Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

These are relatively easy to make, and a great cookie for grown-ups (not too sweet), perfect for dunking. The recipe is adapted from the Hershey's Homemade cookbook. Sometimes I also add dried cherries or dried cranberries, or even some cinnamon.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup toasted almonds, in chunks or slivers

Chocolate Glaze: melt together
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter or margarine

Heat oven to 350. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and almond extract: beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; blend into butter mixture, beating until smooth. (Dough will be thick.) Using a wooden spoon, work almonds into dough. Divide dough into halves. With lightly floured hands, shape each half into a rectangular log, about 2 inches in diameter and about 11 inches long. Place logs on ungreased cookie sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Bake 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Cut logs at a diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Discard end pieces. Place slices, cut side down, close together on cookie sheet and bake 8-9 minutes, then turn them over and bake 8-9 minutes more. Remove from oven, and cool on cookie sheet on wire rack. Prepare chocolate glaze. When biscotti are cool, drizzle (or spread one side) with chocolate glaze.

Karen's Turkish-ish Braised Carrots

My friend Karen shares some fantastic recipes with me, and this is one of the latest favorites. She got it from another friend, who said it was "quite possibly adapted from Nigel Slater." My sister Marnie requests this dish frequently, and between the two of us, we have no trouble polishing off the entire pan. I've adapted it to be dairy-free. The final two ingredients are not to be skipped. Find them at your local ethnic food store section (or online) -- they're what makes the dish truly delicious.

1 lb. carrots
1 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
1 tsp za'atar
2 tsp pomegranate molasses

Peel the carrots and cut them into large chunks. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the margarine and oil together. Add the ginger and coriander and stir. Add carrots and water and stir to coat the carrots. Turn the heat up to medium and cook, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. It's okay to let the carrots develop some brown, caramelized spots -- yum, yum. When ready to serve, stir in the yogurt, za'atar, and pomegranate molasses.

Serve over rice or Israeli cous cous, or as a side dish.

Squash with Sage & Thyme

This recipe is derived from a dish in Annie Somerville's "Fields of Greens" (her squash and leek turnovers are amazing, but too labor-intensive for a weeknight).

cooking spray
1 acorn squash, peeled & cubed (approx. 1 inch cubes)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried sage (or 1 Tbsp fresh, snipped into ribbons, if you have it)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Toss remaining ingredients together in baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then 15 minutes more uncovered, adding water if necessary if squash looks like it's drying out.

* A note about peeling the squash. Yes, it's complicated. My suggestion is to cut the squash into crescents, cutting along the "valleys" between the ridges. Then each crescent will be easier to peel. Look for squash that aren't deeply ridged -- that will help too. Or just use butternut or delicata squash, which is easier to peel!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Curried Rice & Lentils

To read it, this recipe doesn't sound like much. But it's delicious, and really satisfying in that "good wholesome food" kind of way. It's fairly quick and easy too. I serve it with a steamed vegetable -- tonight it was green beans. This is adapted from a couscous recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites.

1/2 cup dried lentils
1.5 cups water
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
2 tsp canola oil
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root
1 Tbsp curry powder
pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 cup peeled & diced carrots
2 cups baby spinach, lightly packed
1/2 cup chopped scallions
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, combine the lentils and 1.5 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until tender, about 35-40 minutes. Drain off excess water.

In another small saucepan, combine the rice and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

After the rice is cooking, warm the oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic, ginger, curry and cayenne, and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup water, salt, and carrots. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, cover and cook another minute or two, until spinach wilts. Add the scallions, rice, and drained lentils, and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

I have two or three boxes of Ibarra (a Mexican baking chocolate) in my cabinet, purchased with the intent of using it for many, many cups of Mexican hot chocolate. But right now I can't drink milk, and I don't really like the taste of soymilk when it's heated. There the Ibarra sits, gathering dust on its bright yellow box, making me feel sad and guilty. What to do? Make brownies instead! I found three recipes on the internet, and so far this is the one I like best.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
2 tablets (6.5 oz total) Ibarra Mexican chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour (or cocoa powder!)

2. In a 2-3 quart saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the two kinds of chocolate, stirring frequently, until smooth.

3. While chocolate is melting, toast pine nuts by spreading them on a baking pan and placing in the heated oven for 5-8 minutes, shaking pan often, until nuts are golden. Remove from pan immediately.

4. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, flour and pine nuts.

5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until edges feel firm to the touch and turn a shade darker.

6. Run a knife between pan rim and brownie. Let cool in pan on a rack for 1 hour. Cut into squares.