Monday, November 24, 2008

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Christmas is coming - it's that pre-holiday time of year when I like to leaf through cookbooks and magazines, dreaming about Christmas cookies.. particularly those that require copious amounts of butter and sugar. This is the time when healthy eating is pushed aside. When shortbread and fudge take centre stage. However, for the amount of time I spend looking at recipes, my actual baking output is pretty limited. I tend to make a few batches of biscotti and some sort of square. This year I am thinking of giving Speculaas a go. I'll keep you posted on that one.

Today I was baking for the newest addition to the Reems clan - Tommy Harvey. I needed something to withstand the long journey from the 'Wack to Victoria. Those BC ferries are a rough ride. Biscotti it is.

Biscotti, is a bit of a cheat - hardly any fat and definitely pushing the envelope of a sugary concoction. However, having been on the receiving and giving end of a batch of biscotti at Christmas time I can vouch for the coziness of a cup of hot something, and a nibble of biscotti goodness.

Making biscotti seems a bit involved when you first glance at a recipe. While it takes awhile because of the double baking required, it is actually ridiculously easy (our little secret). My go-to One Smart Cookie is still packed in my garage. My favourite biscotti recipe is still cranberry-almond with white chocolate. However, lacking my favourite recipe, and the requisite white chocolate Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Hazlenut Biscotti fit the bill.

I'll let you link to the recipe. I did a few tweaks. I didn't have hazlenuts so used almonds - I didn't toast them either, I just did a rough chop on a cup of natural almonds; I used one cup of sugar, instead of 1 1/3; I only had 2 eggs left so I added 1/3 cup leftover coffee (you could use water), and 2 T vegetable oil.

Even with my tinkering they turned out beautifully. To dress them up if you are giving them as gifts, spread or drizzle with some melted white chocolate.

Finally, grab a book and your cup of coffee. Ahhh, biscotti time!

Welcome to world Tommy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lovin' Lunch..

I love lunch. I used to say breakfast was my favourite meal, but I was doing lunch a disservice. The joy of lunch is that you can make breakfast-like meals at a more leisurely pace - I find that first thing in the morning Finn, and admittedly, myself, just want our breakfast asap. The other great thing about lunch (and I have thought of many), is that it doesn't have the same planning or pressure that dinner has. Dinner requires a lot more thought and effort. For the minimal time and effort investment, lunch always rocks. Load up the carbs and cheese, and you've got yourself a meal.

Lunch for me is frequently a guilty pleasure. There is something about spending way too much time making an awe-inspiring sandwich, or a mid-day egg fry up, just for oneself, that feels well, overly indulgent. Today was such a day. Our pictures still aren't downloading so I'll have to tell you about my and Finn's lovely breakfast-for-lunch.

Whole wheat dutch pancakes and caramelized bananas. Now, in the rest of the world dutch pancakes are crepes. In the land of the Dutch, pancakes are a big deal; Reems' have been known to pound back dutch pancake after dutch pancake at Oma's and Grandma's houses. No Aunt Jemima in sight. A dutch pancake demands Rogers Syrup. Nice and thick and sickly sweet - I love the stuff.

How to replicate?

2 eggs
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat to assuage that niggling guilty feeling that pancakes may not be the healthiest option - in my parenting defence Finn doesn't get any syrup on his).
milk - about 1 cup

Add enough milk to make a runny consistency- this is a judgement call. The batter should be quite liquid. When you put a scoop into the pan it should swirl around quickly.

Using a soup ladle put about a quarter cup into a smallish non-stick pan that has been preheated to nice and hot, and coated with oil, butter, or non-stick spray. Tilt the pan until you have a nice round crepe.

Now don't go anywhere because these babies cook quickly. It usually takes me one pancake to get into my groove - they take about 30 seconds and then require a flip. I like to have two pans going at once to double my production time. You can put a pie plate in a warm oven and just add to your stack. But look out, these babies go quickly.

Caramelized banana slices - Totally unnecessary, but oh so good. I used my silicon spatula to put a light layer of butter into a hot pan. I sprinkled about 2 teaspoons of sugar on the pan which quickly dissolved into a lovely caramel and then in went the sliced bananas. Stir around for a minute or so and yum.

Now assembly time. Put some bananas in the middle, drizzle with some rogers syrup, and if you are lucky enough to have some whipping cream kicking around in your fridge from the apple cake you made two days ago (lucky me, lucky Finn), put a nice dollop of that on top. Now roll up your pancake by sticking the tong of your fork in the edge and roll (This takes a bit of practice and many years of eating these at your Oma's house. If you don't have a Oma you may never really get the hang of it). I really need to get this camera problem figured out. These pancakes were a sight to behold.