Friday, January 23, 2015

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti (a reprisal)

This is a recipe from Culinary in the Desert.  I "reprised" it because I had a couple of better photos of the finished cookie.  Make some.  You'll like 'em.











I like my biscotti dough to be a lovely, well behaved lump, that comes away from the bowl easily.... if it is a bit sticky...just dip your hands into the flour container... that should fix it.... ..










































I shape it into one long log then cut it in half... and continue forming into two long rather narrow logs....then flatten gently, leaving it a bit rounded along the center......... look at the great colours with the pistachios and cranberries. Surprisingly,with this recipe...even with whole cranberries it doesn't fall apart at the edges when slicing, so I get to use a knife instead of resorting to my trusty "Biscotti Blade" ..(my special kitchen hack saw...which really does a wonderful job on all other recipes) Perhaps because of the soaking and softening of the dried berries.

leaving the logs a bit rounded gives the slices a nice shape later











To dress them a bit......drizzle some dark chocolate over a few ....











or.... dip the tops into some melted chocolate and sprinkle on some chopped pistachios and a few chopped Skor bar bits.











Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt ( I use salted butter and omit salt)
4 TBSPS. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
4 large eggs, divided (I only used 2 plus egg whites )
2 tsps. vanilla
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

Put cranberries in small bowl and cover with boiling water; set aside until plump...about 15 minutes. Drain well.  You can just use dried cranberries, and,not bother with the water.

In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt if using.

In large mixing bowl, (or mixer bowl) cream together butter and 1 cup granulated sugar. Add 3 eggs (or 2 and enough whites to equal another egg)..one at a time, beating well after each and scraping down bowl. Mix in vanilla. Stir in drained cranberries and pistachios.. ...I do this by hand after using mixer for the rest.

Scoop mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a 2" X 16" log and place onto parchment lined baking sheet. Gently flatten each log slightly.

{{Optional::: In small bowl, whisk remaining egg. Evenly brush over surface of each log - sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. ( I never bother with this step....) }}

Place into preheated 350 F to 375 oven. Bake til logs are slightly firm to touch...about 20 - 25 minutes. Watch bottoms ..don't let them become too brown unless you like your biscotti brown like some in this house do.... sigh..... Remove pan, reduce temp... (I usually turn it off til I am ready to bake a second time.)
Let cool for 15 minutes - lightly spritz log with water; let sit for 5 more minutes. (I've never heard of this technique before, but I think it does help with the slicing). Use serrated knife to cut logs into 1/2" slices. Place slices upright (or on sides) on baking sheet and place back into oven at lower temp... about 325 F. ... bake til slices are firm to touch...about 20 - 30 minutes. I put mine on their sides and turn them all over half way through. Remove from oven and transfer slices to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 48....depending on how thick you slice them.


TIP ::: Invest in a box of parchment paper. It 's a wonderful thing. Saves tons of time because you don't have to wash baking sheets...and also...saves your hands as well as water too if you don't have to keep filling up the sink.

Make sure you remove cookie logs from parchment as soon as they are cool enough to handle and transfer to cooling rack or they will not be as crisp as we like biscotti.....moisture seems to go back and forth between cookies and paper.....


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

I haven't tried it yet...but, here's a dandy!

I'll give it to you straight out of the little booklet put out by Publications International...using brand name products.  It's called Smoothies and Frozen Favourites.

When I make mine...I'll just leave out the chocolate milk... mostly cuz I never have it hanging around..why would I? ...but, it sounds like it would be wonderful just as banana peanut butter.

Here is what they call for:

1 1/2 cups reduced fat (2%) chocolate milk
2  TBSP  creamy peanut butter
1  ripe medium banana
2  cups vanilla nonfat yogurt
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP ground flaxseed

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Says it makes 4 one cup servings ...



My observations:  I don't think I'd bother with any sugar .. 'specially as I'm trying not to overdo the new guidelines of staying under the 100 grams per day ....  there would be a lot of natural sugar already in a banana and the vanilla yogurt.. and, hey...that flax seed sounds a good idea for added fibre to anybody's diet... and, I usually have natural chunky peanut butter..so won't be buying any creamy just to try one of these... chunks of peanuts will do nicely I'm sure... although, they may not get pulverized as much as they should to suck through a straw...hahahha.. who cares?  I'll drink it out of the glass.

Maybe later today I will get around to making one of these yummy sounding drinks... it's +24C .... already.....

I'd love to put on a picture but, they didn't have one of this ...if I get around to it..I will take a photo of my own ....

Instead, I give you ..my mango, strawberry, orange smoothie.....with frozen yogurt tossed in...  they are soooooo good you may decide to have one a day as we've been doing in the heat wave we're having..... who needs supper after one of these?






Thursday, July 10, 2014

Asparagus

I bought some lovely asparagus a few weeks ago.  On the tag it said to store it in a small amount of water standing upright... in the fridge.

I was skeptical...but, I decided to try it.

Wow!

I cooked half the bundle the same day I bought it... because I like to have it nice and fresh...  but, as a test, I left this bundle in the water in the fridge ..  for over a week!  You know what happens to asparagus in the crisper..it gets wilty and the tops even get slimy sometimes...ick..... but.... look how firm it stayed.  And, when I cooked it... it tasted as good as the day I bought it...

What a great tip.  Definitely put your unused stalks in a container and save it for another day... no more wrecked and wasted asparagus!
















Saturday, May 24, 2014

Who doesn't love a smoothie?

I know I really enjoy them.  And, it's one of those things you make that probably is never quite the same twice ...but is always yummy.




It's always a matter of what is at hand really.  This time it began with some orange juice, a banana, some frozen blueberries and frozen strawberries.. add a few big dollops of frozen vanilla yogurt ...and a splash of my milk substitute... Vanilla So Good .... mmmm.... very tasty if I do say so myself... and, I do.  Today I made almost the same version, but added some apple sauce as well....

It doesn't matter how many or how few blueberries I toss in... it will be purple if there are blueberries...but, it's a pretty colour, so it's okay...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mountain Bread

...or Mountain Man Bread ...

My brother bakes it and, sent me the recipe.  He's a true mountain man living in the middle of nowhere (in the mountains)  ... hunting, fishing and baking ... feeding the wildlife and taking lots of pictures.  He also makes a special orange loaf, and a mean cherry pie, let me tell ya... but, back to his bread....

If you use a 9 x 5 loaf pan it will hold the dough, but, it does make a gargantuan loaf... sometimes too big for my toaster.. so I cut the slices in half ...or bake them in smaller pans and get two small loaves instead of one huge loaf.  Your choice.  But, please give it a try!


Multigrain Bread

1 TBSP  (15 ml) granulated sugar
1 - 1 1/2 cups (375 ml)  warm water
1 pkg (2 1/2 tsp/11ml) active dry yeast
1  cup (250 ml)whole wheat flour
2  TBSP (25 ml)fancy molasses  ((I only use 1 TBSP))
2 TBSP (25ml) butter melted
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
1/4 cup (50ml) shelled sunflower seeds
2  TBSP (25ml) flax seeds
2/3  cup (150 ml) rolled oats (not instant)
3 cups  (750 ml) all purpose flour (approx.)

In bowl, dissolve 1 tsp (5 ml) of sugar in 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the warm water; sprinkle in yeast.  Whisk in 1/4 cup (50ml) of the whole wheat flour; set in warm place til bubbly, about 10 minutes.

In large bowl, combine molasses, butter, salt and remaining sugar and warm water.  Sir in sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, yeast mixture and 1/2 cup (125 ml) of rolled oats.   Stir in remaining whole wheat flour and enough all purpose flour to make stiff dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, kneading in as much of remaining all purpose flour as necessary, about 10 minutes.

Place in large greased bowl, turning to grease all over.  Cover with plastic wrap or towel; let rise in warm draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface.  With rolling pin, flatten into 11 x 8 inch rectangle; firmly roll up into log and pinch seam to seal.  Or, shape into loaf log with hands and fit into pan.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

With tip of sharp knife, make 1/2 inch deep slash lengthwise down centre of loaf.  Brush top with water and sprinkle with remaining oats.   In conventional oven bake at 400F (200) for 30 minutes.

For convection oven bake in centre at 350F (180 C)about 40 minutes.   When done, bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Remove from pan; let cool on rack.


Options:::::  If you are used to baking, you will find easier ways to do the mixing and also add and subtract seeds and nuts as you prefer.

 I usually make mine in my stand mixer.  So, I put some warm water and sprinkle yeast over it in the mixer bowl ... wait for yeast to froth (about 10 minutes) and then add other ingredients, beginning with the wet ingredients and then, the flours, nuts and seeds.   Run mixer with dough hook til dough clears sides of bowl and then, take the lump of still slightly sticky dough out and knead for some more minutes on floured surface adding a bit more flour til I get a silky and just non sticky mass..  then put in greased bowl for first rise.

I don't bother slashing the top or adding oats to it...they usually just fall off and make a mess on the oven bottom ... also, I only use one TBSP of molasses ..it is too much for my taste if I use the recommended two TBSP...

.... and, if I don't have enough sunflower seeds or no flax around... I just leave them out or add some more of the other .... it's a pretty forgiving loaf....and, very tasty.  Some day I'm going to try stuffing chunks of hard cheese inside of it....













Has a lovely rustic look to it.


It makes the best toast!