Monday, February 27, 2012

A Stormy Day in Florida and Some Cashew Orange Biscotti

 Cashew Orange delicious!
The sea is rough and the rain is coming down in sheets! The wind is blowing so hard that the trees are banging against the windows. It's not a day for a walk on the beach or a stop at the outdoor cafe. This is the kind of day that is calling for some indoor activity. For me, that means baking. This kind of weather always makes me want to fill the house with the sweet smell of something in the oven. Having the fragrance of something freshly baked permeate the house, is so comforting. Since my biscotti tin is empty, what could be a better choice than the aroma of freshly baked Cashew Orange Biscotti? These biscotti are delicious with a cup of tea, coffee, or just by themselves! Crunchy, nutty and not too sweet; they make a perfect snack cookie. I adapted this recipe from Epicurious several years ago. Hope you'll give them a try!

 This is a wet dough...I dampened my hands to shape them
Browned and beautiful...just out of the oven
Sliced and ready for the second bake
Ready for their close up
In the bright sunny window these look pale 

Cashew Orange Biscotti

These biscotti are equally delicious made with roasted almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts in place of the cashews.Yield: Makes about 60 biscotti


1 1/2 cups roasted cashews (about 7 ounces)
21/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of butter (softened)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water

Preheat oven to 300°F. and butter a large baking sheet.

Coarsely chop cashews. Into a bowl sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together 3 eggs, zest, butter and vanilla until just combined. Stir in flour mixture and beat until a stiff dough is formed. Stir in cashews.

In a small bowl beat together water and remaining egg to make an egg wash. On baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two 12-inch-long logs and flatten slightly. (This dough is a slightly wet dough. I dampen my hands a bit and shape the logs.) Brush logs with some egg wash. Bake logs in middle of oven until golden, about 50 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes.

On a cutting board with a serrated knife diagonally cut logs into roughly 1/3-inch-thick slices. Arrange biscotti, a cut side down, on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven until crisp, about 15 minutes. Cool biscotti on rack. Biscotti keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 2 weeks.

After the rain, the ocean is still pretty rough....Red flag means high hazard, high surf and /or strong currents...Purple flag means dangerous marine life
The sun setting on the gorgeous Gulf Coast

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TwD Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

As a child I really didn't like chocolate! I didn't like chocolate ice cream, chocolate candy bars or chocolate cookies! Somewhere along the long road...that changed! I actually have become a choco-holic!!
So, I was really excited when the second recipe picked for Tuesdays with Dorie was Chocolate Truffle Tartlets. I made these for my Bunco group a few weeks ago, knowing we would be traveling toward the end of February, and wanting to have them done before we left. These were a delicious hit with all of my friends.
Making these was pretty easy. I made the crust the night before I planned on baking them. Everything went into the food processor, then into the refrigerator until the next morning. While mixing the pastry it seemed a bit dry so, I added water a tablespoon at a time until it reached the right consistency. The pastry was a lovely, workable dough that was full of chocolate flavor.  The truffle filling was smooth and creamy. I used Amaretti cookies and thought it would add some crunch but, the cookies were hardly noticeable. These decadent, chocolaty tartlets were melt in your mouth delicious. My Bunco ladies really enjoyed these and so did I!
This week's pick for Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia was Chocolate Truffle Tartlets. Our hosts are, Spike of Spike Bakes, Steph of A Whisk and a SpoonJaime of Good Eats and Sweet Treats, and Jessica of Cookbookhabit. This recipe will be posted on their blogs. 
This post was done in participation with Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia.  Check it out to see what other bloggers did.

Dough pressed into tart pans...this dough was a bit too dry so I added a little more water while I was mixing
Mixing the filling
Tarts ready for the oven
Beautiful....just out of the oven
Rich and chocolaty

Friday, February 17, 2012

FFWD Mussels and Chorizo with or without Pasta

Mussels and Chorizo
A rainy day in Florida is so much better than a snowy, cold day in NJ. This week I'm spending French Friday here in the pan handle of Florida. We arrived here Monday night. Tuesday it was raining, so it was the perfect time to get my food shopping done. I decided, since fresh seafood is readily available in this area and since my husband loves mussels, I would treat him to this dish for Valentine's Day! It was definitely a treat!
I have always had an aversion to cooking shell fish. Actually, I don't like cooking shell fish or lobster or anything that starts out alive! I thought of skipping this week, but I thought this was a perfect time to overcome my fear. Mussels are a favorite of my husbands, he usually orders them when we go out.  A few years ago, when we were in Holland, he ordered a huge bucket of mussels, and had no problem finishing them by himself!
My aunt is partly responsible for my phobia. She once told me a story of her first time cooking a lobster. It was not pretty! It had something to do with the live lobster being put into cold water and being brought to a boil! See what I mean....not pretty!
It was time to overcome my fear of shell fish so, while I was shopping, I picked up the mussels and all the other ingredients for the Mussels and Chorizo. I had my husband wash and clean the mussels as I chopped all the veggies. This dish went together so easily! First heating the oil in a large Dutch oven, then adding the bell pepper, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook this for about 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and Chorizo. I used a spiced smoked sausage because I couldn't find Chorizo. Cook for a few more minutes and add the mussels and white wine. Cover and cook for a few more minutes, till the mussels open. Once they open, serve immediately!  I decided to serve this with some crusty bread.  This turned out to be a perfect Valentine's Day meal! We both enjoyed it and I overcame my fear of cooking shell fish.
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table". The recipe can also be found here.  To see what other French Friday bloggers are doing check it out here.

Washed mussels
Everything chopped and ready to go
Absolutely delicious!
Such a lovely Valentine's Day dinner
We really enjoyed this will be making many more appearances on our table

Friday, February 10, 2012

FFWD Nutella Tartine

Nutella delicious snack

This has to be the easiest French Friday recipe ever! In fact, it has to be the easiest recipe in Dorie's book!  Easy really worked for me this week. We are on the road heading south for a visit with my son's family in Georgia.
I'm not sure I would even consider this a real recipe. It calls for a slice of Brioche or Challah, brushed with melted butter and put under a broiler to toast. You then take the bread and spread it with Orange Marmalade, drizzle on some warmed Nutella and sprinkle with chopped Hazelnuts. That's it!! Done!
So, yesterday while I was busy packing for our trip, washing clothes and emptying my refrigerator, I stopped for a snack of Nutella Tartine. I didn't use Brioche or Challah. I used the delicious white bread I made for TwD. I thought it would be perfect for my French Friday recipe and I was right. This turned out to be a perfect snack to have with my tea. It gave me the energy to move on and finish what I had to do, so that we would be able to leave at 6 am. After a full day of driving I am now sitting in my hotel room trying to write this post, and feeling like I'm not making any sense, because I'm so tired...So Happy Friday everyone!
If you'd like to make this delicious snack it can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table" or here on NPR where Dorie shared this recipe.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie... White Loaves

Homemade white bread....what could be better
Tuesdays with Dorie was the group that started it all, for me. I remember reading my first Tuesdays was for "Madelines". My thoughts went immediately to "this is a group I want to be part of... baking my way through a cookbook...what fun". However, this group had met it's quota and it was not to be. I kept reading the posts periodically, and then about a year and half ago I read that they were starting the FFWD group! You know what happened next!
While the Tuesday group continued to bake their way through Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From My House to Yours", the Friday group got started cooking their way through..."Around My French Table". It took "Tuesdays" four years, but they finished their baking project and are now starting a new group to bake through "Baking with Julia"! I am finally part of the Tuesday group and am looking forward to the journey!
Our first challenge...White Loaves. My mom was a wonderful bread baker. She was the one who taught me to get to know my dough, knead it...know it's feel.  I have baked bread quite often, and always kneaded by hand. This recipe calls for using your stand mixer to knead the dough. Because, the dough seemed heavy I decided to use the mixer. At one point, I thought the motor on my mixer was going to give out.  The dough finally came together and it made two beautiful loaves of bread. My first loaf was a plain white bread, absolutely delicious! I used it for sandwiches and toast. It was my kind of bread...not at all like the white fluffy bread you buy at the grocery store. Full of flavor and such a nice texture or crumb. For the second loaf, I rolled out the dough and spread it with some softened butter. I then sprinkled on some cinnamon and sugar...the results were very nice. Just a little sweetness for a breakfast loaf. I really loved this recipe and will be making it again. I'm thinking with raisins next time.

If you would like to bake this bread, you can find the recipe in the book "Baking with Julia" by Dorie Greenspan. To see how other bloggers did with this recipe you can find it here. The recipe will be posted by our host this month Someone's In the Kitchen, here.

Dough placed in bowl to rise
Doubled in size
Ready for the oven
Such a gorgeous loaf of bread
Couldn't wait to slice into them...still warm and so delicious
A slice from the cinnamon loaf
Nothing beats a homemade bread just out of the oven!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie Gorgonzola-Apple Quiche

Gorgonzola Apple Quiche 
Tonight I am hosting my Bunco group and decided to make the Gorgonzola Apple Quiche as part of my menu. We all love good food and this quiche sounds perfect to me. I made mine last night and will heat it for a short while before I serve it. Dorie suggests this if made ahead. I'm hoping it will still be fresh tasting. I usually make my quiches the day I serve them but, I needed photos for this post. I am also making Gerard's Mustard Tart, since I missed it last year when the group made it. That one I will make this afternoon along with a Tomato Tart.
My bunco group has been playing together for about 24 years! Some of the faces have changed through the years, but the group lives on. We always have such a great time together, catching up with each others lives and finding out what's going on in the neighborhood. We do a lot of laughing, eating and gossiping! Not necessarily in that order! And what would bunco be with out a little wine!
This tart was quite easy. I made the dough for my crusts the day before so I just needed to roll it out and pre bake it. I sautéed the onion, sprinkled it over the crust, then added the apple and gorgonzola. I then beat the cream and eggs together and poured it into the tart shell. In the oven it went and what came out was a lovely looking quiche. I didn't get to try it yet, but it smelled and looked delicious! Here's hoping!!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table".  To see what other Doristas have done check it out here!

Sautéing onions
Onions,  apples and gorgonzola
Cream and eggs poured into the tart pan
Here's hoping!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food #33 Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer - Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart..made easy because it call for frozen puff pastry!
This week we are celebrating #33 on Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food list. The duo picked was Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hersheimer.  As I was researching these women I found that they live in one of my favorite places in the NJ/PA area. Lambertville is on the NJ side of the Delaware river and New Hope is on the Pa. side, in famous Bucks County. These are such quaint beautiful towns. The artistic community of New York City has long made this a summer destination. New Hope has hosted the illustrious likes of Barbara Stanwyck, James Taylor, Moss Hart, Robert Redford and Dorthy Parker and members of her "Algonquin Round Table" group. Famous writers, critics, and actors. But I'm getting distracted!! I'm supposed to be talking about two very talented women in the food industry. 
Together this pair had more than 30 years experience working for such magazines as Food and Wine, Metropolitan Home, Cook's Illustrated, and Martha Stewart Living. They also worked on cookbooks by Julia Child, Alice Waters, Mario Batali, Jaques Pepin, and Lidia Bastianich. 
Christopher Hersheimer served as food and design editor for Metropolitan Home Magazine and was one of the founders of Saveur Magazine, where she was executive editor. She is a writer and photographer.
Christopher  resides just across the Delaware River in Erwinna, Pa., with her husband Jim, an antiques dealer. The couple has two grown daughters. Hersheimer grew up in San Francisco, one of five children.  She attended college in the San Francisco Bay area during the 60's and 70's. Where she became involved with the local food scene. She has said, "You could say I ended up in the food world by default." Lucky for the food world.
Melissa Hamilton was co-founder of the restaurant Hamilton's Grill Room in Lambertville, NJ., where she served as the executive chef. She also worked for Martha Stewart Magazine, Cook's Illustrated and was food editor at Saveur. Melissa is the daughter of Jim Hamilton of Hamilton's Grill Room. She is the sister of Gabrielle Hamilton, the highly regarded chef/owner of Prune in Manhattan. She and her architect husband, Michael Hagerty, along with their two daughters live in Stockton, NJ. 
In 2007, these two women decided to start their own magazine/cookbook and self-publish it. The magazine would be published three times a year and they would do it from their studio in Lambertville, NJ. When they tried to get it published; everyone told them it would never work. Against all advise they pushed ahead and eventually, in 2009, issued the first volume of Canal House Cooking, a series of seasonal cookbooks that they self-publish three times a year. 
These are two very determined, talented ladies, who have just published number 7 in their Canal House Cooking series. After reading all the reviews of this series...I stopped by Amazon and bought myself the first 3...I am such a sucker for a good cookbook! 

I made a small one tonight for photos...I will be making the full size version tomorrow for company.

Just out of the oven....this was so flaky and wonderful! You could taste the freshness of the tomatoes in every bite.


tomato tart
serves 4–6

We usually make this simple tart with large ripe tomatoes in season, tuck- ing some halved supersweet cherry tomatoes in between the slabs. But we’ve found that using even those hothouse varieties—a little more acidic and certainly less juicy—can be quite delicious, too. Eat this tart warm or at room temperature, but definitely the same day you make it as the crisp, delicate crust becomes limp if left to sit too long.

1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted 
2–3 tomatoes, cored and sliced 
Salt, preferably maldon or other
2–3 branches fresh thyme 
really good extra-virgin olive oil
crunchy sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lay the sheet of puff pastry out on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Using the tip of a paring knife, lightly score a border about 1⁄2 inch from the edge of the pastry. Prick the dough inside the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much during baking.

Arrange the tomatoes on the pastry in a single layer (crowding or overlap- ping the tomatoes will make the puff pastry soggy). Strip the branches of thyme, scattering the leaves over the tomatoes. Drizzle the tart with some olive oil and season with pepper.

Bake the tart until the pastry is crisp and deeply browned on the bottom and around the edges, 30–40 minutes. Season with salt.

These are the other bloggers that are playing along....make sure you stop by and check them out!
MaryOne Perfect Bite
ValMore Than Burnt Toast
JoanneEats Well With Others 
TarynHave Kitchen Will Feed
 SusanThe Spice Garden
Heather- girlichef
 MirandaMangoes and Chutney
JeanetteJeanette's Healthy Living
KathyBakeaway with Me
SueThe View from Great Island
BarbaraMoveable Feasts
LindaThere and Back Again 
MireyaMy Healthy Eating Habits
VeronicaMy Catholic Kitchen
AnnieLovely Things
ClaudiaJourney of an Italian Cook
AlyceMore Time at the Table
Amrita- Beetle's Kitchen Escapades