Friday, July 21, 2017

Locksmith (Chocolate Hazelnut) Biscotti by Colleen

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Last night Buddy informed me that the lock on the front door was “spinning.”  

Sure enough the mortise lock screw had come loose and the whole unit was turning when you put in your key.  The solution was embarrassingly simple (remove the plate and tighten a screw) but I didn’t know that until the locksmith showed up this morning and fixed it in literally less than a minute.  

But while I was waiting for him to arrive (three hour window) I decided to make biscotti.  As one does, when one has to be stuck in the house.  

I have used the David Lebovitz recipe a few times before, but wasn’t really happy with it - and it was a PAIN to mix together.  

So I scouted around and found a recipe that looked easier and then of course modified it to give it more flavor and crunch - hazelnuts, espresso powder, and drizzled chocolates.  You could use almonds instead of hazelnuts (which are expensive and difficult to find) and leave out the espresso powder or use almond extract for a different flavor profile (if you used almonds).  

If you do use hazelnuts, be sure to roast them first.  Put on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at about 275 degrees.  Turn into a dish towel while warm and rub the hazelnuts together to remove the skins.  If this seems annoying, buy blanched almonds.

Be sure to use bar chocolate and NOT chips for the drizzled chocolate.  White chocolate chips in particular refuse to melt smoothly.  I use Ghirardelli bars.

I did a lot of tasting along the way and the flavor is satisfyingly chocolate and the cookies are crunchy, but not too dry.


Locksmith (Chocolate Hazelnut) Biscotti

3 ½ cups flour
¾ cups Hershey’s cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt  (½ teaspoon less if using salted butter)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 ¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 bag chocolate chips (semisweet or dark)
4 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)
1 ½ cups roasted hazelnuts, skinned and coarsely chopped
four ounces white chocolate, melted
four ounces dark chocolate, melted

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.  Cream the butter with the sugar and then add eggs, one at a time and mix well.  Add the vanilla and then add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and hazelnuts.

Form four logs on floured board.  Logs should be about 2-3 inches wide, ¾ -1 inch high and about 12-13 inches long.  Use floured hands to shape logs as needed.  Put parchment on two  baking sheets and place two logs lengthwise on each sheet.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and after 5 minutes, cut diagonally about 1 inch thick pieces.  Place pieces back on parchment on their sides and bake another 10 minutes.

Let cool.  Microwave chocolates separately in large glass measuring cups.  When smooth, use a spoon to drizzle chocolates over the top of the cooled cookies using a quick back and forth motion.  Chill or allow chocolate to set.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Espresso Shortbread Cookies with Cacao Nibs from Colleen

If you use 2 cups of sugar you get a very crunchy cookie - which some people like and makes them good for dunking in a cup of coffee, or breaking up and sprinkling over ice cream. 

If you like a softer cookie, reduce the sugar to 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 cups depending on your preference. 

I’ve recently discovered that there are very strong preferences for either a crispy or soft cookie.

I was going to throw out some “over-baked” chocolate chip cookies and friend who was watching me bake said “That’s the way I LIKE them!” 

Who knew? 


Espresso Shortbread Cookies with Cacao Nibs

2 cups softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons espresso powder
4 cups flour
¼ cup cacao nibs

sanding sugar (optional) and egg whites

Blend the butter and the sugar together.  Stir in the espresso powder and vanilla.  Add in flour and mix well (may need to use hands).  Add in the cacao nibs (optional).

Roll the dough into logs and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 hours.  Brush outside of chilled logs with egg white and roll in sanding sugar.

Slice the dough into 1/4  – ½  inch thick slices and bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until set and lightly browned at edges.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chef Dennis's "The Best Tiramisu You Will Every Make" from Colleen

"The Best Tiramisu You Will Ever Make"

Note from B:  Thank you, Colleen, for remembering Feast Everyday when you make something yummy like this recipe.  

This is from a website called Ask Chef Dennis.

There is a LOT of exposition that I mostly ignored. I decided to go with this recipe as he cooked the eggs and I didn’t want to risk salmonella by using uncooked eggs although Ina Garten’s recipe does.

I’m not willing to live that dangerously with the tender tummies in these parts. So I cooked the egg yolks with the sugar for a full ten minutes and the sugar did not dissolve.

I was in despair, but quickly googled and others said not to worry. When I whipped in the marscapone cheese, magically the graininess disappeared.

Thank God as it was hot and I did not want to spend another 10-12 minutes stirring eggs non-stop at the hot stove.

The rest of the recipe was easy. I cooled the eggs and then whipped in the marscapone using the mixer. Then I cleaned the mixer whisks and whipped the cream and folded that in. It seemed a little loose, but it firmed up in the fridge.

I liked making it in the punch bowl as it is very pretty to serve that way. But I ended up using three layers of lady fingers and felt a little short on the cream. I would likely increase the egg yolks to 7, leave the sugar at the same level as it was plenty sweet, add in a full pound tub of marscapone and use 2 cups of whipping cream. An offset spatula/spreader makes it easy to level the cream between layers.

Before I put the first layer of lady fingers in the bowl, I put down a thin layer of cream to help anchor the cookies. I had to cut some lady fingers to fit the bowl, but that was easy. I just dipped them first and then used a sharp knife to cut them down to size. The bowl diameter increases from the base, so the next layers used more cookies. I ended up using all but about 3 of the lady fingers. I covered the bowl once I was done and didn’t sprinkle with cocoa until I served it.

I would definitely make this again as it is like a fun craft project once you get past cooking the eggs and you can make it a day ahead.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Orzo with Prosciutto and Asparagus

Orzo with Prosciutto and Asparagus

Sarah mentioned to me today that she will be making this dish from the blog to go with baked ham tomorrow when her in-laws come over for Easter dinner.  And I was reminded just how good this dish is. One of our best.  

It was originally posted in 2010.

This is a great side dish.  We served it today with grilled butterflied leg of lamb, but it also works well with beef tenderloin or filets.  The timing of the dish works out well for entertaining.  And it requires only one pan.  While Tom grills, I make this dish on the stovetop.  Guests love it.   

Orzo with Prosciutto and Asparagus
adapted from Bon Appetit, April, 2003

Serves 6 - 8

2 T.  butter
4 ounces cubed prosciutto
1 1/4 cups orzo (about 8 ounces)
3 c. low-salt chicken broth
2 pounds slender asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

On medium-high heat,  add prosciutto and saute until almost crisp, remove with a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain.  Melt 2 T. butter in the same skillet over high heat.  Add orzo; stir 1 minute.  Add broth, bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until orzo begins to soften, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Add asparagus; cover and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes.  Uncover; simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Mix in prosciutto and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Chicken Puff Pie by Colleen

Puff Pastry-Topped 9 x 13" Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is one of my ultimate comfort foods and we have been having an unseasonably long winter here in California.

You can buy ready-made pie at the local grocery but it is expensive.  

I happen to like puff pastry and don't want all of the calories or trouble of making a double crust. And it is easier to go with the natural shape of the puff pastry dough than to cut out a circle.  

So a certain bit of laziness is part of my decision to go with a 9 x 13".  I guess if I'm doing all of the other parts from scratch, I don't feel bad cheating on the crust.


Chicken Pot Pie

1 large shallot finely chopped
3 large chicken breasts, roasted, meat removed from bone and chopped
(about four cups)
2 cups baby carrots, cooked tender in lightly salted water
2 cups baby peas
olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup half and half or milk
dried or fresh thyme – about 1 ½ teaspoons
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup flour
4-6 Tablespoons butter 

puff pastry sheet, thawed
egg wash (1 well beaten egg, mixed with a little milk or water)

Saute chopped shallot in olive oil until tender.  Stir in butter until melted and add flour and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  With a whisk, stir in chicken stock until smooth.  Stir in half and half, drained carrots, peas, thyme, and chicken.  Let simmer until sauce is desired thickness.  If too thick, add a little more chicken broth to thin. 
Note parchment lined baking sheet to catch drips
Pour filling into 9x13 pan.  
Line up dish to gauge roll out of puff pastry.  

Wait for dough to thaw, no matter how impatient you are.
Roll out puff pastry dough to cover dish.  
Place on top and bake at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until puff pastry is cooked through. Brush the pastry with an egg wash so it will brown well and shine.  

Best to let it sit for a while, at least 10 minutes, before cutting into it.  

You can make the filling in advance and then assemble with the puff pastry later.  If you are doing this, put the filling in the dish and start to heat as you are warming the oven so the filling isn’t cold.  When filling is about 120 degrees, put puff pastry on top and finish baking.

Also, for reheating purposes, I cut a big piece of crust and lift it off with a spatula and put it on a parchment covered baking sheet and reheat for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Then, I microwave the filling in a bowl and replace the top.  Otherwise, the crust is soggy.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mustard sauce

Well, today I thought I would be writing about Seven-Hour Leg of Lamb, which I cooked all afternoon yesterday while Tom and David watched the Master's final round of golf, and I had a 600-page book to keep me company.

This morning it still seems like a good idea --- a garlic-studded leg of lamb, a bottle of dry white wine, onions and carrots, fragrant thyme, rosemary and garlic---in a low oven (300 degrees) for seven hours, basting it every half hour.

I think I overcooked it (by a few hours!), because the size of my lamb roast wasn't as large as the one called for in Tom Valenti's recipe.

Instead, today I offer you my "go to" recipe for lamb chops, which I made many times over the last 6 months because we bought a CSA from a local farmer.

There were lots and lots of lamb chops.  At first, I simply pan-fried them.  Then, I found this recipe in Fine Cooking.

The sauce is SO good.  I am putting it on the blog so I don't forget about it.  It works well with lamb tenderloin,too.  It is delicious.

I have changed the recipe up a bit, based on making it so many times.

Seared Lamb Chops with Lemon-Mustard Pan Sauce
(Fine Cooking, 2016)

Serves 2

1 T. olive oil
4 small lamb loin chops
1 t. finely chopped garlic (more if you wish)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed
2 t. country style mustard
1/2 t. brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly chopped parsley or chives for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pat the lamb chops dry with paper towels.  The drier they are, the better they will brown (vs. steam). Season both sides well with salt and pepper.
In an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold all of the chops, add the oil, then heat to medium high. Turn on the fan, and prepare for splatters.  Add the chops, and cook for 3 minutes on the first side. They should be well browned.  If they are not, then go a minute or two longer.  Flip them over with tongs, and cook on the other side until browned, for at least 3 minutes, and if needed up to 5.

Transfer the chops to a plate, and set aside while you make the sauce,
Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic, add the thyme, stirring into the pan juices, until fragrant. This happens quickly.  Don't let the garlic burn.

Add the wine, and cook, stirring in the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, and brown sugar and cook for a minute or so longer.
Add the chops back in to the skillet, and transfer to the oven.

Roast until done to your liking, about 7 minutes more, up to 10 minutes.  This will depend on the thickness of your chops.

Best to test the temperature.  Medium rare is 135 degrees.

Remove the pan from the oven, remove the chops to a plate and tent (cover with aluminum foil), while you finish the sauce.
Add the cream to the skillet, and cook stirring, over medium high heat, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
Add the fresh herbs and stir.
Serve the sauce with the chops.
And an arugula salad.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Country Captain by Tom

One - Pot Chicken with Spices - Southern style

I volunteered to cook after our almost week-long trip to Dayton, Ohio.  Recently Barbara found a magazine titled "Southern Cast Iron", which featured this recipe.  She also had just received a number of cast iron skillets from my mother as we cleaned out her kitchen.  Unfortunately, the recipe I used called for a covered 12" skillet, which we did not have.  Skillet yes, cover no.  So I made this one-pot dish in a heavy stainless steel oven-proof skillet that I did have a cover for.

But first, what is Country Captain?

Per Wikipedia, Country Captain is a curried chicken and rice dish, which is quite popular in the Southern United States.  It was first introduced to the U.S. through Charleston, Savannah, New York and Philadelphia by sea captains returning from India. It traces its origins to India cuisine and features curry.

The recipe I used is said to have been introduced by a British sea captain landing in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1700s.  But Southerners have made this dish their own.

Now I have made it, and I must say, it is quite good.


Country Captain
(from Southern Cast Iron magazine)

Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed (about 1 1/2 pounds) 
4 chicken drumsticks
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups Carolina Gold Rice or any other white long-grain rice
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped and toasted almonds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350.

Add the oil to the 12" skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and brown the chicken.  This will take 8-12 minutes.  Do sprinkle the chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper as you are browning the chicken.  Once the chicken is sufficiently browned, transfer the chicken to a plate.
Next add the onion, green bell pepper and celery to the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.  This will take 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. 

Stir in the rice.

Next add the brown sugar, curry powder, ginger, paprika, and red pepper.
Stir in the chicken broth, raisins and the remaining salt and pepper.  Nestle the chicken pieces into the rice mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Cover the skillet and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.  Check to make sure the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  Also check the rice to see how wet it is.  If it is still wet, bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, which I needed to do.
Remove the skillet from the oven using oven mitts.  Remember the handle will be hot!  Take the chicken out of the pan and add the drained tomatoes and vinegar.  
Gently fluff the rice mixture with a fork to distribute the tomatoes and vinegar.
Now put the chicken back into the skillet.  Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
Toast the chopped almonds at this stage.  Watch carefully to insure they do not burn.
After the 10 minutes are up, sprinkle the dish with the almonds and the chopped parsley.

It is now ready to serve.  I made a prepackaged cauliflower in a cheese sauce to go with the dish.

So there you have it.  Country Captain.  A one-pot Indian inspired chicken and rice dish.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

15 which didn't make it on to the blog

This week I have been cleaning out the folders of recipes, which were not deemed worthy of the blog.

I take photos when we are trying something new, and then decide later if it is "blog worthy."

For example, I have tried several times to make brownies inspired by hot cocoa and tiny marshmallows and they have been disasters.  And ended up in the trash.

And then there's the Cauliflower Stilton Soup which wasn't very good and will always be associated with election day 2016 because that's when I made it.  And I'd rather forget both.

So here they are and why they didn't make it.

Cupcakes for Kitty (a Dahlia Bakery recipe)  I thought these cupcakes were going to be a home run. But the cake was ho-hum, and the frosting had sour cream in it which made it sour.  Kitty loved them anyway.

Fresh Ginger Cake (a David Lebovitz recipe).  Served this to guests and wish I had tested it before I did.  I had trusted David Liebovitz.  He said it was one of his most popular recipes.  Maybe I baked it too long.  It was dry.

BBQ Baked Beans with Root Beer An experiment that failed. I had some leftover homemade BBQ sauce, some beans,  and a bottle of root beer.  Not a good combo.

Brown Rice with Veggies  Not a failure.  Just not sure I had anything to offer.   The Philly Beverlys had shared with me that they make a big batch of brown rice on the weekend then added stuff to it for meals throughout the week.  So, I did that, too, for the week of lunches.  Adding veggies and new things, like a boiled egg, each day.
Caesar salad with white anchovies dressing (a Jeffrey Zakarian recipe)  Not worth all of the work. And the presentation left a lot to be desired.
Clam chowder with sherry.  Tom remembers fondly having clam chowder in a restaurant in Chicago where they poured a little sherry on top at the table.  This recipe did not fulfill the longing.
Lamb ribs--- they came as part of our CSA.  Never had lamb ribs before, and probably won't again.
We received pears as a Christmas gift and they started to get over-ripe so I looked for a pear crisp.
Chose David Lebovitz's Pear Crisp recipe and added cherries.  Not a good combo.

Rye Sourdough Starter.  Why do I let myself go off on these tangents?
Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies.  Tom really did NOT like this dough I made.  He prefers traditional sugar cookie dough.  But he did have fun making royal icing and decorating his Christmas cookies.
Bucatini with Duck Confit, Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts and Tomatoes.   The first time I made this recipe it was great, so we served it to guests, but it wasn't anywhere near as good as it was the first time.
Broccolini with Garlic and Anchovies - nothing special about this dish, but it is good for you.
Tom's Carrots with Ginger, Garlic and Sesame Seeds  -- almost all the photos were out of focus. He says he will make it again for the blog.
Tom's Curried Cauliflower -When you can't remember you made it, then it doesn't go on the blog.  :)