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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

006I didn’t need any more. I have my gift baskets all ready for their bows. I really didn’t need anymore biscotti. But, like so many others, I needed something to redirect my thoughts from the insanity in Connecticut. Creativity can do that, whether it’s in the bright green hat I’m trying to knit with the stitches I must relearn, helping my Granddaughter build a styrofoam submarine for her school project, or bake another 96 biscotti. I kept very busy.

Orange Pomegranate Biscotti

2 Cup AP flour
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tbl Grated Orange Zest
1 teas or more Orange Extract
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
3 room temperature lg eggs
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries/Pomegranate flavored
1/2 Cup Walnuts
1 Tbl Blood Orange Olive Oil (any good grade olive oil can be substituted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray.
Place dry ingredients in mixer bowl and mix on low speed. I used freshly grated orange peel that I dried last summer so the flavor was very rich. You may need to adjust the amount of orange extract based on the flavor imparted by your orange zest. Stir nuts and fruit into dry ingredients. In a separate bowl set over very hot water, beat eggs and oil until thick and fluffy. Slowly fold egg mixture into flour mixture until well incorporated. Dump onto readied baking sheet and with wet hands form into a long loaf, about 12 in long, 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 325. Remove loaf from pan and cool for 15 minutes. Carefully slice loaf into 3/4 inch pieces. Place on ungreased cookie sheed and bake another 10 minutes, turn and bake 10 minutes longer until lightly golden and crisp on each side.

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Second annual biscotti blitz has just been completed (unless I give in to my desire for two more flavors).
Last year, all my family far away received my not quite perfect biscotti for Christmas. This year, I’ve been practicing and I’m thrilled to say I have the METHOD down pat. I love cooking this way, instead of relying on a specific recipe. I’m so pleased, I can finally trust myself. So, how many biscotti did I make, you ask? Six batches of at least 24 each.

Day one, I made Anise Biscotti with Anise Glaze, Almond Biscotti with Chocolate/Almond Dip, GingerBread Biscotti with Molasses, gingerbread drizzle.
Today I got real gutsy and tried some off the wall things using my foolproof biscotti METHOD.
So, I have Green Chai Tea with Pine Nuts and Chai drizzle, Mexican Chocolate Chip with Cinnamon and Chocolate Drizzle, and finally Espresso Mocha Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Drizzle. Yummy.

I love Biscotti because it’s easy to make, makes a great snack all day long, and goes with hot tea and coffee ohhhh so well. It’s also low in sugar, no added fat (except what is in chocolate) and so versatile. In my house biscotti baking has become the new food trend, replacing cupcakes (almost)

BISCOTTI BASIC METHOD

1 3/4 Cups flour
1/2 Teas Salt
1 Teas Baking Powder
4 Eggs
3/4 Cup Sugar (when adding Cocoa, add an extra 1/4 Cup Sugar)

Assorted Flavorings/Nuts/Dried Fruit (See Notes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a larger mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder and any dry flavorings (ie. Cocoa, Cinnamon, Anise Seed, or other dry spices. See Notes). Add 1/2 cup nuts and/or fruits. Try whole toasted almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans. Fruits might include chopped apricots, dried cranberries, lemon or orange zest, raisins, dried cherries, the list is endless)

In another bowl placed over hot (not boiling) water, whisk eggs and sugar until light and lemony looking.
Add any liquid flavorings (ie. Extracts, Molasses). Whisk a moment more. A spoonful of mixture poured from a spoon will ribbon. With mixer running on low speed, slowly add egg mixture to flour mixture. Don’t over mix, just mix until it all comes together.

With wet hands, turn dough onto baking pan and form into a log about 12 inches long and 3/4 inch thick.

Bake 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean and dry. Decrease oven temperature to 300 degrees. Allow loaf to cool about 15 minutes. Slice at an angle 3/4 inch thick. Place slices on baking sheet. I like to stand these up for the drying period so I won’t have to turn them over, but sometimes the little suckers just won’t stand up. Place baking sheet in oven and bake about 10 more minutes or until slices feel dry. If necessary, turn over and bake 10 minutes longer.

Decorate or glaze as desired, using powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla or melted chocolate, etc.

Notes: I used 1/4 Cup Cocoa and 1 tbl espresso powder in the Mocha biscotti. For the mexican chocolate, I added a teas vanilla, 1/2 teas cinnamon and 1/2 cup cocoa. For the Gingerbread I used 1 Tbl cinnamon, 1/2 teas cardamon, 1/2 teas ginger, 1/4 teas cloves, 1/4 teas nutmeg, 1/4 teas allspice, 1/2 teas chinese five-spice. I also added 1/4 cup molasses to the egg mixture. Extracts like anise extract and almond extract are usually added by the teaspoon.

I’d be glad to share these recipes should anyone need an absolute/no guessing recipe.

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Ok, maybe it’s not the day before, but if you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner there will be a day after and hopefully a whole weekend free. Leftover turkey in my house goes into the best turkey pies ever! I even plan for my turkey pies by buying the biggest, fattest turkey I can find just for pies.

Equipment: Aluminum pie tins. Pick a size convenient for your family, and your freezer space. I usually buy some of the small round deep dish pie size, and a couple of larger for two casserole tins.

Once that turkey is roasted and carved and all the family feasts, it gets whisked away to a cool, quiet place to await its real purpose. On that quiet Friday after all the hullabaloo and a few slices of white meat are tucked in the fridge for sandwiches, the remaining meat is carefully plucked from the bones and separated into white and dark and set aside. Out comes that big soup pot. The lovely bones are placed in the pot where they will simmer along with any of the leavings not quite up to sandwich status, don’t forget that leftover skin!

Now, this big pot of bones and water is where you get to ditch the veggie leftovers that are wrapped in plastic in the fridge, one on top of the other, you know, the peas and onions and turnip and Brussels sprouts! Be Not Afraid, in this pot, magic will happen. No veggie leftovers, do not dismay. Add some carrots, celery and onions. Don’t bother chopping or peeling. Just wash thoroughly and dump in the pot.
Oh, I see a casserole of leftover stuffing, here you must make a choice. You can slice it up to put in your pie, or dump it in the pot to meld with the rest of Thanksgiving dinner. Reserve any leftover mashed potatoes for the next step. By the way, add water or chicken stock or even a bit of white wine (no more than half cup) if the water level gets too low.

Now that it is Friday night or Saturday morning (better still) and this pot has been simmering away forever, strain the pot mess into a clean pan and toss all the leavings. This is the point you want to add any leftover mashed potatoes and gravy to the wonderful broth you’ve created. Don’t have any, that’s fine, we will be thickening the broth soon.

Set the pan of broth in a cold place. Once it has solidified and the fat has risen to the top, place several good size spoons of the fat in a skillet. Warm up the rest of the broth. Let the fat in the skillet melt then add an equal amount of flour. Whisk to keep smooth. Slowly pour in a couple of cups of broth, then stir this all back into broth. Let gravy/broth cool.

Now, I buy packaged pie crust for this, they are easy to work with and I can cut them easily into my pan shapes. Make your own favorite crust recipe if you desire.

Now, load each pie tin with chunks of meat. I like to make a few pies all white meat, and some a mix of white and dark. Sprinkle on some frozen peas and carrots, optional for sure. I like all meat pies and any the last few I will add vegetable to. Top each with crust. Cut a slit in each pie top. Pop into ziplock bags and freeze.

These pies will be wonderful on a snowy February night! Pop into a 350 degree oven and bake until nicely golden and bubbly.

This sounds like a lot of work, but honestly, most of the working time is spent waiting.

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Thanksgiving time and I’m remembering so many happy Thanksgivings spent with my parents and sisters. When my sisters and I were younger, Thanksgiving meant High School football. Natick vs. Framingham rivals like no other. We always made our own pom-poms from red and blue crepe paper rolls and mom would buy us colored crysanthamums to wear on our jackets. While we cheered our team on, mom was busy in the kitchen at home preparing our Thanksgiving dinner. It was always served at the big dining room table, covered in white linen. Our dishes with the pretty pink flowers would be filled with turkey and dressing and all the fixings. Through the years, Thanksgiving day followed almost the same pattern. Because I was the youngest child, the game continued to be a big part of the day, but my sisters married and sometimes shared the day with their spouse’s families. One year, with just the three of us (Mom, Dad and me) it was decided we would eat out. A more beautiful setting for Thanksgiving than the Wayside Inn there will never be.

It was there I discovered Grape-nut pudding. Served warm with whipped cream, I fell in love with the silky custard and slightly nutty crust. In the years that have passed, I’ve never tried making my own until now. I searched my beloved copy of ‘Fanny Farmer Cookbook’ and scoured the internet to come up with what I felt was a suitable recipe. Of course I took my favorite three and took a little bit from each.

Now, more is not always better. Every now and then, I ‘tweak’ a recipe. Here we go, first, I adjusted the eggs, but only because in separating one of them, I broke the white into my bowl and ditched the yolk. I was supposed to use 2 eggs and 2 yolks. Now I had 2 eggs and 1 white. To correct the error I just added another egg, and what the heck, I added another yolk too. I beat up my eggs with the sugar and vanilla and tempered them nicely. Then I decided that 1/2 cup of Grape-Nuts sounded wanting. They looked lost floating around in that quart of milk. So I added another 1/2 cup. What I didn’t count on is, they expand! They plump up to 3 times their size! They are like oatmeal or cornmeal. They take over and suck up all that milk. We ate it anyway, covered in more milk and lots of whipped cream, not a total disaster, but not at all like I remembered way back 50 yrs ago. Lesson learned.

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The Impetus of Success

For years I have been trying to make the perfect loaf of artisan bread. Never mind perfect, just edible would do. Failure followed my every attempt. I tried recipe after recipe, bought ingredients I would never use again (malt syrup and spelt flour come to mind). I tried kneading using my super-duper Kitchen Aide, my hands, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes twenty. Rising once, twice, three times, overnight, I even tried using a Biga. Mostly, the bread would not rise in the oven, sometimes it would even plop almost flat. Adding a pan of water to the oven, spraying the oven with water. All my attempts were proved unsuccessful.

Then on Sunday miraculously, I ran into the no-knead method for bread courtesy of the beadtopia website. The entire loaf didn’t last the day. Yesterday, I started my second loaf. One of the best deals about this bread is it takes two days. Think about it, bread takes time to put together, rising time, resting time, kneading time, more rising, and baking. Sometimes there is not enough time in a day to get that loaf complete. So yes, two days is ideal. Ingredients get put together and set aside for 12 to 20 hrs. A quick folding of the dough on day two, another rise and it’s ready to bake. Yummy hot bread for supper tonight to go with the Italian Beef and Pastina soup, perfect meal for a cold day in South Carolina. I even added an extra touch or two by sprinkling with sesame seeds. This is no-fail wonderful. Now my husband thinks I always need to have a bowl on the counter working its magic. So do I.

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Is this still a day and culture that requires parents to inspect each piece of candy a child receives on such a fun loving night? I’ll be darned if I’m going to hand out the same old stuff I have for years. Mini-sized skittles and teeny milky ways (I buy ’em, I’ll eat ’em)

I’m retired, I have time to have some fun too. My preparations started weeks ago. Martha has little on me. My door decor came from a pattern I picked up 2 yrs or so ago when patterns went on sale for $1 at Hancock fabrics. If you sew that’s a great time to stock up on craft patterns. I made my chandelier from items I found in my Christmas stash. The other decorations were from stuff I found around the house.
I did borrow a scary ghoulish looking thing from my daughter and turned her into a zombie gypsy.

I’ve decorated lovingly and baked fresh cookies for the little goblins that knock on my door. Parents, I have included in each bag the following note:

“My name is Laurie and I am a 65 yr old Grandma of 3 sweet little girls. I would not hurt your children anymore than I would hurt my own babies. Please allow them to eat the treats I have lovingly baked. Happy Halloween”

Whether they get eaten or trashed, I’ve had a great week getting ready for Halloween. Baking, sewing, creating, those things always feed my soul.

All of you, new friends and old, have a safe and happy All Hallow’s Eve.

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