Category Archives: Italian

Torta della Nonna (Italian Grandmother’s Ricotta Tart)

This is bad, and I mean real bad. Because it is too good—too good for New Year resolutions, too good to for a nondescript name like “Grandma’s Pie” and seriously too good to resist.

My 2011 began with such promise. After proclaiming it The Year of the rabbit Me, I made goals like “no more yogurt and cereal for dinner”, “cut back on sugar” and “say ‘yes’ to people and activities that make me happy and ‘no’ to those that don’t.  I am proud to say that breakfast for dinner is no longer a part of my daily life; I also started learning Japanese taiko drumming (this city is seriously the best; you can do/find everything here), I’m joining a choir again, I’m volunteering more in the arts, and I even left the city last weekend to visit a friend. Yes, I crossed to the other side of the bay (very Sex & The City girls go to the Hamptons—too funny since I’m not sure East Bay really counts as a weekend retreat.) Anyway, that’s all good stuff. But sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. No gold star for me there.

I knew what I was doing when I made the ricotta cheese; it was for this tart. Very bad. I also knew what I was doing when the next evening I decided to make oatmeal raisin cookies with coconut and walnuts. Again, very bad. (Recipe to follow shortly, of course). I’ve resolved to be better. Starting this week. After my cookie post I have a healthy oven-braised chicken recipe to share.

Now to the tart. It’s another recipe from someone’s grandma, so you know it’s been tried and tested by an Italian grandma somewhere. The pastry recipe I got from Mario Batali via the Food Network, though I’m not sure it’s really from his Nonna. And the filling recipe I took from Cook Almost Anything, and apparently, it’s from her mother. Regardless of origin, both are fantastic.

I went with Mario’s pastry recipe as it required way less fat (as in 3 tbsp each butter and olive oil vs almost 1 cup butter). It was simple to put together and when finished reminded me of pasta dough. As for the filling, I particularly liked the addition of semolina and lemon zest. I added raisins to the mix and the additional handful almonds for topping, but otherwise left the recipe alone. Assembly and baking are pretty standard. The tart will rise a bit while in the oven, especially in my case since my dough was still a bit raw after 35 minutes and I had to bake for an additional 10. One thing worth noting about the dough is that it is not supposed to be too golden, so don’t keep the pie in for too long waiting for the right color because you’ll just over-bake it and end up with a dry custard. In hindsight, I probably should have baked for only an extra 5 minutes as I think my custard would have been a smidgen creamier. Oh well, next time. Overall, though, I’m happy with my efforts! And by the way. I baked it Thursday, and it was gone Sunday night. (And yes, I did share 😛 )

Enjoy!

Torta della Nonna

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

Pastry (adapted from Mario Batali recipe via Food Network)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp sweet butter plus 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, melted together

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Filling (adapted from Cook Almost Anything)

1 1/4 cup whole milk

scant 1/2 cup semolina

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 1/4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins, optional

handful almond flakes, optional

confectioner’s sugar, optional

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

For the pastry

  1. To make the pastry, make a well in the flour, and place egg, yolks, sugar, butter and olive oil mixture in the center and proceed as you would with fresh pasta, i.e. bring flour in bit by bit until the liquid in the well is thick enough to bring together with your hand. Knead until the dough is smooth, then allow to rest 10 minutes.

For the Filling

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just warm – rain in the semolina, stirring as you do to stop any lumps forming. Add the lemon zest and continue to stir until the mixture thickens and comes away from the side of the pan. Take it off the heat to cool.
  2. Push the ricotta through a fine sieve – this just helps to lighten the mixture. (Skipped this step…no fine sieve.) Place the sieved ricotta into a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and cooled semolina mixture and using an electric mixer, beat until thoroughly mixed. If using, stir in the raisins now.
  3. Prepare the pastry case: Divide the dough into two—two-thirds for the base and one-third to form the top.
  4. On a well-floured surface, roll the larger piece out to line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed 20 cm/8 inch round pie pan. Make sure the pastry overhangs the lip to make joining the top easier.
  5. Pour the prepared filling into the case, smoothing it out to level the surface. It will rise when it cooks so don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the top of your pie case.
  6. Roll the smaller piece of pastry to form a circle a little larger than the pie pan.
  7. Brush the lip with a little milk before placing the pastry top – press down to make sure the dough sticks and then trim to size.
  8. Lightly brush the top with the milk, a sprinkle of sugar and, if using, a handful of almonds.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and cooked through. (Mine needed 45 because after 35 the dough was still raw. To prevent burning, I covered the pie with a piece of foil with the center cut out.)
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing it to a wire rack. At this point, you could dust the top generously with confectioner’s sugar. (I chose not to.)


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Homemade Ricotta Cheese: It Can Be Done! (Even in the Microwave)

Whole Foods makes me mad sometimes. How do they get away with charging people $5.99 for 16 oz of ricotta cheese? It’s just milk heated with a little vinegar. Sheesh! Well, I can do that.

So I did. And it’s so simple! I googled around for recipes for a few minutes until coming across this article and recipe from Serious Eats, which claim you can make homemade ricotta cheese in 5 minutes! I liked this recipe in particular because, first of all, it only takes 5 minutes; second, it didn’t require me to buy any extras like buttermilk, cheesecloth and/or special strainers; and lastly, it has microwave directions! Cheese-making in the microwave? Crazy, I know. But it actually worked!

I used whole milk this time, but I suppose you could use any kind of cow or goat milk. Non-dairy wouldn’t work, however; it has something to do with the whey that comes from animal milk, which reacts when combined with an acidic substance like vinegar or lemon juice. On that note, regarding the acid to add, I saw recipes, which called for buttermilk, lemon and distilled white vinegar. I would have used distilled white or lemon, but all I have here at home is apple cider vinegar. Guess what, it turned out fine. The recipe also says to microwave from 2 to 4 minutes; I needed the full 4, but it will depend on your microwave. You’ll know when it’s done because the milk will have completely curdled.

One more thing, the article discusses drainage time and how long you want to allow the cheese to strain before using it. It depends on what you want to do with the cheese. If you want to eat it right away, i.e. as a dessert or appetizer spread, then 5 minutes will suffice. For use as a filling, like in ravioli or manicotti, then 15-20 minutes. And for baking, like for use in pastries or pancakes, it’s best to strain for at least 2 hours or even overnight. I let mine sit overnight since I plan on baking with it. (I’m planning on making Torta della Nonna, Italian Grandmother’s Ricotta Tart, with it today.)

Doesn’t the picture LOOK like ricotta? It tastes and feels like it too! It does have a slight vinegary tang to it, but I don’t think it will be noticeable once baked. If I wasn’t going to bake with it, I think I’d pour some olive oil over the top, sprinkle over some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and then slather it over toasted baguette slices. Yum!

Enjoy!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese (recipe from Serious Eats)

printable recipe

Recipe makes 1/2 cup (and  is easily doubled)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups whole milk

1/4 tsp table salt

2 tbsp distilled white vinegar or lemon juice (I used apple cider vinegar because that’s all I had)

METHOD

  1. Line colander with four layers of cheesecloth or 2 layers of food-safe paper towels and set over large bowl. Combine milk, salt, and vinegar or lemon juice in microwave-safe glass 1-quart liquid measure. Microwave on high heat until lightly bubbling around edges, 2 to 4 minutes (milk should register about 165°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from microwave, and stir gently for 5 seconds. Milk should separate into solid white curds and translucent liquid whey. If not, microwave for 30 seconds longer. Repeat until fully separated.
  2. Using slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer curds to prepared colander, cover exposed top with plastic wrap, and allow to drain until desired texture is reached. Store in covered container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Chicken Baked in Tomato-Spinach Sauce

For someone who loves food so much, it seems odd to eat as much yogurt and cereal as I do. The fact of the matter is that cooking for one is booooring. Of course this bothers me. For one, it’s not exactly healthy. In a recent discussion with my friend Natalie regarding my carb and sugar diet of late, she told me, “I’m surprised you don’t look more like Jabba the Hut”. Me too. Second, it’s lame; it’s not like I don’t have the time, money or skill. And third, and most obvious, I am the Little Baker SF! and have a responsibility to blah, leafy greens, blah, organic, blah…you know what I mean.

Chicken baked in a tomato-spinach sauce. There, my redemption dish. Easy, yummy and organic. It’s not so quick–1 hour cooking time–but breast takes a long time to soften up. Using thighs would probably speed up the process.

Enjoy!

Tomato-Spinach Baked Chicken (recipe by Theresa)

printable recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1 chicken breast (mine was with bone and skin—moister and more flavor this way)

1 cup canned stewed tomatoes, crushed

1 handful spinach leaves

1 clove garlic, bruised but still whole

1 tbsp onion, roughly chopped or thinly sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp dried basil or oregano (or combination of both)

pinch of sugar

pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Rinse and pat chicken dry. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together tomato, spices and onion. Then mix in the spinach.
  3. Place chicken in an ovenproof dish. (I used a glass pie plate.) Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken, making sure to coat completely. Drizzle olive oil over chicken. And season with a little more salt and pepper if you like.
  4. Cover dish with foil and bake for 50 minutes. At the midway point, remove foil and finish baking.
  5. Remove from oven, replace foil and let sit for 10 minutes before eating.

Sausage, Peppers and Onions with Creamy Polenta

What a meal this turned out to be! Sweet sausage and peppers with creamy polenta…delicious. I should seriously make polenta more often—I love the feel of the smooth, tender grains in my mouth. It’s also way more interesting than plain old pasta.

Apart from a few minor tweaks, I stayed true to the original recipes (found here and here).

Enjoy!

Sausage, Peppers and Onions with Creamy Polenta

(recipes adapted from Giada de Laurentiis via Week of Menus and The Kitchn)

INGREDIENTS

Sauce

extra virgin olive oil

1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage

2 red bell peppers, sliced (I used green)

2 yellow onions, sliced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 1 big handful, incl. stems)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste (I omitted this)

1 cup Marsala wine (I used white)

1 15oz can diced tomatoes

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

1/2 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels, optional

Polenta

4 cups water (I used 2 cups 1% milk / 2 cups water)

1 cup polenta

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I omitted this)

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

For the Sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.
  2. Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil stems, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala (or white) wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cut the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, about 1-inch cubes. Add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. (I let mine stew for over an hour on very low heat.) Add the corn, if using, and chopped basil leaves, stir and allow to warm through.

For the Polenta:

  1. While the sauce is stewing, begin making the polenta. You’ll need about 45 minutes. First, bring the water to a boil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Once boiled, add the salt and, whisking continuously, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring nearly constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, the grains soften, and the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes. (The idea of stirring for 45 minutes annoys me, so I actually just turned off the heat when the mixture thickened, covered the pot and let the polenta steam until tender.)
  3. Stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, if using, and season with pepper. Cover to keep warm.
  4. Plate and serve with the sausage and peppers.

 

Tuna – Gigantes Bean Sauté

Mmmmm….beans. Beans are a good source of protein and fiber; beans are cheap—so cheap that I can even afford to buy organic.

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of bulk foods at Rainbow Grocery. Gigantes beans (aka giant lima beans), are just one of my latest discoveries from the bulk bin! Gigantes are meaty, creamy and buttery. And they’re HUGE: after soaking overnight and cooking, they grow to about the size of a thumb tip—what is that, like 2 inches? (P.S. Did you know that lima beans are actually named after Lima, Peru? I always wondered…you can read more here.)

When I bought my giant limas, I really wanted to make this, a dish I found on Closet Cooking…but I just didn’t have the time or the patience to boil, saute AND bake dinner just for me. No time for messing around when I’m hungry 🙂

I was inspired by the traditional Italian dish, Fagioli con Tonno (cannellini beans with tuna), when I was trying to figure out what to make.

Tuna and beans are such a clever combination. Hearty, interesting texture and go great with all kinds of herb combinations. I threw in some sad swiss chard left over from my CSA, a little garlic, onion and oregano—and that’s it. Dinner. To go with the main, I made a quick tomato-avocado salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Photo taken from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska

Enjoy!

Tuna – Gigantes Bean Sauté

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

Sauté

1 can white, no salt added tuna

1/4 cup Gigantes beans, soaked overnight

2 large leaves swiss chard, roughly copped

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup onion, roughly chopped

1 tsp dried oregano (I used Mexican; it has more flaaavor)

salt and pepper

olive oil

Tomato-Avocado Salad

1 small vine-ripened tomato, diced

1/4 small avocado, diced

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

a pinch of evaporated cane sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

a squeeze of fresh lemon

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

  1. Boil the beans over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, but reserve about 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the salad: in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Add the diced avocado and tomato. Set aside.
  3. Back to the beans: In a small pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion, garlic and swiss chard until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the tuna, oregano, salt and pepper and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked beans and reserved liquid into the pan. Reduce the heat to low and stir to combine. Fry until the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Plate the tuna and beans with your prepared salad, drizzle a little more fresh lemon over the top, and serve.


Chocolate Almond Torte

This. Is. Gooooood. Deep, dark and nutty, this cake is more intense than  chocolate cake yet less dense than a flourless torte.  The whole house has been nibbling on it all week—and it’s still moist and flavorful. I’m convinced even that it tastes better now than when I first tried it.

I made this on a whim last Sunday, brought in one-third to the office and served it on Tuesday for another roomie night. I will most definitely be making this again!

Chocolate Almond Torte (original recipe from Joy of Baking)

INGREDIENTS

7 oz (200 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

11 tbsp (150 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar, divided

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (100 g) finely ground almonds

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place oven rack in the middle of the oven.  Place the sliced or blanched almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Once completely cooled, place the nuts in a blender or small food processor and process until finely ground. Note:  The almonds need to be at room temperature before grinding to prevent them from clumping.  If you find the almonds still clump when you ground them, add about 1 tablespoon (13 grams) of the sugar from the recipe.  The sugar will help prevent clumping as it absorbs any oil exuded from the almonds.
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and line an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  3. Separate the cold eggs, placing the egg yolks in one bowl and the egg whites in another.   Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until they reach room temperature (about 30 minutes).
  4. Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once melted, remove from heat.
  5. Meanwhile place the egg yolks and 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Cream the yolks and sugar until pale and thick (about 2 to 3 minutes).  Beat in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract.  Fold in the ground almonds.
  6. In a clean bowl, place the egg whites and whisk until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form.  Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar and whisk until stiff peak forms.  Fold about 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it.  Quickly fold in the rest of the whites and mix only until incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 to 50 (40 was sufficient for me) minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake has a few moist crumbs.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  The cake will rise during baking but falls during cooling, leaving a crisp and cracked crust.  Once cool, run a spatula around the inside of the pan before releasing the sides.  If not serving immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator.   Serve cold or at room temperature.  Dust with powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar.

Roasted Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Tart

Took this pic w/ my cell. I swear I have THE WORST camera karma. I forgot my camera charger--again! Will have it back this weekend, though (Thx, Guapo!)

I’m so excited to write today. It’s one of those dreamy Sunday afternoons here in the city. Sun, a cloudless sky and quiet on the street below. The cherry blossoms have also started budding and blooming right outside my apartment window. It is a day to be spent out of doors, which is exactly what I’ll be doing when I go on a walking tour of Victorian San Francisco.

But before I could do anything, I had to make this tart.

It is the kind of tart that comforts my little heart and puts all thoughts to rest. I simply read through the instructions and let my hands do the work. No over-thinking, no stressing. Just baking.

We had beautiful organic tomatoes and basil left over from Melita’s dinner party last week. It would have been a shame to let them just sit there. So I rescued them. I came across this Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart on Lisa is Cooking a few months ago, which in a google search led me to Nick Malgieri’s recipe. The dough is olive oil based, which intrigued me. And the ingredients list for the filling is short—and also very flexible—which is even more interesting. Each ingredient’s flavor will be distinct and intense in its own way. Also, you can completely change the character of the tart by using a different cheese and/or roasted veggies.

I hope you enjoy this tart as much as I did. Happy Superbowl Sunday!

Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart (adapted from Nick Malgierie’s The Modern Baker)

Makes one 10 to 11-inch tart

Olive Oil Dough

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2-3 tbsp water

Roasted Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes, cut into eighths

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled

olive oil

salt and pepper

Tart Filling & Egg Mixture

10 oz mild goat cheese, crumbled

1 large handful basil, cut into thin strips

6 large eggs

salt and pepper

METHOD

Roasted Tomatoes

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Place the prepped tomatoes and garlic cloves onto a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil on top and then sprinkle over the salt and pepper. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
  2. Transfer the tomatoes to a small bowl and allow to cool completely. Discard the garlic (I suppose you could use it if you like).

Dough

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. (I did this sans food processor.)
  2. Add the oil, egg, egg yolk and water. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a shaggy ball. Don’t over-mix or the oil might separate out of the dough and make it impossible to handle later on. If the dough seems dry and not about to form a ball, add water a 1/2 tsp at a time until it does. (I also did this all by hand. I made a well in the flour, whisked together the egg, egg yolk, oil and water in the well and then with a fork gradually mixed the liquids and flour mixture together.)
  3. Invert the dough onto a floured surface. Press the dough into a disk without folding it over on itself. Wrap and chill for up to 3 days.

For the Tart

  1. When you are ready to bake the tart, set a baking rack in the lowest level of the oven and pre-heat to 375 F.
  2. Roll the dough on a floured surface and then line your tart pan with it, trimming away the excess dough at the top rim. (I don’t like adding even more flour to the dough—it makes a mess and also changes the dough. Instead, I roll the dough out between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. No mess, no sticking and an easy transfer from counter to tart pan.)
  3. Sprinkle the tart crust with the goat cheese. Cover the cheese with the roasted tomatoes, slightly overlapping, followed by the basil.
  4. Whisk the eggs with the salt (not too much; the cheese is salty enough) and pepper. Pour the mixture into the tart crust to uniformly cover the tomatoes.
  5. Bake the tart until the filling is set and well colored and the crust is baked through, ca. 30 minutes. (Mine needed 35 min.) Then cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature.

Fish Baked in Foil-Purses and Topped with Homemade Spinach Pesto

Last night was Melita’s birthday. So we three girls decided to celebrate the occasion with a mini-celebration at home. We started with fondue, which we ate standing over the stove :P. For the main course, I made this amazingly easy and healthy baked fish topped with homemade spinach pesto. And for dessert, leftover tres leches cake from dinner the night before and a lemon tart (recipe to follow).

I’m tired and want to go to bed, so I’m not going to say much about this recipe, except that it’s dead easy to prepare and super healthy and oh so delicious—especially with the pesto and goat cheese.

Enjoy!

Tomato, Spinach and Fish Baked in Foil-Purses with Homemade Spinach Pesto (adapted from this recipe found on Apartment Therapy The Kitchn)

Serves 3 hungry girls ;P

INGREDIENTS

Fish

3 filets of white fish (not sure what kind I used—tilapia probably)

3 large handfuls baby spinach

2 roma tomatoes

1/2 purple onion, sliced thinly

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

basil (I used dried.)

the juice of 1 lemon

olive oil

goat cheese, to top

Spinach Pesto

2 handfuls baby spinach

1 handful walnut halves

1/4 cup aged gouda, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic

juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the Fish: Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Prepare 3 large pieces of aluminum foil.
  2. Divide the spinach leaves among the three sheets, laying them close together in the middle. Lay one piece of fish on each bed of spinach. Season generously with salt, pepper and basil.
  3. Divide the garlic and tomato and onion slices between the three pieces of fish, laying them on top. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each. Then sprinkle another pinch of salt and pepper over each. Then drizzle a little olive oil (ca. 1-2 tbsp) over each pile.
  4. Fold up the edges of the foil to create a closed foil-purse and bake, on a baking sheet, for about 20 minutes, just until the fish is opaque.
  5. Open the purses and put the oven on broil. Broil for 2-3 minutes.
  6. While the fish is baking, prepare the pesto: Combine all ingredients except the olive oil and lemon in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Then, while the machine is still on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until combine. Taste and season with a little more salt and pepper. Set aside.
  7. Once finished baking, plate the fish and veggies, spooning the juice over each pile. Then top with a generous spoonful of pesto and a dollop of goat cheese. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.

Bye Bye 2009 Peanut Butter and Jelly Biscotti

Before all the New Year’s Eve craziness got started (great night out, btw), I baked these delightful little peanut butter and jelly biscotti. I’ve never seen dual-layer ones before, so making these was kind of exciting—like I was creating something new and of my own imagination. My base recipe is a peanut butter biscotti one I found here.

The biscotti came out really cute and dainty. I used strawberry and blackberry jam. The strawberry layer didn’t really show as well as the blackberry, so from now on, I’ll use darker colored jams. Trader Joe’s has cherry right now, which would be an interesting flavor combination with peanut butter.

Bye Bye 2009. And happy new year!


Bye Bye 2009 Peanut Butter and Jelly Biscotti (adapted from Kicked Up Cookie Recipes)

INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (I used unsalted.)

2 heaping tbsps jelly or jam of any flavor (I used strawberry and blackberry.)

1/8-1/4 cup water (in case the dough is too dry)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another larger bowl, use a hand-mixer to mix together the eggs and brown sugar. Next, add in the peanut butter. Mix until combined thoroughly (no lumps).
  3. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Stir together with a spatula or wooden spoon. When the dough starts looking a little dry, add the water.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Divide the dough into 4 roughly equal-sized sections. Then, form the bottom layer of each biscotti log. It is helpful to use your hands (moisten with water first) to shape and flatten the dough section to roughly your desired size. Finish shaping on the cookie sheet, using moistened fingers to smooth out the surface and edges. (I always make 2 biscotti logs—for even baking and for handling ease. Also, for this batch, I use 2 different jam fillings.)
  5. Once you’ve formed the bottom layer, spread a heaping tablespoonful of jam or jelly on top. Be sure to leave about 1/2-inch of space at the edge jam-free.
  6. Form the top layer of the biscotti with your hands to roughly the same size as the bottom layer. Carefully lay it on top of the jam layer. Then, use your fingers to seal and press the edges together. Don’t press from the middle; this will cause the jam to spread and leak out.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow the biscotti to cool for ca. 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
  9. Once cooled slightly, slice at a diagonal and to your desired width. (I like mine about 1-in. thick) Lay the slices out flat on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, take the biscotti out of the oven to flip. Return to bake for another 10 minutes. Once finished, allow to sit overnight before eating.

Mood Buster Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Biscotti

I had a peppy post all prepared for this recipe, but now it just seems dishonest to publish it.

Because I feel like crap right now. And all I feel like doing is stuffing my face with cookies and crying into my milk. Unfortunately, however, I can’t do that. I’m leaving for Peru in two weeks—where it’s summer and where I will have to wear a bikini. So, because I don’t plan on rolling the beaches of Lima like a mama bear going into hibernation, I must find innocent people to feed. Sniff.

The recipe I used is an amalgamation of ingredients and methods from Quaker Oats’ recipes for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Coconut Oatmeal Biscotti and this Oatmeal Cookie biscotti recipe from Baking Bites.(Gosh, I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for using and loving her recipes so much). On the whole, everything went according to plan. The biscotti were a little wetter than I expected after the first round of baking. My original bake-time was 20-10-10, but I ended up increasing this to 20-15-15. Perhaps next time I’ll make the first round of baking go 30 minutes.

When I baked these, my entire kitchen was filled with the sweet smells of cinnamon, sugar and oatmeal. And when the little darlings finally cooled and I was able to taste one, my heart filled with the kind of soothing feeling that only a fresh-from-the-oven baked cookie can give.

I’m totally in love with the idea of transforming a beloved cookie into biscotti form. The possibilities for adaptations are limitless!

All this biscotti baking and brainstorming has put me in a much better mood…thank goodness! (^o^”)


Mood Buster Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Biscotti (adapted from Quaker Oats and Baking Bites)

Makes ca. 20 one-inch thick biscotti

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup quick cooking oats, plus extra for sprinkling

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temp.

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

a pinch of grated nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a larger bowl, use a hand-mixer (on medium speed) to whisk together the eggs, gradually adding in the brown sugar and then the vanilla until fully combined and the mixture has lightened in color and in density.
  3. Pour the dry ingredient mixture, plus the raisins and chopped walnuts into the wet; use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix together completely, until stirring becomes somewhat difficult. (The batter will seem a little wet at first, but keep stirring; the oats will eventually absorb most of that moisture.)
  4. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Divide the batter/dough into 2 piles on the cookie sheet. Moisten your hands with a little water and then pat, form and smooth out the piles, incl. tops and edges, into your desired length and width. (Mine were logs ca. 6×3 in.)
  5. Place on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven and bake for 20 30 minutes.
  6. After the first baking round, reduce the oven heat to 325 F. Then, remove the sheet from the oven and allow to cool ca. 10 minutes.
  7. Once cooled, slice at a diagonal (forgot to do this) into 1-in. thick pieces. Place the slices back onto the cookie sheet and bake for 15 10 minutes. Flip to the other side and bake for a final 15 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the tray from the oven. Place the biscotti on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving. (I suggest waiting until at least the day after baking before eating.)