birthday-gift choice for his dad, and so I chose a couple of recipes that we would both enjoy and that I was sure his dad, with his roots in the state of Georgia, would appreciate.

We never want for spiciness at our house, with usually at least three different bottles of hot sauce in the cupboard and fresh chiles in the fruit basket. This recipe for Pickled Peppers
seemed just the right thing for both Will and his dad to enjoy. I could never have made them myself, as I wouldn't be able to put my contacts in for a week after touching all those seeds! It was a lot of chopping!

While Will artfully layered the peppers in leftover jam jars, I got to work on the

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas and Dill Cucumber Pickles. All the recipes come together really quickly and easily, especially when the vegetables themselves - like the peas - don't require preparation. For the cucumbers, I did one jar-full of "spears" where I quartered the cucumbers lengthwise, another jar of whole, and a mixed jar with some "chips" where I used a crinkle-cutter to make wavy-ridged cross-section slices.

The finished pickles were delightfully colorful and really look like a quintessential summer gift basket. They are also delicious! And while it was time-consuming to make so many, it was very easy and didn't require concentration, so it was a fun project to work on with a friend, and they are perfect for sharing, but if you want them all for yourselve, these three recipes last from 1-3 months if kept refrigerated.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cake for Granny

This blog is about my cakes and my food, not so much about me, however, some family stories have come up along the way, and now is time for another one. I have written about the cakes I've baked for my grandmother's birthday before, and what a big deal I make of them, because of what a big deal her birthday is to her (ie: at 91, she's pretty sure she's running out of cakes!) But I have another grandmother who is just 8 months younger, for whom I also always make a cake. The difference is that the younger one always wants the same cake: pineapple upside down cake. Now, I have a couple of issues with this. First of all, there are so many cakes in the world - so many delectable, unique cakes - that I just flat out don't like the idea of using a recipe I've used before, and certainly not on an annual basis. Sure, I have my favorite layer cake and my favorite sponge cake, but even then, when I make them, it is usually in combination with new flavors of fillings and frostings to create entirely special desserts. So the fact that she asks for the same cake every year kind of bums me out. On top of that, I don't really like pineapple upside down cake. That might not be entirely fair - I don't not like it, but I don't especially like it. To me, it is like coffee cake. It can be yummy, but would be better for breakfast or a snack then as dessert.

I find it amusing to wonder if Gramma likes this more because of the exoticism represented by canned pineapple and the allue of some travel-poster concept of Hawaii than for the actual taste of the cake. If she had grown up on a tropical island surrounded by fresh pineapples, would she like this cake at all? I know I'll never know, and I realize one reason I'm so impartial to it is just because it represents kitsch and monotony. There absolutely is a place for it, but in my opinion it's not birthday cake, and it's not an annual occasion. But. I'm. Not. The One. Who. Is. 91. Years Old.

So out of the oven came another PU-DC.

A couple times (back in her 80's when she wasn't quite as rigid and inflexible) I pulled a pineapple chiffon cake and a pineapple rum trifle cake on her. I was thrilled. She was disappointed. So I'm forced to stick with the traditional.  I do try different versions, though variations that I would get really excited about (eg: ginger in the topping, cardamom in the cake, coconut milk, or multiple fruits like apricots and mangos) are pretty much out of the question. My standby had been Joy of Cooking, but this year I used an extensively-reviewed recipe from Gourmet.

For many years, I didn't have an oven-safe skillet, so the main feature of an upside-down cake - the carmelized topping - was missing. You just can't get that gooey carmelized topping in a regular cake pan. A few years ago, I finally acquired a 10-inch cast iron skillet, just right for this recipe. One of the benefits of this recipe over the one in Joy is that you boil the topping so it gets nice and sticky... it's not enough to just melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar. The other enhancement is to use pineapple juice in the batter (Joy uses buttermilk); this makes it just a little sweeter and not so dense.

I actually really enjoyed the results. It's not what I think of as dessert after a good meal, and unless it was specifically requested of me, I would probably only make it for brunch. But this does have a really satisfying "crust" of carmelized sugar topping, and moist, flavorful cake. To keep things as traditional as possible for Gramma, I did not use cardamom in the batter, but did add a shake of cinnamon. For myself, I think cardamom or cloves would be excellent, and definitely some candied ginger in the topping. I also used canned pineapple instead of fresh, both to get the exactly concentric rounds with perfectly cored centers for decorating (I used macademia nuts instead of marachino cherries this year) and because the juice for the batter is all of a piece in the can.

If Gramma makes it to #92, this will be the cake I make for her again, with pleasure.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake with canned pineapple and macademia nut decoration with cinnamon instead of cardamom.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mayonnaise Cookies

It may be prissy and stuck up, but I am not ashamed to say - in fact, I am proud to say - that I was revolted when I read this article about how to add extra mayonnaise to your diet. It seems like every day in the news is another statistic about Americans' poor eating habits, and the obesity epidemic, and tips and tricks for how to incorporate more fresh produce into our diets while cutting fat. So what on earth is my high-brow, educated, thoughtful newssource doing publishing food articles about recipes with a secret ingredient of egg yolks and canola oil!?! I was surprised, disappointed, and frankly, a bit disgusted, especially by the pretzels-mixed-with-butter-topped-with-whipped-cream-and-mayonnaise-and-layered-with-jello.

But, like all good journalism, it did make me think. And the more I thought, the more I realized that greater than 50% of my blog would likely fall into somebody's category of "revolting" - at the very least from a nutritional standpoint. Save perhaps for the rare oatmeal date bar, my recipes aren't doing anyone any favors in the fat-and-empty-calorie department. After still more thought, I decided that in some instances, mayonnaise isn't really that far of a reach for a lot of baked goods, being mostly eggs and oil (though the vinegar and paprika in the mayonnaise I had was questionable for most cookies...)

So, I went back to the recipe (but just the one for cookies) and gave it another read. Actually, replacing eggs and butter/oil in a recipe with mayonnaise sort of made sense. Except for going extra salt and processed in a time when I'm trying to be more socially conscious in my shopping, it was otherwise a pretty equal substitution. So, since I had mayonnaise getting close to its expiry in the fridge, I decided to give these snickerdoodles a try. On principle, I have a hard time recommending this recipe, but truth be told, Will and I both enjoyed eating them quite a bit.

The dough ends up being soft enough to mix by hand which is an extra plus for whipping up a super-quick recipe, along with no waiting for butter to soften. They had a crispy edge but a soft center, which is one of the ways I like snickerdoodles. And I also really liked the addition of cloves; they added a touch extra spiciness and depth (something that I will definitely replicate in my standard snickerdoodle recipe as well). Finally, they seemed to stay pretty fresh for a couple days, while my old recipe goes stale within 24 hours, so you can see how the beauty of pasturized shelf-stable factory foods can pay off.

Snickerdoodlesby Doreen McCallister

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cinnamon sugar, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking soda. Shape into balls and roll into cinnamon sugar.

Place 12 on a greased baking sheet, spaced evenly. They will spread out. Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before placing on a wire rack.