One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".


Monday, August 24, 2009

What's New -

Just wanted to let everyone know why I haven't posted anything new lately. My daughter had a baby a couple of days ago!! He's her second, another beautiful little boy. He's healthy and gorgeous!

I'll be back with some delicious dishes soon -


Lori

Friday, August 14, 2009

Crispy Prosciutto

Prosciutto di Parma. The sound of it makes me drool. It's such a lovely Italian delicacy. That sweet and salty flavor enhances whatever it's added to. It's wonderful in dishes like Saltimbocca or Chicken Sorentino. It stars in appetizers when wrapped around wedges of cantaloupe or thin Italian breadsticks. But I've never had it crisped up to add to salads. I had seen that on cooking shows but hadn't tried it myself. Until now. Baking it in the oven not only crisped the prosciutto, but it also slightly concentrated its flavor. Easily broken into delicate shards, it took my salad to a whole new level. It was wonderful. Salads will never be the same!

Crisped Prosciutto

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Place slices of Prosciutto di Parma on baking sheet. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Break into shards.

Super easy. Super delicious!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stuffed Artichokes

Artichoke. Cynara scolymus. Thought to have originated in the Mediterranean. A member of the thistle family. A delicious member of the thistle family, I might add. For some, an acquired taste. It was for me. The first time I ever scraped that succulence from the inside bottom of an artichoke leaf was in my best friend's mother's Italian kitchen. I wasn't sure what to think of the flavor. But it stayed with me. I thought about it. And thought about it some more. And after some time, I actually craved it. I had to have it again. I did. And this time, I loved it.

My daughter and son loved them from the first time they tried them as young children. They considered it a special treat. Still do. I do, too!

I've had artichokes stuffed with a sausage filling, roasted with a balsamic reduction, but my favorite way to enjoy them is filled with a bread crumb stuffing and served with a lemon-butter sauce. Delicious!


Stuffed Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce

Stuffing:
4 large artichokes
3 tablespoons sliced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon Butter Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons snipped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
dash freshly ground black pepper

Clean artichokes: slice off stem of each artichoke so artichoke will sit flat. Cut off top fourth to third of artichoke. Snip tips of outer leaves with kitchen shears. Rub cut lemon over cut bottom and cut edges. Pull out center leaves. Scrape out fuzzy choke (a grapefruit spoon is an excellent tool for this). Drop artichokes in acidulated water (water with lemon juice added) while preparing stuffing.

Melt butter in skillet on stove. Add olive oil. Saute green onions and garlic until vegetables are tender. In separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, cheese, and parsley. Mix in sauteed vegetables. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Drain artichokes. Fill centers with bread crumb stuffing. If you have stuffing leftover after filling artichokes, spread outer leaves apart and add stuffing between leaves.

Stand filled artichokes in large pot. Add water to halfway up sides of artichokes, bring water to boil, cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer until artichokes are tender, about 30 minutes. (To test for doneness, pull a leaf from the artichoke. If it pulls off fairly easily, artichokes are done.)

Make Lemon Butter Sauce: Melt butter; stir in snipped parsley, lemon juice, and a dash of pepper. Simmer for 1 minute. Serve with artichokes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jammin'

This summer, I was able to take advantage of the season's bounty by making jams. In addition to the Raspberry-Plum Jam, I've also made apricot, cherry, and peach jams. The funny thing is... I don't eat much jam. I don't usually have toast or biscuits with jam for breakfast. I don't eat peanut butter and jelly/jam sandwiches. Every once in awhile, I make jam thumbprint cookies which uses a little bit of jam, but that's about it. So why make all this jam? Because I love the process! One minute you have fruit and sugar, the next you have pretty, sparkling jars lining the countertops with jewel-toned deliciousness. My son thinks I'm a little crazy, making all this stuff that I don't even eat. Oh well. At least my family's pantries will be well-stocked, jam-wise. That's not so crazy... is it?!

Apricot Jam

5 cups of apricot, pitted, peeled and chopped
5 tbsp of lemon juice
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1 (3 oz) pack of liquid pectin
3/4 tsp of butter

Combine the apricots, lemon juice and 6 and 1/4 cups of sugar in a pan and let stand for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add the remaining sugar and place the pan over a medium-high heat; stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Bring the mix to a boil for two minutes.

Remove the pan from the flame and skim off any foam that accumulates.

Place the pan over the heat again for 1 minute to boil. Again, remove and skim off the foam.

Add the butter and bring the mixture to a boil again.

Add the pectin and stir constantly.

Boil for 1 minute. Skim off the foam.

Allow the jam to cool for 7 minutes before adding it to canning jars.

Close the jars and bath them in 250-degree water for 10 minutes to create a seal.


Source:
http://www.mamashealth.com/recipe/preserve/apricot.asp

* * * * * * * * * *

GROUND CHERRY JAM

3 c. ripe ground cherries
1/4 c. lemon juice (or Real Lemon)
1/2 c. water
1 pkg. Sure-Jel
3 c. sugar

To a quart saucepan, add ground cherries, lemon, water, and Sure-Jel. Bring cherries to a boil and mash them. Be sure they are all mashed so they'll absorb the sugar. Add sugar. Boil according to directions on Sure-Jel package. This will make 3 medium jars of jam.

Source: http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1623,152187-245193,00.html

* * * * * * * * * *

Peach Jam

4 cups prepared fruit (buy about 3 lb. fully ripe peaches)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
7-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
1 pouch CERTO Fruit Pectin

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

PEEL and pit peaches. Finely chop or grind fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.

STIR sugar into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reducing foaming. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids springs back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Yield: 8 half-pints

Source: http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/recipes/certo-peach-jam-52072.aspx

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Walnut Thyme Biscotti

I love biscotti but have never had a savory version. I came across this recipe during an internet surfing session. It sounded delicious. I love thyme. I love walnuts. This was going to be good. I had a few chunks of Parmigiana Reggiano in the cheese drawer of the fridge that I threw into the food processor to grate for the biscotti. The recipe also called for dried basil. I had none on hand but plenty of fresh basil growing in pots on my back porch. So I added about a tablespoon of the fresh instead.

These were so good. With a little glass of wine. On the back porch. As the sun goes down. And the temperatures cool just a bit. What could be more perfect?

Walnut Thyme Biscotti
Try different combinations of nuts and herbs in these savory biscotti.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cheese, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugar, thyme, and basil. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts. Shape dough on baking sheet into a 12-inch-long log. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and firm in center. Remove log from oven. Cool log about 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 300 F.

Slice log crosswise diagonally into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Arrange slices on wire cooling racks and return to oven for 10 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Source: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KNH/is_6_9/ai_80206353/pg_2/


Post Thought: This afternoon, I wrapped a piece of Prosciutto de Parma around a biscotti. Pure heaven!! Give this a try. The marriage of flavors is perfect!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries & White Chocolate

I promised my sister-in-law I was going to make oatmeal cookies for her and her family. I always use the recipe on the Quaker Oats box but add in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips (or chunks). They're really good. I made a little change when making today's batch of cookies. I added a 1/2 teaspoon of Fiori di Sicilia. I bought this flavoring a while ago and have kept it in the refrigerator door. Every time I opened the fridge door, I would realize I hadn't tried it yet and needed to add it to my next batch of cookies. I thought that the vanilla/ citrus-y flavor would really enhance the dried cranberries in the cookies. It did. I could see where this flavoring could be very overpowering if used indiscriminately - a little goes a long way. But it added a slight, can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it, enjoyable flavor to these cookies. I'll be experimenting with it in other baked goods, too. This will be interesting!

Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries & White Chocolate

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fiori di sicilia, (optional)
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips (or 8-ounce bar of white chocolate, cut into small chunks)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Thoroughly mix in eggs and flavorings. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to butter mixture. Mix in oatmeal. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate.

Line baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment. Place rounded tablespoons of cookie dough 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, or until cookies are set and edges are slightly golden. Remove from oven and leave on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove cookies to rack and cool completely.

Yield: 3-1/2 dozen cookies

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Limoncello-Mint Sorbet with Blackberries

We had a brief reprieve from the heat here in the Dallas area for a few days, but the mercury is climbing up the thermostat again. In addition to the heat, rain storms have been flying in and out of the region, leaving us with the no-day-is-a-good-hair-day humidity that makes the heat even that much more oppressive. In order to make this weather a little more palatable (have I mentioned that I hate the heat??), I wanted another frozen treat, something not too sweet/ not too tart. I found the ideal dessert. A quick internet search culminated in a find of a limoncello sorbet that sounded great. It has just a small hint of mint in it to add to the refreshing flavor.


Lim
oncello-Mint Sorbet with Fresh Blackberries

Limoncello, the citrusy Italian liqueur, brightens this sorbet. It's nice to have a bottle on hand to splash with soda in a spritzer or macerate with fruit for a quick dessert.

2 cups water
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup limoncello
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 large lemons
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cups blackberries
Lemon slices

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add lemon juice and mint. Cover and chill.

2. Strain juice mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm. Serve with blackberries; garnish with lemon slices, if desired.


8 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup sorbet and 1/4 cup berries)

CALORIES 184 ; FAT 0.2g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.1g); CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 13mg; CARBOHYDRATE 39.3g; SODIUM 1mg; PROTEIN 0.6g; FIBER 2g; IRON 0.2mg


Cooking Light, MAY 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grilled Tuna Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing

I've been having some rather 'hearty' meals of late. I was ready for some lighter fare, a salad or some seafood. I found a salad recipe calling for grilled tuna. Perfect. I adore grilled tuna. And the accompanying Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing sounded interesting. It was. And delicious. Easy and quick to make. Love that!

By the way, the dressing recipe calls for sour cream. I really thought it was unnecessary and toned down the flavor of the tomatoes too much. If you try the recipe as written, let me know what you think -


Grilled Tuna Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing
Gourmet| July 1991
Yield: Serves 4


For the dressing
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus additional to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped drained sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup packed fresh coriander

10 cups loosely packed mesclun (mixed baby greens, available at specialty produce markets)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 cup cooked fresh corn (cut from about 2 ears)
two 1-inch-thick tuna steaks (about 1-1/2 pounds) olive oil for brushing the tuna nasturtium blossoms for garnish if desired

Make the dressing: In a blender blend together the garlic, the vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the sun-dried tomatoes, the plum tomatoes, and 1/4 cup water until the mixture is smooth and with the motor running add the oil in a stream. Add the sour cream, the coriander, the additional lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste and blend the dressing until it is combined well. (The dressing may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Let the dressing return to room temperature.)

In a large bowl toss the mesclun with the tomatoes and the corn and divide the mixture among 4 plates. Brush the tuna on both sides with the oil, season it with salt and pepper, and grill it on an oiled rack set about 4 inches over glowing coals for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or until is cooked to the desired degree. Let the tuna stand for 3 minutes and cut it against the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Divide the tuna slices among the salads and pour about 1/4 cup of the dressing over each serving. Serve any remaining dressing separately and garnish the salads with nasturtium blossoms, if using.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Roasted Poblano-Cream Soup

You're trying to come up with an idea for dinner. The temperatures have climbed to triple digits again. The first thing that comes to mind is... hot soup?? Unconventional, yes, but that's exactly what I wanted. Not just any soup. I wanted a soup that I have had at a local Mexican restaurant several times. It's a poblano cream soup. The color is beautiful with a flavor to match.

To find a suitable recipe, I went to my favorite treasure trove of gastronomic concoctions - Epicurious.com. That site rarely fails me. And it didn't today, either. I loved the idea of roasting the poblanos first. Roasting or charring gives a wonderful lightly smokey flavor.

Now the problem with the poblano pepper is its inconsistent heat factor. These chilies can be pleasantly mild or spicier than a 15-year-old boy's mind. Mine turned out to be a bit on the fiery side. To combat the heat, I added a bit of sugar and a dollop or two of sour cream. It was perfect. Keep that in mind in case you end up with a wicked poblano or two in your bunch!


Roasted Poblano-Cream Soup
Bon Appétit | February 2001
Yield: Makes 6 servings


1-1/2 pounds poblano chilies*

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1-1/2 cups chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
5 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup (or more) whipping cream

*Fresh green chilies, often called pasillas, available at Latin American markets and some supermarkets

Char chilies over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag. Let stand 10 minutes to steam. Peel, seed and chop poblano chilies.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add chilies and sauté 1 minute. Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until chilies are very tender, about 10 minutes. Mix in cilantro, parsley and mint. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return soup to pot. Mix in 1/4 cup cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more cream if soup is very spicy. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and chill. Bring to simmer before serving.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Homemade Ravioli

In an attempt to be somewhat productive today, I decided to make baguettes and homemade pasta. I haven't made ravioli in years and thought I would attempt it again. The last time resulted in a few exploded pieces of pasta with a ground turkey/sage filling floating around the pot. My past experience did not dissuade me. The pasta dough is easy enough. Flour, egg, and a little water. Couldn't be easier. The secret, I discovered, to good pasta dough is to let it rest for about 30 minutes after it's mixed and kneaded a bit. That made a huge difference in the texture of the dough. It rolled out beautifully in my little manual pasta roller.

I decided to wing a cheese filling, a filling based on the cheese mixture I use for lasagna and manicotti. A little ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, salt & pepper, and lots of fresh parsley.

I wasn't sure what sauce to use for the ravioli. I just started cooking up some thinly sliced garlic in some olive oil (put the garlic in the olive oil in a cold skillet and slowly heat - the garlic gets almost sweet and nutty), hoping inspiration would strike. I added a can of diced tomatoes, and for some reason, decided to add a little balsamic vinegar. The flavor was amazing! A little salt & pepper to round out the flavor, and it turned out to be the perfect sauce for my little ravioli.

Try this. You will be so happy you did!!

Three Cheese Ravioli
Yield: 72 ravioli

Pasta Dough
3 cups flour
3 eggs

Sift flour into a mixing bowl. Beat eggs, Gradually add eggs to flour, mixing with a spoon. As mixture becomes lumpy, begin to press together and knead with your hands. If mixture seems too dry and grainy, add one tablespoon of water at a time until mixture holds together in a ball. Removing dough from the mixing bowl, begin to knead dough for 2 minutes on a lightly floured board or table top. Cut dough in halves, cover with a bowl or a dampened cloth and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes.

Cut the half sections of dough in half again. Take the quarter section of dough and flatten with your hand as much as possible. Pass the dough through the rollers of a pasta machine four times with the rollers set at the widest setting, folding the dough each time into thirds. Set to the next thinner setting and pass the dough through. Repeat this process until dough is about the thickness of the edge of a knife blade.


Three Cheese Filling
16 ounces ricotta
4 ounces mozzarella, cut into small dice
2 eggs
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients until well combined and refrigerate.


Using a ravioli maker, place one sheet of dough over the form, making sure the dough overlaps all cutting edges. With the molding plate, gently press to form pockets. Using a pastry brush, brush a little water around the perimeter of each ravioli pocket. Fill each pocket with a scant teaspoon of cheese filling. Cover with a second sheet of pasta dough, and roll over the top of the form with a rolling pin, sealing each ravioli. Turn form over and release ravioli.

Cook ravioli in 4 - 5 quarts of well-salted, boiling water for 3-1/2 to 5 minutes. Add sauce and serve.

Balsamic Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 - 8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
28 ounces diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
chopped Italian parsley, for garnish, optional
chopped basil, for garnish, optional

In a cold skillet, add olive oil and sliced garlic. Heat on low and slowly cook garlic until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain ravioli, plate and top with sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and basil. Serve.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pork Braciole

When I went grocery shopping last week, my market had packages of thick, boneless pork loin chops on sale, buy 1 package, get 1 free. How could I beat that? Wanting to do something a little different with them, Ann of Thibeault's Table suggested I use them for braciole. I'd already made the biscotti and thought this would be the perfect prelude to them!

I've only had beef braciole in the past, so this was intriguing. I found a Giada deLaurentiis recipe on the FoodNetwork website and adapted it to the pork. Since pork isn't generally as flavorful as beef, I added some fresh basil to the filling and a little more garlic. I omitted the provolone originally called for as I had none at hand. Next time I will try it and see if I care for that in my braciole. I made a small batch of my own sauce, which was very similar to Giada's though mine doesn't have celery or carrots. I was very happy with the results. I made parmesan roasted potatoes to go with. And I was right... it was the perfect prelude to the biscotti!!

Pork Braciole
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus 2 tablespoons additional chopped basil for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 center cut, thick, boneless pork loin chops
1 cup dry white wine
3 1/4 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend and 2 tablespoons of basil. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper and set aside.

Butterfly chops and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the cutlets to cover the tops evenly. Roll up each cutlet as for a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using butcher's twine, tie the pork rolls to secure. Sprinkle the braciole with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the braciole and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the marinara sauce. Cover partially with foil and bake until the meat is almost tender, turning the braciole and basting with the sauce every 30 minutes. After 1 hour, uncover and continue baking until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes longer. The total cooking time should be about 1-1/2 hours.

Remove the braciole from the sauce. Using a large sharp knife, cut the braciole crosswise and diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices to plates. Spoon the sauce over, sprinkle with additional chopped basil, and serve.


Simple Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: 6 cups

Cranberry-Almond Biscotti

I've been trying to whittle down my ever-growing list of recipes I"ve been wanting to try and haven't taken the opportunity to yet. As I perused the list, my eyes stopped on this one, Almond Biscotti, that I found at the JoyofBaking.com website. Super easy to follow and not a lot of ingredients to amass. I did, however, decide that I wanted the sweetness and texture that dried cranberries would add. It was a fortuitous decision. The biscotti came out crisp but not so that you'd be apt to break a tooth while enjoying. They're perfect alone or with a cup of your favorite hot (or cold... I discriminate not) beverage.

Cranberry-Almond Biscotti Recipe

1 cup (145 grams) blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure almond extract
3/4 - 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely. Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs and extracts together. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until blended (about 30 seconds). Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms, adding almonds and dried cranberries about halfway through. With floured hands divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll each half of dough into a log about 10 inches (25 cm) long and 2 inches (2.5 cm) wide. Transfer logs to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until firm to the touch (logs will spread during baking). Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Transfer logs to cutting board, and, using a serrated knife, cut log into slices 1/2 inch (1.254 cm) thick on the diagonal. Arrange evenly on baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, turn slices over, and bake another 12 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Note: Can substitute hazelnuts or walnuts for the almonds. Can also substitute other dried fruit, chopped, for the dried cranberries. If desired, add 1 tablespoon (5 grams) of orange or lemon zest to the egg mixture.

You can put a chocolate glaze on the biscotti. Melt 3 ounces (85 grams) of semi-sweet or white chocolate and 1 teaspoon (5 grams) vegetable shortening in a small metal bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. When melted, place chocolate into a parchment triangle or small plastic bag with one edge cut. Pipe onto the biscotti in a decorative pattern. Alternatively, you can dip or spread with a small metal spatula one side of the biscotti with chocolate and let dry on a clean baking sheet.

Makes about 40 biscotti.


Source: Adapted from JoyofBaking.com

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pecan Waffles


It's Saturday morning. And I was in the mood for a rather indulgent breakfast. Pancakes? Not today. French toast? Don't have the kind of bread I like for that (brioche or challah is the best!) Waffles? OOh. Waffles. But not just any waffles. Pecan waffles! My favorite kind. Hot and steamy from the iron, with melting butter sliding around them, and not swimming in maple syrup, but just the right amount. A couple of strips of applewood smoked bacon and a cup of coffee, and I'm actually motivated to get some things done today!

Light 'n Crispy Pecan Waffles

2 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat waffle maker.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

Put egg yolks, milk, flour, baking powder, salt, oil and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in beaten egg whites.

Pour 1/2 cup batter into waffle maker. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped pecans. Close waffle maker and bake until golden, 2-1/2 to 3 minutes.

Yield: 8 round or 16 square waffles

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