Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

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I'm definitely an espresso aficionado, so these shortbread cookies were high on my list to make. Chocolate, I can take it or leave it, but the combination of the two in this classic butter cookie is a match made in heaven. Chopping hard chocolate into fine pieces has befuddled me from the beginning, so this time, I used the very low setting on the microwave to soften the chocolate just a tad. Then I was able to chop it without the chocolate flying all over the kitchen or having a inordinate amount of fine poweder and big chunks. The dough comes together easy and to make rolling the dough simple and less messy, it is first placed in a plastic zipper-lock bag. Mine chilled overnight, but two hours is the minimum so the butter in the dough chills completely. Thanks to Donna of life'stooshortnottoeatdessertfirst for choosing this lovely little coffee and chocolate flavored shortbread.

It was only a matter of time that I would use my iPhone to shoot my food photos. At the moment, I am taking some online photography classes with Better Photo and Perfect Picture School of Photography and have been shooting outdoor landscape and flower photography for the last month.  After a busy day with my "big" camera, I wasn't eager to set up the tripod to shoot these espresso chocolate shortbread cookies. Out comes the iPhone! I have some fun little apps for photography on my phone. On these photos, I used Hipstamatic and Camera Bag. Although, I love both of the apps, these two photos are from the Camera Bag app. I edited them some in Photoshop and added some filter effects. I liked the effects the apps gave to the cookie photos-what do you think? This is my first foray into iPhone food photography, but I think I like it so far!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Amaretti al Caffé-Espresso Flavored Amaretti

Print Friendly and PDF Traditionally, a crisp cookie flavored with almond paste or ground almonds, this softer version of amaretti is flavored with brewed espresso and has a hint of crunch from the addition of ground Italian-roast espresso beans. In Italian, amaretti means "little" and "bitter" macaroons. The bitter flavor of the ground espresso is fleeting, then the coffee essence comes through loud and clear. A definite treat for espresso aficionados! Amaretti al Caffé is perfect for mid-morning snack with cappuccino or espresso, or as served here with a small glass of coffee liqueur.

Amaretti Al Caffé

7 ounces almond paste (See Note)
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon brewed espresso, cooled
1 tablespoon coarsely ground Italian-roast espresso beans
1 egg white

Butter or line a baking sheet with parchment.
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a food processor container with the steel blade attachment, place the almond paste and process until smooth, about 1-1/2 minutes. Add the brewed espresso, ground espresso beans and egg white. Blend until smooth. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch mounds 1 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges. Cool on racks. Makes about 15 amaretti.

Note-If you have leftover almond paste which I did, you can place it in a plastic bag and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thirsty Thursday-Peach Sorbetto Bellini

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An adaptation of the traditional Bellini, the peach puree is enhanced by adding red raspberries to the mix and frozen into a sorbetto. Little  melon ball sizes  of sorbetto are gently added to a glass of Prosecco or other sparkling wine. A great summer cocktail. A non-alcoholic version can be made with mixture of ginger ale and peach nectar. Also, some photos of our Italy trip, September '09.

Created by a bartender from Harry's Bar in Venice, the Bellini was named for Giovanni Bellini, a Venetian painter who was known for his sensuous style of painting using deep rich colors and delicate shades. The colors of the white peach puree reminded Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry's Bar, of the colors of a toga worn by a saint in one of Giovanni Bellini's paintings. The Bellini is a mixture of Italian sparkling wine, most often, Prosecco and white Venetian peach puree. It's popularity soared in Harry's Bar in New York when an enterprising Frenchman began shipping the white peach puree to both locations. Source.

Sorbetto Bellini

4 ripe peaches, white or traditional, peeled and pitted, (see tip)
1/4 cup fresh raspberries, plus more for garnish
2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
2 bottles Italian sparkling wine, or for a non-alcoholic versions, an equal amount of ginger ale and peach nectar

In the container of a blender, combine the peaches, raspberries, water and sugar. Process until smooth. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions for you machine. Place sorbetto in a covered freezer container and place in freezer for 1 hour.

To serve, fill champagne glasses two-thirds full with Italian sparkling wine. Remove sorbetto from freezer and with a melon baller, scoop two to three balls of sorbetto in each glass, carefully sliding them into the sparkling wine. Garnish with fresh raspberries. Serves 12. Recipe from- Gelato! Italian Ice Creams, Sorbetti and Granite by Pamela Sheldon Johns.

Tip-Oxo products sells a vegetable and fruit peeler with serrated blades which makes easy work of peeling soft peaches. No more boiling water to soften the peach peels!

Blue Sign-Vernazza
Vernazza From the Sea
Roman Forum

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie-Crunchy and Custardy Nectarine Tart

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I adore making tarts-any flavor, sweet or savory, so I was excited when Rachel of SweetTarte chose Dorie Greenspan's Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart. I bought both peaches and nectarines for this tart, but decided on using the nectarines which I didn't have to peel, plus I love the colors in nectarines. Lovely subtle reds with cream colored areas really appeal visually.

The almond tart crust is a perfect complement to the custardy nectarine filling with the almond streusel adding the finishing touch to a perfect dessert that can be enjoyed warm, cold or at room temperature. To gild the lily, add a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream to a warmed tart.  Rachel has the recipe on her blog or you can find it in Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking From My Home to Yours". Visit the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll for other variations of this wonderful dessert.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thirsty Thursday Duo-Safari Juice and a Peach Mango Daiquiri

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After a two week hiatus from posting my Thirsty Thursday libation, I'm back with two tropical drinks for your sipping pleasure-Safari Juice, a refreshing concoction of Midori  melon liqueur, Cointreau, freshly squeezed orange and a few drops of grenadine, plus a lush, icy Peach Mango Daiquiri from my ever faithful potation contributor, Vibi of La Casserole Carree.

When researching a cocktail or beverage for Thirsty Thursday, I  hope to be able to include the history of the drink, but in the case of the Safari Juice Cocktail, I drew a blank. While Midori melon liqueur came on the scene in the late 70's, Cointreau, the elegant orange liqueur has been produced since 1849.  With this cocktail, we can use our imagination-maybe after a long day on a game preserve in Africa viewing and photographing elephants, lions and other exotic flora and fauna, we come back to our luxurious lodge and are served this refreshing cocktail on the veranda overlooking the lovely countryside of Africa.

Safari Juice Cocktail

30 ml Cointreau or 1 generous ounce
30 ml Midori melon liqueur (1-oz)
140 ml  (5-oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
6 drops Grenadine syrup

Pour Cointreau, Midori and orange juice in a mixing glass. Stir quickly three or four times. Pour in a cocktail glass filled with crushed ice. Add grenadine a drop at a time. Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges and a maraschino cherry. Makes 1 drink.

The mango, a symbol of love in Indian culture, is a native of Asia and India and has been grown there for nearly 4000 years. The tree can reach 60 feet tall and can live for 250 years. This amazing fruit is a  perfect addition to this Peach Mango Daiquiri from my friend, Vibi. For the recipe and some more information on the mango fruit, visit La Casserole Caree. Thanks as always to Vibi for allowing me to post her lovely photos on Thirsty Thursday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

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A ganache is made from chocolate and heavy cream and can be used for a filling, a glaze or icing. Hot cream is poured over finely chopped chocolate and stirred until smooth. Whether ganache has French or Swiss origins, no one knows, but this rich creamy concoction should be in everyone's dessert repertoire.

Katrina of  bakingwiththeboys chose the chocolate ganache ice cream for this Tuesdays with Dorie. The ice cream is custard based and the ganache is added to the custard, then chilled and frozen in an ice cream maker. After an overnight chill in my refrigerator, the mixture was so thick, I don't think it needed to be processed in an ice cream maker. Next time, I'll just skip that step.

Next week, Natalie of ovenlove has chosen Oatmeal Breakfast Bread on page 44 of Baking From My Home to Yours. Sounds yummy to me!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #245 Roundup

Print Friendly and PDF Lovely food photography and some very tantalizing and unique dishes abound in this WHB#245 roundup! Thanks to all who participated and to Haalo of cookalmostanything for her excellent management of Weekend Herb Blogging. In no particular order---

Lemon Basil Almond Pesto
First, from Janet in Toronto who blogs at  thetastespace, an emerald green Lemon Basil Almond  Pesto. Rather than using the traditional pounding technique using a mortar and pestle, Janet successfully whirled her pesto in a circa 1970 food processor. The added citrus juice and zest gave the pesto a pleasant bite while the almonds added a sweet taste.

Chickpea Pockets with Tomato Basil Chutney
Inspired by a fellow blogger's chickpea patties, Chris of melecotte bakes up some  Creamy Chickpea Pockets with Tomato Basil Chutney. The filling is comprised of canned chickpeas, zucchini, tri-colored peppers, red onion, a delicious combination stuffed in a pastry crust, baked and topped with a tangy tomato basil chutney. Chris blogs from Atlanta, only a few hours from my home in Augusta. 

Rosemary Oil with Orange and Black Peppercorns
It looks like I may have to buy another cookbook! Pam from sidewalkshoes in Tennessee bakes-yes bakes!- a flavorful oil infused with fresh rosemary, orange rind and black peppercorns. The recipe comes from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving which has kept Pam happily infusing other flavorful oils such as Five Pepper oil and Dried Porcini Mushroom with Rosemary Oil. The oils will keep about a month refrigerated, but with so many ways to use the oils, they probably will be gone before a month is up.

Zucchini Crudo
Perfect for those who have a seemingly never-ending abundance of zucchini and yellow squash in their home gardens, Joanne from eatswellwithothers serves us an Italian raw zucchini salad prepared by slicing and salting the summer squashes, then letting them sit for a few minutes in a colander to drain before tossing them with a basic shallot and garlic lemon vinaigrette, almonds, dill and feta cheese. With a last name of Bruno, we trust Joanne when she says "everything tastes better in Italian"!

Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Hock
Haalo of cooksalmostanything and the lovely manager of Weekend Herb Blogging dishes up a classic ham and pea soup, but is extra flavor comes from cooking the peas in a smoked ham broth, then the prepared soup is garnished with a additional fresh peas, leeks and bits of smoked ham sauteed in butter. Even though we are in the throes of a hot, hot summer here in Georgia, this soup would be a hit!

Marinated Cheese
Along with some lovely photos of Lake Garda and a Sunday get together with friends included, Bri from briibloginenglish prepares for us a wedge of creamy Italian Tomino and a wedge of French Brie with sage leaves,  juniper, pepper and fresh chilies, which she marinates in sunflower oil for two days in the refrigerator. Bri suggests serving this with fresh red onion rings.

Oven Roasted Mango Hummingbird Cake
Little Maybelle is a lucky girl to have her mom make this beautifully decorated six layer birthday cake made in hummingbird cake style with three fruits oven roasted in their skins for an intense fruit flavor. Mango is the predominate fruit, but white peaches and bananas round out the flavor. Maybellesmom who blogs from Cleveland, Ohio flavors this roasted fruit batter with cinnamon, cardamom, saffron and diced pineapple. Roasted Mango Hummingbird Cake will be the next birthday cake I make for my family.

Easy Watermelon Rind Preserves and Angel Biscuits

For my contribution as host of WHB#245, I reached back to my childhood to make an easier, less complicated watermelon rind preserves to serve on with a yeast-raised biscuit whose name Angel biscuits is fitting as they are as light and ethereal as angel wings. The preserves are cooked in a lemon ginger syrup which also can be used to flavor tea or a bourbon cocktail.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Easy Watermelon Rind Preserves and Angel Biscuits

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Much of the many baskets of summer produce my dad brought home from the local farmers markets or from our own huge garden ended up being canned, frozen or made into pickles, preserves or jellies.    My mother thought him mad when on a whim one year, he planted two acres of watermelon and cantaloupe.  Think of  the size of an American football field which is just shy of one acre and you have some idea of how massive this plot of land was.  Imagine driving down this little country road and as you topped the hill, there before you was a field dotted with thousands of green striped watermelons and gray green cantaloupes? He invited any and everyone to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Needless to say, there was also more than enough melons for us to eat. 

Not one to waste food, my mother made watermelon rind preserves from some of the watermelons we enjoyed telling us that the preserves would be good with our Thanksgiving turkey or with biscuits for breakfast. The task was laborious, involving overnight soakings in a brine and shaving all the watermelon flesh off the rind. As a child, I thought watermelon rind preserves were too sweet and weird looking. My mother passed away a year ago this past month and I find myself now making many of the foods that she made when I was a child.  She would love this easy recipe I found in Matt and Ted Lee's book, The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook. No soaking and time-consuming scraping all the flesh off the melon. In fact, leaving some of the beautiful pink flesh on the rind creates a jewel-like effect on the finished preserves. 

Not only is this watermelon rind preserve recipe easy, but you are left with an ample amount of gingery lemon syrup to flavor sweet tea or for a bourbon based cocktail that the Lee Brothers created called Garden and Gun Cocktail-coming soon on a Thirsty Thursday post!

A 6-1/2 pound slice of watermelon makes 8 cups of chopped watermelon rind, enough for 2 pints of watermelon rind preserves. If you like, you can buy a seedless watermelon. I love the old-fashioned seeded melons as they seem to me to have better flavor. Serve these on Angel biscuits-a raised biscuit dough made in the bread machine-recipe follows the watermelon rind preserves recipe.

Watermelon Rind Preserves

8 cups diced watermelon rind-pink flesh removed and thick green skin peeled and discarded
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 strips lemon peel, about 4 inches long
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 pint size wide mouth jars with lids and rims, washed and sterilized in boiling water.

In a large pot, combine diced watermelon rind, lemon juice, lemon peel water, sugar and ginger. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring ingredients to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered over medium low heat for about 1 hour or until rind is translucent.

With a slotted spoon, remove the rind from the syrup and place in the jars.  Increase the heat and boil the syrup for 10 minutes to thicken. Using a funnel, pour syrup into the jars up to 1/2 inch from the rim. Place the lids on the jars, seal and set aside to cool. Place in refrigerator for 2 days before serving. Keeps for about 4 weeks refrigerated. Leftover syrup can be bottled and refrigerated for about the same time. Use to sweeten beverages and cocktails.

Angel Biscuits-Bread Machine Version

2 cups warm water (110-115°F)
6 tablespoon buttermilk powder (available at most large grocery stores)
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
5 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine pan according to manufacturer's instructions. Process on the dough cycle, taking care to monitor the machine's progress in the first few minutes to ensure the ingredients are mixed together well. When cycle has completed, remove dough from machine and place in a zip type plastic bag which has been coated with oil or a non-stick cooking spray. Refrigerate until ready to bake. When ready to bake biscuits, remove desired amount of dough from plastic bag about 2 hours before serving. Store unused dough in refrigerator. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place on un-greased baking sheet, cover and let rise until doubled in size. Bake at 425°F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Unused dough keeps well for several days in refrigerator. Makes about 3 dozen biscuits.

This is my contribution as host for  WHB#245.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #245

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Hi everyone, Cafe Lynnylu is excited to be hosting WHB#245, this being the fourth time. Gosh, I can't believe this very popular event has been going strong for so long-5 years!  I'm looking forward to seeing what delicious food, drink and tidbits of info about your favorite herb or plant that you guys have for me. The rules are posted here. If you don't know the history behind the Weekend Herb Blogging event, you can read all about it on Kalyn'sKitchen. Remember to get you posts to me by this coming Sunday, August 8, 2010-times below.

3pm Sunday - Utah Time
10pm Sunday - London Time
11pm Sunday - Rome Time
7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

Gadget by The Blog Doctor.