Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

I've made biscotti before, but this is one recipe that I've had on my to do list since discovering the awesomeness that is the pistachio. Fun to say, fun to look at, pistachios have quickly become my favourite nut.

These particular biscotti take the form of orange and vanilla scented crisps full of tangy dried cranberries and lurid green pistachios. The buttery crunch of the nuts and the chewyness of the dried fruit creates an interesting texture. I often dip my biscotti in melted chocolate, but I chose not to add any embellishment to these ones. Even unadorned they are by no means "plain." The flavur of citrus has a great supporting role while the cranberries and pistachios take the starring roles. Adding anything else would turn this duo into some tangled love triangle and ...... Never mind, just go bake some biscotti, brew some tea or coffee and watch some classic movies. It's better that way.

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Makes 2 dozen biscotti


· 1 cup shelled pistachios, preferably unsalted

· 2 cups all-purpose flour

· 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

· ½ teaspoon salt

· ½ cup butter, room temperature

· 1 cup granulated sugar

· 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

· 2 eggs

· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

· 1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees f. Place nuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet: set aside to cool. Leave oven on. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Ina small bowl, whisk flour with baking powder and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar and orange peel on high speed until light coloured. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides if necessary. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture. Stir in cooled nuts and dried cranberries. Dough will be soft.

3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Spacing apart, place pieces of dough on baking sheet. Form each into a log measuring abut 9x 2-1/2 inches, leaving at least 2 inches between the logs. Bake in oven 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Leave oven on. Transfer each baked log to cutting board. Cut into ½ inch slices. Stand biscotti upright on baking sheet. Return to oven; bake 20 more minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from LCBO Food and Drink Magazine

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rice Pudding

Making rice pudding has been on my to-do list for a while. This recipe comes from the Gourmet Cookbook. This recipe utilizes a vanilla bean, one of my baking obsessions, but even if you substitute a tablespoon of vanilla extract, this is still a basic recipe made with simple ingredients.
Rice pudding has a long and complex history as rice pudding-type desserts show up in virtually every type of cuisine. In fact in every bowl of rice pudding there is a tale of conquest and globalization, made easier to swallow with some sweet starchy goodness. Indeed, I researched this. It seems rice pudding was brought to the British through colonialism, specifically from the British colonies in India.The rice pudding we know and love today was inspired by Indian Kheer.
This recipe is a simple vanilla version. Plain long grain white rice gets cooked with water, butter and a touch of lemon zest, as you would any rice dish. Once cooked, the milk gets simmered with a vanila bean to bring out its subtle sweet fragrance. The cooked rice then gets stirred into the milk and simmered for 15 minutes longer so that the startches thicken the milk into a creamy pudding, and the rice and raisins soften into a luscious toothsome dessert. The finished pudding gets dusted with cinnamon, and the heat of the rice wafts the scent of vanilla and cinnamon into the kitchen.

I ran out of milk and I used half milk and half water to no ill effect, so this recipe can be as sinful or as virtuous as you wish. I used a mix of golden and dark raisins, because I like the look of the two different colours interspersed with the pale vanilla flecked pudding. The flavours were subdued but the effect was pure comfort food. It is no wonder this is such a popular dish worldwide.

Rice Pudding

Combines the flavours of vanilla bean, lemon and cinnamon. Served warm or cold.

Serves 6-8 active time 40 min, about 1 hour start to finish


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 4 cups milk (I used 2 cups 1% milk and two cups water and the pudding worked fine)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup raisins, I used a mix of regular and golden raisins
  • ground cinnamon for sprinkling

    1. Combine water, butter, salt and lemon zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in rice and return to a boil, then cover and simmer over very low heat until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
    2. Combine milk, sugar and vanilla bean in a 3-quart saucepan and bring just to a simmer over low heat. Add rice mixture and raisins and simmer, uncovered stirring frequently, until most of milk is absorbed and rice is creamy, about 20 minutes.
    3. Transfer pudding to a bowl: discard vanilla bean. Dust with cinnamon and cool until just warm before serving.

Adapted from: The Gourmet Cookbook ed. Ruth Reichl

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cornmeal and Whole Wheat Loaf

This quick hearty loaf is from the most recent issue of Canadian Living magazine. It caught my eye because I liked the idea of combining some different textured grains but wanted something that didn't require a lot of kneading or resting time. This loaf fits the bill perfectly and also happens to be good way to use up ingredients in your pantry. A bit of all-purpose flour, some wholewheat flour, wheat bran, and cornmeal combine to make a dense loaf with a slightly gritty texture from the cornmeal. This quick bread, lightly sweetened with honey, is versatile. I made it one evening as an accompaniment to a vegetable soup, but it is also wonderful toasted the next morning with butter and marmalade. I think this is one recipe that I will be revisiting a lot in my future.

Cornmeal and whole wheat loaf

Makes 1 loaf

Dairy, time: 20 minutes + 50 minutes baking time

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup wheat bran
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup butter melted
  • 3 tablespoons liquid honey
  • 2 eggs

    1. In a bowl, stir together all-purpose flour, whole whet flour, cornmeal, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.
    2. Stir together, buttermilk, butter, honey, and eggs, stir into flour mixture. Scrape into greased 8x4 inch loaf pan.
    3. Bake in 350 degree F oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out almost clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, let cool on rack.

From: Canadian Living Magazine September 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Raspberry Pistachio Teacakes

I like the name teacakes...it makes me think of something more restrained and elegant than a cupcake and yet more delicate and stately than a muffin. It is a cake and yet it can be eaten in the afternoon for tea, or even on the run if need be.
These teacakes, from Martha Stewart, cupcakes are made of ground pistachios in a tender cake batter that has fresh or frozen raspberries pressed into the batter before being sprinkled with more chopped pistachios. They bake into sweet little cakes with bits of raspberry peeking out from underneath the chopped pistachios. While still warm, the raspberries taste like a gooey jam filling and the cake is crumbly with bits of pistachio.

These are sweet nutty, salty, velvety cakes bursting with warm raspberry goodness. The batter takes minutes to make and makes a minimal mess because its all done in the food processor.

These also look so dainty and simple that they would fit right in at any afternoon tea party. They can be made as mini or regular sized cakes and look absolutely beautiful on a fancy tiered or glass serving plate.

Pistachio Raspberry Teacakes

Makes 12-15 standard muffins or about 36 mini

  • 1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 containers fresh raspberries (I used frozen, the cakes took longer to cook)
  • ¼ cup slivered pistachios, for sprinkling

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line standard or mini muffin tins with paper liners. In a food processor, finely grind shelled pistachios with the sugar and salt. Add butter, vanilla and eggs; process until smooth. Add flour; pulse until just moistened and combined (do no overmix).
    2. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each ¾ s full. Drop raspberries into batter (4-6 per standard teacake; 2 per mini) and sprinkle with slivered pistachios. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown, about 28 minutes for standard cakes or 15 for minis. Transfer tins to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature. Cakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature in airtight container.

Adapted from:

Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Key Lime White Chocolate Pie

This is not a traditional key lime pie. Instead, it takes the elements of one: the graham crust, the condensed milk, the limes, and adds white chocolate and cream cheese to make a super-creamy pie. This is a refreshing hybrid of classic cheesecake and key lime pie. this is really a no- bake cheesecake all dressed up. this is it's other benefit over the original-no baking. You wont need to touch an oven unless you make the crust as I did.

This pie has an incredibly light soft mousse-like texture. The white chocolate and cream cheese help the filling to firm up in the fridge. White chocolate plays well with fruits because its creaminess balances the acidity of the lime. It also adds a hint of vanilla and a velvety mouthfeel to the key lime mousse.
This is a great summertime dessert for those sweltering days when you need a dessert but can't bear to hover over a hot stove.

White Chocolate Key lime pie


Time: 30 minutes

Makes one 9-inch pie plus had some filling leftover.


  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter

    1. Preheat oven to #50 degrees f. In a small bowl stir together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Drizzle in the melted butter and stir with a fork until all crumbs are moistened.
    2. Pour moistened crumbs into a 9-inch pie plate and pat down, building up sides of pie-crust. Bake for 10-12 minutes in 350 degree oven or until golden.


  • 1 package (8-oz) cream cheese, softened slightly
  • 1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk (about 1-1/3 cups)
  • 3 oz white chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest (from about one lime)
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 8 limes depending on juiciness)

    1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Pulse until pureed and smooth. Add melted white chocolate, pulsing until smooth. Add lime juice and pulse again until smooth and creamy. Stir in lime zest.
    2. Spread lime mixture in cooled pie shell, smoothing top. Refrigerate pie for 3-4 hours or until firm.
    3. If desired, decorate with sweetened whipped cream and white chocolate curls.

Adapted from: 300 Best Chocolate Recipes by Julie Hasson