Saturday, December 21, 2013

Whole-Wheat Walnut and Raisin Biscotti


Biscotti Cooling


I was invited to my first ever cookie exchange. I have baked cookies before, but this week I did not really feel like making cookies, specifically getting the hand mixer out, creaming the butter, and forming the little balls that eventually become cookies. Any other week but this: I have been working a lot of long hours and we have another late night ahead of us.

What to do?

After going to Bux (a.k.a. Starbucks), I was inspired when I saw the biscotti. I have made biscotti before and I remember that it was fairly easy (no making little balls). I had to find a recipe that did not require creaming since the Chocolate-Walnut Biscotti that I made before did.

I found this recipe (again) from Martha Stewart on Walnut and Raisins Biscotti. This seems to be perfect. It used whole wheat flour (so it should be healthier), does not use butter, and used walnuts (which are in season). Also, no creaming needed.

For your convenience, I copied Martha’s recipe below with very minor revisions (I prefer using parchment paper). Let me know what you think.


Whole-Wheat Walnut and Raisin Biscotti
Slightly revised recipe from MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for work surface
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnut
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Parchment paper or Non-stick spray, for baking sheet

Directions 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put parchment paper on a baking sheet or brush a baking sheet with oil; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in walnuts and raisins. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Add to flour mixture; stir just until combined.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, with floured hands, pat dough into a loaf about 1 inch thick, 2 1/2 inches wide (and about 7 inches long); transfer to baking sheet. Bake until risen and firm, 20 to 25 minutes; cool completely on sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  5. Place loaf on a cutting board, and using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices; place slices in a single layer on sheet. Bake, turning once, until dried and slightly golden, 25 to 30 minutes; cool completely.


Verdict

I love this recipe and may make it the template for my biscotti recipe. Based on my previous experience, I made two smaller loaves instead of one big one. My husband – the biscotti addict – loves this too. I had to make brownies to supplement my biscotti because we were both nibbling on it. I may make a version replacing the raisins with chocolate chips. That actually sounds great with coffee or hot chocolate.

Martha also added a note that this will last 30 days in an airtight container. Perfect if you’re baking it on the weekend and your exchange is later in the week. I doubt that it will last 30 days though – It is almost gone!!!

But at least… here’s my haul from the cookie exchange: a fair trade I think.

cookie exchange




Note: I am taking a mini-blogging break for the holidays to concentrate on eating, er… cooking.

Enjoy the holidays, and see you mid-January with new culinary adventures and mis-adventures.

Bonne année et bonne santé. Bon appétit.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My “Mix and Match” 5 in 5: Pan-fried Salmon and Arugula–Apple Salad in Lemon Dijon Dressing


I think it’s time for another 5 in 5 post. Now that it is the holiday season and one may be spending time in the mall looking for that perfect holiday meal (or in traffic trying with the people trying to get to the mall), a nice, healthy but quick and easy meal for dinner would probably be appropriate.

Pan fried salmon with apple-arugula salad
While at I was on my home just recently, I decided to stop at Whole Foods to get something for dinner. This beautiful piece of Wild Salmon caught my eye and thought it would be perfect for dinner. However, shortsighted me only bought the salmon (and some Hint Water) in an effort to beat the traffic. Also, I thought we have a lot of veggies at home… at least that is what I thought.

So I got home and only found: arugula, green apples, couscous, lemon, Dijon mustard, and some pantry staples. I looked through Michael Symon’s "5 in 5" cookbook for ideas and did not find much that would match this combination. It's like a (good) Chopped basket.

So, what’s a mad scientist, er… cook to do?

Salmon Fillet
I can't resist a beautiful fillet like this.
I decided to Mix and Match: Grilled (or in my case, Pan-fried) Salmon seems to be the best option. I saw then Arugula and Apple Salad with Lemon Dijon mustard (originally with the Pork Schnitzel) in Page 168 and that seems to be a good match. Salmon plus Lemon Dijon Mustard sounds really good together. I complemented it with Lemon Couscous (inspired by page 199), so I attempted some version of it as my starch for the evening. I figured the citrus will work well with the salmon.

The Salmon and Lemon Dijon dressing did go well together.  The couscous seemed to be a bit under-flavored (since I did not stick to the recipe).  Overall, it was still a very yummy meal. My husband and I shared the fillet, and it was just right.

You can find the recipes in Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 cookbook. There are so many delicious options in that book, so I know you’ll find your own mix and match.

Chef Symon, thanks again for a delicious meal!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Discovery Weekend: Coastal Gourmet Adventures at Half Moon Bay


My husband and I usually spend our Thanksgiving weekend exploring - either locally, a long drive, or somewhere in between. After enjoying cooking on our Thanksgiving Day, we still had three full days off. We took advantage of this to get away. We’ve been working hard and deserved a few days off.

We decided to go to Half Moon Bay this time around. It’s one of my husband’s favorite destinations. He loves being close to the ocean, the antique stores, and of course, the dining.

The dining opportunities are excellent in Half Moon Bay. Through the years, we’ve enjoyed our favorites and tried new places. Here’s a sampling from our weekend adventure. 

crab cakes from Moss Beach Distillery
Crab cakes from The Distillery
Moss Beach Distillery. This is our favorite spot for brunch and usually our first stop in our trips to HMB. Brunch is at the formal dining room, but the patio is great for munchies like calamari and wine while sitting by the fire and enjoying the great views since the Distillery sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Do watch out for the ghost of the Blue Lady. Every time I go to the ladies room, I freak out at every unusual sound.

Meyer Lemon Parfait with Meringue
Meyer Lemon Parfait from Pasta Moon
Pasta Moon. This Italian restaurant is a downtown staple, and has been there for a long time. I started with the Florentine bread soup, my husband had the mussels, and we  shared a huge, tasty pork chop. My husband said is the pork chop is the best he has ever had. I ended my meal with a beautiful Meyer Lemon Parfait: delicious. Ironically, on our visit, we did not get pasta. It must be a sign to return.

Half Moon Bay Coffee Company and Café. Come for the coffee, stay for the desserts. They have a gorgeous selection of desserts. My husband was tempted by the Key Lime Pie. I just had a Gingerbread biscotti with my fabulous soy latte (word of warning: the latte kept me going until dinner time). HMB Coffee also serves breakfast and lunch if you want to stay downtown.

Cafe Mezzaluna's Pastry Selection
Café Mezzaluna at Princeton-By-The-Sea. The casual sister to the more formal restaurant a few blocks away. This is a great spot for breakfast, especially before a kayak adventure, or lunch after one. For breakfast, you can have your choice of omelets, frittatas, quiches, savory crepes, and pastries. For lunch, you can enjoy paninis and most importantly, gelatos.

New Leaf Community Market.  Although this is not truly dining, I think this market is awesome. It has locally sourced fruits and veggies and the highest quality of natural products. Their stores are mostly here in Northern California, and I cannot wait to visit my closest one.

Brussel sprout stalk
Brussel Sprouts grew this way?
Our other staples are The Half Moon Bay Brewery and Duarte’s Tavern. We did not visit the Brewery this time, but did trek to Pescadero to visit Duarte’s to have cioppino. Duarte’s was so good it deserves its own post. Watch out for it in the next few weeks.

Half Moon Bay also has some awesome farmer’s stalls and markets. We often take advantage of these and get fresh fruit, veggies, and even honey. This weekend, we even got a medieval weapon… err, a huge Brussel sprout stalk. It was almost 3 feet long, really.