Thursday, April 25, 2013

First Timer Biscotti

Biscotti is an interesting thing.     It's got the ingredients of a cookie.   Flour.  Sugar.  Chocolate.  Nuts.  But it's skinny.   And then it's baked to death so that it's a solid, crunchy, slice.  
The only think you can do with biscotti is dip it in coffee.   Or hot chocolate.   Then its inner cookie returns.   It gets soft again.   The chocolate starts to melt.   And all is right in the world again.  
I was compelled to look into the history of biscotti.    Hard skinny cookies didn't just happen by accident.    It's the Roman version of hardtack.   Something that was shelf-stable and could travel well.   Those Roman soldiers were hungry!   Biscotti, in Italian, can be translated as twice-baked (and sometimes just the word for cookie).
This recipe made shorter biscotti (4-6 inches long), not the really long ones you sometimes see at  coffee shops.    So you might as well have two.
What You Need
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons flax seed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup unsalted almonds
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
What You Do
Preheat oven to 350.   Put a silicone baking mat on your cookie sheet.
Combine flour, flax, baking soda and salt into a bowl.   Stir with a whisk. 
In a larger bowl, combine both sugars, egg whites and egg.  Beat with a mixer at high speed for 2 minutes.  Ad vanilla and mix well.   Add flour mix to egg mix and stir until combined.   Fold in almonds and chocolate.   This will be a dry dough.   Do not will be ok.  
Divide the dough into three portions and roll each portion into a log about 6 inches long.   Place each roll on the cookie sheet and then flatten until about 1 inch high.   Bake at 350 for 28 minutes until firm.    
Remove from baking sheet and cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.   Place the rolls on a cutting board and cut diagonally into slices (the original recipe from Cooking Light said 30 slices 1/2inch thick, but I didn't get quite that many...must be because it was my first time).   
Place the slices cut side down (and up since both sides are cut after all) on a baking sheet.  Reduce heat to 325 and then bake for 7 minutes.   Flip each piece over and then bake another 7 minutes.    Let them cool.    Then dip them in your coffee.
When was the last time you looked into the history of a food?
Do you like biscotti, or would you rather just have a traditional cookie?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ruby Red Yogurt Cake

I'm envious of people who talk about growing up with a lemon or orange tree in their backyard.   
Who are those people who can pick limes straight off the tree for their margarita?

Living in a four season climate offers a lot of experiences.   But not those involving citrus trees. 
Colorado has been teasing us recently.   One day, like the day I took this photo, it's spring.  

The next?  Snow.

But now is not the time to think of snow.   It's time to think of grapefruit. 

By itself with just a spoon.  
Or casually dressed up in cake format. 

Grapefruits offer that hint that summer is coming.  
A little sweet.  A little tart.  A little confusing to your taste buds.  

Grab your Ruby Red, zest it up, and let's go!

What You Need

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons grapefruit zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup no sugar added applesauce

For the glaze:

1/3 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1/3 cup sugar

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350.   Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray (I have a great silicone pan $0.49 from Goodwill.  Yay!).

Combine the flour, powder and salt in a small bowl.     In a big mixing bowl mix the yogurt and sugar..   Then add the eggs, zest, vanilla, oil, and applesauce.   Add dry ingredients until just combined.    Spoon batter into your loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes.

When your cake is done baking, set on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Using a toothpick, poke small holes all over the top of the cake (you want the glaze to sink in, like a rum cake).

In the meantime, make your glaze.   Combine sugar and grapefruit juice in a small sauce pan on medium heat.  Bring it to a boil and then allow to cool, briefly.    Slowly spoon/pour glaze over the cake.   Give it time to soak in to the cake.   And then drizzle a little more. 

Let the cake cool completely and then slice and serve.  

Imagine the warm summer breezes. 

Even if you have to break out the weather ruler to measure the snow.       

If you love grapefruit, consider trying this Ruby Red Pound Cake too!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Black Bean Burgers

Prior to this week, I was fairly confident that I have never eaten a veggie burger at any point in my life.   Like Ever. 

That has now changed.    

I've turned over a new (cilantro) leaf.   At least for these homemade black bean burgers.    Garnish with a ring of pineapple, or (if you're real crazy) other vegetables.    I used a drizzle of Trader Joe's Island Soyaki to top it off.

It's getting closer.   Trader Joe's has broken ground for their store here in Denver.   In the meantime, my sister brought back a suitcase of TJ treats last month when she went to Milwaukee, and I know that we'll make a run for it in Santa Fe next month.  

What You Need

2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 jalapeno slices (from a jar), diced
2 large egg whites

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350.   Put a silicone mat on a baking sheet.

In a medium-large bowl mash the black beans with a fork.   Stir in cilantro and all other ingredients (or use your hands - the perfect tool).    Shape the mixture into 6 patties.   Put the patties on the baking sheet (with the silicone mat - or spray the sheet with cooking spray).    Bake for 20 minutes, carefully turning once at 10 minutes.

Serve on sandwich thins (or a bun) and garnish with a pineapple slice, like I did, or other delicious toppings like salsa or other vegetables.

What's the best veggie burger that you've ever tried or made?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Three Happy Hours in Three Days

Happy Hour might be a little counter intuitive when we have a weight loss contest going on at work, but I look at it is as sharing.    How much trouble can I get into when I share tapas, white bean dip, or even a creme brulee.  

Not much.  

Last week, I went three for three.    And all three restaurants were new to me.    I love to try new places.  Even better, we had patio weather each day.    That was before the heavily hyped snowpocaplyse that wasn't

Being caught in the moment and trying not to be that person who can't leave their phone in their purse, I didn't take pictures of everything, but I will tell you what we had and why it was delicious.

Wednesday at Row 14
$5 wine and select apps.   We had the beef and goat cheese empanadas and the white bean dip.     And we couldn't resist the coffee creme brulee.   There's something about sugar and a blowtorch that is simply irresistible.

Thursday at The 9th Door
They have all kinds of cocktails and tapas during happy hour.   I can't actually tell you what we had, since I wasn't in charge of ordering.    Just know that it was all delicious.   Note to self - tapas and cocktails, even at happy hour, can add up.   Good thing it was also our dinner. 

Pintxos San Sebastian

Friday at Jonesy's EatBar
We were past Happy Hour O'Clock by the time we got to Jonesy's.     They advertise their world famous fries.   They are pretty damn good.   We shared the Bacon Mac & Cheese fries and the Truffle fries.    My partners in crime all tried different kinds of sliders.   I had killer Nepalese Samosas.  

And there you have it.   And these three don't even touch all the endless possibilities that are within walking distance in downtown Denver.   

Don't worry.  Be happy (hour).

Do you have a favorite happy hour spot?   Where is it?  Why do you love it?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Moroccan Spiced Bulgar and Chickpea Salad

Cooking is constantly a source of firsts.   And this was my first time buying bulgar wheat.    Apparently it is full of fiber and will fill you up and satisfy.    Make you less likely to eat that Cadbury creme egg that has somehow made it past Easter.   That's what I keep telling myself. 

I'm not used to making (or eating) grain salads, but I like all the different options for flavors and ingredients.   And it's colorful.   Even more colorful in this bowl that I got at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul last spring.  I'm pretty sure I need to go back to Turkey.   For more bowls.  And pastry.

This recipe came from the Cooking Light Mix & Match Low-Calorie Cookbook.   If you want a little extra somethin-somethin you can always sprinkle a little feta on top.   Also, a drizzle of lime juice right before you serve it kicks it back up again.

What You Need

3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/5 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups boiling water
1 1/3 cups uncooked bulgar wheat
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup dried cranberries (used reduced sugar Craisins...with some left for snacking)
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1 teaspoon dried mint (or 2 teaspoon fresh - I went the dried route this time)
1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained

What You Do

You're making a little Moroccan-inspired salad dressing with the first 6 ingredients.  Put it in a large bowl and whisk away.  

Combine the 2 cups boiling water and the bulgar in a large bowl.   Cover it up and let it sit for 20 or so minutes until the liquid is absorbed.   Admittedly I lost patience with the liquid that was not absorbed and just drained it out.

Add bulgar, carrots, cranberries, almonds, mint and beans to your bowl of "dressing" and toss it well.    The serving size (to keep it low-calorie as promised) is 1 cup.    That keeps you at a nice 394 calories.  

Traveler in the Kitchen now has its own Facebook page.   You know you want to like it. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fruit Tart

This is my second culinary foray using my tart pan (see the first here).    Now that spring is finally on here (for the most part, we still get snow every two weeks or so), fruit desserts are on the brain.    The colors alone make you think of a picnic in the park.  
Growing up, the local HyVee sold fruit pizza, and it was definitely a favorite.    This is the fancy, pretty version of fruit pizza.    It was really easy to make and looks really impressive.   In fact, you can buy a fruit tart at Whole Foods.    For $25.    Don't be tart-timidated.   You can do this!
What You Need
You need a tart pan.   If you don't have one, and you don't think that you'll be tarting it up on a regular basis you could probably modify this with a pie pan or even a small round pizza pan.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened and sliced
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese (I used low fat), softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Your choice of fruits that can be sliced or layered.  I opted for strawberries, kiwi, mandarin oranges and blackberries.    Blueberries and raspberries (if they were in season and weren't so expensive right now) would also be awesome.
I found this tart recipe on the Food Network.    It also includes a glaze.  The glaze is good, but probably not necessary, especially if you are going to eat the tart right away.   Which you will.   It does add a pretty shine to the tart. 
6 oz frozen limeade concentrate, thawed (use the rest to make margaritas)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.
In your food processor combine the crust ingredients.   Process until the mixture forms a ball.  It will happen pretty quick.    Press the dough into the tart pan including up the sides (that's what makes it so pretty when you get ready to serve).    Bake for 10-12 minutes.   Set aside to cool.
To make the filling, put the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat until smooth.   Then smooth it onto the cooled crust, going almost all the way to the edge. 
The fun and colorful part:  decorate the top of your tart with the fruit of your choice.   Start at the outside and work your way in with rings of different fruit.   If you're using strawberries and kiwi, slice them into even sized pieces.    If you're using mandarin oranges, drain the juice first.   Blueberries, blackberries or raspberries are easy.
If you decide you want to do the glaze, combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium until it's clear and thick, just a few minutes.   Let it cool and then use a pastry brush to smooth it over your masterpiece.   You won't use it all.   You might want to make a second tart, since the first one won't last longer than one meal.    Then nothing will go to waste.   You do what you've got to do.   
Put your tart in the fridge until about 20 minutes before serving.    Most tart pans have a removable bottom so you really can (gently) pop the tart right out.    Use a big chefs knife to cut the tart into the right amount of slices.   Like two.   One for you and one for your friend/spouse/family member. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Parmesan Risotto

Word on the street is that it's only risotto if you stir it non-stop for two hours.

I'm ok if this is considered false, air quote only "risotto." Especially for my first time
Risotto is so mysterious that the article on wikipedia needs additional citations for verification.
Are you ready for this?
A sunny day for a dish of risotto
Word of advice - go to a store that sells grains in bulk, like Whole Foods or Sprouts. Then you can buy just the amount of Arborio rice that you need instead of the singular over-priced package you might find at your standard grocery store.   King Soopers, I still love you...just not for fancy rice.   
And if you're buying fancy rice, you might as well by fancy Parm....not the kind in the plastic shaker. I bought some Argentinian Parm. It was delicious.

What You Need
1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
5 cups of warm chicken stock, make your own or buy some (I opted for buying it)
1 cup freshly grated Parm (from Argentina....or Italy)
1/2 cup white wine
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350.

Put the rice, and 4 cups of the broth in a 9x9 baking pan / casserole dish. Cover. Bake for 45 minutes. When you pull it out of the oven it should look nice and fluffy and the broth should pretty much be absorbed.

Remove from the oven and add the wine, remaining 1 cup broth, cheese, butter and salt/pepper. Stir, with enthusiasm, for 2-3 minutes until creamy.
Serve as a side of awesome to anything else you might be making.   
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