Sunday, March 01, 2015

Walnut Coffee Kisses and a Cardamom Orange Spiced Coffee Syrup

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Coffee, chocolate and cardamom-three of my favorite flavors! Strong coffee or espresso is the predominant flavor in the two recipe; the walnut coffee kisses have instant espresso in both the cookie and the chocolate ganache as does the coffee syrup. Cardamom is a common ingredient in Indian cooking and in baking sweet breads such as Julekake in the Nordic countries.  In the Middle Eastern countries, cardamom is used in savory and sweet dishes as well as for flavoring coffee. 

I had hoped to be able to photograph the walnut coffee kisses and the espresso flavored with the cardamom orange spiced syrup, but the cookies were consumed at record speed! I should have made two batches of the kisses!

Walnut Coffee Kisses
Recipe From Coffee-Discovering, Exploring, Enjoying
Author-Hattie Ellis

For the cookies

1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (best to chop with a knife to prevent the nuts from being oily)
1 stick unsalted butter
4-1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/2 beaten egg
3/4 cup self-rising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

For the Ganache

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two baking trays with non-stick parchment paper.

Put the butter and sugar into bowl and beat until creamy. Stir in the beaten egg, the fold in sifted flour. Stir in espresso powder, then the chopped walnuts. Put an even number of tablespoons of the mixture (about 24 for 12 cookies) onto the parchment-lined baking trays. Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes  so they can firm up on  the tray.

Meanwhile, make the ganache by breaking up the chocolate into pieces and put in a saucepan. Add the butter and the cream; heat without boiling until the butter melts. Beat in the espresso powder. Remove from the heat and stir. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Carefully sandwich the cool, cookies together with the ganache. The cookies are very fragile-take care filling them.

Cardamom Orange Spiced Coffee Syrup
Recipe from book above


10 green cardamom pods
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

Crush the cardamom pods with a knife and extract the seeds. Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan, add 1/4 cup water, and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Using a spoon, draw it across the sugar to expedite the process. When the sugar has dissolved, boil for 2 minutes, then stir in the coffee, orange zest, cinnamon and cardamom. Let cool so the flavors infuse, then strain and store syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To serve, use to sweeten espresso, coffee and ice cream.  I put a tablespoon of vodka in the syrup to prolong its life.

The two black and white images above are my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #158 hosted this week by Shri of Tiffin Carrier Antic/que's.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Forest Buns-We Knead to Bake #25

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 Although these decadent Black Forest buns would be perfect for Valentine's Day, you don't need to wait until then. Swirled with a combination of crumbled chocolate sponge cake and cherry preserves, the buns would be a warm welcome for any festive occasion.  If you have made cinnamon rolls or any other swirled filling yeast dough, the method is the same. Need to know more about making swirled rolls, Better Homes and Gardens website has step-by-step instructions on How to Make Cinnamon RollsAparna has a winner for the February edition of We Knead to Bake. Although she doesn't use Kirsch in her buns, a little bit in the cherry preserves would be an authentic touch for a classic Black Forest flavor. I used my trusty bread machine to process the dough, but if you choose the traditional method, refer to Aparna's post or the Better Homes and Gardens link above.

Black Forest Buns
Original Recipe


For the Dough:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
50 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cups sugar
1 egg (room temperature), optional
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (rapid rise-bread machine yeast)
3-3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling
3/4 cup cherry or strawberry jam, preserves or compote
2-1/2 to 3 cups crumbled chocolate sponge cake, homemade or purchased

Chocolate Drizzle (optional as I didn't drizzle my buns)

For the dough, place all ingredients in the bread machine pan according to manufacturer's instructions. Process on the dough cycle. When dough cycle has completed, remove to lightly floured surface

Roll dough into an approximate 18"x 12" rectangle. Spread the cherry preserves/strawberry over the rectangle, leaving about 1/2 inch all around. Sprinkle the chocolate sponge crumbles on top of this. Roll the dough away from you (long end) cinnamon roll style. When rolling the dough, try to roll as snugly as possible. Pinch the dough closed, or dampen the edge with a little water to seal well.

Cut the rolls  into 12 1-1/2-inch wide pieces. You can place the rolls in a mold or make collars from foil or parchment paper to fit well  around each piece of dough. Otherwise, place them in a tin or (cast -iron) pan as I did, leaving room for expansion. Cover loosely and let rise about an hour or until almost double.

Bake 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Drizzle with the melted chocolate, if desired. Makes 12
Black Forest Buns

Black Forest Buns

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Clementine Ginger Cake-Black and White Wednesday #157-Clementine Still Life

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Using up a box of clementines with only two people in a household will keep you busy. Sweet, juicy and seedless, clementines make a great snack; are delicious in a spinach salad or in an orange jalapeño salsa, but that will only consume half a box or so. While doing a little research on  what to make with the rest of  the clementines, I came across a cake that required boiling the clementines whole, peel and all. Apparently, boiling softens the peel which makes them easier to puree in a food processor and also, mellows the white pith.  Having never used this technique for making a citrus cake, I was intrigued. Boiling the clementines takes about two hours, but can be done ahead of time, pureed and refrigerated up to 2 days before making the cake.
Clementine Ginger Cake
Adapted from 

5 medium clementines, about 1 pound
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups ground almonds or almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely diced
For Glaze and Garnish
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Enough clementine juice to make a glaze-2-3 tablespoons
Thin slices of clementine

Place whole unpeeled clementines in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for two hours, adding more water if necessary. Carefully remove clementines from the water and cool enough to handle. Halve, remove any seeds and hard bits and puree in a food processor. Set aside or refrigerate covered up to two days before completing the cake.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together with the sugar, salt and clementine puree. Add the almond flour, baking powder, crystallized ginger and almond extract. Stir until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake until edges are golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour. This could take longer depending on your oven. Remove from oven to a wire cooling rack. After 15 minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove cake from springform pan and cool completely. 

Mix together the powdered sugar and clementine juice. Arrange the clementines slices over the cake and brush on the glaze.
Clementine Still Life

Clementine Still Life-Black and White

The above black and white image is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #157, hosted this week by our lovely and talented admin, Cinzia. If you are an aficionado of culinary monochrome images and would like to contribute to or host this biweekly event, the simple rules and host line-up are posted here.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Wood-Fired Oven Cornbread

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“Her corn-cake, in all its varieties of hoe-cake, dodgers, muffins and other species too numerous to mention, was a sublime mystery to all less practised compounders.”  Harriet Beecher Stowe " Uncle Tom's Cabin" 1852

Cornbread is frequently served in my house, and I truly believe I can make it in my sleep, so many have I made. It's hard to beat a hunk of crusty cornbread served to accompany a warming soup or stew. Now, it was time to use the outdoor wood fired oven we had built a year ago. To prepare the  wood-fired oven for the cornbread, we built a fire and carefully watched the temperature as we needed 400°F, the same temperature I use in my kitchen oven. It took about 40 minutes, but times can be longer dependent on the outside temperature, the state of your wood and other variables. When the fire was ready, I oiled and preheated my cast iron frying pan just as I do in for baking in the kitchen oven. It took about 10 minutes to do this and ensures that the cornbread will be nice and crispy on the outside. One doesn't need a wood-fired oven to make cornbread, a conventional oven works fine.

Wood-Fired Oven Cornbread
My contribution to BWW #156, this edition hosted by Simona of Briciole

Serves 6-8

2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
1 tablespoon bacon drippings or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Drizzle bacon drippings in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. While mixing the ingredients for the cornbread, put skillet in oven and heat about 10 minutes or until just short of smoking.

Whisk together the cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix together the eggs and the buttermilk and add to the dry ingredients. Mix together, then pour in the butter.

Remove the pan from the oven using oven mitts as the pan will be very hot. Pour in the cornbread batter. Bake 20-25 minutes in a conventional oven or wood-fired oven until golden brown.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pané Siciliano-We Knead to Bake #24

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While looking for a bit of history about Pané Siciliano, I came upon this quote, “Per noi, il pane è sacro”( For us, bread is sacred). A profound statement and so true of the Sicilians feelings regarding this festive bread served on December 13th, a day  celebrating the intervention of Saint Lucia during the famine of 1582. Legend has it that on that December day, ships filled with grain miraculously appeared in the harbor. Starving, the people had no time to grind the grain into flour, but boiled the grains immediately. From that day forward, no wheat flour was used on that day. Source

This Pané Siciliano recipe uses semolina flour exclusively, except for the biga, although I have seen recipes with some bread flour. By using all semolina, a crusty coarse grain bread is achieved, perfect for sandwiches and toast. Sesame seeds sprinkled on top of the bread before baking adds a delicious nutty flavor. Pané Siciliano is the bread pick of the month for We Knead to Bake, a monthly bread baking group on Facebook. Coming off of a busy holiday season admin, Aparna-My Diverse Kitchen thought this bread recipe would be easy and perfect to serve with a warming soup or a salad. 

This video of Mary Ann Esposito making the Pané Siciliano with Peter Reinhart is very helpful in making and shaping the dough.
Pané Siciliano
(Sicilian Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread)
Adapted from Ciao Italia


For the Cresciuta (Biga-Pate Fermentee)

1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the Dough
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (110° to 115°F)
2 teaspoons honey
All of the biga
2-2 1/2 cups fine semolina or durum semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

A little water for brushing on the bread
1/8 cup sesame seeds


First make the biga by dissolving yeast in the warm water in a small bowl. Let stand for about 10 minutes until frothy. Stir in the flour with a fork and loosely cover the bowl. Let stand in a warm place at least 4 hours or overnight.

Next day, mix the dough for the bread. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a food processor, dissolve the yeast in the warm water mixed with honey. Let stand for about 10 minutes until frothy. Add all of the biga and mix well. 2 cups semolina, gluten, salt and olive oil. Mix well and add as much semolina as needed so you have a smooth ball of dough.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then loosely cover and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. When doubled, deflate and roll out into a rope about 30-inches long. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Curl the dough back and forth into a backwards S-shape, leaving a 6-7-inch tail. Fold the tail over the shaped loaf.

Loosely cover the shaped dough and let rise for 2 hours until almost doubled. Lightly brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds, pressing down lightly with your fingers.

Pre-heat your oven to  375°F with a baking tray placed upside down in it. Place the baking sheet with the dough onto the upside down baking tray in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes until bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack until completely cooled before slicing. Makes 1 medium-sized loaf.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Visit to the Fishmonger-Russo's Seafood

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A recent trip to Russo's Seafood to buy a red snapper garnered these black and white images. Converting them  to black and white revealed textures I had not noticed in the color images. I shot these with a Canon 5D Mark 111 and a Canon 135mm f/2.8 lens. The conversion was done with Tonality Pro by Macphun. 
Local Fresh Clams-From Half Moon Creek, Savannah
 Fresh Perch
Red Snapper

The above images are my contribution to BWW #155 hosted this week by our lovely admin, Cinzia of CindyStar Blog.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Canadian Pecan Butter Tarts-ABC Mondiale

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A classic Canadian sweet, butter tarts are small pastries filled with egg, sugar, maple syrup, also a Canadian classic, and toasted pecans and baked in a rich butter crust. While this recipe uses the pecans, walnuts or raisins or even flaked coconut can be used.

I've joined my travel companions near the end of our travel to Edmonton, Canada. Edmonton, the capital of Alberta Canada, is the fifth stop in our World Culinary ABC, created by Eloisa of Trattoria MuVarA. Our travels to SamoaIndiaAustralia and Dakar leave us with lovely culinary memories and insights into food traditions in other parts of the world.  

These butter tarts are reminiscent of the quintessential pecan pie we in Georgia and other Southern states enjoy so much. Pecans are readily available during the Fall and Winter months in Georgia where I live, hence the plethora of nut recipes for the holidays. 

Pecan Butter Tarts

Enough for a 2 crust pie or twelve standard muffin size tarts

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons ice cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

Pecan Filling

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coffee liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lightly toasted pecan pieces

Directions for Dough

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse briefly to mix. Add the small pieces of butter and pulse until just small pieces of butter are visible. Add the ice cold water and lemon juice. Pulse until dough just comes together. 

Preheat oven to 400° F and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin. 

Remove dough from processor and shape into 2 disks. Wrap and chill at least 2 hours or overnight. When ready to use, shape into 2 logs. Cut each log into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 4-1/2-inch round about 1/4-inch thick. Line each muffin cup with the pastry so that it comes about 1/2-inch higher than the muffin tin. Chill the muffin tin while preparing the filling.

For the Filling

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the mixture is bubbling. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, coffee liqueur and salt. Slowly pour in the hot sugar mixture while whisking constantly until combined.  Remove the muffin tin from the refrigerator. Sprinkle a few of the pecan pieces into the bottom of each tart shell and ladle the filling into each pastry shell.

Bake the tarts for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is browned. Cool the tarts in the tin for about 5 minutes, then carefully twist them around in the pan so they won't stick. Cool completely in the pan.

Store refrigerated, but are best at room temperature. The tarts can be store chilled for 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.  Makes 12.

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