Mushroom Hunting: Pasta with Morel Mushrooms in a Delicate Cream Sauce

Pasta with Morel Mushrooms – If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some wild morel mushrooms you’ll wow your guests with this delicate, creamy pasta dish. It’s a rare spring treat.

penne pasta with morel mushrooms in cream sauce, vertical

I’ve become a mushroom-picking maniac, thanks to my mushroom-mentor friend, Alex. This post tells about what a scaredy-cat I used to be about foraging for mushrooms in the wild. But then along came Alex, and now my fungi-foraging world has ‘mushroomed’! There was last fall’s huge puffball extravaganza, and then the wild mushroom risotto made with honey mushrooms from our hunt. You can see that with her expert guidance I’ve now become quite comfortable picking those delectable little morsels from the forest floor.

pasta with morel mushrooms, Alex hunting morels

Alex knows just where to find those mystical morels

When she called me up last week and said, The morels are ready, well I had rubber boots on and pail in hand before you could say ‘mushroom-mooching mama’.

We spent several hours tromping through the forest, often scrambling on hands and knees under bushes and low-hanging branches to spot these elusive spring mushrooms. Morels love moist, shady hollows, and are crafty little devils, camouflaging themselves amongst the carpet of brown leaves covering the spring forest.

pasta with morel mushrooms; a morel hiding in the leaves

those cheeky little morels sure can hide in the leaves

These mushrooms are so funny-looking, with their wrinkly little caps on tall creamy-coloured stems. They make me smile. I have a hunch that when we lumbering humans aren’t around, those little morels get up to all kinds of shenanigans together with the wood fairies. They’re probably partying up a storm in the dappled shade of the forest, dancing and giggling, and laughing at us big people.

pasta with morel mushrooms; two morels in leaves

I caught the guy on the right bowing his head, probably asking a cute little fairy for a dance

It was such a joy tromping through the trees on a spring evening. The forest was calm and smelled of wet leaves and new growth.

mossy tree and morel mushrooms

After several hours, a few twigs in our hair, and a rip in my pants, Alex and I had a modest harvest in our pails.

pasta with morel mushrooms, a few pails of morels

I brought the mushrooms home and picked them over (for critters that hitched a ride).

pasta with morel mushrooms spilling from pail

Trimmed off the longer stems, then a quick rinse in a colander under running water. I laid them out to dry a bit on a clean tea towel.

pasta with morel mushrooms, drying the mushrooms

These early morels were very moist and juicy – quite different from the variety we had at the lake a few years ago. I sautéed a couple chopped shallots and a clove of garlic in butter, then added the mushrooms. When I cooked them up they released a LOT of water, but that’s okay – the liquid made a wonderful sauce. A few sprigs of thyme and a splash of marsala wine, and there it is – a taste of a spring forest in your pan.

pasta with morel mushrooms, cooking the mushroomsJust cook up a pot of pasta so it’s nice and chewy – al dente. Top with a few spoonfuls of these creamy morels and you can close your eyes and hear the rustling of the leaves as you you amble down the forest path.

Pasta with morel mushrooms in a cream sauce

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I used gluten-free corn penne for the dish because the shape of the pasta echoed the shape of the morel mushroom stems, but you can use any other shape of pasta you wish. Spaghetti would be nice, too.

If you’re not lucky enough to find a cache of morel mushrooms, substitute any other wild mushroom, or even use button mushrooms – just tear them into irregular sized chunks with your fingers. If using other mushrooms, they may not give off as much liquid as these morels do, then add chicken or vegetable broth to make the sauce thin enough to generously coat the pasta.

The morel sauce can also be cooked ahead without the cream and cheese and refrigerated – just reheat gently and add the cream, cornstarch, and Parmesan just before serving.

And if you have it – a little drizzle of truffle oil over the top of the dish intensifies the delicate mushroom flavour.

pasta with morel mushrooms - dig right in

 

Pasta with Morel Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

  • 350 gms/12 oz penne pasta, gluten-free or regular
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped (or 1 cup onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups (500gms) fresh morel mushrooms (or substitute other mushrooms of your choice), rinsed and dried on a towel, long stems cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons dry marsala wine or sherry
  • several sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (gluten-free if necessary)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream/whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • a drizzle of truffle oil – optional

Set a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. When boiling, add the pasta and cook for the time recommended on the package for al dente pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, sauté the shallots and garlic in the butter until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the whole morels and stems, marsala, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook for 5 minutes, occasionally giving the mushrooms a gentle stir. (At this point, if using regular mushrooms, you may need to add up to a cup of broth – enough to almost cover the mushrooms while they are cooking.)

In a small bowl or cup, stir together the whipping cream, cornstarch, and Parmesan cheese. Stir into the bubbling mushrooms and cook for one more minute.

Divide the pasta between plates and top each serving with a few spoonfuls of the morels in cream sauce. Drizzle each plateful with a bit of truffle oil, if desired.

Serves 4 as a main course, or 6 as an appetizer course.

Guten Appetit!

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You might also like:

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Nature’s Gift: Fresh Trout, Morels, and a Side of Bannock

Wild Rice and Mushrooms

Juicy Grilled Mushrooms

pasta with morel mushrooms in cream sauce with shallots and thyme

Posted in Pasta, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Cooking with Kids: Giant Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

A wedge of slightly warm chocolate chip skillet cookie is soft and gooey, just the thing to dip into a cold glass of milk or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. (And no fussing with batches of cookie sheets or scooping sticky cookie dough.)

chocolate chip skillet cookie with ice cream and chocolate shavings

Cooking with Meredith

Are you in the mood for a buttery chocolate chip cookie, one that’s soft and chewy with little pockets of oozing melted chocolate?

Ooooh, baby, yes I am.

Meredith and I were both craving cookies today, but were feeling too lazy to make up a batch of regular cookies. We didn’t want all that scooping of dough and fiddling with batches of pans waiting to go into the oven. My go-to is these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies – they’ve got banana in them to add a subtle and rich flavour (can’t even tell it’s banana), and we almost made those, but we decided to make an easy peasy giant skillet cookie instead. This one turns out well with gluten-free flour (just let it cool completely before slicing). All you have to do is stir up the dough, grease a skillet, and plop the dough into it. Slide it into the oven and bake.

mixing the skillet cookie dough

in goes the sugar

batter for skillet cookie

cream it up with the butter

greasing the pan for the skillet cookie

of course, greasing the skillet involves butter fingerpainting

patting the skillet cookie dough into the pan

pat, pat, pat

Wait 20 minutes and out comes one big beautiful cookie, dimpled with little divots of molten chocolate amongst the golden caramelly dough.

skillet cookie in pan

Let it cool a bit, and slice it into wedges. Dip the delicious cookie slab into a glass of cold milk for a simple bit of cookie heaven.

slab of skillet cookie and milk

Or top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings or a fudgy sauce for a seriously decadent dessert. (Try it with Mississippi Mud Sauce!)

Giant Skillet Cookie with ice cream and chocolate shavings

A skillet cookie’s a great idea to feed a crew the next time you have a dinner party, barbecue, or get-together. Simple and timeless. Everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie – a classic that will never go out of style. But you can always have some fun with the size and shape of it. Set the skillet cookie on the table, add a knife, and let people carve out their own wedges. Meredith ate 3 pieces (a quarter of the skillet!) – and that was after a full dinner.

I think we can proclaim it a hit.

Meredith Eating Skillet Cookie dipping the skillet cookie wedge in milk

* * * * *

 

Kitchen Frau Notes: Measure your skillet, if it is only 10 inches (25cm)  in diameter, instead of 12 inches, your cookie will be thicker and take about 5 minutes longer to bake.

This giant cookie tastes best the same day it is baked. If there’s any left over the next day, reheat the cookie wedges for a few seconds in the microwave to get that soft melty chocolate experience again.

chocolate chip skillet cookie, wedge

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

  • ½ cup (115gms) salted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150gms) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt  (½ teaspoon if using unsalted butter)
  • 1½ cups (210gms) this gluten free flour mix (or use regular flour for non-gluten-free)
  • 1 cup (160gms) chocolate chips (or Smarties)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Generously butter a 12-inch (30cm) cast iron skillet.

In an electric mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Add the cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and flour and beat until well incorporated.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the dough into the greased skillet, and press down with your fingers or a spatula, so the cookie is a smooth even layer.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the giant skillet cookie are golden and the center is just set.

Let cool slightly. Best served the day it is baked.

*If using gluten free flour, it is important to let the skillet cookie cool to lukewarm – if it’s still too warm it will crumble when sliced, but firms up nicely when it’s slightly cool.

Slice into 12 wedges. Eat as is, or serve with ice cream and chocolate sauce or sprinkles.

Guten Appetit!

 

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You might also like:

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

No-Bake Rickety Uncles Cookies

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Haystacks Cookies

Mix-in-the-Pan Hello Dolly Squares

Skillet Cookie with Smarties

we made another skillet cookie with mini Smarties instead of chocolate chips

Posted in Cookies & Candy, Cooking with Kids | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Jerk Chicken and a Jamaican Cooking Class

Jerk chicken is coated in a blend of zesty spices, grilled to perfection, then slathered with a sweet, hot, and tangy sauce. It’s tender and juicy, smoky and spicy. It’ll revolutionize your summer barbecuing experiences. Whip up a batch of the jerk seasoning, and you can have this Jamaican taste sensation any time you feel like it.

bowl of Jamaican Jerk Chicken

On our holiday in Jamaica, my sister and I slipped away one day to take in a Jamaican cooking class. It was a lot of fun. We took a shuttle from our resort to a former allspice and lime plantation situated outside the town of Ocho Rios. We rode a jitney throughout the 900 acre property, getting the chance to see a huge variety of native trees.

jerk chicken and a jitney ride in Jamaica

Our tractor driver, Donovan, entertained us with the history of the plantation and his dry sense of humour, cracking the funniest of jokes with a completely deadpan expression.

jerk chicken, cooking class in plantation house in Jamaica

back of the plantation house – cooking class is set up on the veranda

We arrived at the plantation house which is perched at the top of the hill and commands a breathtaking view of the panorama around it with the Caribbean Ocean in the distance.

jerk chicken, view from plantation house

Rosalinda enjoying the view from the back lawn of the plantation house

This plantation was once visited by many important people. Our former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau visited with his family, and his young sons (including our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau) played with the children of the plantation owners. Sir Winston Churchill planted the huge tree on the front lawn. Lots of Hollywood stars have planted trees along the main road leading up to the home.

The cooking class was set up on the veranda behind the house, overlooking the lawns and stunning view. Rosalinda and I were the only ones on this tour, so we had a private lesson from the lovely Chef Irie. She showed us how to prepare jerk chicken, along with sauteed callaloo (a spinach-like green) and coconut sauce, coconut rice, and festival (a favourite Jamaican deep-fried type of biscuit).

jerk seasoning, cooking class in Jamaica with Chef Irie

Chef Irie, our lovely cooking class instructor

Chef Irie added a few pieces of allspice wood to the rustic metal-drum barbecue – this got it smoking like an old steam locomotive.

jerk chicken, smoking barbecue drum with allspice wood

She gave us each a skinless, boneless chicken breast and a spoonful of jerk seasoning, so we could rub this spicy mix all over the meat. See my post on how to make your own easy jerk seasoning – if you make up a batch now, you’ll have the base for wonderful barbecues all summer long.

Jamaicans are famous for their Jerk – which is actually a cooking method rather than a seasoning. The original inhabitants of the island, before the advent of the African slaves and the invasions and subsequent colonization by the Spaniards and the English, used fire pits to cook their food. Highly seasoned and marinated meat was cooked long and slow over glowing coals of allspice wood, imbuing it with a smoky flavour. The outside of the meat is charred and spicy while the inside is falling-off-the-bones tender and moist. Traditionally, pork was the only meat that was ‘jerked’, but nowadays chicken and fish are popular, too.

We don’t usually cook in fire pits any more, and allspice wood isn’t to be found here in Canada, but we can replicate the flavours of that rich and spicy style of Jamaican cooking by making our own mix of the spices used on the island. In Jamaica, there are as many variations of jerk seasoning as there are cooks. I brought back four different packages of seasoning and each one is different, though they all contain hot pepper, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, and black pepper.

Allspice (called pimento in Jamaica) is one of Jamaica’s main export crops, and is used to flavour much of the delicious island cooking. The green allspice berry is harvested and dried, then used whole or ground in cooking. It is a rich and subtle spice, combining the flavours of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and black pepper. Using the ground allspice in the jerk seasoning mix is a good way to get the flavour you’d have from smoking the food over allspice wood.

jerk chicken breasts rubbed with seasoning

We put the chicken onto the barbecue, then Chef Irie added the secret ingredient – she sloshed on a bit of Jamaican beer – this adds flavour and helps make a bit more smoke, too.

jerk chicken, sloshing on the beer

She closed the lid and let the fire and smoke do their magic.

Meanwhile we got on with the rest of the meal. We stirred together a simple sauce to add to the chicken later. Chef Irie had the ingredients all chopped for us:

ingredients for jerk chicken and Jamaican meal

Leafy chopped callaloo went into the pan, along with a bit of margarine, onion, garlic, pepper, and a spoonful of jerk seasoning.

jerk chicken, and the ingredients for sauteed callaloo

jerk chicken, and cooking callaloo in Jamaican cooking class

We whipped up a thick creamy coconut sauce to eat with the rice – made with powdered coconut milk, fresh thyme, onion, garlic, veggies and a bit more jerk seasoning (the secret flavour base that made everything sing).

jerk chicken, coconut sauce

Next, Rosalinda and I rolled out the cornmeal-based dough for the festivals – kinda like playing with play dough. They went into the sizzling oil to fry up to crisp, golden deliciousness.

jerk chicken, and festivals

By then, our jerk chicken was done, smoky and tender and moist.

jerk chicken on the metal barbecue

jerk chicken is served into our bowls

Chef Irie handled the grilled chicken into each of our little bowls of prepared sauce, and we diced it up, coating the pieces to make them glistening and moist.

cutting up the jerk chicken in the sauce

Voilà, our meal was ready. Tender, moist and spicy jerk chicken kissed with a slathering of sauce – sweet, sour, and just a little bit fiery. Tender greens sauteed with veggies – still with a slight bite and rich earthiness from the seasoning. Rice cooked in coconut milk and Maggi seasoning – a gentle foil for the flavourful coconut sauce – smooth, velvety, and a perfect vehicle for still slightly crunchy veggies – huge flavour from the onions, garlic, and seasoning. And of course, the festival – a crunchy fried biscuit encasing the soft doughiness within – slightly sweet, tender, and letting out little puffs of steam as you pull it apart.

Jamaican meal of jerk chicken, callaloo, rice, coconut sauce, and festival

All we had to do was dig in. Yaa Man!

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Skinless, boneless chicken breast is what we used in the cooking class, however you can use any cut you like. Skin-on, bone-in leg and thigh work well; once the chicken is grilled, cut several slits deep into the meat, then drizzle with the sauce to serve.

Or use pork – see photos at the bottom of the post

When making the sauce, you can also marinate sliced, fresh hot peppers (like Scotch bonnet peppers, which are the main peppers used in Jamaica) in vinegar for several hours, then use the spicy vinegar to make the sauce. That is what we used in the cooking class.

cutting up the jerk chicken in the sauce

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Ingredients given are for one portion. Multiply the amounts to accommodate any number of chicken breasts to serve whatever sized group you’re feeding.

Chicken:

  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (or other piece of chicken)
  • 1 – 1½ teaspoons dry jerk seasoning (purchased, or make this easy recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon beer (gluten-free if necessary) or substitute with apple juice

Sauce:

for each chicken breast or piece of chicken, stir together:

  • 1 – 2 teaspoons spicy vinegar → use plain vinegar + a squirt of sriracha or hot sauce, or use the vinegar from pickled jalapeño peppers or other hot peppers
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon beer or apple juice, plus more if needed (gluten-free if necessary)

Rub the chicken breasts all over with the jerk seasoning. Either let them marinate for a few hours or use them right away.

Preheat the barbecue grill on medium heat (until the temperature is about 350°F/180°C).

Lay the seasoned chicken pieces on the barbecue grill, drizzle each with about ½ tablespoon beer (or apple juice), shut the lid of the barbecue, and grill. After 10 minutes, turn the chicken breasts over, drizzle the top of each one with another ½ tablespoon beer or juice, shut the lid again, and grill for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink when you cut into the thickest part, but is still moist and juicy.

Alternately, you can cook the chicken in a grill pan on the stovetop, on an electric grill, broil it, or bake it in a 350°F oven until cooked but still juicy.

While the chicken is grilling, stir together the sauce ingredients in a shallow pan or bowl. Taste and add more of any ingredient you feel the sauce needs to have the right balance for your personal taste. Add extra beer or apple juice until it is a thin consistency, like heavy cream.

Place the grilled chicken directly into the sauce and cut it into bite-sized pieces or slices. Toss with the sauce to moisten all the chicken. If cutting a large number of chicken breasts, cut them up on a cutting board, then toss with the sauce.

Serves one or many.

Guten Appetit!

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Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Mix and Photos of My Trip to Jamaica

Chimichurri Sauce for Grilled Meats

Grilled Chicken with Romesco Sauce

Grilled Herb-Stuffed Pork Chops

I’ve used the above recipe to make jerk pork steaks, and they were delicious!

pork shoulder steaks rubbed with jerk seasoning, ready to grill

jerk chicken - can also do the same recipe with pork

just use the same recipe and make it with pork chops or pork shoulder steaks

Posted in Chicken & Poultry, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jerk Seasoning and a Jamaican Holiday

Stir together your own mix of spicy Jamaican Jerk Seasoning and you’ll add Island flair and flavours to chicken or pork for summer barbecues.

homemade jerk seasoning in jar This blog has been quiet the last couple weeks because I’ve been on a tropical holiday. I had a blissful time with fourteen of my relatives in sunny Jamaica so we could celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday!

jerk seasoning, celebrating mom's 80th in Jamaica at the Bahia Principe resort

celebrating the big day with the friendly staff at our resort

My mom is a trooper. She suffers from arthritis, but doesn’t let that stop her from living life with gusto. I hope I’ve got her energy and enthusiasm when I get to be that age.

Jamaica is a stunning island – amazing things to see and do everywhere.

jerk seasoning, mossy stones on the beach at the Bahia Principe resort, Jamaica

We stayed in a resort, and that alone is a wonderful holiday, but when you’re traveling with a crowd of fun-loving relatives – every day is a party.

jerk seasoning - our family group in Jamaica

here are 10 members of our gang – mom’s the one on the right

We ate, drank, suntanned, partied, swam, shopped, chatted, laughed, ate, toured, told tall tales, drank, ate, walked, and did I mention that we ate?

As soon as we’d finished stuffing ourselves at the magnificent buffet for breakfast, we’d be deciding when and where we should meet for lunch. It was a tough life I tell ya . . .

I tasted so many new tropical foods I’d never had before; every meal included some new taste sensation.

jerk seasoning, Jamaican breakfast foods

breakfast of mango, boiled dumplin, fried dumplin, ackee & saltfish (Jamaica’s national dish), and of course, a serving of bacon

The buffet down at the beach served the best jerk chicken – charred and crisp from the grill, with an assortment of sauces with different heat levels to drizzle on top. Mmmmm. Lip-smackin’. I’ve got a great recipe for you to mix up your own jerk seasoning so you can have a little taste of Jamaican spice, too. Just keep scrolling down past the pictures.

jerk seasoning on jerk chicken, rice and beans, callaloo

jerk chicken, rice and peas, and sauteed callaloo

One day we toured up into the Blue Mountains to see how Jamaica’s world famous coffee is grown.

jerk seasoning, coffee plants in Jamaica

coffee plantation up in the hills

jerk seasoning, famous Blue Mountain coffee in Jamaica

famous Blue Mountain coffee, grown at high altitudes and considered to be the best in the world

jerk seasoning, green bananas growing on tree, Blue Mountains, Jamaica

bananas grow up there, too

On our way through Kingston, we stopped at Devon House I Scream. This delicious little shop is included in the top ten best ice cream places in the world.

jerk seasoning, Devon House I Scream

Another day, half of us rented a van and toured around part of the island. Driving on the left side of the road was a new experience for Raymond and my brother-in-law, who took turns at the wheel.

jerk seasoning, driving on the left in Jamaica

We had a few . . . er . . . driving adventures, and found a lot of narrow, winding mountain roads with little villages dotted in the jungle.

jerk seasoning, mama and sleeping boy at roadside stand in Jamaica jerk seasoning, tropical fruit stand in Jamaica

We stopped at the pristine seven mile long Negril Beach for a dip in the fantastically warm and clear water.

jerk seasoning, Negril Beach in Jamaica

Another day, my sister and I slipped away for a cooking class at a plantation house on a 900 acre former allspice (pimento) and lime plantation. We were the only two people in the class so it was like a private lesson. We were toured through the plantation in a jitney (trailer) pulled by a tractor.

jerk seasoning, jitney ride

my sister Rosalinda, sitting in the jitney

jerk seasoning, allspice berry blossoms

allspice blossoms and developing berries – the spice that gives jerk seasoning its unique flavour

jerk seasoning, cooking class in Jamaica with Chef Irie

Chef Irie, our lovely cooking class instructor

So many sights to see on this stunning little tropical island, rich with history and culture.

jerk seasoning, colorful buildings in Jamaica

jerk seasoning, blue, blue ocean

jerk seasoning, roadside tropical fruit in Jamaica

Jamaican apples, ackee, green bananas, soursop

jerk seasoning, bird on thatched sun umbrella IMG_1552b

jerk seasoning, jackfruit and pineapple

roadside fruit stands everywhere – this one has jackfruit, pineapple, and bags of red-skinned Jamaican apples

jerk seasoning, cleaning starfish on the beach in Runaway Bay, Jamaica

At the resort buffet, we indulged in fresh coconut water. The expert handler whacks the top off a coconut, pokes a hole into it with a sharp knife, and pours it into a glass or just sticks a straw into it so you can sip it right out of the coconut.

jerk seasoning, poking a hole in the coconut jerk seasoning, pouring out the coconut water

Are you feeling the island vibes? Wanna taste some of the island spice?

Jerk is actually a way of cooking – a hot and spicy barbecue style of cooking. Highly seasoned meat, traditionally pork, but now including chicken and fish, is cooked slowly over a charcoal fire of pimento (allspice) wood until the spices are blackened from the smoke and the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender and moist. The seasoning mix varies from cook to cook, but always includes allspice and some form of hot pepper – Scotch Bonnet Peppers are preferred if the seasoning is a paste mixture. If making a dry mixture, dried hot chili peppers are used. I’ve made up a dry mix, combining ingredients from two Jamaican cookbooks and three different jerk spice mixtures we bought in Jamaica. Rub the seasoning into the meat of your choice, let it rest for a while if you have time, then throw it onto the grill and cook it low and slow to get that nice smoky flavour melding with the spices. It’s the taste of Jamaica. Yaa man.

homemade jerk seasoning in bowl pork shoulder steaks rubbed with jerk seasoning, ready to grill

Liven up your summer barbecues with your own special jerk seasoning mix.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can substitute cayenne pepper for the crushed chili peppers.

Click here for a recipe using the seasoning to make authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

heap of homemade jerk seasoning

Jerk Seasoning Mix

  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried red chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Stir together all spices. Keep in an airtight container.

Use as a dry rub for pork, chicken, or fish, before barbecuing or roasting, or use in recipes that call for jerk seasoning.

Makes about 6 tablespoons.

Guten Appetit!

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You might also like:

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Chimichurri Sauce for Barbecued Meats

Grilled Chicken with Romesco Sauce

Homemade Lebkuchen Spice Mix

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

jerk seasoning, jamaican sunset

Posted in Barbecue & Grilling, Condiments & Sauces, Travel | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Cooking with Kids: Cookie Painting

Want a fun project to do with kids? Try cookie painting! This easy and edible craft makes great decorated cookies for any holiday or just for a rainy afternoon’s art session. Kids of all ages can make these beautiful cookies.

Cookie Painting - painted cookies for Easter

Cooking with Meredith

cookie painting - Meredith hard at work, painting cookies

You can paint on paper. You can paint on wood. You can paint on metal or glass.

But you can also paint on cookies!

You can’t eat paper, or wood, or metal, or glass.

But you can eat cookies!

Cookie Painting - all kinds of painted cookies

emojies, lady bugs, frogs, and rainbows – anything goes on painted cookies

Painting cookies - Meredith and her painted cookies

Meredith and I did this project over a couple days. First we made the cookies, then iced them with Royal Icing and left them to harden. Then we had a blast painting cookies! Plain food colouring and a simple paintbrush is all it takes. You can let your imagination and inner artiste run wild.

Easter Cookie Painting - a basketful of cookie art

a basketful of cookie art for Easter

Paint cookies for any special holiday or party, or just paint fun designs because it’s a rainy day and you want a craft project to do. This painting project works with any age – young children can make simple splotchy designs and older children can get fancy or funny with their designs. Even adult artists can have a whole lot of fun with cookie painting! (I speak from experience.)

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Use your favourite cut-out cookie recipe, or the Rich Roll Cookie recipe we used, below. It’s only got 5 ingredients and makes great cookies – I’ve been using this recipe for years for any time I want rolled cookies.

You may need to play with the Royal Icing to get it to the right spreadable consistency for flooding the tops of the cookies in a smooth even sheet. Add a bit more water or icing sugar until it is right.

cookie painting - Easter basket of painted cookies

Rich Roll Cookies

adapted from The Joy of Cooking

gluten free variation included

  • 1 cup (225gms) salted butter
  • ⅔ cup (133gms) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2½ cups (350gms) all purpose flour (or for gluten-free use 2¾ cups/385gms of my gluten free flour mix + ½ teaspoon xanthan gum)

Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and creamy-coloured.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Add the flour and mix well.

Divide the dough into two balls. Flatten each ball into a disc about 1¼ inches (3cm) thick. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough discs for about 3 to 4 hours in the fridge, or 30 – 45 minutes in the freezer.

Sprinkle the counter liberally with flour. Roll out the dough quite thick – just under ¼ inch (about .5 cm). Cut out whatever shapes you like with a cookie cutter, or just cut the cookies into squares with a knife. Squish the scraps into a ball and roll them out again to cut more cookies. Keep doing that until all the dough is used up.

Place the cookies on a greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes until just turning golden at some of the edges. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then gently move the cookies with a spatula to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Ice the cookies with Royal Icing and allow the icing to harden completely.

Royal Icing

  • 2 large egg whites (or use equivalent amount of pasteurized egg whites or meringue powder)
  • 3 cups (330gms) icing sugar
  • juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • water, if needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and lemon juice and beat until thick and shiny – this can take up to 5 minutes. When you lift the beater, the icing should leave a ribbon that keeps it’s shape for three to four seconds. If the icing is too thick, add water, one tablespoon at a time and keep beating until it keeps its ribbon shape and is pourable. If it gets too thin, add more icing sugar, a bit at a time.

This icing will keep, covered, in the fridge for several days. Just stir before using again.

painting cookies - painted cookies on Easter grass

TO MAKE THE PAINTED COOKIES:

Spread the royal icing onto the cooled cookies, then allow them to air dry, uncovered, at room temperature for 24 hours – until the icing is smooth and hard.

Get started Cookie Painting:

Supplies you’ll need:

  • assorted colours of liquid food colouring
  • small dishes for each food colour, or use the wells of a styrofoam egg carton
  • clean paintbrushes with fine tips (you can buy these at a dollar store or craft store)
  • container of water to clean paint brushes between colours
  • small glass of water to dip your brush into for diluting colours
  • plate or wax paper to put your cookie on
  • wax paper or cookie baking sheet to put painted cookies on in single layer
  • paper towel

Use liquid food colouring, undiluted. Put a few drops of each colour into small separate dishes, or use the wells of a plastic egg carton.

Have a container of water nearby to rinse out brushes between colours, and have a small container of clean water to dip your brush into to dilute the colours if you want a soft wash of colour.

Lay the cookie on the plate or wax paper. Dip your brush into water, then into the drops of food colouring. Dab any excess paint off on a folded paper towel. Paint any designs you like onto the cookie. For lighter colours, dip your paintbrush into clean water and dilute the food colour a bit. Clean your brush between using different colours.

Let the painted designs dry.

Enjoy and eat your cookies or wrap them up as gifts.

For more fun cooking projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series here.

Guten Appetit!

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Other fun Easter Projects:

Rice Krispie Easter Egg Nests

Surprise Jellied Easter Eggs

Lemon Coconut Pavlovas

Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlova Cake

Posted in Cookies & Candy, Cooking with Kids | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments