Sunday, 29 March 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!







Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pear Frangipane Chocolate Tart


If you have a jar of lovely poached pears this is a perfect idea for using them. Of course you can poach them yourself in some sugar and vanilla. This is a chocolate crust made with chocolate cookies, a nice almond frangipane filling and the sweet pears on top. 

Get the whipped cream and a great cup of coffee!


You will need:

  • 2 cups crushed chocolate cookies (homemade or Oreo crumbs)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 100 grams almond flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4-5 poached pears (I used bottles pears from a winery poached in vanilla syrup)
  • sprinkle of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of apricot or orange jam heated and strained.
350 degrees F 30-40 minutes


Step 1: take some homemade cookies or you can buy store bought Oreo crumbs already crushed just like Graham cracker crumbs. I placed them in a food processor to crush. Once you have 2 cups add to a large bowl with sugar and melted butter. Mix until like wet sand.


Step 2: butter a tart pan with removable bottom (can be a round pan if yours isn't rectangular) press in the cookie crumb mix and using a 1/4 cup measuring cup press evenly into sides and bottom of tin. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. 


Step 3: in a mixing bowl add butter and sugar and mix for 1 minute.


Step 4: add almond flour, rum, egg and almond extract. Mix until smooth.


Step 5: take some poached pears and slice into thin slices.


Step 6: layer the almond frangipane over the crust. Place fruit in a pretty pattern over top. Add a sprinkling of sugar over the pears.


Step 7: bake for 30-35 minutes.


Step 8: take some apricot jam and heat in a pan until more viscous and easy to brush. Brush on a bot over the pears.


Slice and serve with some soft whipped cream.














Monday, 16 March 2015

Brown Irish Soda Bread



The perfect bread for St Patrick's Day! and easy enough to make any night.

You cut a deep cross in the loaf to BLESS the bread and poke some holes to let out the fairies (or the Devil) Enjoy a slice of this slightly sweet bread with lots of butter. Slainte!


You will need:


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/3 cup wheatgerm
  • 1 heaped tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups buttermilk
Step 1: heat oven to 400 degrees F.


Step 2: in a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add flours, wheatgerm, baking soda and salt.


Step 3: add honey to some of the buttermilk and stir to dissolve. 

Step 4: form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in all the buttermilk and honey mixtures. Stir gently to start to combine, then turn out the entire wet shaggy mix onto the counter. I use a scraper to fold the dry into the wet and keep turning gently. I don't handle the dough very much or very long, just enough to make sure the dough is formed.


Step 5: grease a round baking tin with butter or oil and place the round loaf inside. With a sharp knife cut a cross or x on the loaf and poke some holes.


Step 6: bake for 30-40 minutes. I bake for 20, then flip over and bake a further 10 and continue for a final 10 or until the loaf is nicely browned and when you tap the bottom of the bread it sounds hollow. Let cool before slicing.


Slather with salted butter and enjoy!!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Italian Shredded Beef or Pulled Pork


This is lazy Sunday afternoon cooking. Low and slow filling the house with inviting smells of dinner. You can make it with a piece of beef or pork or both! I have added typical Italian seasonings here but, you can easily change it to Mexican or Spanish by altering the spices and aromatics.


You will need:
  • 1 lb. beef shank
  • 1 lb. pork shoulder (or 2 pounds of either if you prefer only one variety)
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1-2 stalks of celery 
  • 1 small onion
  • few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 lemon
  • some smoked salt if you have it
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (peperoncino)
  • chicken broth - maybe a half a litre (enough to come halfway up the meat)
  • 1 tbsp cranberry sauce or jam
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil or parsley


Step 1: take a few pieces of beef and/or pork that are cuts that can handle a slow and low cooking until they are fall apart tender.  I always feel it is better to buy a smaller amount of the best quality meat you can find. Eat less meat but, make it a great quality.


Step 2; I drizzle with some great extra virgin olive oil and place in a very hot pan.


Step 3: Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. I have used a smoked sea salt but, you can use your favourite. Be generous with the salt and pepper.


Step 4: once seared well on all sides add all remaining ingredients except the cranberry sauce/jam and save a half an onion for the finish.


Step 5: cook covered in the oven in a low oven 325 degrees F for 3- 3 1/2 hours until the meat starts to fall away from the bone and is tender enough to shred. Once it is cooked remove meat from the oven and once cool enough to handle remove all fat and bone until you just have the tender meat remaining with no gross bits. Strain all the vegetables until you have the liquid remaining. Set liquid aside.If you find there is a lot of fat you can skim off the fat which will rise to the top if you place it in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.


Step 6: in the same pan (never wash these crunchy bits away- this is flavour baby!) add a glug of olive oil and your 1/2 onion chopped and a bit of chili flake, if you like.Saute until the onion starts to brown. Add the strained cooking liquid you set aside and scrape all the fond from the pan.


Step 7: return the shredded meat to the pan and add a tbsp or two of the cranberry sauce or jam to balance out the rich meat.


Step 8: add a bit of freshly chopped basil or parsley to finish.


You can of course serve this as a main with roasted potatoes and your favourite vegetables or for a more casual option make a Italian Salsa and wrap in a flour tortilla.