Italian

Almond Orange Biscotti

Almond Orange BiscottiI keep a list of recipes I want to try and potentially post to the blog if they go well. I’ll be the first to admit that they don’t always go well. I burnt soup this weekend. One time I made mini pumpkin pies that turned into mini pumpkin blobs. I’ve made caramel filled rice cereal bars that were so chewy they could probably take out a filling. *Sigh*.

Almond Orange BiscottiAlmond Orange BiscottiI’ll end my pity party there because there are also those recipes that are SPOT ON the moment I try them and it makes my day. Sometimes my week…small victories, people. Small victories. Let’s talk almond orange biscotti. SPOT ON! I didn’t even really know I had any love of biscotti until I made these. Can I just say again how SPOT ON these are?! Okay, I think you all get it.

Almond Orange BiscottiA few of my favorite parts of these cookies are:

  1. They look super fancy and hard to make BUT they’re not. For reals.
  2. I’ve heard rumors that properly stored these guys can last like a few weeks or a month. I may never know if this is true.
  3. The almond orange biscotti are not overly sweet thanks to the nut and citrus flavors.
  4. Chocolate.
  5. Biscotti make it totally appropriate for adults to dunk their cookies. In fact, that’s what they’re made for!

This is a fairly traditional recipe for biscotti but let me tell you, I am psyched to try new combinations of flavors! Granted, most will probably involve dunking them in chocolate. I’m pretty sure most everyone will be okay with that.

Almond Orange BiscottiP.S. I don’t drink coffee because I’m weird like that. I dunked these in milk. YUM. 

Almond Orange Biscotti
Yields 24
A traditional biscotti, or twice baked cookie, that's perfect for dunking!
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 4 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1 tablespoon orange zest (or zest from about 1 medium orange)
  9. 1 cup whole almonds, toasted*
  10. 1 tablespoon water
  11. chocolate chips, to dip biscotti (1-2 cups depending on how you dip them)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Beat in 4 eggs, vanilla, and orange zest until it forms a ball. It will start out looking rather crumbly so be patient!
  4. Stir in toasted almonds.
  5. With clean, damp hands form 2 logs on parchment-lined baking sheets. Each log should be about 4 inches wide and 3/4 inch tall.
  6. Whisk together remaining egg and water for egg wash. Brush each log with egg wash.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top, rotating pans at the halfway point.
  8. Transfer logs to a wire rack and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  9. Use a large serrated knife to cut 3/4 inch slices. I cut mine on the bias, or diagonal, but you can also cut straight across.
  10. Place the slices, standing up, on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Bake for another 25 minutes.
  12. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  13. Melt the chocolate chips (I used a double boiler but you could also microwave them, checking and stirring every 30 seconds). Dip* biscotti in chocolate and let cool on parchment paper.
  14. Store in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. *To toast the almonds, I just put the whole almonds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toasted them until they started to become fragrant
  2. *I dipped my biscotti in chocolate along the bottom edge but you could also dunk them in the chocolate (like you would dunk it into a drink). I've even seen some with drizzle on them. I like the bottom coated because you get a little chocolate in every bite but it doesn't cover up the cookie so you can still dunk it in your drink!
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Rosemary Focaccia

focacciaI’ve had a handful of meals that I would consider particularly memorable in my life. The meal after Travis and I got married in Savannah, Georgia immediately comes to mind as well as the meal Travis and I ate in a revolving dining room overlooking Niagara Falls. Then there’s the meal I shared with my family at Pinocchio’s restaurant at Disney World overlooking the It’s a Small World ride. Hey, just because I was probably 8 and eating chicken fingers doesn’t mean it wasn’t life changing.

I’d have to say that definitely in the top 5 most memorable meals in my life so far was the meal Travis and I shared in Rome in a little plaza overlooking the Pantheon. There are things that just don’t fade in your mind such as the red gingham tablecloth, the fact that it was probably 45 degrees but the heat lamp next to us kept us warm, the view (of course), and the FOOD. Focaccia was served along with my entree of Fettuccine Alfredo in a Parmesan cheese bowl. Yes, best day ever. 

focaccia

prepared biga (I could have used a larger bowl)

Let’s think about this a little longer to let it sink in. There was a basket of focaccia served to us, perfectly crisp from being smothered in olive oil before baking. There was Fettuccine Alfredo, possibly one of my most favorite dishes. There was a BOWL made out of Parmesan cheese. A BOWL, people. It was wonderful and I loved it. I ate it all. You don’t let focaccia and Parmesan bowls go to waste when you’re in Italy. You just don’t.

focacciaI won’t pretend that this focaccia can come close to the memory that I have of that meal. I have to face the fact that I do not live in a plaza next to the Pantheon so it’s a bit hard to recreate the mood. BUT, I will say that the time that goes into this bread is worth every last mouth-watering bite. You will not be disappointed. The ingredients are so simple but scrumptious when combined the right way. The bread isn’t greasy from the olive oil. It’s rich and crisp and wonderful. I have nothing more to say than go now. Go now, and make this bread. Now. Please.

focaccia

Rosemary Focaccia
Yields 2
Rosemary, olive oil yeast bread
Print
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
10 hr 50 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
10 hr 50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups lukewarm water, divided
  2. 2 teaspoons dry yeast, divided
  3. 4 1/2 or 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  4. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  6. 2 teaspoons rosemary
  7. 1 teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Prepare the biga the night before baking the focaccia - combine 3/4 cups of lukewarm water and 1/4 teaspoon yeast in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot for at least 8 hours.The biga should be light and airy when it's ready.
  2. Combine the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the biga, 1 cup of water, 3 cups of flour and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix for about 2 minutes on low, add 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, and mix for another 3 minutes on low. If the dough is sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in small increments until it is no longer sticky.
  3. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
  4. Let it rise is a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Knock down the dough and fold it over a few times before covering again and letting it rise another 45 minutes.
  5. Coat two 9" metal* cake pans with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Split the dough in 2 and place half in each of the cake pans. Spread the dough out until it reaches the edges. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your fingers to poke indentations in the dough. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each focaccia (this will pool in some of the indentations). Sprinkle the rosemary and sea salt (I used pink sea salt but regular sea salt is good too) over the focaccia and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Cool on wire racks before serving.
Notes
  1. Make sure to start the biga for this recipe the night (or at least 8 hours) before trying to make the bread. It's a long process, but worth it!
  2. Pretty much everything in this recipe is divided! Please note the amounts needed for the biga and for the bread-making process in the directions.
  3. *I tried this recipe in a glass baking dish and it did not come out as crispy as when I used the metal pans. However, you could use an 8x8" or 9x9" metal baking dish if you do not have round cake pans.
Adapted from "Baking Boot Camp" by The Culinary Institute of America and Goldstein via A Chookie Cookie
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI’m approximately 0% Italian by blood. My husband is also 0% Italian I’m pretty sure. We are both pale, blue-eyed, and blonde-haired. I’m cool with that. However that doesn’t stop me from channeling my inner Italian to cook dishes like this spinach and cheese manicotti that are oh so *delizioso*. Yeah. That was my inner Italian coming out. Sorry.

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI actually didn’t have manicotti to make this manicotti recipe because that’s how I roll. BUT, I was able to make some homemade lasagna noodles that I rolled up with the filling inside and it worked great! You certainly can buy manicotti or use store-bought lasagna noodles cut in half. Honestly, I couldn’t find manicotti at the store after I put everything else for this recipe in my cart. Since I’m too lazy to go to another store or ask where the manicotti may be, I made the noodles. The truth comes out. 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiYou are also more than welcome to make your own pasta sauce for this recipe. I often do have homemade sauce in my freezer but for this recipe I took the easy way out and bought a nice store-bought sauce. It did the trick! 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiOne thing I love about this otherwise cheesy and carb-filled recipe is that it does sneek some veggies in there! Apparently now that I have a little one I think about hiding vegetables in food. Such is life. The little guy’s only a couple months old though so he pretty much has a one track mind and it’s focused on milk right now.

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti
Manicotti stuffed with a 3-cheese and spinach filling and topped with your favorite pasta sauce
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces frozen spinach
  2. 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  3. 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  5. 1 egg
  6. salt and pepper, to taste
  7. 10 manicotti, cooked*
  8. 24 ounce pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook the frozen spinach according to packaging (I microwaved mine in a microwave-safe bowl). Place the cooked spinach in a kitchen towel and let drain. Squeeze the excess water out by twisting and squeezing the towel.
  3. Mix the spinach, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese (the remainder is for the top), Parmesan cheese, egg, and salt and pepper together in bowl. Transfer to a zip top bag. Seal the bag and cut a corner off to create a piping bag.
  4. Squeeze the cheese mixture into the manicotti. This is easiest to pipe a little from each side to make sure you get the mixture all the way through the noodle.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place the manicotti in the pan, top with the remaining pasta sauce and reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. *I used homemade whole wheat lasagna noodles that I cut in half and rolled up once I put the filling in them. Either way works!
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/