Minggu, 30 Januari 2011

Chocolate Biscotti

I can't resist Biscottis and don't feel too guilty when I have one or two (or three) of those crunchy little things with my coffee. Better than a big piece of cake, right? Only recently I discovered how easy it is to bake them yourself. I hadn't tried a dark biscotti, so I decided to make a chocolate one this time. Who better to help me find a good recipe than Dorie Greenspan?
Full of dark chocolate and espresso flavor and packed with lots of almonds these dark beauties make you crave for more.

Chocolate Biscotti
(Dorie Greenspan, Baking)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant coffee or instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar (I always use a bit less, more like 3/4)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds (or hazelnuts - next time)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, coffee powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla; beat for another 2 minutes. Decrease the speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead a few times just to incorporate any dry ingredients that didn't get mixed in before. Divide into two portions; on the baking sheet, shape each portion into a 12 x 2 inch log. Dust the tops with a little sugar (to make them look pretty, I'm assuming). Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the sheet from the oven and let it cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Then, with a very sharp, serrated knife, slice the logs into about 3/4 - 1 inch slices and leave the slices standing up on the baking sheet (some people lay them down, but I like both sides to get crispy). Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes of baking.

Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.

Jumat, 28 Januari 2011

Chicken Adobe

Last week, my husband found a recipe that he thought I had to try. He kept talking about it the whole weekend and described it so appetizing that I immediately bought the ingredients and started cooking.
This dish is called Adobe Chicken. It is the national Philippine dish and many people argue about how to cook it the "right way". Some serve it as a stew, some people add pork, some broil it at the end, etc. 
This recipe is from a restaurant called Purple Yam, it is very easy to make and absolutely tasty.
I planned the meal for six, but actually there were only four of us because one of our visitors got a terrible cold and wasn't able to come unfortunately. Everyone was so impressed with how great the flavors worked together that we ended up eating all of it! 
I would describe this dish as an "Asian Sauerbraten". There is a lot of rice vinegar involved, the vinegar is mixed with soy sauce and coconut milk. The chicken has to marinate over night and will then be cooked in the marinade. Finally the whole dish gets broiled to get a nice crust. In my case, the crust didn't really work out, but that is because I used skinless chicken breasts instead of chicken legs as indicated in the recipe.

Chicken Adobe
(Adapted from  Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, Purple Yam Restaurant, Brooklyn)
serves 4

1 1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
12 garlic cloves, peeled
3 whole bird's-eye chilies or other fiery chili
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 pounds chicken thighs

1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large, nonreactive bowl or resealable plastic freezer bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

2. Place chicken and marinade in a large lidded pot or Dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender around 30 minutes.

3 Heat boiler. Transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl, raise heat under the pot to medium-high, and reduce the sauce until it achieves almost the consistency of cream, about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and chilies.

4. Place chicken pieces on a roasting pan and place under broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, until they caramelize. Remove, turn chicken, baste with sauce and repeat 3 to 5 minutes more. Return chicken to sauce and cook for a few minutes more, then place on a platter and drizzle heavily with sauce. 

If you are using chicken breast, reduce the cooking time or it might get too dry.

Senin, 24 Januari 2011

Spelt and Semolina Shortbread

Spelt is an ancient grain that has been grown in Europe for over 300 years. In North America it has been grown for just over 100 years. It is similar to wheat in appearance, but has a nuttier and slightly sweeter flavor than whole wheat flour. Spelt contains more protein than wheat, and the protein in spelt is easier to digest. 
These shortbread cookies are light and crispy. The nutty flavor of the spelt goes very well with the cinnamon in the cookie and the sprinkled sugar adds an interesting crunchy texture to the shortbread.

Spelt Shortbread Paste
From: Brithishlarder.uk
(makes approx. 40)

  • 225g spelt flour
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 100g corn flour
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Semolina Crunch
  • 40g semolina
  • 40g dark brown sugar

Place the spelt flour, corn flour, icing sugar, ground cinnamon and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter in small cubes. Add the butter to the flour by using the paddle attachment of the mixer, set the mixer on low spread and mix until all the butter has been rubbed in to the flour and it comes together. Do not overwork the pastry, as it will make the paste tough and elastic.
Divide the shortbread paste in to two even sized blocks, wrap well in cling film and rest the shortbread paste for one hour in the fridge. (I rolled the dough to a log and sliced the cookies from the log)

Preheat the oven to 170°C/335 F

Once you are ready to bake the shortbread remove the shortbread paste from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Roll the shortbreads out to 5mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a suitable cutter and cut the required shapes.Place the shortbread shapes on a lined baking sheet.
Make the semolina crunch by mixing the semolina and the dark brown sugar together. Evenly distribute the semolina crunsh over the short bread biscuits.
Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake the short breads for 15 minutes. Once cooked transfer the short breads to a cooling rack to cool.

Kamis, 20 Januari 2011

Tandoori Red Lentil Soup

Nothing heats you more up than a steaming hot cup of soup on cold winter days. Especially this rich and silky red lentil soup. The vibrant red-orange color already lights up your day. The special ingredient in this soup is the home made tandoori paste. It adds an incredible flavor to the soup. The lentils and the tomatoes give it texture, and the coconut milk is a perfect combination with the spiciness of the chillis.

Spiced Red Lentil Soup
(From: Britishlarder.uk)

80 g home made tandoori paste
50 g tomato puree
50 g sunflower oil
400 g tinned diced tomatoes
250 g coconut milk
150 g dried red lentils
200 g carrots, peeled and 10mm diced
200 g celery, 10mm diced
200 g banana shallots 10mm diced
1 large red chilli de-seeded and sliced
salt and pepper
600m l vegetable or white chicken stock

1. Heat a large saucepan with the oil to a medium temperature.

2. Sauté the diced carrots, shallots and celery with a little bit of seasoning. Always remember to season, especially soups,a bit at a time, as during the cooking and reduction processes the flavours becomes stronger and it’s easy to over season. Cook until the vegetables become transparent but not coloured.

3. Add the sliced red chilli, tandoori paste and tomato puree, cook for 3 minutes, add the dried red lentils and stir.

4. Add the tinned diced tomatoes and the stock, bring the soup to the boil, turn the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid.

5. Simmer the soup for 40 minutes over low heat.

6. Add the coconut milk, turn the heat to high, bring the soup back to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.

7. Use a ladle and scoop a third of the hot soup in to a food processor or a thermomix and puree until smooth, add this back to the soup and stir. By blending only a third of the soup, this will ensure that your soup has a silky thick and creamy texture with some whole bits of carrots and lentils.

8. Serve the soup garnished with extra virgin olive oil, cooked red lentils mixed with sliced spring onions and fresh basil.

 Home Made Tandoori Paste

80g fresh coriander
100g fresh ginger, peeled
2 lemons, zest grated and juiced
50g cumin seeds
50g mild paprika
4 fresh large red chillies, de-seeded
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
250g tomato puree
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

 Wash the coriander, peel the ginger and garlic. Gently toast the cumin seeds in a hot pan, cool the toased cumin seeds before using.
 Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste.
 If you are not using the paste immediately spoon the paste in a clean ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen remove the ice cubes and place them in a freezer bag until needed.
 As this paste is a strong concentrate you do not need a lot of it. If you want to marinade chicken, meat or fish mix equal quantities of the paste with natural yoghurt, mix well and spread submerge the protein in the marinade, leave for a minimum of 6 hours before use. I normally let the protein marinade over night to ensure penetration.
 Makes a large quantity more than required for the soup, freeze the rest.

 This Tandoori Paste recipe is über cool, natural and versatile. I normally make a large batch of the paste and freeze it in ice cube trays, once frozen pop the cubes out in to a freezer bag and use them as required. This way the fresh spices and herbs remain super pungent and you always have a magical natural ingredient to hand. This recipe is strong and you require only a small amount to give extra flavour and depth to your cooking. When you wish to use the paste defrost the frozen cubes and either mix the Tandoori paste with equal quantities of natural yoghurt to home made tandoori paste and use it as a marinade for fish or meat. The use and versatility is endless, stir a couple of cubes in to a home made curry or soup for extra depth of flavour or mix a bit in to couscous for an exciting and tasty salad.

Selasa, 18 Januari 2011

Indian Naan

I had been looking for a good, decent naan bread for a long time and none of the recipes that I tried really turned out how I wanted them- until I found this recipe. The naan is fluffy on the inside with a little crunch on the outside. If you can find Nigella seeds sprinkle them on the naan, it makes a big difference. This bread is a great side dish or appetizer served with chutney. I was so happy when I finally found the perfect recipe!

(The flavors of Asia)

Note: Start 6 hours in advance

1 lb 8 oz (675 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil, plus as needed for garnish
3/4 teaspoon yeast
1 to 1 1/4 cups warm water, or as needed
Optional: Nigella for sprinkling

1. Mix all of the ingredients except for the water together in a bow.

2. Gradually add the water and knead until a smooth, soft dough is achieved, about 10 minutes.

3. Set aside for about 6 hours in a warm place.

4. Make tennis ball-sized pieces of dough, and place the balls in a warm place until they  rise again, about 1 hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 475 F (240C)

6. Flatten each dough ball and spread it with a rolling pin or by hand by tossing and slapping with both hands. Gently stretch each piece of dough into a round 7 inches (18cm) in diameter, so that the center is 1/4 inch (6mm) thick and there is a border 1/2 inch (1cm) wide all around. Pull one edge out to elongate each round slightly, creating a teardrop shape.

7. Place the bread onto a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and brush with a little butter. Sprinkle with Nigella, if using

(I baked mine on a pizza stone that was place in the top third of the oven and preheated for about an hour)

8. Bake the naans in the oven  until golden brown and puffed, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool completely on racks.

9. Garnish with a little butter.

Sabtu, 15 Januari 2011

Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle Salad

Still suffering from those additional holiday pounds?  This salad makes it easy to get started with a fresh and light diet.
Vietnamese cuisine is well known for its contrasts of taste and texture and this salad is no exception. Crunchy bean sprouts and sugar snap peas are mixed with light glass noodles and dressed in a tangy ginger-lime dressing. The shrimp add great flavor and protein and the Chile rounds the dressing with a slight spiceness. I was a little bit worried that the flavor of the fish sauce would be overwhelming so I started out using a small teaspoon. I ended up adding the whole amount and it worked out perfectly.

Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle Salad
(From Nigella Lawson)

Vietnamese Dressing:
2 Cloves Garlicminced or crushed
2 Fresh Long Red Chilesseeded and finely diced or julienned
2 Tbsp Finely Minced Fresh Ginger
4 Tbsp Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
1 Limejuiced
4 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Groundnut Oil
1 tsp Sesame Oil

8 ounces Cooked Small Shrimp
6 ounces Glass Noodles
4 ounces Sugar Snap Peas
4 ounces Bean Sprouts
3 Scallionssliced into thin circles
½ cup Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro Leavesto garnish

To make the Vietnamese Dressing, simply mix all the ingredients together. This will keep very well in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for at least a week.

To make the salad, marinate the shrimp in ½ cup of the Vietnamese Dressing. While this is going on, soak the noodles in freshly boiled water according to packet instructions. Once re-hydrated, refresh the noodles in cold water, then drain. Put the sugar snaps and bean sprouts into a colander and pour over freshly boiled water from a kettle. Rinse them with cold water and drain well, just shaking the colander, so they're not actually wet.

In a large bowl, mix the marinated shrimp with the drained noodles, scallions, sugar snaps, and bean sprouts. Dress with 2 tablespoons more of the Vietnamese Dressing; add more dressing, to taste, if desired.

Sprinkle over the chopped cilantro and toss everything together well before arranging onto a large plate.

Selasa, 11 Januari 2011

Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes

This recipe is another hit out of Dorie Greenspan's book "Around my french table". A sweet-spicy tagine with chicken, prunes and sweet potatoes. You can smell and taste the cinnamon and slight hint of the star anise. The vegetables will get very soft and the cayenne will give it a nice kick. I brought this dish to a Potluck, and everyone loved it, even though it was not completely gone; which I think was due to the other 6 chicken dishes we had at a Potluck for only 24 people.

Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes 
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table cookbook)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and a half


1/4 cups of olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of water
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 large pinches of saffron threads, crushed
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinammon
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons of honey
1 cup of chicken broth (preferably homemade)
12  prunes
1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

Pour two tablespoons of vegetable oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or cast iron casserole over medium-low heat. Now add the onion, stirring to coat it with oil, then add 1 tablespoon of water, season with a little salt, and cover the pot. Cook the onions gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not brown.

In a separate skillet, brown the chicken. Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Put the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer it to a plate.

Once the onions are soft, add the saffron, honey, bay leaf, chicken broth, and the rest of the water. Throw in the dates, and then the chicken. Toss the sweet potatoes on top and bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium, bringing the liquid to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Resist the temptation to lift the lid before the 45 minute mark. The steam is what makes this dish so good. The dish is done once the sweet potatoes are soft.
Feel free to reduce the liquid once the chicken is cooked. Just remove the chicken and sweet potatoes and boil the liquid until it is a consistency to your liking. 

Jumat, 07 Januari 2011

Cookie Heaven

Baci di Dama

Recently I subscribed to a photo blog to get better at taking pictures. When I received the latest post of the blog yesterday it contained beautiful pictures, and also a recipe for little italian cookies. They are made with lots of hazelnuts and filled with chocolate or Nutella and are called Baci di Dama which means "Lady's kisses".  Despite my hazelnut allergy I knew immediately that I had to make these cookies as soon as possible . So I went off to the supermarket the next morning to get the hazelnuts. Unfortunately I had to visit several supermarkets to find them  - it seemed to be a bad harvest last fall. But the effort was well worth it.

The dough came together quickly and I used my small ice cream scoop to form the little dough balls.
By the time the cookies were cold enough to spread them with the chocolate,  I ran out of  time,  so I put them in a container waiting for me to have some free time.

Later that day, when I was ready to finish them, I opened the container and half of the cookies were already gone. I had no clue how that happened....
With or without chocolate these cookies are incredibly good, so start your diet next week and go to the store to get some nuts.

Baci di Dama
(adapted from Dario Milano)

  • 300 g all purpose flour
  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 250 g sugar
  • 250 g hazelnuts, grounded
  • 200 g dark chocolate
Sift the flour and set aside.

Make sure the butter is soft, you can use the microwave, but it's just easier to leave the butter at room temperature for a couple of hours before it's needed.

Incorporate all the ingredients by hand wokring the dough gently but quickly; this should only take a couple of minutes. Set the dough aside and cover it with cling wrap to prefent it from getting too dry.

Aline a baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat oven to 180 C.

Start shaping the little spheres tryiing to keep their size as consistent as poxssible; if you want you can use a teaspoon or a small ice cream scooper.

Bake the biscuits for 10 - 15 minutes or until they become lightly golden in colour, but not brown. Let the biscuits cool down at room temperature, in the meantime melt the chocolate over a simmering bain-marie or in the microwave.

Allow the chocolate to cool down as well, it has to have the consistency of nutella (in faact you can use nutella for an even nuttier taste)

Next, sandwich the biscuits two at a time using half a teaspoon of chocolate to glue them together..

Store the baci away in an air tight container and keep for up to 5 days - that's if you can resist eating the all batch in one go

Senin, 03 Januari 2011

Celery-Celery Soup

Happy New Year to all of you.
After weeks of parties, feasts, good food and maybe too much wine you might crave some healthy light dishes that can help you loose those additional pounds that you put on over the holidays. With lots of vegetables and an optional amount of cream involved, this soup might help you reach your goal.
Celery root and celery stalks provide the base for this hearty vegetable winter soup. The apples add a surprise in the center of the soup. Another winning recipe of Dorie Greenspan's new book "Around my french table".

Celery-Celery Soup
(From "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 celery stalks with leaves, trimmed and sliced
2 large onions, chopped
2 sweet apples, such as McIntosh or Fuji, peeled, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
Salt, pepper
1 pound celery root, peeled, cut in 1- to 2-inch cubes
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
6 cups chicken broth
Creme fraiche, heavy cream or sour cream, for serving (optional)

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over low heat. Toss in the sliced celery, onions and apples, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. 

Add the cubed celery root and turn it around in the butter. Toss the herbs into the pot, add the broth and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the celery root is soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon. If you can, pull out the bay leaf and what's left of the thyme.

Working in small batches in a blender (first choice) or food processor, puree the soup until it's smooth. (If you're using a processor or an immersion blender, you might not get a super-smooth soup. If you'd like, you can run the pureed soup through a strainer, but it's really not necessary. As you can see, mine is pretty chunky.) Taste for salt and pepper. 

This needs to be served very hot (especially on a snowy day) and, while it really doesn't need an embellishment, like just about everything else in the world, it's better with cream, so either stir some into the pot or put a spoonful in the center of each bowl and let everyone swirl it into the soup.

Playing around: 
It's fun to put a little surprise in the bottom of the soup bowl. Cut a peeled and cored apple or two into chunks and toss it into a skillet with a little melted butter. Stir it around, season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the cubes with some curry powder. Heat, stirring, until the powder is fragrant and coats the apple evenly. Put a spoonful of apple and/or croutons in each bowl before you ladle in the soup.

Curried apples:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon curry powder
2 apples, peeled and cut into spoon-able cubes

Curried croutons:
2 cups crustless stale bread, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon curry powder. 

For the curried apples, melt the butter in a large skillet. Stir in curry powder. Add apples and saute over medium heat just until crisp-tender.

Do the same thing with the crouton ingredients, cooking just until browned. Season with salt and pepper.