Monday, May 28, 2012

Cornmeal, Pistachio, Fig Biscotti and an Award!

Very yummy Cornmeal Pistachio-Fig Biscotti
In my kitchen, there’s a tin that sits on my counter right next to my coffee maker. It’s always filled with biscotti! It’s the place where everyone seems to gravitate when they need a snack or something slightly sweet; to have with their cup of tea or coffee. Most biscotti are low in fat which make them a pretty healthy treat, too! 
Biscotti, in Italy, refers to any type of cookie. In the U.S., biscotti is the term used to describe a long, dry, twice-baked biscuit.  In Italy they are served with (and generally dipped into) wines such as Vin Santo. In the U.S., coffee is the drink of choice, and with the popularity of  coffee houses, came the rise to fame for the biscotti.  
Years ago, while my daughter was attending college in the East Village of N.Y.C., she was the summer RA (Residents Assistant) for her dorm. I would often go into the city for an overnight, and she would take me on field trips to some of her favorite places.  One of those places was the Chelsea Market, where Amy’s Bread was located. The shelves in the bakery were filled with the most marvelous breads and cookies.  My daughter and I  would buy a few treats, to take back to the apartment; so that we could enjoy them with our tea and for breakfast the next morning. Amy’s Bread was incredible. Since then I have had a special fondness for Amy and her baked goods.
A few years later, while reading the food section of the NY Times, I found a great recipe for a Pepper-Nut Biscotti from Amy’s Bread.  As soon as I read the recipe I knew I had to make them.  So, with a bit of enthusiasm and trepidation, I delved into making my first batch of biscotti. I was really quite thrilled with the the delicious results. Fast forward to 2012…I now make one of my many biscotti recipes every month. So in my little world of family and friends, biscotti has become my signature cookie!  My most requested biscotti is still Amy’s Pepper-Nut!

Friday, May 25, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie ~ Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese

Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese
This week for French Friday our pick was Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese. Really quite easy! The most time consuming part was waiting for the Ricotta cheese to drain overnight!  The next morning I retrieved  the drained cheese…it looked perfect.  I then took out my new food processor and processed the garlic and shallot. I love my new food processor! At this point everything gets mixed into the cheese, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, chopped parsley, chives and tarragon. It called for fresh tarragon but, I used dried. I just planted 9 herbs on my deck and forgot tarragon! I will have to remedy that this week!
This was a terrific pick for the week! I plan on serving it for Memorial Day with my homemade pita chips and veggies! We love Pita Chips in our house and they are so easy to make. When my pita gets a bit stale, I cut it into triangle chips, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and sea salt! Place them into a 350° oven and bake till lightly browned. They will go perfectly with the Lyonnais Garlic Herb Cheese!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook ‘Around My French Table’.
To see what other Doristas are doing check it out here!

Ricotta after drained
All ingredients added to the cheese
Another winner from Dorie
Cut the pita bread into triangles
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and sea salt or you could go sweet and sprinkle with
 cinnamon and sugar

Pita chips…A very good thing!
With all my herbs…I can’t believe there’s no tarragon!!

Gourmet’s 50 Most Influential Women in Food # 49 Soraya Darabi and Alexa Andrzejewski ~ Watermelon-Tomato Salad

Watermelon Tomato Salad
Hard to believe we are at #49 on Gourmets list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Food. This week it’s actually two women, Soraya Darabi and Alexa Andrzejewski.  They are the co-founders (along with Alexa’s husband) of Foodspotting. They are both in their 20’s!  
Soraya Darabi was educated at Georgetown University and The Blake School.  She is known as the Digital Maven and has been featured on the cover of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business”.  Soraya was also named one of Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30”.  She began her career working for the N.Y. Times as Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media.  She then helped found the mobile application for Foodspotting where she was a cofounder.  She currently works as an investor/advisor and public speaker at Darabi Strategies.                                          
Alexa is also a co-founder and is the CEO of Foodspotting. She earned a BS in Visual Communication from Ohio State University.  She is responsible for the vision, strategy, design direction and product management for the first and leading app for finding and rating dishes instead of restaurants.
Have you ever heard of Foodspotting? To be honest, I hadn't!  Even now, after reading about it, I’m still a bit confused.  But as they say “ There’s an App for that”! The Foodspotting website and mobile apps, make it easy to find and share food recommendations.  As Gourmet wrote when they picked these ladies as their game changers, This idea is part of the future…we're not sure why…it just is!

Friday, May 18, 2012

FFWD Double Chocolate and Banana Tart

Double Chocolate and Banana Tart
Welcome to French Friday! This weeks recipe was for a Double Chocolate and Banana Tart. There are only two of us in my house right now and, we have been trying to watch our weight. It has been increasingly hard since I’ve been baking with TWD. Two weeks ago, Tuesdays made Hungarian Shortbread…which contained tons of butter. This week we baked Pecan Sticky Buns, which contained tons and tons of butter. So that brings us to today…Double Chocolate and Banana Tart.  Not so much butter but, fattening none the less. I chose to make this recipe as individual tarts. I made only two and froze the remaining dough and ganache. A treat for another day! 

I have made the chocolate shortbread crust before, it is delicious.  If you have a food processor it is  quick and easy.  Lucky me, I just received a new Cuisinart food processor for Mother’s Day! Thanks to my hubby!  The bananas were easy to caramelize and so yummy! The ganache came together quickly, which surprised me. There you have it! Much easier than I thought when I looked at the recipe.  Even more delicious than it looks! Bananas and chocolate…what’s not to love! We had these for dessert last night and they were heavenly! I can’t wait to try this recipe for company!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook ‘Around My French Table’.
To see what other Doristas are doing check it out here!

Dessert anyone?
Chocolate and bananas…what’s not to love
I see more of these in my future…I think I might even change out the fruit 

Gourmet’s 50 Most Influential Women in Food # 48 Cat Cora ~ Pastitsio Kima ~ Baked Macaroni

Pastitsio  Kima
We are nearing the end! This week Cat Cora, #48 on Gourmets list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Food, takes center stage! She is the first female Iron Chef! 
Cat was born in 1968 to Greek parents in Jackson Mississippi, where she was raised in a Greek community, that had a profound influence on her life.  Her father and grandfather were both restauranteurs.  Eating and food were the centers of her environment.  At 15, she drew up a business plan for her own restaurant.  After earning a BS degree in Exercise Physiology and Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi, she enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

Cat made television history on the Food Network in 2005 when she became the first and only female Iron Chef.  In 2006, she was given the “Teacher of the Year Award” by Bon Appetit Magazine. Cat has called this “the greatest recognition she could achieve as a chef”.  She was also bestowed with another
honor from Bon Appetit when they named her Executive Chef of their magazine.
Cat has written three cookbooks.  Her first, Cat Cora’s Kitchen, was inspired by her Greek and Southern heritage.  She has also written Cooking From The Hip: Fast, Easy, Phenomenal Meals and, Classics with a Twist: Fresh Takes on Favorite Dishes.  Cat has also been a fixture at the Food Network, appearing on many of their shows. 
Ms. Cora has several high profile restaurants including Kouzzina at Disneyworld, CCQ in Costa Mesa California, and Cat Cora’s Kitchen at the Houston and San Francisco Airports. She is also known for her philanthropy. She is the founder of Chefs for Humanity, a not-for-profit, that brings the culinary community together to raise funds and provide resources for emergencies and educational and hunger-related causes.  In June of 2010, she partnered with Michelle Obama as part of her Chefs Move to Schools campaign. A program that teaches kids about nutrition.
Cat resides in Santa Barbara California, with her partner Jennifer, and their four sons.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TWD Pecan Sticky Buns

Decadent and yummy!
As I write this post it is raining  for the third day in a row. I’m not complaining as we really needed it but, I haven’t been able to get my garden planted yet.  I did start my  herb garden and moved them into pots on my deck. Much easier to access. We do expect a beautiful day on Thursday so, I'm planning a planting day! However, all this rain has given me plenty of time to bake! 

I planted seven different herbs on my deck
All right, let’s get to those sticky buns! The key word for yet another TWD challenge is butter! Lots and lots of butter. Our challenge for this week was making a Brioche dough to make the Pecan Sticky Buns with.  I made my sticky buns over several days time; taking advantage of the refrigeration time. 
This brioche dough started off with a sponge. You start with warm milk..yeast..1 egg..and a cup of flour in the bowl of your mixer. Then sprinkle a second cup of flour over the sponge and let rest until it begins to rise and the flour looks crackly. Now you’re ready to make the dough!
This requires a long beating time so a stand mixer is recommended.  At this point, add the dough ingredients to the sponge. With your dough hook, begin to incorporate the the rest of the ingredients. Then beat this mixture for about 15 minutes. Now it’s time to incorporate the butter…a stick and ½ at room temperature! Your dough will look curdled at first but, as the butter starts to blend into the dough it will come together. Once this is done, it is time to let the dough rest and rise for about 2 hours. Then deflate and refrigerate for up to three days.
Now it’s time for the sticky buns.  Here’s where you over dose on butter!  Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a rectangle. I only made one half and froze the rest to use another time.  After you roll out your dough, smear it with ¾ cup of butter, fold the dough envelope style.  Roll out again, fold once more, wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  It’s time now to roll out the dough for the sticky buns.  Brush with egg, sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon  mixture and pecans.  Roll up as for a jelly roll, wrap and freeze for 45 minutes.  I left mine in the freezer over night. It was Mothers Day and my hubby was taking me out for brunch.  On Monday I took mine out and let it defrost for about 30 minutes before I sliced them. Freezing the dough makes it easier for cutting. 
Now for the baking. I used a 9 inch cake pan…now are you ready for this…take a stick of softened butter…that’s right…another stick of butter and smear it over the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle with light brown sugar and slice your rolls. Place pecans onto the bottom of each roll and place your rolls, pecan side down, in the pan.  It’s time for the final rise! About 2 hours. Bake and enjoy! 
Step by step these were really enjoyable to make.  We loved these Pecan Sticky Buns but, what’s not to love!! They were wonderful!

This is how the sponge looks when ready to use
Add the other dough ingredients and beat
Adding the butter makes your dough look curdled but, it will come together
Place into buttered bowl and let rise
This is the dough ready to be rolled and filled
Brushed with the egg and ready to be sprinkled with sugar and nuts 
Pan buttered….Now that’s a lot of butter!
Brown sugar placed on top
The rolls ready to rise
Risen and ready to bake….I forgot about mine and let them rise a bit too long

They still came out so delectable….and buttery

Although a bit misshapen….

Oh so good!

Our hosts this week are Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole of Cookies on Friday. This recipe will be posted on their blog! You should check them out!

Friday, May 11, 2012

FFWD Provençal Olive Fougasse

 Provençal Olive Fougasse
This weeks French Friday assignment was for Provençal Olive Fougasse.  In French cuisine,
fougasse is a type of bread typically found in the Provence however, you will find it in other regions with slight variations.  This is a type of flat bread that is a cousin to the Italian focaccia. Some versions of fougasse are sculpted or slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of wheat. Others look like a large leaf or ladder. This version from Dorie incorporated oil cured black olives, rosemary, and lemon or orange zest.
This type of bread is meant to be served whole, then torn into pieces to be eaten with wine, cheese, olives, or as Dorie suggests 'a few slices of a nice garlicky saucisson’,  a french version of salami.

Gourmet’s 50 Most Influential Women in Food # 47 Zarela Martinez ~ Avocado Ice

Avocado Ice….Oh so good!

We are almost at the end of our journey! This week it is Zarela Martinez # 47 on Gourmets list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Food. She was born in the Mexican border town of Aqua Prieta.  Zarela said she learned to cook from her mother, Aida Gabilondo, also a cookbook author. Zarela was educated in El Paso, Texas and, Guadalajara. She is considered one of America’s foremost authorities on Mexican cooking.
While Zarila was taking a cooking class in New Orleans she was noticed by Paul Prudhomme, who became her mentor.  Her opportunities opened up when Craig Claiborne, the food editor for the New York Times,  published several of her recipes.  In 1983, she was asked to design a menu to be served at Ronald Reagan’s ranch in California, for the visit of Queen Elizabeth. That was also the year she moved her family to New York, where she designed the menu for the new Cafe Marimba. In 1997, she became the co-owner of Zarela, a very popular restaurant in Manhattan.  Her first cookbook in 1992 "Food from My Heart” was nominated for best international book of the year by The James Beard Foundation.  She is also the author of “The Food and Life of Oaxaca” and “Zarela’s Veracruz” a companion book to her 13-part PBS series Zarela!  La Cocina Veracruzana.  Ms. Marti­nez has also made many guest appearances on shows such as “Julia Child: Cooking with Master Chefs”, “Martha Stewart” and, is a frequent guest on NPR ‘s Lenny Lopate Show.
I chose Avocado Ice to represent Zarela. Avocado and ice cream didn’t seem to go together.  I was quite intrigued with this recipe!  Once the syrup was made, it only took a few minutes to put together.  To enhance the green color, I added a bit of green food color to the sugar mixture. I also used coconut milk in place of the whole milk. After the ingredients were mixed, I refrigerated it for several hours before putting it into my ice cream maker. This ice cream, or ice as it is called, was delicious. Not very sweet but very creamy! My husband who doesn't  eat avocados really liked it. Of course, I didn’t tell him what was in it until after he said he liked it.

Ready to freeze
The flavor of the avocado was very subtle
Two words to describe this wonderful treat….Creamy deliciousness!

Avocado Ice  Epicurious | © 1997

by Zarela Martinez
The Food and Life of Oaxaca

The idea of making ice cream from avocados is not strange or outlandish to Oaxacans. In many Latin American countries, avocados are eaten as dessert. (Brazilians make them into a sweet mousse.) Nieve de Aguacate is one of the perennial favorites at Oaxaca City ice-cream stands. It is naturally creamier than the usual fruit-based nieves, but some acid is necessary to offset the blandness of the avocado. Fresh lime juice is the perfect complement.Yield: Makes about 1 quart


2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and seeded
2 cups whole milk (I used coconut milk)
1/4 cup (approximately) freshly squeezed lime juice


Make the simple syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until reduced to 1 cup. Let cool to room temperature. (Syrup can be made ahead and stored, refrigerated, in a tightly covered container.)

In a blender or food processor, process the avocados and milk to a perfectly smooth texture. Add the syrup and lime juice, starting with a little less than all of each and adding more to taste.

Freeze by manufacturer's directions for your ice-cream maker. Or to still-freeze, pour into a 1-quart container (preferably stainless steel), place in the freezer, and freeze for 2 hours. Remove and beat the mixture until it is a fine-textured slush, using a chilled rotary beater or hand-held electric mixer (with beaters chilled). The aim is to break up the ice crystals and aerate the mixture for a fluffier texture. Return to the freezer for 1 more hour; remove and beat in the same manner. Return to the freezer until ready to serve.

Chef Zarela Martinez shares her tips with Epicurious:
•"Oaxaca City is one of the world capitals of ices or 'snows,'" says Martinez. Countless flavors, including avocado, papaya, guava, and tamarind, are served in the plaza of La Soledad church. This basic recipe can be used as the basis for experimentation with many kinds of tropical fruit: Instead of the lime juice and avocados, use a thawed 14-ounce package of frozen fruit pulp (sold puréed or in chunks in Latin American and Asian stores). If using puréed fruit, you can omit the blending or food-processing step and simply mix the ingredients in a bowl before freezing. Adjust the amount of simple syrup according to the natural sweetness of the fruit.
•"The texture you should be trying to achieve is not that of a rich, silky ice cream, but rather something like a sherbet or ice milk," says Martinez. She recommends the Donvier brand ice cream maker from France for the excellent Oaxacan-style ices it produces, but this recipe works with any brand.

Here’s what we've been up to with our 47th Game Changer.....

Mary of One Perfect Bite 
Susan of The Spice Garden  
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed   
Heather of Girlichef   
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney  
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living   
Linda of There and Back Again  
Barbara of Moveable Feasts  
Nancy of Picadillo 
Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits  
Veronica of My Catholic Kitchen  
Claudia of Journey of an Italian Cook  
Alyce of More Time at The Table  
Amrita of Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades
Martha at Simple Nourished Living  
Jill at Saucy Cooks  
Sarah at Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Annie at Most Lovely Things  
Sue at The View from Great Island   

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Barbara’s Banana Bread

Simply wonderful banana bread…Thanks Barb!

While I was raising my children, I had the privilege to stay at home with them.  However, when they started college I went back to work. Well not necessarily back…it was 20 years since I worked outside of my home so, what do I do? I started looking for jobs in the help wanted section of the newspaper (that’s the way it was done back then) hoping to find a job in a local office. I was fortunate enough to find a job in a pediatric office as a receptionist.  The office was incredibly busy and, phone hour was agonizing! For those of you who don’t know about phone hour in a pediatric office….it’s the hour the doctors set aside to take all phone calls from new and anxious moms and dads. I was very lucky to work with a wonderful nurse who was there to give allergy shots. I’ll always remember her kindness. Realizing the “new girl” was being overwhelmed, she sat beside me and started to answer phones. It was one of those things that live in my memory as a make or break day!  After that, she would always be close by on those hectic -phone hour- mornings.  Her name was Barbara and, we usually ate lunch together followed with a walk, to get some fresh air. We found we had a lot in common, including food, and would take turns bringing in baked goods for the office. On one of these occasions, she brought in a very luscious banana bread! We always shared recipes so of course, she wrote it down for me. Through the years I’ve made it quite often; always thinking of Barbara’s wonderful smile as I made it. I have tried many banana breads, some claiming to be the “best” but, I always go back to Barbara’s recipe. I heard recently that Barbara lost her very courageous battle with breast cancer. So today, as I was cleaning out my freezer, I found eight bananas that I had previously frozen because they were over ripe. I pulled out four and  decided to make a loaf of this delicious, quick banana bread and, dedicate this post to my friend Barbara! I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do!

Frosty frozen bananas…a great way to save bananas that are getting too ripe
Beating in all ingredients in order 
Adding the softened butter
Pour into loaf pan and bake
Just out of the oven
My breakfast…so yummy!
This bread is so rich, moist and tasty…with only ⅓  cup of butter 

Barbara’s Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1 egg
4 bananas~crushed
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
⅓ cup butter or margarine~softened

Mix all the ingredients in the order given. Then bake in a 9x5 loaf pan at 350〫degrees for 45~60 minuets or until a toothpick comes out clean.
**Do Not Grease Baking Dish**

Friday, May 4, 2012

FFWD Almond Flounder Meunière

Almond Flounder Meuniére
This week for French Fridays our assignment was to make ‘Almond Flounder Meunière’.  I  was really looking forward to this fish dish and, so grateful that a dessert wasn’t on the agenda. I’m still on a sugar high from Tuesdays with Dorie! We made Hungarian Shortbread, which by the way, was amazing! 

Gourmet’s 50 Most Influential Women in Food # 46 Gael Greene—Scallop Pasta

Scallop Pasta…Oh so good!
Here we are in the final stretch! The Insatiable Critic, Gael Greene # 46 on Gourmets list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Food. Gael Greene is best known for her work as a restaurant critic for New York magazine. She began work there in the fall of 1968 and wrote her column, The Insatiable Critic, for the next 40 years. She is also an author and novelist. Gael was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 22, 1933.  She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and also studied at the Sorbonne. Ms. Greene has said she was raised in a cocoon of Velveeta.  She started out in 1956 working as a UP reporter in Detroit. She then became a reporter for the New York Post and, moved on to freelance work before she was hired by the founding editor of New York magazine as their first restaurant critic.  She was a passionate early “foodie” before the word was used. The American edition of The Foodie Handbook credited her with first using the word. 
While working at New York magazine her early articles included “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ice Cream But Were Too Fat To Ask”,  "The Mafia Guide to Dining Out” and "Nobody Knows the Truffles I’ve seen”. 
In 2008 she was fired by New York magazine. The then editor-in-chief of the magazine said Ms. Greene was laid off because they could no longer afford four food critics. 

In 1981 she and James Beard co-founded the non-profit "Citymeals-on-Wheels" to help with weekend and holiday meals for the homebound elderly in NYC. She is still an active chair on the company’s board, and  hosts an annual Power Lunch for Women to raise money for Citymeals. Ms. Greene was honored in 1992 as Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. She is the winner of the International Assoc. of Cooking Professionals magazine writing award (2000) and, a Silver Spoon from Food Arts magazine. 

Ms. Greene’s memoir, “Insatiable, Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess” was published in April 2006. Her two novels, "Blue skies, No Candy" and "Doctor Love” were New York Times best sellers. She has been known for her sensual writing and feminism.
Ms. Greene resides with her partner of 26 years, Steven Richter a New York photographer, in NYC. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TWD Hungarian Shortbread

TwD….Hungarian Shortbread

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was for Hungarian Shortbread. I’ve  been looking forward to this recipe because, I love shortbread. It’s an all time favorite, I started making it for my children, when they were very young. It was always there for an after-school snack. The recipe was shared with me by a neighbor from Scotland. Traditional Scottish shortbread calls for three ingredients and  I always had them on hand. Flour, sugar and butter….what could be easier? That’s what I thought when I started this recipe for TwD. I’m half Hungarian and had never heard of Hungarian shortbread.  My Hungarian grandmother was one of the best bakers I’ve ever known. She made homemade strudel from scratch, with pastry that she pulled so thin you could see through it! So I was ready! 
The recipe for this shortbread was very easy to put together... beating the butter, eggs and sugar in your mixer until sugar is dissolved and batter is light and fluffy.  Then add the flour mixture. Remove the dough to your work surface and cut it in half.  Wrap each piece individually and place into the freezer for thirty minutes. Ok…that was the easy part! Now comes the part that in all my years of baking, I had never heard of. The technique for this shortbread was to grate…that’s right…grate the dough into the baking dish! My first thoughts were, I must have read this wrong! Nope not wrong…are you kidding…really? Supposedly, grating the dough gives the shortbread a more cake-like texture. So I thought, a great way to grate the dough would be in my food processor. It wasn’t!! After 24 long years of service this dough took down my processor. So I did what I should’ve done in the first place…grate the dough with my box grater! 
Since my rhubarb isn’t ready to pick yet, I used my stash of strawberry rhubarb jam from last summer. I thought these bars a bit sweet, I should have used the jam more sparingly. 
However, these bars were  delicious and, I will be freezing the rest of them to ensure I don’t overdose on them! My grandchildren will really enjoy these on their next visit. Happy May Day everyone!