2/25/15

Can You Make Savory Biscotti? Yes, You Can! Ciao Biscotti Cookbook by Domenica Marchetti


Have you ever heard of savory biscotti?!!?!?  I bet most of you haven't. We are used to biscotti, the double baked cookies, that are usually sweet and contain fun add-ins like chocolate chips, or almonds or cranberries. I've made multiple versions of sweet biscotti and got my mom addicted to them. But then last year I started seeing variations upon variations of biscotti pop up on Domenica Marchetti's instagram and I knew she was up to something fun! In fact, Domenica was working on a new book that is now available and is called Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Celebrating Italy's Favorite Cookie published by Chronicle books.

I was excited to receive a preview copy of this adorable cookbook. Before sharing recipes for both sweet and savory biscotti, Domenica goes over the equipment you'll need, provides explanations of most often used techniques such as prepping the nuts, toasting seeds, measuring flour and melting chocolate, and gives a quick overview of metric scale. In fact, each recipe includes measurements in both metric scale (grams, etc) as well as imperial (ounces, etc).

The recipes in the book range from classics such as orange & pistachio and chocolate chunk with cherries to more unusual combinations such as crispy pancetta and smoky gouda! There are also non-biscotti recipes for hazelnut butter rings, hazelnut meringues, and Nutella sandwich cookies. The recipes are accompanied by quirky photos and fun illustrations.

Because I've never had a savory version of biscotti in my life, I thought I should start with that!


Mountain Gorgonzola and Walnut Biscotti
Copied from the book with permission from the publisher

No doubt you’ll laugh when I tell you that the inspiration for these biscotti came from that buffet table classic—the holiday cheese ball. But I also have no doubt that after one bite, you’ll be won over. Crispy, buttery, and rich with tangy blue cheese flavor, these biscotti are perfect for a holiday gathering.  

Makes about 36 biscotti

1 tbsp vegetable oil for coating a baking sheet
2 cups/255 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup/55 g finely chopped walnuts
5 oz/140 g mountain gorgonzola (also known as gorgonzola piccante), crumbled
4 tbsp/55 g unsalted butter, cut into ½-in/12-mm pieces, at cool room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Lightly coat an 11-in by 17-in/28-cm by 43-cm rimmed baking sheet with the oil.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper and walnuts in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the Gorgonzola in pieces and mix briefly to combine. Add the butter in pieces and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks like damp sand. Pour in the eggs and mix on medium speed until a soft, slightly sticky dough has formed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a disk. Divide it in half. Lightly moisten your hands with water and gently roll one portion of dough into a rough oval. Place it lengthwise on one half of the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to stretch and pat the dough into a log about 2 1/2 in/6 cm wide and 12 in/30 cm long. Shape the second piece of dough in the same way, moistening your hands as necessary. Press down on the logs to flatten them out a bit and make the tops even. 

Bake the logs for 25 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and just set—they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under each log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 F/150 C. 

Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut them on the diagonal into 1/3-in-/8-mm-thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut-side up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary) and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 15 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden. Transfer the slices to a rack to cool completely. The biscotti will keep for up to 10 days in an airtight container stored at room temperature.
 
on the left: ready for the first bake; on the right: after the first bake


sliced and ready for the second bake

all done

My condo smelled amazing while I was baking the biscotti! This was definitely a lesson in patience because you not only have to bake these cookies twice, but you have to let them cool in between. But guess what? The wait was definitely worth it! These biscotti turned out buttery, cheesy and salty. In fact, if I make them again, I would reduce the amount of added salt (the cheese was salty enough).

I baked my biscotti longer than the recipe asked for. Do not expect the same dry and crumbly texture as the one you are used to in sweet biscotti. These came out more crumbly and buttery.

A few tips: I chopped my walnuts roughly instead of finely and used two fish spatulas to transfer the logs instead of an offset spatula (because I did not have one).

I served these with tomato soup and also had them with salad and as a snack wrapped in salami ;)

I cannot wait to try other recipes in Domenica's book!

What's your favorite biscotti?

Disclosure: I was provided with a preview copy of the book by the publisher but was not compensated by this post. All opinions are my own.

2/23/15

Meatless Monday: Warm Lentil Salad With Avocado & Goat Cheese


After starting my Sunday with a big slice of peaches and cream cake, I thought I should make something a bit more nutritious for lunch. I had a large container of green lentils and some random ingredients in my refrigerator and put them all together to make Warm Lentil Salad with Avocado & Goat Cheese. Make this dish for Meatless Monday lunch or dinner today!

Meatless Monday: Warm Lentil Salad with Avocado & Goat Cheese
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 small red onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups green lentils
water (see directions below)
juice of 1/2 lemon (less or more depending on your taste)
1 avocado, diced (less or more depending on your taste)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled (less or more depending on your taste)


Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or a pot. Add onions and carrots, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 10 minutes.
2. Add lentils and mix them with onions and carrots. Add enough water to cover everything by about half an inch. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a medium simmer, cover, and cook 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender.
3. You may still have some water left in the skillet: don't worry about it and simply strain the lentils with onions and carrots.
4. Adjust the seasoning and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Serve topped with avocado and goat cheese.


This is a filling salad. You could serve it as is or topped with a poached egg!


What's your favorite recipe with green lentils?

2/18/15

Cherry & Peach Oatmeal Muffins AND A Few Confessions


How is it going? Were you snowed in? Are you still snowed in? Here in DC we got only a little bit of snow, but the government closed on Tuesday, so I was a happy camper.

Today I want to share with you Cherry & Peach Oatmeal Muffins AND A Few Confessions. What do confessions have to do with these muffins? Well a few things.

1) A while back I threw away a metal muffin pan because I was too lazy to clean it. Not even kidding.

2) I bought a huge canister of oats with the best intentions of making oatmeal, but the oats container has been sitting in my cabinet for over a month...so I decided to use it to make muffins instead.

Oh, and I purchased a new muffin pan ;)


These Cherry & Peach Oatmeal Muffins  are based on these Blueberry & Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins.

In this latest variation I used defrosted cherries and peaches and substituted vanilla extract for almond extract. I also used zest of an entire orange, but somehow the citrus flavor did not really come through.

Cherry & Peach Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal, quick or regular
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
zest of one orange
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup frozen cherries, defrosted and chopped (don't use any of the juice)
1/2 frozen peaches, defrosted and chopped

topping
1/4 cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin tins with paper cups.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl mix together milk, egg, oil, orange zest and almond extract.
4. Incorporate wet ingredients into the dry ones, but be careful not to over mix.
5. Carefully blend in cherries and peaches.
6. Divide the mixture amongst 12 muffin tins, filling them 2/3 of the way. These will not become the gigantic muffins you see in Costco or Starbucks, not that there is anything wrong with it. Just wanted to let you know!
7. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle on each muffin.
8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.


Ta da!!



2/12/15

Easy DIY: How To Make Marble Candles



Today I'm going to share with you a super quick and adorable DIY project. It has nothing to do with cooking or food, but this is my blog, so I get to do whatever I want ;)

Remember my post on decorating a pumpkin using nail polish? Well, this How To Make Marble Candles project uses the same technique.

1) Start with plain candles. I've had these candles for probably a decade. I never lite them because they are on a candle holder that is on my wall (see a photo above).


2) Find a bucket that is large enough to hold enough warm water and to have enough extra space to dunk in your candles. I used an Ikea planter because I did not care that its insides would get messy.

3) Add a few drops of nail polish into the warm water inside of the bucket and using a toothpick swirl the drops around. You can use several colors if you wish.


4) Dunk in your candle. You can dunk just half of it, or a third, or the whole thing: it's completely up to you!

5) Let the candles dry completely. If you aren't entirely happy with the look, you can repeat the above steps.

 

These turned out so adorable! I love that the nail polish adds a bit of color to my room.


2/11/15

Challah Breakfast Sandwich With Fried Egg & Cabot Cheese


Although the title of this post is Challah Breakfast Sandwich With Fried Egg & Cabot Cheese, I give you permission to make and eat this sandwich for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I mean who doesn't love breakfast for dinner meals?

This sandwich includes some of my most favorite things:
challah
fried egg
avocado
cheese

A few weeks ago I received several coupons from Cabot cheese company to try their products and decided to try their Vermont Sharp first. Did you know not all cheddar is bright orange? I loved the texture and flavor of the Vermont Sharp and have been eating it as a snack, as part of grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes and basil, and also clearly used it in this concoction.


Challah Breakfast Sandwich With Fried Egg & Cabot Cheese

Ingredients
2 slices of challah, toasted
slices of Vermont Sharp
roasted red pepper
avocado slices
fried egg

Directions
layer all ingredients together (you may want to add a bit of salt to your avocado slices)
slice in half
get ready for delicious mess


Disclosure: I received a few coupons for Cabot products but was not compensated for this post or recipe. All opinions are my own as always.

1/30/15

Imperfect Chocolate Pecan Cookies From Dominique Ansel


On Wednesday I told you about a Soup Swap Party I hosted last weekend. My original plan for the dessert was to make a parfait from yogurt, jarred sour cherries and chopped pistachios. I also wanted to make cookies for my friends to take home and chose a recipe from Dominique Ansel's latest gorgeous cookbook: Chocolate Pecan Cookies.

The directions looked simple enough and the only downer was that the dough had to hang out in the refrigerator overnight. I made the dough the night before the party and planned on baking the cookies the day of the soup swap and packing them in cute little bags to give to my friends.

If you happen to dislike gluten or aren't able to tolerate it, these cookies are perfect for you because they don't have flour! The white stuff you see below is sugar and cornstarch with a bit of baking powder and salt.


The liquid portion of the recipe is melted chocolate, butter and eggs. And for a bit of a crunch/texture, Dominique uses chocolate chips and pecans. You fold everything together, pour into a baking dish and refrigerate overnight.



The next day you roll out the cookies and bake them.

This is what I ended up with...which is slightly problematic for a few reasons: 1) The cookies stuck to the parchment paper 2) The cookies were flat and did not resemble the photo in the book.


BUT they were incredibly delicious...I just wasn't able to take them off the parchment paper and pack them into cookie bags. Instead, I ended up scraping them off, crumbling them and adding them on top of the yogurt/cherries/pistachio dessert.


So, what happened???
 
Was the photo in the book false advertisement? Did I miss some of the ingredients? Were there issues with the ingredients I used? Was my oven in the wrong?
 
I honestly don't know. I double checked the recipe several times and am confident that I used the right amounts of ingredients and followed directions to a t.
 
After consulting fellow food bloggers, here are some of the possibilities as to why my cookies didn't turn out perfectly:
 
1) humidity issues
2) oven temperature issues
3) fat content of the butter
4) cocoa content of the chocolate
5) temperature of my refrigerator
 
What do YOU think happened? Have you made this recipe before? What were your results? 

1/28/15

How To Throw A Soup Swap Party

This past Sunday four of my friends came over to my condo for lunch. The theme was Soup Swap Party.

What is a Soup Swap Party and why/how/where could you have one? Well, I'm about to tell you.

Here's what happened: one of the assignments for Apartment Therapy's January Cure was to throw a little get together and invite a few friends over in order to motivate yourself to keep your house/apartment/condo/whatever clean. This is something I do on regular basis (plus, it is fun to see my friends), so I was fine with this assignment. But what kind of a get together should I have?

While I was trying to decide on a theme for my invitation, I saw a link to a Soup Swap on TheKitchn that my friend K tweeted. I had my plan.

Soup Swap Party {my version}: you make lunch for friends. Friends come over to hang out, eat lunch, and instead of bringing wine or appetizer or dessert, they bring individually portioned and packed soup to give to other attendees. This way, everyone eats together and then gets to take home a bunch of different soups to eat throughout the week {or freeze!}.

Here's what happened and how you can throw your own Soup Swap Party.

1) Look at your calendar and choose a date you'd like to host a soup party. Sunday afternoon was the best option for me because it gave me Saturday to clean, prepare the food, and get flowers. Also, Sunday lunchtime is a good time because no one has to wake up early or stay up late.

2) Send out invitations. I sent out emails: expect that not everyone will be able to come. Expect that some people will cancel. Sent an email to the people who responded with yes, I'd love to come with directions to bring x number of containers filled with soup and also to ask for food allergies/dislikes.

3) Plan the menu. I decided to make two soups, a simple salad, some sort of a bread product and a simple dessert.

4) A day (or two) before the party, clean your house, do grocery shopping, buy flowers, make a plan of action and start cooking

5) The day of the party, make the salad, set the table, and get ready for fun!



I set the table with linen napkins, water glasses I brought back from Italy, wine glasses and a vase with tulips. Keep it simple!

The first soup I made was borsch. This was mainly for my friend Cindy ;) I wasn't sure others would be interested in a beet based soup, so I made an alternative.


The second soup was a chicken meatballs soup with potatoes, carrots, white beans and kale.


The day of the soup swap I made Cheddar Chive Biscuits.



For dessert, I made a simple layered parfait of yogurt, marinated sour cherries in light syrup, pistachios and broken up chocolate pecan cookies. I'll write about those cookies and why they were broken up on Friday ;)


We chatted, drank wine, ate the food and in the end everyone went home with a variety of soups. It was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday!

Thank you Cecilia, Jenn, Cindy and Kaoru for coming over and all the delicious concoctions {salmon chowder, chicken chili, barley stew, and Japanese curry}. This was also a great way for my friends from different circles to meet one another.


Have you ever hosted a Soup Swap?

1/26/15

Cheddar Chive Biscuits Recipe From Pinch My Salt


Yesterday I had four friends come to my condo for a Soup Swap lunch. What's a Soup Swap? Well, you'll have to wait till Wednesday or Friday to find out. I decided to keep things simple and make two soups, a salad, and "bread." When thinking about the menu, I was considering making focaccia, bread, or maybe savory scones. In the end, however, I ended up making Cheddar Chive Biscuits that I very slightly changed up from an AMAZING recipe from Pinch My Salt.

Cheddar Chive Biscuits Recipe From Pinch My Salt

This recipe could not have been easier. It'd probably take you longer to go to your local bakery to pick up a box of biscuits than to make them yourself.

You start by whisking together flour, baking soda, baking powder and dry mustard.

Don't worry: there is no need for salt because you will be adding plenty of cheese in a minute.

Speaking of cheese, I used shredded sharp cheddar.

For the herbs, I used fresh chives, but you can use whichever herbs you want and even dry ones.

These biscuits have no eggs. Instead, they have a bit of butter, milk and one of my favorite ingredients ever: sour cream!

I was a bit worried that my dough looked on a dry side, but it all came together beautifully!


The only change I made from the original recipe was to brush the biscuits with a bit of milk and sprinkle them with flaky salt before putting them into the oven.


How gorgeous are these Cheddar Chive Biscuits?? They rose beautifully and were flaky and tender inside. They went great with the soup and salad and could most likely be frozen...I can't verify that because we at them all ;)



1/22/15

Too Much Broccoli? Make Soup! Cheesy Broccoli And Spinach Soup


Do you have too much broccoli on hand? Are you clueless about what to make for dinner? Are you craving a bowl of hot delicious soup? If you answered yes to these questions, my Cheesy Broccoli And Spinach Soup recipe will be perfect for you!

Last week I had too much broccoli and wasn't sure what to do with it. That's when my friend Megan sent me a recipe for Broccoli Cheese Soup from Cook's Illustrated. Not a member of that website? No worries. I made plenty of changes to be able to call this recipe my own and to share it with you.

Too Much Broccoli? Make Soup! Cheesy Broccoli And Spinach Soup
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 pounds broccoli: coarsely chop the tops and slice the stems into coins
1 onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons dried mustard
ancho chile pepper to taste
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of water {more if needed}
1/4 teaspoon baking soda {apparently it helps to tenderize the broccoli}
2 cups chicken stock
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, extra liquid squeezed out
3/4 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar
3/4 cups shredded Parmesan, plus more as a topping
fresh basil for garnish
toasted bread for serving

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a heavy Dutch oven. Add broccoli, onion, potato, garlic, mustard, ancho chile pepper and salt and sauté for 10 minutes.
2. Add the water and baking soda, bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add chicken stock and spinach and simmer for 10 more minutes.
4. Add the cheese.
5. Puree the soup using an immersion blender. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and ancho chile pepper if needed. This is also the point where you can add a bit more water depending on the consistency you desire.
6. Serve topped with grated Parmesan and fresh basil and a side of toasted bread.




First of all, this soup was incredibly easy to make.
Second of all, it tasted awesome and was great as leftovers.
Thirdly, look at that color!!!



I hope you make this soup tonight or sometime soon.

What do YOU like to do with broccoli?