Monday, January 29, 2007

Pasta Putanesca

If you like pasta and you like a little zing, this dish is for you. It is a great meal to make if you don't have a lot of time. It doesn't require a lot of exotic ingredients either. Just a few pantry staples and you will be ready to whip it up.

Here is the link and the recipe.

Pasta Putanesca

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion—finely chopped
2 cloves garlic—finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets—chopped
1 small red chili—de-seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons capers—rinsed and drained
8 pitted black olives—quartered
14 oz (420g) canned tomatoes—chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
7 oz (200g) spaghetti

HEAT 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. ADD the garlic and anchovies and cook for a minute, stirring to break up the anchovies. ADD the chili, capers, olives, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. REDUCE the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. WHILE the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta. DRAIN the cooked pasta into a colander and put the sauce in the bottom of the pot. TOP with the hot pasta, parsley and reserved tablespoon of olive oil, and toss together gently to combine.

To make this meal more protein-packed you can add a 6 oz (180g) can of tuna (drained and flaked) to the sauce at the end of cooking to heat through.

I had heard of this dish many times and somehow never made it. That is until my niece decided to make dinner for me and my family. She had never made it either, but you would never know because it was delicious.

The name of the dish has a pretty funny origin. In Italian it translates to "women of the night" pasta. I have heard many different reasons for the name. One is that it is so easy and quick to prepare, that the "ladies" had plenty of time for business. Another is that it is hot and spicy, just like these women. Although it doesn't have to be. In my case, I can't eat spicy food, so my niece left out the hot red pepper flakes.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chocolate-Dipped Almond Biscotti

I saved the best for last!

This is the probably the 5th Holiday that I made these biscotti and I think they are the best of my whole collection. There is something about the combination of almond, orange and chocolate that kills me every time! I think these are one of my brother's favorites as well. I send him a batch almost every year.

The recipe came from an insert in Family Circle magazine, featuring their top 10 recipes. I can see why this one was listed!

Chocolate-Dipped Almond Biscotti

1 cup slivered almonds
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange rind (I used the rind of one whole orange)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread almonds evenly on baking sheet.
2. Toast almonds at 375 degrees F for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool. Coarsely chop.
3. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
4. Beat together butter and sugar in medium-size bowl until creamy. Beat in egg, yolk, vanilla, rind and almond extract.
5. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture to form dough. Stir in almonds.
6. Place dough on a baking sheet. Shape into 11 x 4-inch log. If too soft, refrigerate to firm.
7. Bake in 375 degree F oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove log to cutting board. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
8. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
9. Using serrated knife, cut log crosswise on a slight angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Carefully transfer to baking sheet, a cut side down.
10. Bake in 325 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden (I only leave them for about 5-7 minutes). With spatula, transfer biscotti to wire rack to cool. Makes 24 biscotti.

Hope you like them, I know I did!!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookie Tiramisu Trifle

The perfect holiday dessert! A real crowd pleaser.
My Americanized version of Italian Tiramisu!

Expect a lot of Ooh's and Ahh's when you set this decadent dessert down on the table. And for good reason. It is beautiful and sinfully rich! It looks like it took hours to make, but it is pretty easy, actually. As long as you have chocolate chip cookies on hand that is. Other wise you would have to bake a batch or you could cheat and use a package of Chips Ahoy! I won't tell if you don't.
I did cheat myself by using Cool Whip Topping instead of Whipped Cream since I didn't have any on hand. And guess what, no one knew the difference.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookie Tiramisu Trifle

1 batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies or Blondies cut up into small squares.
One 8 ounce container of Neufeuntal Cream Cheese, at room temperature
3 or 4 tablespoons Sugar
1 cup cold Espresso (I made instant, you can find instant espresso at any Italian market or in the International Food Isle in the Super Market)
1 recipe Zabalione (Custard filling) See below
1 tub of Light Cool Whip Topping, thawed (or an equal amount of whipped cream for all of you cool whip snobs out there, wink wink-Amy).
1 can of Cherry Pie Filling
Unsweetened Cocoa powder to sift

The first thing you have to do is make the Zabalione which is the hardest part of this recipe. The rest is just assembly, so don't be discouraged. It is actually a lot easier than you think. There are many recipes of Zabalione out there and they are all a little bit different.

Here is my version that I use all the time.


7 Egg Yolks
7 Tablespoons of Sugar
3/4 cup of Amaretto

1. Fill a saucepan 1/3 full with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in the Amaretto. Set the bowl over the simmering water, taking care that it doesn't touch the water. Whisk for 5-8 minutes, removing the bowl from the heat for a moment if it heats too quickly. The mixture should be thick and foamy.

Mix the cream cheese to soften just until smooth and then fold in the zabaglione. Cover and refrigerate.

Once the Zabalione-cheese mixture is cool, fold in the cool-whip topping. Set aside.

In a wide, flat bowl, whisk the espresso with the sugar.
Quickly dip each cookie in the cold espresso and place in the trifle to cover the bottom. Top with 1/4 of the Zabalione mixture and top with another layer of espresso dipped cookies. Top again with a 1/4 of the Zabalione mixture.

Add the can of Cherry Pie Filling and cover with another layer of cookies, then the Zabalione mixture. Top with the final layer of cookies and final 1/4 of the Zabalione mixture.
Sift the cocoa over the top and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Everyone really enjoyed this dessert. My niece's husband actually said he liked this Americanized version of Tiramisu better than the original. For me, the cherry filling kind of masked the flavor of the zabalione which I love. I still like the
traditional Tiramisu best, but I did enjoy this version as well.

Oatmeal Cranberry Dark & White Chocolate Chip Coconut Walnut Biscotti

The name is a mouthful in it's self!

For all of you cookie lovers out there, here is another biscotti recipe worth trying. For everyone else, sorry I'm boring you with more biscotti. Don't worry though, I only have a few more to go!

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip Coconut Biscotti
Adapted from Ocean Spray' s Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Sweetened Dried Cranberries
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, coconut, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries, walnuts and both the white and semi-sweet chocolate chunks.

Form dough into 3 or 4 logs the length of your cookie sheet and about 2 inches wide. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 2o minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes and then cut into slice on a diagonal. Place slices on their sides on the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes depending on desired crispiness. Cool completely and store in an airtight container or freeze.

These biscotti were a new addition to my usual holiday collection. I wanted a recipe that had a little bit of everything in it and this one came close. I was inspired one day while reading a recipe on the back of an Ocean Spray's sweetened cranberry bag. It was for Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I liked the sound of it and decided to turn them into biscotti. I decided it needed a few more ingredients for my liking, so I added in semi-sweet chocolate chips, toasted walnuts, coconut and vanilla extract (which in my opinion belongs in almost every cookie recipe). The rest is history! ENJOY.

Cute Jars...Nice Gift!

I found these jars at the Christmas Tree Shop and I just fell in love! They are so cute and I thought they would be perfect for my biscotti gifts. They are also very functional, since they can be used for storing anything once the biscotti are history.

Needless to say, I kept one for myself. Ahh, the season of giving!!!

p.s. I still have more biscotti recipes to post, so keep an eye out!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Almond Biscotti

Here is the classic biscotti... It is so good, you won't be able to eat just one!

Almond Biscotti

(recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)

1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon butter/margarine
1 (1 ounce) bottle (equals 2 tablespoons) Almond Extract
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 egg plus 1 tsp water ( beaten together for egg wash)
3 giant chocolate candy bars (1 dark,1 milk, 1 white)
Colored sugar
optional: 1 cup almonds (bake 10 minutes,chop and add to dough)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 325 degrees.
1. Combine the sugar, baking powder, and margarine.
2. Blend in the entire bottle of extract.
3. Add the eggs and then the flour, one cup at a time.
Note: Remember that flour is a bit like a sponge. It absorbs whatever moisture is in the air
around it. So, on a humid day you’ll have a wetter flour. As a result, you’ll need to add
more to your dough or batter to absorb the moisture in it. But always start with a lesser
amount. It’s easy to add flour to a dough or batter but once it‘s in there you can’t get it out.

4. Spoon the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet to form two logs 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch high.
5. Brush logs with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes.
6. Remove them from the oven and cuts logs diagonally into slices 1 inch thick to produce cookies. Turn each on its side and re-bake at the same temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Melt chocolate and put each in squeeze bottles. Spread a layer of melted milk chocolate on half of the cookies and spread a layer of dark chocolate on the rest. Drizzle tops with white chocolate and sprinkle with colored sugar.

This is a no fail recipe and everyone loves these biscotti. They are so easy to make, so give them a try-you will not be disappointed!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Here is the recipe you've been waiting for...

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Biscotti

1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (I think I used only 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla (I always put a little extra)
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups quick oatmeal (I have used regular oatmeal with good results)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts - optional (I always add them for myself, but omit them for gifts in case of unknown allergies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Fold mixture in with flour and baking powder. Mix in oats, chips and nuts.

Onto a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon out mixture to form 2 logs the length of the sheet. Leave enough space in between each log, since they will spread while cooking.
For smaller cookies use 2 baking sheets and form 4 logs.

Bake for about 2o minutes, so that when you touch the tops they are firm and lightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes.

Slice logs diagonally and place on sides on the baking sheet. Put biscotti back in the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes depending on how crisp you like your biscotti. (I only leave them for 5 minutes). Cool and store in an airtight container.

To decorate: Just melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips and some white chocolate chips in the microwave, separately. Dip a spoon in the melted chocolate and drizzle over the cookie tops. I actually use squeeze containers because it makes it so easy to drizzle. While the chocolate is still wet, shake on some candy sprinkles.

If you like chocolate chips cookies, you will love these biscotti. And the great thing about biscotti, is that they last for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container. Although, they never last that long in my house.
So get the baking sheets back out and give yourself or someone you love a treat!!
Try 'em, you'll love 'em!!!