Archive | June, 2012

Hazelnut Biscotti (well, make mine pistachio, please!)

23 Jun

Let me begin by saying, I’m breaking my own cardinal rule here…the one that goes if a recipe says this is what to use and how to use it, then do it that way! At least the first time. After all, why would they call it Hazelnut Biscotti, if you’re substituting something else?!? That said, my dislike of hazelnuts is so intense that the mere smell of Frangelico Hazelnut liqueur triggers my gag reflex! So, even the first time, I’m substituting pistachios for hazelnuts; Pama pomegranate liqueur for the Frangelico. (And, I’m thinking that a second batch should be with dried cherries, Cherry Heering liqueur, and chocolate chips – mmm….)

These went together incredibly easily! But then, I’ve made biscotti before and never really had any difficulty with it. (That is, if you don’t count being able to find a sharp enough serrated knife to slice the first-baked log.  Why is it I always remember to take my husband’s chef’s knives to the sharpener but leave the serrated one behind?!? But, I digress) I also slice them thinner than the 1/2-inch (1/4-inch), because my husband’s preference is for a thinly sliced crunchy cookie as opposed to a more thickly sliced one. 

Oh, one question, though – did anyone else who substituted pistachios find raw ones?  I found dry-roasted, unsalted at Trader Joes, but not raw.  Although, I’m pretty sure the raw hazelnuts were so the boiled soda water skinning technique could be mastered – one I’m not really worried about.  

Finally, I’ve made the cantuccini (page 313), and prefer that recipe – the dough is not quite so sticky, but, also other than mastering an even slice for the second baking, there’s really nothing more to learn than there would be if the recipe was for a Nestle’s Tollhouse cookie.  But, they are delicious cookies!

French Strawberry Cake (not to be confused with fresh strawberry cake!)

19 Jun

I read the title of this recipe a dozen times before I realized it was French rather than fresh! Anyway…

So, I turned this recipe into a workshop – I’ve made it a total of four times, in order to get it just right!  I’ve learned what happens if you don’t beat the eggs enough (it doesn’t rise), too much (they collapse and get that rubbery mat many talked about), and then, the proverbial baby bear “just right” amount – it’s a beautiful cake!  I learned you can easily double the recipe (which I did, since my forte is not cutting a cake for layering – three layers were not coming from one cake, but I could make a four layer cake from two cakes).

Once I got the cake right, I realized I’d have to double the cream filling (and what could possibly be wrong with that?!?).  June is strawberry season here in Oregon and a Hood strawberry is just about the most delicious thing you’ll ever eat.  They really do not require any additional sugar so I only added two tablespoons for four pints – just so they’d make a little syrup.

Na, na, na, naan…Na, na, na, naan…Hey, he-ey, good-bye!

5 Jun

Oh, come on – you knew that was coming!

I’m not sure why I fretted and put this recipe off until the last possible moment, but I did. Full disclosure:  I preferred the bread just salted – the caraway seed sprinkled rounds reminded me of Danish Aquavit – not a bad thing, but with no “buzz” after that much caraway flavoring, a let down!  The cumin seed sprinkled rounds were delicious, but they needed to be eaten with chili, and sadly, with the weather warming up, that will have to wait until this coming fall.  Simply salting the rounds made them perfect with our Spinach & Shrimp Chowder on tonight’s menu!

I think my favorite thing about this bread recipe was the ease of preparation – and how quickly the rise happened! (Well, that rise thing is likely attributable to new yeast!) And, again, because it’s just the husband and myself, neighbors got to sample the bread.  No one has called to complain, so I can only imagine they either enjoyed it or tossed it.

Strawberries are ready, and so off I’ll be to the local strawberry vendor this week and French Strawberry Cake awaits!