Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I think chocolate is a must-do today, right?  I made these biscotti to take to a coffee for an international group here, where we were all advised to take something sweet or savory, wear red, and bring a gift.  Of course, there were all sorts of treats on hand, but I am quite happy that no one brought anymore biscotti.

I personally love biscotti, which in Italy they are actually called Cantuccini, since biscotti just means cookie.  I have been making them since times immemorial, I think since I was 16 or so, for my mother’s bridge games.  Rarely do I make them with chocolate though, since I find them harder to pair with dessert wines.  Alas, the chocolate tradition won over today, so I naturally decided to pair them with hazelnuts, since all things that resemble nutella are delicious in my book.

I really like these biscotti because not only are they incredibly chocolatey, I don’t use any fats like butter or oil so they are not sooooo damaging to your waistline!  If you can, try to use some high quality chocolate, such as Valrhona, since the main ingredient is chocolate!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Makes about 30 biscotti (Adapted from the New York Times Recipe)

1/2 cup whole toasted hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups four

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

pinch of salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs

3/4 cups sugar

2 tbsp sanding sugar

1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, chocolate, salt and baking powder, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs and sugar, beat on medium speed until just mixed.  Reserve one tbsp of the egg mix in a small bowl.

Add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, and beat on low-speed until just incorporated.  Fold in the hazelnuts.

Form into a log shape, about 18 inches long and 3 inches wide, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush on the egg mix you set aside, dust with sanding sugar and the black pepper.

Place in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or firm.  Take out and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into diagonal slices, 1 inch thick, with a sharp serrated knife.  Place back on the cookie sheet, on their side, and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack, and they can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

“Kitchen Sink” – Power Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Muffins

These days I have exercising like a fiend.  I am extremely proud of myself because I usually train when I have a race coming up, and then take a more relaxed attitude to working out.  But, since this year I wanted to not only lose weight, but get healthier and feel better, I have stuck to a rigorous gym workout for the last 4 months.  (Patting myself on the back now.)

The only problem, is mid through my workout, I get ravenously hungry.  I have done the fruit and yogurt with granola, the eggs with toast, smoothies, you name it.  I needed something filling and portable to take to the gym with me, that is healthy, but also feels like I am indulging.  So, I went into my pantry, I love having a pantry after all these years, by the way, and basically took out a basket full of ingredients that could possibly go into a muffin.  I edited quite a few, but I did end up using most of them.  The result was perfect.

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Made with whole wheat flour, oat bran, chia seeds, walnuts, fruit and some cinnamon and chocolate for that splurge factor, these are fantastic little nutrient power houses, with no added fats!  Ridiculously delicious and easy to make, and super healthy, these will be a staple to carry in my gym bag when my belly starts a rumbling!!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup oat bran

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped semi sweet chocolate

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 cup oat milk (you can substitute soy, almond or real milk if you want)

1/2 cup apple juice or sauce

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.  Sprinkle in the walnuts, raisins and chocolate.  Mix well.  In another bowl, mix the banana, oat milk, apple juice, molasses and egg.  Fold into the dry ingredients.

Use a 1/4 cup measurement to fill the muffin tin 3/4 full.  Cook for 16-18 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

 

It’s been one of those weeks.  A pipe burst in our apartment, and we have had severe damage to our floors and walls.  Nothing like inept handymen sent by your landlord to further make a mess of the situation.  Apart from that, it’s been rainy, cold, and I’m kind of homesick.

That means it’s time for me to get baking, and make some feel good treats for breakfast so I can get my butt to the gym, whenever these lovely men think they’ll finish making holes in our floor!

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This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook.  I love the taste of blackberries, but don’t really enjoy eating them raw.  They are way too grainy and seedy for me, and store-bought always seem to be incredibly tart!  I always dream of walking through some field, and picking them off their bush, and taste the sweet ripeness that only the sun can provide.  Alas, the only time I have had contact with any wild blackberries is when my daughter brought back silk worms from school as a project.  I had no idea that they only ate blackberry leaves, so I had to hunt out a tree and pick the leaves so they wouldn’t die.  Even though I ABHOR any type of worm.  But, I just can’t let a living thing die, disgusting or not.

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Today we found an array of berries at the market, and I love me some blueberries for breakfast, but picked these up thinking I would make the muffins I saw in Martha’s book.  Brought them home, picked up the book, read the recipe and then realized I don’t have any cornmeal.  I only had Arepa flour.  (Arepas are Colombian cornmeal patties- delicious!)  Even though in Martha’s book it stated for cornmeal, I swapped it in, lessening the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  The Arepa flour that I have has some sugar already in the mix.  I didn’t want them to be overly sweet, either, and I wanted to be able to taste the tartness I find unappealing in the raw berries.  It worked perfectly.  Nice and cornbread like, soft, fluffy, and moist, berries bursting when you take a bite.  Definite “picker upper” on a cold rainy day!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes 12-16 muffins

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1 -2 containers (6 oz each) fresh blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190C).  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter, pour over flour mixture, whisking to combine.

2.  Fill each lined cup with a scant 1/4 cup batter.  Top batter with blackberries (3-4 berries per cup), then sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar.

3.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until evenly browned on top, 20- to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.  They are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Strawberry Jam Tea-Cakes

cupcakes

 

On Monday it was Paolo’s birthday, and as custom here in Spain, when it’s your birthday, you bring the treats.  So, a couple of years ago I had prepared these for Paolo to take into work, and he asked for them again this year.  I love these cupcakes, as they are really cakey, and nothing is better than biting into this luscious strawberry filling!  My favorite part has to be the glaze, though.

I remember as I was making them that there was something that I needed to do with the glaze, and after making them this time, I now realize that you have to make double the amount of glaze for them to truly be covered in it.  If not, it just seems to pool messily on the bottom, leaving much to be desired on top!  But, that said, next time I am sure I will remember.  (Or will I?)

This is a recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, whose cupcake book I pore over time and time again.  I love looking at the glossy pictures of these beautiful cupcakes.  Unfortunately, not all the recipes work out.  I am constantly confounded by this, as I have had many issues with Martha’s recipes.  You’d think such a monstrous sized company would have a recipe-proofer, but alas, even Martha has her imperfections!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Martha Stewart Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for tins

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp finely grated orange zest

4 large eggs, separated, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1 cup strawberry jam or preserves

Citrus Glaze (Recipe Follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Brush standard muffin tins with butter, dust with flour, tapping out excess.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. With and electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter, sugar, and zest until pale and fluffy.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating just until combined after each.

3.  In another bowl, with an electic mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; gently fold into batter.  Spoon 2 tbsp of batter into each prepared cup.  Make an indentation in the middle of each; fill with one tbsp jam.  Top with an additional 2 tbsp batter, covering jam completely.

4. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in centers of top layers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Run a small offset spatula around the edges, and turn out cakes onto wire racks and let cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes

5.  To finish, drizzle cakes evenly with glaze, and let set, about 30 minutes.  Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days in a single layer at room temperature in airtight containers.

For the Citrus Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, more if needed

1/4 tsp finely grated citrus zest

3 tbsp fresh citrus juice, more if needed

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.  If necessary add more juice to thicken or more juice to thin the glaze.  Use immediately.

Makes about 1 cup

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipe No. 83 – Elvis Presley’s Pound Cake

Elvis Presley's Pound Cake

Hello my friends, I am very sorry for not posting in a week…..I have been bombarded at work, staying up until 5 am to watch the US elections, and then, my fantastic computer (not) decided it needed a break too and wouldn’t work.

Finally, after many restarts and uninstalls and installs, it decided to be nice and let me post!

This dish was a petition from my daughter,  as I mentioned before, we each get to choose a recipe to be done for the week.  My daughter was intrigued, thinking this would be more of a bread, obviously from the aspect.  I was very wary, because I remember pound cakes being these incredibly moist, buttery things you got in a white box that read Entenmann’s.  I remember getting that said box, tearing it open with my grandmother, and having her cut the middle slice, where the loaf separates, and gobbling it down with a glass of milk.  Other pound cakes I had tried didn’t come close in comparison.

Except for now, I can proudly say, this recipe is a MILLION times better than those pre-prepared confections.  Spongy, moist, dense without being dry.  All in all, this is one pretty amazing pound cake!

Imagine, 3/4 of the loaf was promptly eaten straight out of the oven.  And the next day, after resting in the fridge, it was even better.

I hope you get your mojo on and make this cake.  Fairly easy to make, no rocket science involved.  And my daughter gladly lent me a hand in preparing it.

Overall taste points: 8.7 / 10

Difficulty: Easy, but you need a stand up or hand-held mixer

Availability of ingredients: Super easy

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans

3 cups cake flour, sifted, plus more for pans

3 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp kosher salt

7 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

 

Heat oven to 350F (180C).  Grease and flour two 9″ x 5″ x 2″ loaf pans; set aside.  Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl on medium – high-speed of a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 6 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth.  Add flour and cream alternately, beginning and ending with flour, beating until smooth.  Increase speed to high;  beat batter until smooth and light, about 5 minutes.  Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth tops with a rubber spatula; bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a couple of crumbs adhering to it, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes, and then unmold onto a cooling rack; let cool completely before slicing and serving.  Serves 10.

Shiitake Croquetas

Shiitake Croquetas

 

I LOVE CROQUETAS.  Croquetas are croquettes, usually made with leftover ham, but now a days, you can find them filled with anything your heart desires.  I have had cheese, spinach, pine nuts and raisins, beef, onion, fish…..the list goes on.

I have eaten croquetas since I was a kid, and I think my obsession started because my parents really didn’t buy or make them.  In Miami it is a Cuban thing, and the only time I would get to eat them is when I went to sleep at my Uncle Ernest and Aunt Myra’s house.  We used to have them for breakfast.  Sooooo good.

Now, call me stupid, but I had no idea that croquetas was a Spanish thing.  When I first landed in Spain, and saw that every single restaurant had a croqueta on the menu, I had an “A-ha!” moment.  Croquetas originally are made with left over chicken or pieces of Jamon mixed with a thick béchamel, then coated with breadcrumbs and fried.  The ham ones are still my favorites.  I’m not so sure about the chicken.  I decided to make them with some shiitake, because I had some dried in my fridge, kind of just staring at me every day.

Croquetas are fairly easy to make, but they are laborious and time-consuming.  This is probably something you might want to do on a rainy Sunday, (as I did) and make a lot.  They freeze really well, and as all things, the home-made versions are much better than store-bought, which usually has a very low ham to béchamel ratio, favoring the latter.  And once you get the knack, then the possibilities are endless!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

2 handfuls (sorry, I didn’t measure other than that) dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and strained, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid, then minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely minced

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour, more for dusting

2 cups milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs, beaten

Breadcrumbs, for coating.  In this recipe, I used Panko (Japanese Style Breadcrumbs)

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, shiitake and onion.  Saute until the mushrooms and onions are softened, about 20 minutes.  Make sure all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated too.  Take off heat and set aside.

In a stockpot over low heat, melt the butter and add your flour and mix well, to make a roux.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.  Mix the milk with the cup of soaking liquid, and in a slow stream add to the roux, whisking constantly.  Stir until very thick, about 25 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and mix well.  Spread out on a plate, and let it cool to thicken even more.

Now, on your counter line up the plate with the filling, the bowl with the beaten egg, the bowl with the breadcrumbs, and a baking pan to place them on.  Dust your hands with flour, and grab a bit of the mushroom filling, roll into a ball or a log shape, dip them in the eggs, and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.  Continue to do that in order until all your filling is gone.  If needed wash your hands in between.  If you are not using immediately, you can freeze them in an airtight container for up to a month.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with olive oil, when it is hot but not smoking, fry your croquetas about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Turn over and repeat.  Place on a plate lined with paper to soak the excess oil.  Serve hot.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Peanut butter, Almond, and Pine Nut Slab Cookies

Peanut butter, almond and pine nut slab cookies

It’s cause I was sick.  I needed cookies.  I had the cookie monster on my shoulder saying, COOKIE…COOKIE….YOU WANT COOKIE!  COOKIE IS GOOD FOR YOU  WHEN YOU SICK.

So I listened.  And I made these three nut cookies.  Just cause I love peanut butter.  And almonds.  And pine nuts.  So why not all three in one?

Also, slab or log cookies are perfect.  You don’t have to make 36 of them and then you either eat them all in one go….or they go bad.  Slab cookies you can chill, cut the amount you want to bake, and then freeze the rest of the dough.  How great is that?

So I hope you give in to your inner cookie monster and make these COOKIES NOW!

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from “bigfatcookies” by Elinor Klivans

1 cup unbleached flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped and whole pine nuts

Sift the flour, almonds and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the peanut butter and butter until smooth and blended together.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until blended, about 30 seconds.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute.  On low-speed, add the flour mixture and blend until just incorporated.

Form the dough into a rough rectangular slab.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes, to firm the dough up a bit.

Check the dough and reshape into a “nicer” rectangle.  Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Or you can freeze it for a month; thaw in the fridge before using.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F (175 C).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Unwrap the dough and slice into 1/3 inch slices.  (Slice as many or as few as you need).  Press the pine nuts into the cookies.  Bake for 14 minutes.  Cool them for 5 minutes on the same sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Cherry Tomato, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart

Cherry Tomato, Roquefort, and Caramelized Onion Tart

 

Last night we had a small gathering at a friend’s house, and since she offered up her wonderful roof top terrace, I wanted to chip in not only by bringing some wine, but making something to take to the party.   But, I also didn’t want to spend too much time cooking, since that is what I do everyday, for my family, and for work.  I do love what I do, but sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything.

Well, this recipe is perfect for those situations, and it works just as well for dinner, or lunch in a pinch.  The prep time is absolutely minimal if you buy some store-bought pizza dough or Pate Brisee.  This leaves you plenty of time to enjoy your friends or family, and all you have to do is serve a salad to go with it, and you have an exquisite, easy meal.  Isn’t that the best?

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 store-bought Pizza or Pate Brisee dough

1 box cherry tomatoes, halved

1 onion, sliced

1 small package blue cheese

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 sprig of thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, add the oil, sugar, thyme leaves, and the sliced onion.  Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is softened and turning golden.  Strain the onions, set aside.

Roll out the dough, and heat the oven according to package directions.  Place the sliced cherry tomatoes randomly over the dough, leaving a 2 inch border on all sides.  Top with the caramelized onions and the blue cheese.  Place on a baking tray in the middle rack of the oven.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until your dough is crisp.  Remove from the oven.  It’s best when eaten warm, not boiling.  And it tastes marvelous cold, too!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Parmesan Zucchini Loaf

WARNING!!!!  THIS BREAD IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE.  I hadn’t made this bread in years.  It’s a really old recipe a friend of my mother’s passed on to me, I remember way way way before I even thought of going to culinary school, I had tried this one Thanksgiving, and I became wholly enamoured with it.  So I picked up my very old and tattered recipe book and decided to make it again, to see if it still stood the test of time, you know, how sometimes you try something when you’re young and then you try it again and you think to yourself, what is the big deal?  Well, I made it the other day, because of my surplus of Zucchini’s, and it’s gone, daddy gone.

It’s such a simple recipe, fool-proof even.  Just the smell emanating from the oven will start to make your tummy rumble, my daughter even asked me if I was making pizza.  Then, you have to wait 10 torturous minutes before you cut into it……the agony!  But once you have one slice, you want another, and another and another.  This is a quick bread, and a very eggy loaf.  But the combination of the parmesan and the zucchini….wow.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

2 small zucchini or 1 large, cubed

1 cup Bisquick or 1 cup regular flour + 2 tsp baking powder

5 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp garlic salt

In a large bowl mix the bisquick, eggs and oil.  Add the parmesan, zucchini and garlic salt.  Coat a bread tin with butter, and add the dough.  Bake in a 190 C oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and it’s golden on top.  Check it mid-way through the baking process though, remember my oven sucks.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Coca de Trempo with Sobrasada, Mahon Cheese and a drizzle of Honey

A few weeks ago I did a post about Coca, which is a Catalan flat bread.  It was so good, that I decided to do another type of Coca, typical from the Island of Mallorca.  This Coca is one of my favorites.  It is very akin to an American Sausage and Peppers Pizza.

All the flavours are there, and more!  Trempo is a salad from Mallorca, that consists of peppers, onions and tomatoes.  And when you have left over, you put it on the coca and bake it.  My dish was by no means original, but it was my variation.  I have to say, though, that the night I made it, one of my guests and friends is from Mallorca, and he gave me the seal of approval.
Chock full of taste, I added three types of peppers, tomatoes, spring onions, black olives and some fennel fronds.  Then, topped it off with Sobrasada, a cured type of sausage from Mallorca as well, is like a very soft chorizo full of paprika, which gives it its distinctive red color.  It is so tasty, spread on bread, with some honey, or topped with cheese.  So I combined all these flavours to make this Coca.  And I had all my Spanish friends moaning in delight, and couple of calls for the recipe!  If you can’t get sobrasada sausage, you can substitute it with some crumbled cured paprika chorizo.
So here’s what you’re going to need:

Coca Dough Recipe

1 green pepper, finely diced

1 red pepper, finely diced

1 yellow pepper, finely diced

4 spring onions, white parts only, sliced thinly

Olive oil, for cooking

4 medium Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced

1 cup black or green olives, pitted and sliced in half

Fennel fronds from 4 fennel bulbs

Salt and Pepper to taste

200 g Sobrasada Sausage , crumbled

200 g Mahon Cheese, grated (or any type semi firm cheese, like light Cheddar, Jack or Gouda)

Honey, to drizzle over

Make and bake the coca, let cool.  In a large sauté pan, with just a drizzle of olive oil, over high heat, sauté your peppers for just 2 minutes.  Set aside in a bowl.  Add another drizzle of olive oil, and quickly sauté the spring onions for another minute or so.  You want the vegetables barely cooked.  Mix with the peppers.   Mix in the tomatoes, fennel fronds and black olives to your peppers, onion, salt and pepper.  Spread on top of the baked coca dough.

Top with the Sobrasada Sausage, grated Mahon Cheese, and drizzle with honey.  Broil in a 250 C oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts.  Serve immediately.

Now for the next month, we will be travelling to Pamplona, Bilbao for a Russian/Basque Wedding and San Sebastián.  Then we are off to Naples, Italy for four days, to gorge ourselves with pizza and seafood, then heading home to Miami for 2 weeks to see the family!  I am so excited to post about all the places we eat while travelling and then all the goodies from the USA!  So, if I don’t reply or get in touch with you all in the next couple of weeks as quickly as I do, it’s only because of that.  Happy August Everybody!  Back in Barcelona on the 3rd of September!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla