Saturday, 27 October 2012

White Chocolate Dipped
Apricot Hazelnut Biscotti
White Chocolate Dipped
Apricot Hazelnut Biscotti

These are an elegant addition to any party, chewy dried apricots paired with toasted hazelnuts dipped in Orange flavoured White Chocolate. Made with canola oil they are low in fat but will still satisfy your sweet tooth.

These Biscotti are a favourite of mine and now of  my family & friends.

Biscotti means twice cooked as you will see why by following the recipe. 

Having been taught to bake and cook from an early age, I would stand on a chair next to my mother in our tiny kitchen and she began my journey and curiosity into the world of fine cooking and baking. 

 She always and still is adding a dash of flavour, a pinch of zest or zing and her recipes like mine are always changing and evolving.

That's why it's so difficult to actually get a written recipe from an Italian Mamma!

They would prefer you to just come over and watch how the recipe is made!
Then send you home with some to share with your family.
These cookies incorporate some of my favourite flavours using our basic Italian Biscotti recipe.
I hope you enjoy them too!
1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 grated orange rind
1 tsp each vanilla and orange extract
3/4 cup sliced or chopped hazelnuts
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Topping: 6 oz orange flavoured white chocolate
 In a large mixer bowl on med. speed beat oil and sugar together until combined.  While beating add baking powder, cinnamon, extracts, rind and eggs.
Add flour one cup at a time incorporating on slower setting.  If the mixture becomes too thick stop and mix with a wooden spoon by hand.
Add fruit and nuts and mix by hand.  If dough is too soft chill for 1 hr.
Divide dough evenly in half.  Roll out each half on a lightly floured surface into a log shape approx. 3" x 12".  Use your hand or a ruler to push the sides straight. Flatten the top slightly with your hand.
Place each log 3-4" apart on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 25-30min until slightly golden.
Remove from oven cool for only 5 min (enough for you to handle) and place on a cutting board.  
Using a serrated bread knife cut biscotti on a 45 degree angle 1/2" - 3/4" thick slices. Making approx. 15-20 cookies per log.  Place on the same baking sheet cut side up and bake again for 10 more minutes to a golden colour.  Allow to cool completely.
Topping: chop chocolate and microwave for 90 sec. stir to melt. 
Dip cookie ends into chocolate and dry on parchment lined sheet.

This recipe is dedicated to Food Bloggers of Canada


Friday, 26 October 2012

Ghoulish Graveyard

Beet Romesco

What a scary dip, naturally coloured with roasted beets. Romesco is  a dip made with almonds and I decided to add beets to get the "bloody" colour for Halloween. Highly nutritious and it has a good amount of fiber and protein.

2 1/2 cup cooked, peeled, chopped beets (boiled or roasted in their jackets)
1 cup toasted almonds
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
pinch of chili flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup parsley
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
2-3 blackberries
white sesame seeds
Serving suggestion:
various veggie sticks, toasted bread cutouts or breadsticks
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Using a spatula scoop into container and refrigerate.
Can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Serving Suggestion: place desired amount into serving dish. Surround with dipping vegetables or bread.  Cut blackberries into small pieces to resemble bugs/ants and sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds.
Enjoy with love


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Coconut Creme Caramel 
Coconut Creme Caramel
I am always trying to find an easy no fuss dessert that is dairy free, and doesn't leave me feeling left out at dessert time. This is delish, creamy with the added chewy texture of shredded coconut.
No fat is added!
How amazing is that! 
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water

1 can coconut milk, shaken
3 tbsp or more of sugar (to taste)
2 eggs
1 tsp coconut essence ( rum or orange can be substituted )
2-3 tbsp fresh grated coconut or dessicated coconut
pinch of salt
To make caramel topping: drizzle water over sugar in a small sauce pot and swirl pot to allow sugar to absorb the water. Place on burner on high and bring to a boil. Do not stir! Watch carefully.
Cook on high approx. 3-5min until sugar mixture becomes amber coloured.  Do not burn, it will smoke.
Swirl pot to distribute the colouring syrup as one side may colour faster because of the balance of the burner or stove.
Immediately pour the syrup into the bottom of a 4-6 cup casserole ovenproof dish. Allow to cool.  It will harden.  This will be the decoration for the top.
Whisk all filling ingredients together.  Gently pour over hardened syrup.
 Place casserole dish in a larger pan and fill with water 1/2 way up the dish
Bake in a preheated 325F oven for 20- 25 min.  Center will jiggle.  Allow to cool at room temp.
Refrigerate for 5hrs or overnight.
Can be made 2-3 days in advance.
Enjoy with love!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Skillet Pasta

Skillet Pasta
Leftovers always have a bad rap but, really by adding a few extra ingredients you can have an easy meal for any day of the week!
Skillet Pasta
4-6 cup  leftover cooked pasta, any shape
1 400g tub ricotta or cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup mozzarella
Stir all above ingredients in a large bowl blending well to incorporate.
Pour into a greased, preheated (#5-6) heavy bottomed skillet. Using a wide serving spoon press pasta firmly down and tuck in the edges of the pasta around the perimeter.
Cover with foil or lid leaving an opening allowing steam to escape.  This will form a crust on the bottom.  When you "hear" a sizzle on the bottom the liquids are starting to absorb and evaporate.
Place a large dish, wider than the skillet, upside down on the pan and invert the whole mixture onto the plate. 
Slide the pasta back onto the skillet cooking the other side and repeat with the cover.
This should take 10 min on each side.
For presentation you can invert the pasta again and slice into big wedges!
Enjoy with love!


Monday, 15 October 2012

Rainbow Penne Pasta
An easy colourful dish ready in 15min.
Great for any day of the week
1 200g pkg snow peas, strings removed
1/3 cup black sundried olives (sub any black olive)
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1/4 cup fresh julienned basil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
1 cup cocktail size boconccini
4-5 tbsp EVOO
salt & pepper to taste
1 500g pkg penne (or any shape) pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water 3/4 full to a boil.
Add pasta and stir every few minutes cooking for 10min or until al dente.
Meanwhile place a large skillet on a burner, heated to #6.  When heated add oil and garlic, saute garlic until golden, do not let it burn.
Add vegetables and season to taste, stirring to soften vegetables. This should take no longer than 5-6 minutes. 
Drain pasta reserving a small amount of cooking water (1/4cup).  Add vegetables to pasta. Toss in basil, olives, cheese and basil. Toss to coat.
If pasta is too dry add drizzle with some olive oil.
Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.
Enjoy with love!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Mexican Stew
Mexican Stew

2 lb  beef, cubed into large chunks ( shoulder blade steak, short ribs, stewing beef)

2 lb pork, cubed large chunks (riblets, end cuts, centre cuts, shoulder cuts)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 onion, large dice

2 cloves of garlic smashed

1 bay leaf (opt)

1/2 red pepper large chunks

1 tsp each, garlic powder, chili powder, chili flakes, cumin powder, black pepper, oregano

2-3 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp each of mung bean & adzuki beans (you can sub any bean you like)

1 - 2 tsp salt to taste

1/4 cup red wine

1 1/2 cup tomato puree

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp vegetable oil of your choice

In a large preheated sauce pot add oil and brown meat on all sides until you achieve a  brown crispy coating.

Add chopped vegetables, onions and garlic and stir to coat and slightly soften vegetables. When juices start to evaporate and you hear a slight sizzle in the pot add the wine and cook to reduce another 5 min.

Pour in puree and use water to swish around container to pick up any leftover juices and pour into pot.

Add seasonings ,herbs & beans, stirring to coat.  Bring to a light boil on med. high.  Do not burn!

Reduce heat to a slow simmer, covering pot with a lid slightly ajar and continue stirring sporadically approx. every 15-20min to prevent sticking to the bottom. 

Depending on cut of meat it can take 2-3hrs of slow cooking. This can be done in slow cooker or oven.
Serving Suggestion: serve with cooked rice, pasta, any grain or garlic bread
Enjoy with love!



Friday, 5 October 2012

Spider Cookies
Spider Cookies
A great cookie to surprise the kids big and small at your next Halloween party
1 pkg chocolate fudge cake mix
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins + extra for eyes
2 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 cup margarine melted
3-4 black licorice string, cut into 2" lengths
Combine all ingredients in a mixer or large bowl.
Roll into 2" balls for the body and place on parchment paper, 3" apart. 
Roll 1/2" ball for the head and place in front of the body pressing into dough. Place raisins to form eyes on smaller ball, pushing in raisins (mini smarties or cranberries can be substituted)
Bake at 350F for 8-10min, cookie will spread and harden when cooled.
When cookies are removed from the oven pierce the licorice into the sides to form legs. Continue cooling.
Enjoy with love!

Spiders Lair Appetiser
Spiders Lair
What a great way to have fun for Halloween
1/2 cup ricotta or cream cheese
2-3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp toasted coconut
2 tbsp pepitos (shelled pumpkin seeds)
3 tbsp Dolce de Leche
6 triscuit crackers
Place crackers on a serving platter to form a hexagon.
Whip ricotta with sugar and drop onto centre of crackers.
Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and coconut
Enjoy with love!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Roasted Parmesan Onions
Roasted Parmesan Onions
What a great easy side dish!
Onions are so tasty when roasted.  The sweetness comes through as the onion caramelises.
This is sure to bring some oohs and aahs!
6 med.large round yellow onions, peeled
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2-3 tbsp bread crumbs
vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
Drizzle some vegetable in a casserole dish large enough to hold all the onions.
Cut onions in half and thinly slice the top of the onion so it can sit in the dish flat.
Place all onions cut side up and drizzle with oil.
In a small bowl mix breadcrumbs with cheese and 1-2 tbsp of oil.  Sprinkle over tops of onions.  Season to taste
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for approx 40-45min until fork tender.
Enjoy with love!