Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Speckled green

Speckled

I dream of Italy and its scents, its flavors, its energy.

Cinnamon sugar dust

I roamed Milan for a few hours, my eyes grazing the fa├žade of the Duomo di Milano. I had some pizza and bland gelato. I watched a British T.V. show with a smoky Italian voice over. I slept in a small bed, with stiff sheets, in a small room, in an outdated hotel. Then, I hopped on a plane to go back home with sweet memories of London, Paris, and Lausanne, but none of Milan.

A perfect pyramid

That was my only experience in Italy, unfortunately.

The reach

I still dream of Italy, and of its parmesan and focaccia, olives and espresso, risotto and bucatini. Until I stumbled across Heidi's recipe for biscotti al pistacchio, I never thought much of Italian desserts. Gelato is okay. The tiramisu cakes I've eaten are cloying and have much to be desired. And then came these cookies! My lacking, short trip has given me an incentive to go back for the art, the culture, and, now, the desserts. 

Pinnacle

~~~
Pistachio-Almond Cookies
(Biscotti al Pistacchio)
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
~~~
I made some significant changes to the recipe. First of all, I didn't have that many pistachio nuts. I did have some almond meal so I subbed that in. I wasn't digging the lemon zest with the pistachio nuts. Turning to a spice that never lets me down, I added cinnamon. Chewy, aromatic delights. 

150 g. shelled pistachio nuts, roasted and unsalted
100 g. almond meal
1/2 scant c. granulated sugar
2 t. honey
3/4 t. vanilla extract
1/2 heaping t. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Grind the pistachio nuts in a processor with 1/4 cup sugar until the nuts become "pebbly." Add in the almond meal and pulse a few times to combine. Add to a large mixing bowl. Add the honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in the egg whites. Add the rest of the sugar. Take heaping teaspoons of the dough and plop into powdered sugar. Roll gently to form a ball. Lay on a parchment lined cookie sheet, an inch apart from each other. I had 24 cookies on one sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly raised. It is hard to see under the powdered sugar but Heidi says "until they are golden." I took out my sheet after 17 minutes of baking.

Eat warm (so good!) or room temperature. Store them in an airtight container for 2 weeks... I guess? I wouldn't know. I made them three days ago and only three remain!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Ah, February 14th, the ubiquitous holiday of looo-ve. Inspired by the impending lovey-doveyness, I made some raspberry macarons. 

Pictured above is a raspberry macaron heart, unfilled, slightly deformed but delicious, nonetheless. I used Tartelette's recipe and added crushed and sifted freeze dried raspberries. The batter itself was light pink and had dots of pink. When I slid the tray out, the once pink circles and hearts toasted into a light brown. I like them without the filling. They're sweet, chewy, and absolutely adorable. 

Whether you're spending it with your special someone or your friends, enjoy your day with some sweets! 

Here are a few of my favorites on the web:

:: cherry clafoutis
:: dark chocolate, pistachio, and smoked sea salt cookies
:: profiteroles

xo, 
nicole

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Feelings and a winter salad


With the knife steadily thumping against the cutting board, I chopped the ripe pomegranate into sections. Several seeds spilled out, their juices coloring the wood. I slid them into the palm of my left hand and popped the bright, bursted bits into my mouth. The tang and the sweet played on my taste buds; the seeds wedged themselves into the grooves of my back teeth. I tried to pry them out with the tip of my stained tongue. Nope. They seemed to sink deeper. Nothing more than annoyance, just an annoyance. I'll get over it. The flavor still holds me over, keeps me lifted. An annoyance is nothing. Just nothing. Right? 
~~~
I crave salads sometimes. Crunchy vegetables, juicy fruit, smooth toasted nuts, a light dressing that binds it all together. Granted, my eagerness to shovel salad into my mouth happens after a long session of pilates or a night of binging on tortilla chips and spicy salsa and catching up on The Mindy Project. (I did the latter last night.) 

The best salads are infinitely adaptable, hit all the right flavor and texture notes, and are filling. This salad does just that. It fueled the rest of my slow but productive day. 

~~~ 

Tart Winter Salad
Loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 T. sour cream
2 T. mustard
1 T. grape seed oil
1 T. rice vinegar
pinch of salt
1/2 T. agave nectar

1/2 head of cabbage 
1 Granny Smith apple 
several handfuls of pomegranate seeds 
12 baby carrots 
handful of toasted walnuts 

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. 

Shred your cabbage and toss your shreds into the large bowl. Use a mandolin to thinly slice the carrots. Add that into the bowl. Slice your apple into matchsticks. Mix in with pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts gently and enjoy! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Snowy days and cozy breakfast


It was snowing gently. The delicate licks of ice settled on the ground, covering the exposed patches of dirt and the yellowing grass. It was a pretty sight for a Sunday morning.

But I was cold and had a rumbling, empty stomach.


So I pulled on a pair of woolen socks and took out a jar of rolled oats from the cupboard. Piping hot oatmeal with plump raisins sounded nice but warm honey granola on a creamy bed of Greek yogurt, topped with slices of strawberries, sounded even nicer.

I took my granola-yogurt-strawberry bowl and a copy of The Family Fang to the living room. I sat in the comfiest armchair, socked feet on the window ledge, in front of the frosty glass window. and I was perfectly content for the next hour or so. 

This granola has hearty chunks of almonds, crispy coconut chips, honey glazed oats, and chewy dried fruit. A killer combination of textures and flavors, the perfect fuel for Econ class, my favorite granola up-to-date. Molly says to double the recipe. I was skeptical at first. Was this granola that good? The answer is yes, a hundred times yes. (I learned to never doubt Molly.) 


~~~
Honey Granola 
Adapted from Orangette, David Lebovitz
3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. raw almonds, chopped
3/4 c. unsweetened coconut chips
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
pinch of salt

1/4 c. + 2 T. honey
2 T. canola oil

1/2 c. dried apricots, diced
1/2 c. toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. raisins

Toss together the oats, almonds, coconut chips, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Combine honey and oil in a small saucepan. Whisk over low heat until "honey becomes loose." Pour over the oat mixture.

Spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden. Stir the granola after removing from the oven to prevent having a solid sheet of granola.

Once the granola is completely cooled, toss in your favorite add-ins. I love apricots, walnuts, and raisins. Chocolate chunks are good too. Store in an airtight containers and eat with yogurt, milk, or on top of plain oatmeal. (Yeah, it's a thing. For me, at least.)