Saturday, 5 December 2015

Chocolate Almond Olive Oil Biscotti

I always try to replace butter with Olive Oil when I can and most times the swap works out quite well. These rich, deep chocolate, almond biscotti are not too sweet but the addition of the chocolate drizzle on top made them perfectly decadent. They can be sliced thin for a very dry hard biscotti, which is perfect for dipping into steaming mugs of hot coffee or sliced thicker for a softer version. Individually  wrapped in pretty cellophane they are an extra special treat.

These are Big Pete approved which is saying something since he is pretty picky.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt - I used a chocolate sea salt but you can use plain as well
  • 1/2 cup Mild Extra Virgin Olive Oil - I used a Oltremonti from Corsica, France
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (the best quality you can get)
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • an additional 1/2 cup chocolate chips for melting drizzle topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.


 Step 1: in a large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Sift the cocoa powder into bowl to remove any lumps. Combine all dry ingredients with a whisk.

Step 2: in another bowl add olive oil and sugar and mix until it resembles wet sand. Add 2 eggs and  vanilla paste if you can find it (regular real vanilla extract if you can't find the paste) Whisk hard for a full minute. You can of course use a hand mixer but, I like to make it an arm workout!

Step 3: add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until it gets too stiff then turn out the whole mess and incorporate on the counter.

Step 4: when the flour is added add the chocolate chips and almonds. I basically roll 
them and press them into the dense paste. Form a log and press top to make a long log. You can make this thicker or thinner depending on whether you want thin slices or thin logs.

Step 5: place log onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You can form the log directly on the paper if you do not wish to move it. If it sticks you can use a spatula to loosen it for moving onto cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes and remove from oven for 5 minutes. (this is what is looks like after 30 minutes)

Step 6: with a very sharp serrated knife saw the logs into individual biscotti. If you do not have a good sharp knife you may want to use sliced almonds in the recipe.

Place the slices on their sides and bake another 10 minutes, then flip over and bake an additional 10 minutes.

In a small bowl over boiling water melt final 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Place melted chocolate in a bag, slice off end and drizzle over tops.

Coffee optional but definitely recommended!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Habanero Chili Oil and Fire Paste - Honduras

I just came back from Honduras recently where I learned how to make this Habanero oil and Fire Paste from my friends Cathy and Randy. This is seriously hot stuff but, if you have a taste for heat this is the oil or paste you can add to your favorite hot dishes. Randy calls the paste Peanut Butter!! Ya, just a bit different!....I added 1 tsp to a  pot of tomato sauce and it was hot enough for me. You could do this with any chilies you like or you can use a variety for a medley of flavors.

Step 1:Freezing the Habaneros, also called Scotch Bonnets makes them easier to handle. Cathy just cuts off the tops and slices them in half. If you want to remove the seeds and membranes it will reduce the heat a wee bit (we are talking Habaneros!)

Step 2: spread out evenly on an un-greased tray and bake for 12-15 hours on 170 degrees F. It must be a low, slow drying out or you can burn them. Turn them every 6 hours or so just so they do not burn.

Step 3: once they are dry, use a wooden spoon to crush into flakes.

Step 4: add the flakes to a Mason jar and top with olive oil to cover. Let sit for a few weeks to months (Randy leaves his for a few months to get really hot!) Strain for the oil and use the "peanut butter" sparingly for a different level of heat in foods. Use cautiously!!

A few food shots from Trujillo, Honduras. If you find yourself in Trujillo you must go to Mermaids Restaurant at Campo Del Mar!! awesome Fish and Chips and Chicken Sandwiches. Nautico , Luisa's and Caravida Club Cafe all on the beach road!! and Hotel Casa Alemania in town.

Mermaid's is a gorgeous spot right on the beach at Campo Del Mar Beach Club. You can spend the day playing at the beach and enjoying a great meal, swimming in the pool or visiting the animals in the rescue sanctuary or see the botanical gardens!

Here are some lobsters fried in a batter at Nautico Restaurant on the beach road.

fried chicken won tons


Fried  Tostones (plantains)

My favorite beer is an ice cold Port Royal!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Potato and Pesto Chicken Soup

I can't believe how simple and delicious this soup is. You can make your own pesto (I have a really excellent pesto recipe on this blog!) or you can just buy a good quality one from the store. By the way it's absolutely delicious with or without the chicken. You decide.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp great extra virgin olive oil -I used Solla Stella from Texas Hill Country
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 small onion -finely minced
  • 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large baking potato -peeled and cubed into dice that fits on a spoon size
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced finely
  • 4 oz cannellini beans- rinsed
  • 1 litre chicken broth
  • 1 chicken breast - sliced finely and tossed in 1 tbsp pesto.
  • 1/2 cup small pasta 
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp pesto
  • fresh grated Parmesan to serve with another drizzle of good oil.

Step 1: I like to assemble everything so I don't forget things. I chop and have things ready to go when I start. 

Step 2: cook bacon in some olive oil until crispy. Drain and set aside. I drain oil and then start with fresh olive oil for the next step.

Step 3: add a bit more olive oil and butter to saute your onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes and then add potatoes.  Toss and cook another 3 minutes until all potatoes are coated .

Step 4: add lots of salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding broth.

Step 5: add your box of chicken broth -if you have homemade even better! and add beans.

Step 6: saute a chicken breast sliced and tossed in a bit of pesto. Add to soup.

Step 7: cook approximately 20 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add pasta shells and  chili flakes - cook another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add pesto to taste. Adjust salt and pepper if you want more.

If you don't want the chicken just add the bacon back in at the last minute, a drizzle of good oil and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

If you like add the cooked chicken along with everything else!