Orange-Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

 - by Elizabeth

I had to make a batch of cookies to take to a holiday event, and decided to revamp my traditional biscotti recipe, adding pistachios, orange zest and dried cranberries (Craisins) to the recipe.  The original, Anise-Almost Biscotti, are great biscotti, but I omitted the almonds and the anise and added the above treats.  They were a hit.

Preparation: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line1 baking sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
zest from two medium oranges (about 1 Tablespoon)
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios (unsalted, unroasted preferred, but it’s okay if you don’t have them that way.  I buy mine at Trader Joe’s).

In mixer, mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, and orange rind. In another bowl, sift (or stir together) flour, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir on low speed, scraping when needed until well blended.  Add dried cranberries and pistachios.

 

Glop half of the dough onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Dough is kind of gooey–so I used my spatula to shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Mine got a little wide, so the final biscotti were a little flat. Remember that, when you shape them. Space the logs 2-3 inches apart.  (What you see here is a doubled batch.)

Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 35 minutes (a little longer than the usual biscotti). They should be firm to the touch. Don’t turn off the oven! 

(traditional biscotti shown here)

Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 20 minutes.  I dragged mine over onto a baking rack by using the edge of the parchment paper, and tilting the cookie sheet a little bit.

Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Stand them on edge, as shown in the first photo.  If you do it this way, you don’t have to turn them over, and you can get it all on one baking sheet.  Bake 15-20 minutes.  You want to make sure there are no doughy spots, and they are good and crunchy.

Transfer to rack and cool. These can be prepared 1 week ahead of your Big Party. Store in airtight container at room temperature.  These have a melt in your mouth crispness that are typical of homemade biscotti, but unlike store-bought, they won’t break your jaw.

One-pot Spaghetti

 - by Elizabeth

I had just read about this recipe in the New York Times that morning, and at noon, out of the blue, three relatives called to say they were coming by at lunchtime…from Utah…but don’t go to any trouble.  We had just returned from a trip abroad, no food was in the house, the jet-lag was flaring badly, but here was this gift of a recipe, and with a few modifications I had it ready to go in no time.  Make it.  It’s delicious and quick.

Ingredients:
1 pound angel hair spaghetti
3-4 pints cherry tomatoes, separated (cut about half of the tomatoes in half, and leave the rest whole–save about 1/2 cup of the halved tomatoes to sprinkle on top for garnish at the end.  Truth: I forgot to cut them before I threw them in with the spaghetti and they were fine.)
zest of two lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 bunch kale or spinach (wash, cut out the stems and discard, and chop the rest)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan or other hard grated cheese, for serving  (we use Pecorino-Romano)

Measure out 1 quart of water, and bring to a boil.

In a separate pan, large in enough to hold the dry spaghetti laying flat (I cheated and broke off 2 inches off the ends), place the dry spaghetti, most of the tomatoes, lemon zest, oil and salt.

Add the boiling water to the pan with the spaghetti.  Cover the pan and bring to a boil.  Remove the lid and simmer for about six minutes. Occasionally use tongs to lift and separate the spaghetti so it doesn’t stick.

Add kale (or spinach) and continue cooking until liquid has been reduced to a sauce, the pasta is cooked through, and the kale is tender (but not overdone).

Correct seasonings, top with cheese and remaining 1/2 cup sliced tomatoes.  Serve.

Cooks’ Notes: Some have suggested adding a pinch of hot pepper flakes to the simmering concoction for a bit of a kick.

Cheezy (Funeral) Potatoes, my version

 - by Elizabeth

Everybody has this recipe and has made it for millenia, but I made my first batch of these this year, and wanted to put the recipe on this blog for future reference.  I joke that instead of crushed cornflakes on top, we should put crushed statins, but then maybe you have to be of a certain age to get the reference.  Let’s just say, I’ll try not to make these unless I’m going to share them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute ¾ cup diced onion in 3 Tablespoons of real butter, until the onion is transluscent.
Add 2 cloves garlic, minced, and then cook for another minute or two, but don’t let the vegetables brown.

In a large bowl, place:
1 (30 ounce) bag of frozen, shredded has brown potatoes — if frozen (mine were), poke at it with a sturdy spoon to break it up a little
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup–fish out the big pieces of chicken meat
1 cup LITE sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Add onion mixture to the above and stir well until mixed.  Keep stirring, keep stirring.

Melt 3 Tablespoons real butter, and add to 1½ cup crushed cornflake crumbs, about one-half of a small box.  Stir to mix.

Place potato mixture into a 9 x 13″ pan, pressing firmly into place.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheddar cheese over the surface, then spread the conflake crumbs over the top of that.

Bake for 90 minutes or until cooked throughout and bubbly.

Here’s a couple of photos of what was going on:

Mixing up the potato ingredients

Layers of topping: cheese, then cornflakes

Blueberry Crumble Bars

 - by Elizabeth


I first ate these at Quilt Night, an evening where a lot of quilters gather to stitch, trade tales and have a treat.  And what a treat this was: Laurel outdid herself. She called them “Blueberry Oat Bars” but we have since renamed them, since they remind us of eating blueberry crumble. I’ve since made them for my husband and I, a daughter and her family, a couple moving out of the area, a son and his family, and it gets rave reviews from everyone.

1 ¾ cup old-fashioned Quaker oats, uncooked
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¾ cup butter, melted

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup granulated sugar
3 T. water, divided
2 T. cornstarch
2 t. lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 F.  Grease 9 x 13 baking pan.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, nuts, baking soda and salt. Add butter, mixing until crumbly. [NOTE: I used a food processor, putting in whole nuts first and pulsing to chop them coarsely, then adding the rest of the ingredients.  With processor running, I pour in the butter, but turn it off quickly so it doesn’t pulverize the ingredients.]

Reserve ¾ cup mixture; press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared dish.  Bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine blueberries, granulated sugar and 2 T. water in medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1 T. water, cornstarch, and lemon juice; mix well. Gradually stir into blueberry mixture; cook and stir about 30 seconds or until thickened.

Spread over partially baked base to within ¼ inch of edge; sprinkle with reserved oat mixture.

Press topping down into blueberries slightly.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.  Cool on wire rack; cut into bars. Store tightly covered, or freeze.

NOTE: I doubled this, and used a rimmed bakers half-sheet to bake it in.  All times are the same; ingredients are doubled (and I still made it in the food processor).

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Orange and Ginger Chicken

 - by Elizabeth

This is the real deal–tender chicken coated with a rich-tasting orange glaze.  This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less, depending on your quantities.

4 boneless chicken breast halves  (If using the giant chicken breasts from the Big Box store, slice them into smaller pieces, as in *this* recipe)
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour
1/4 stick of butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
[OPT: 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions]

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; dust with flour.  Melt butter with oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; saute until brown, about three minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate.

Add ginger to skillet; stir 1 minute.  Add brown sugar and mustard and stir to blend into drippings.  Add orange juice and orange peel.  Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Return chicken, and any accumulated juices, to pan.  Simmer 3 minutes.  Turn chicken over and add green onions.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, about 3-5 minutes longer.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.  Transfer chicken and sauce to platter; serve with sticky rice.

Scones

 - by Elizabeth

Best made with sultanas (or golden raisins) and served with double (aka clotted cream), these scones are a real treat.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix together the dry ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
sprinkle of salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter, until pebbly.

(If adding in sultanas, use about 1/3 cup, and add them in now.)

Add 2/3 cup milk, stirring until dough holds together. Turn out onto floured board and knead five times.

Form dough into ball, flattening it slightly with rolling pin, but keeping it about 1″ to 1-1/2″ thick.  Cut into fourths.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Elizabeth Lucinda Meyers Milton’s Biscuits

 - by Elizabeth

When I was given this recipe, it was with the stipulation that I always include the full name of Candace’s great-grandmother, from whence it came.  It’s quick, flaky, and can be made with buttermilk, instead of milk, for a richer flavor.

I have also rolled out the biscuit dough into a rectangle, brushed it with butter and sprinkled cinnamon-sugar on it.  I then rolled it up, sliced it into 3/4″ slices, placing them cut side down in a buttered/greased pan: mini-cinnamon rolls! (You can glaze the mini-cinnamon rolls with some powdered sugar thinned with a little milk.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder

Stir the dry ingredients together.

Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter until pieces are the size of small pebbles.

Gradually stir in 2/3 cup of milk.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead five times, or until dough holds together well and there are no loose pieces.

Roll out to 1/2″ thickness with rolling pin.  Cut out with 2″ or 3″ round shape (or cookie cutter without small details), or use the bottom of a glass.  Place touching each other on baking sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10-12, or until edges are slightly browned.

Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Corn

 - by Elizabeth

This is a variation of a soup from my cookbook Bowl Food, as I sort just opened the refrigerator and morphed my ingredients into a meal.  The variables you’ll need to keep track of (as they relate directly to each other) is the amount of broth you use is in relationship to the amount of cauliflower you use.  I cook the leek and garlic, then add the chopped up cauliflower.  I then add broth so it’s just covering the vegetables.  You be the judge.

1 Tablespoon oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 potato, chopped (can add a cooked. chopped, potato later in the soup, if that’s what you have in your larder: that’s what I did)
6 cups chicken stock or canned broth (3 cans)
1/2 cup cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 -1/2 cups sweet white frozen corn

Heat the oil in a large pot, large enough to hold all ingredients.  Add the leek and garlic, and cook over medium heat until the leek is soft, but not brown (about 6-8 minutes).  Increase the heat to high and add cauliflower, potato, chicken stock and bring just to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower and potato have softened.

Turn off heat.  Using a stick blender (or, alternatively, cool the soup and use a blender or food processor), puree the soup until smooth.  Add the cream, lemon, red pepper flakes, chives and frozen corn.  Place over heat until all ingredients are warmed, about 2-3 minutes.  Sometimes the heat of the soup will suffice.

Cauliflower Soup, served with Oyster crackers

Serve with Mary’s Retreat (homemade) Bread, or Oyster crackers, or homemade croutons, or crostini.

Serves 6-8.

Red Pepper and Orzo Soup

 - by Elizabeth

OrzoRdPepperSoup_1

Think of this as a snappier version of tomato rice soup; the amount of pasta used here is just enough to temper the peppers’ bite.  I have modified this recipe from one I found in the Washington Post.

roasting red peppers_1

before

roasting red peppers_2

after 15-20 minutes under broiler’s high heat

roasting red peppers_3

all wrapped up to steam for a while

Serve with a loaf of Mary’s Retreat Bread.

Servings: Tested size: 3-4 servings; makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups

Ingredients
1 medium shallot
1 clove garlic
5-6 red roasted peppers (directions below) ***
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for optional garnish
3-1/2 to 4 cups chicken broth (you get to determine the texture: soupy or thick)
1/2 cup dried orzo pastaIMG_3739

Spices for Soup_1 Spices for Soup_2
Spices to Taste:
wave of Arizona Dreaming, Sate, Smoked Paprika and [optional] a pinch of lemon-salt (use a shake of Kosher salt and 1 tsp. lemon rind, as substitute)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (also called “chili” flakes)

NOTE: Arizona Dreaming is my new go-to spice.  Get yourself a jar.

Directions
Peel and coarsely chop the shallot and garlic. Prepare the red peppers by broiling the seeded, washed halves for 15 minutes under high broiler heat on a prepared pan (line with tin foil).  Wrap the whole pan in foil, and let the peppers cool while they continue to steam and melt into goodness, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could put them into a covered bowl, and go that route.  Peel off the blackened skins and discard.

Heat half of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the shallot and garlic. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until just softened.

Add the red peppers and broth; if your peppers weren’t soft after the broiling stage, let them cook a bit more in the hot broth until tender.  Using a stick blender, puree the peppers/broth until smooth. Add the spices listed above.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then stir in the orzo. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until the orzo is tender and more visible in the pot, stirring often to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Add more broth, if needed. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed, using spices listed above.  You can also add a Tablespoon of lemon juice to pop things up, if needed.

Red Pepper Orzo Soup_2

 

Also good with slices of avocado, if you like that sort of thing, or a really good sandwich.  We also added cubes of cooked ham, a carryover from another meal.

Other garnishes possible:
2 tablespoons pine nuts, for garnish
1 tablespoon grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup baby spinach
few leaves fresh basil

***COOK’S NOTE: To make this quickly, use two jars of roasted red peppers from Trader Joe’s instead of roasting up your own peppers.  Drain, then use in the recipe instead of the home-done peppers.