Inspired by a colleague who brought us some Iranian pistachios to the office (those were good!) and another colleague who baked her own sukhariki (Russian for rusks) recently, I just had to make some biscotti too. With pistachios.
I ended up following an American take on an Italian recipe and using Greek pistachios, Russian chocolate and dried fruits from Finnish muesli which do not necessarily come from Finland as you can imagine 🙂 And that having in mind to ‘finally follow a recipe to the letter’. No way!
Whole Wheat Biscotti with Chocolate and Pistachios adapted from Chocolate, Raspberry, and Walnut Whole Wheat Biscotti on www.kingarthurflour.com will make crunchy sweet rusks, almost 100% whole wheat if you follow the recipe 100%. The recipe is on the website; here are my changes and remarks:
Ingredients: had to use a mixture of wholewheat flour + a bit of all-purpose flour as the batter seemed too sticky to handle; added less salt; instead of freeze-dried raspberries (what are they anyway?) used raisins and other dried fruits from muesli; used whole pistachios instead of chopped walnuts.
Procedure: did not flatten the logs that much for the first bake and thus the biscotti turned out smaller (shorter) in size; the procedure might take some time but there’s something so enjoyable in it that you’ll want to do it again.
Remarks: Already after the first bake the biscotti (or rather logs of biscotti) looked pretty attractive with a crack along the top. Be careful with the timing: during the second bake you’ll have to flip the biscotti over halftime through and they might seem not that crunchy enough. However, 10 minutes after they will be more than crunchy, believe me! By the way, these biscotti do not contain any butter or oil. I would add less sugar next time, as chocolate and dried fruits already contain sugar.
Result: Chewy, crunchy, sweet. The pistachios (from Aegina) I used were slightly salty which added that little something in contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The (original) raspberries should have contributed to the appearance too, however even with the modest raisins these biscotti have a very rustic look.
Thanks God we’re past the shortest days of the year, the light will gradually come back, drop by drop. We’re having no snow and consequently no sun here in St Petersburg. Wearing sneakers at the end of December reminds of my other December, 6 years ago in Thessaloniki, almost entirely spent in a T-shirt 🙂
It’s been a while since my last post here and this post won’t be long either. Just wanted to share with you this winter-time recipe of Whole Wheat Fig Bars. The figs are used dry but then you book them creating a sort of fig jam filling. And the flavour is very summer-like! When we were in Greece we would go around the island with my Mom and pick up the over ripe figs which have already fallen – gosh, why waste all this goodness and buy them in a supermarket instead? So don’t waste your time, go make some some Whole Wheat Fig Bars and enjoy your piece of summer in the middle of winter!
Whole Wheat Fig Bars adapted from www.food.com will make bars with jammy fig filling and crunchy seeds, with that very Greek summer flavour! Visit the original website for the recipe. Here are my changes and suggestions:
I used a mixture of regular white ans brow sugar, butter instead of shortening or margarine and also opted for the orange juice. The procedure is quite easy – although you will have to cook the figs first. Also I луззе my dough in the fridge overnight but still it was kind of sandy and wouldn’t roll out easily (well, what would you expect from just whole wheat flour!). I made bigger bars (i.e. less in number) and baked them longer including several minutes with the oven switched to the ‘only top’ mode.
Remarks: As the author suggests, these bars can also be made with dates and I think that’s a good idea too! I wonder if you can actually substitute it with some jam filling, instead of boiling the dry fruit.
Result: Those fig seeds and the orange zest make the bars pretty unusual in terms of flavour. The fact that these bars are 100% whole wheat is an obvious plus too, making them a little bit healthier, you know. I also liked this other ‘fashion’ of shaping the bars (i.e. precutting them), they look like those jam or nut filled treats you can still find in Russian confectionery stores.
Before this triple chocolate post gets any older, let’s bring it to back to life! Ha, no surprise it has been waiting its turn to be published form April 7th – that was 1 day before we learnt that we were all soon to be fired. But here it is, in the end. There are three recipes gathered throughout several months, a chocolate chip cookie recipe, a chocolate & nut bar recipe and a sweet chocolate buns recipe. Almost everything, except for a recipe of a good chocolate cake, which you can find here on the Chocolate page.
The first two recipes are from very much-used and much-trusted sources. We’re kicking off with chocolate bars or Italian Panforte. Probably it’s not yet the right season for them (these are very substantial and calorie-loaded things), but with the coming of the autumn which is obvious here in St Pete, the belly is asking for increasing amounts of sugar 🙂
Panforte adapted from www.joyofbaking.com will make stick-jaw chocolate and nut bars. Visit the website for the original recipe and lots of other great ideas with video.
Instead of almonds I used peanuts and also substituted candied citrus with prunes. Instead of allspice I added cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. I baked the cake (cause it looks like one before you cut it) for a bit longer than indicated. I did not use rice paper, just plain parchment paper.
Result: A very nutritious and very sticky treat – it’s not for nothing that they call it ‘strong bread’ in Italian! Probably the best time to eat it would be in winter but I will not tell anyone if you try it already now : )
On to cookies now:
Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com will make ship-shape cookies with crunchy nuts and chunks of chocolate.
My changes: Used hazelnuts instead of walnuts and added ginger (or rather way TOO much ginger).
Remarks: Be careful when adding your spices, I was too generous with ginger and the cookies had this peppermint flavour : ) These cookies keep their shape well while baking and do not spread much. However, they do brown quite quickly!
Result: Four ‘ch’: Crunchy, chunky, chewy and chocolate-y!
I didn’t use almond flakes for decoration. And that’s pretty much all about the ingredients. As for the procedure, I guess I rolled the dough out too thin and it did not rise that much. Also I did not use a switched-off oven for the dough to rise, just left it in a warm spot of my kitchen.
Remarks: I made my buns so tiny that they looked rather like sweets : ) Do not roll the dough out that enthusiastically!
Result: Quite chewy and on the dry side. But I’m sure these will be really soft if you do make them bigger!
We were at the dacha yesterday, summoned up in emergency by my Granny – trying to clear up the mess a fallen apple tree did to our garden and thanks God, ONLY to the garden, no one was hurt! The poor tree got sooooo heavy with the apples that it just fell and all the apples got scattered around… Add here all the leaves and branches when we tried to ‘dismember’ the tree – we’ve started working on the tree immediately, I didn’t even take a photo of this dacha event. Oh, that’s sad, I love apple trees and, well, apples, however tart and sour they might be! The apple tree has served us right up until that day – and we left a branch of it still there, hoping the apples will ripen (some of the roots are still in the soil). It waited and struggled with the weight of the apples and then it just couldn’t stand it no more. We’re glad the final decision was taken somewhere in the night or in the early morning when no one was around! So, we worked our muscles up and collected 4 cases of unripe fruit, so do expect a lot of cooking with apples here in autumn.
They say that apple trees can be harvested every other year and yes, that’s true! Remember that Magic Apple Orchard photos back in May? Well, the ‘prophecy’ proved right – we’re having a very similar situation to what turned into an all-apple-diet back in 2012! A recap of several recipes I made with apples that year can be found in this post from September 2012 – Apples and Chocolate. I guess what awaits us this year is the same destiny: trying to use up the abundant apple harvest from the day the start falling from the trees (or WITH the threes…) all through November!
Oh, the fragrance of the simplest freshly baked apple cake! Here is a digest of some successful apple recipes I’ve tried so far using these tart little apples from our dacha:
Paper Bag Apple Pie from www.kingarthurflour.com – a huge pie with very sweet and super-soft apple filling (lots of brown sugar to which I added some wheat bran =) in a tasty pastry – as usual with King Arthur Flour recipes! (I made it without shortening). I didn’t bake the pie in a paper bag though, just used the parchment paper wrapped around the pan (didn’t even have to staple it!).
Apple-and-Fig Cake (Maltese) from www.sbs.com.au – a recipe of a nice Maltese apple pie that you can even listen to (SBS is an Australian radio!). I used apple juice instead of lemon and added sugar, because, well, our dacha fruits are usually not that much dotted with natural sweetness but sourness instead…
Apple Pie Bread from www.bhg.com – a good cake with apples (no need to peel them!) and nuts. I didn’t add raisins and I used hazelnuts instead of walnuts plus for the Streusel topping I used half of the recipe from this cake:
Apple Crumb Coffee Cake from www.cakeduchess.com – I got this recipe wrong and mixed the apples (they were supposed to be sautéd but I just microwaved them using the tip from King Arthur) with the batter, so the cake was a bit too wet. I had to increase the baking time of course. But at the same time the cake was … something different for a change : ) Again I didn’t peel the apples, used honey instead of lemon juice (too much acid already in those apples!), buttermilk instead of apple cider vinegar.
MOELLEUX aux POMMES et SUCRE de CANNE COMPLET from fleur2t.canalblog.com – really soft and really moist – just as the name suggests! (moelleux in French is soft, tender, moist and in culinary world is usually used for the molten chocolate cakes). I used plain flour + some flaxmeal, added a bit of ginger and… my cake was made without brown sugar but with regular sugar and still it was really nice!
Torta di mele from danilapode.wordpress.com – a very easy recipe resulting in a fragrant cake. I used buttermilk instead of milk and oil instead of butter.
I’m currently collecting more apple recipes as we’re having a surplus of the dacha apples already now. All the apple recipes on this blog can be found here.
An apple tree dweller:
By the way, yesterday was also the first day to really break the heat wave we were having here – clouds, a bit of rain and lower temperatures in general. Today it’s been raining all morning. Seems like August is taking its place!
I’ve just come back from a trip to several regions of France, which was a real escape from the thoughts and facts that I am to face right now. Will make a separate post for sure, got lots of photos and interesting details. And brought some food along too =) Oh, this gourmet country! Will miss the numerous boulangeries, patisseries and restaurants!
This post is from the end of April actually. Since I’ve got the permission of the recipe’s author to publish the English translation on my blog, here it is – a bit late, but better late than never, you know! After all, it’s been SNOWING here in St Petersburg while I was burning in the unexpectedly hot sun f the French Riviera (or Provence – Cote d’Azur). As I was leaving for my trip to France, I wanted this post to appear before the May holidays. I just guessed that when I come back I will already witness the nature in its luscious green blooming state (which I experienced 100% in Provence) and thus miss some stages of the spring process… But I was wrong, as today the trees here in St Pete are just starting to get dressed in light green colours. So let’s get back to Easter and start the spring thing all over again =)
Easter for most of us in Russia is the celebration of spring. In one of my previous posts you could get to know how we usually dye eggs for Easter in my family and in this post I will share with you another of our Easter favourites – poppy seed roll.
This is not the recipe my mother would use though, as I’ve used another one found on the net. There’s no evident tradition in Russia to eat poppy seed rolls for Easter but in my family that was the most delicious treat you would expect to see at the Easter table. Also I remember that poppy seeds would miraculously disappear from the food shops around Easter times, so there were always some stored in the pantry.
So, for those of you fans of poppy seeds and – consequently – who are eager to spend some time on this roll, here is the recipe translated from Italian. Originally this recipe was adapted from a Hungarian recipe of a Polish dish =) Well, a truly international cuisine is going on here.
Makowiec translated and adapted from beufalamode.blogspot.it will make a crunchy poppy seed roll with lots to chew on. ATTENTION: Requires time, you will have to make some preparations in advance (at least 8 hours). My remarks are in italics. Grazie, Cristina!
For the dough:
80 ml lukewarm milk
1 g instant yeast
35 g sugar
pinch of salt
210 g flour (the Italian source says it should be the ‘oo’ type)
60 g of butter (I used sunflower oil instead)
For the filling:
125 g poppy seeds (I added more)
125 ml water (I added more accordingly)
125 ml milk
15 g sugar
50 g almonds
50 g raisins
1 egg white (I used a whole egg)
35 g honey
2 Tbs breadcrumbs (I did not use these)
For the sugar glaze: (I did notmake it, just sprinkled some sugar…)
60 g powdered sugar
7 g of egg whites
7 ml lemon juice
Place poppy seeds in a pan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for about 8 hours (I increased the time).
Next, add milk and cook on low heat till the liquid is completely absorbed (this took some time indeed! At first I thought this milk will never disappear but in the end it was fully absorbed). Let cool a bit.
Meanwhile make the dough. Dissolve yeast and a pinch of sugar in lukewarm milk.
Beat the egg with sugar till foamy. Add dissolved yeast, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the flour. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky, then add the butter cut into pieces (I substituted with oil) and knead some more. Leave to rise in a greased bowl, covered, in the fridge overnight (I increased the time).
Prepare the filling: Add almonds (apparently crushed), sugar, raisins, orange zest and honey to the poppy seeds. The author says that she has placed the mixture in the freezer for about half an hour and then processed finely at turbo speed. I did the same but my blender just would not process such a mixture finely, so the seeds remained almost intact. Add breadcrumbs (which I did not) to get a dense and spreadable mixture. Leave in the fridge until needed.
Once the dough has rested, roll it out on a floured board, spread the poppy seed mixture on top and roll it into a cylinder. Place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave covered for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180 °C.
Brush the roll with beaten egg (I used whole egg + some coarse sugar) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool.
The author suggests that the roll is best the day after baking – especially if you glaze it with egg white beaten with powdered sugar and lemon juice – but I skipped the glaze.
Remarks: This recipe needs time and so I had to adjust the procedure to my possibilities. As both the seeds and the dough require an approximately overnight rest, I prepared them both at the same time.
With the egg wash (glaze) the top of the roll quickly becomes really brown so be careful and watch it ; ) Just not to ruin the entire poppy seed experiment!
Result: Though quite elaborate and time consuming, this is a very tasty recipe, perfect to enrich your repertoire : ) I would not claim that this is a convenient recipe – with all the required preparation and resting time and overnight rest, etc etc – but once a year, well, why not? I usually prefer non-leavened sweet treats for our family but this roll does not really taste like a leavened thing, it is quite balanced in terms of dough / filling, rather on the dry side I would say. The filling is rich and nutritious – although it’s all mixed together and blended, I gather this poppy seed thing is quite a challenge for your belly .)
It’s Victory Day here in Russia today, will watch the traditional throwing-loads-of-money-into-the-air fireworks later tonight : )
I’m procrastinating with the promised spinach pies from the Balkans… Meanwhile, the days growing longer cannot make me happier! This weekend I even made some blini(Russian pancakes), a very easy recipe without yeast or sourdough, even such an I’d-rather-bake-it-than-fry-it person like me can manage nice sunny blini. You know, we bake blini here to welcome spring and say goodbye to winter. And it’s exactly what I did.
A weekend earlier I made thisdelicate dessert for the winter tea time. By delicate I mean it needs to be handled with care once it’s baked as all the topping crumbles will make everything to fall off the bars 😉
Although these bars will require some time (because of the filling that you have to cook and process first), I really enjoyed the process (and eating the pistachios), and the colours of the ingredients are somewhat really stylish =) So here’s a shot of the bars yet unbaked and not covered with that naughty crumbled topping:
Apricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios adapted from atkokken.com will make a very Mediterranean sweet treat. Follow the link to see the original recipe! (while this recipe was waiting for its turn in my ‘Bars’ recipe collection, the author has changed the website address : )
Changes in the ingredients:
No lemon juice. Added cardamom & nutmeg (good!) and omitted freshly ground pepper. That’s it!
About the procedure: be ready to have extra things to wash after making this dish – your blender…
Result: Revived dried apricots conserving all the sun’s energy plus the crunchy slightly salted pistachios = a great combination! The oats are not that … oaty in these bars, they do somehow get amalgamated with the flour, butter and sugar. Eat the ever-falling crumble replacing (trying to!) it back on top of the bars or… reuse it in some fruit crumble =)
Love this close-up : ) Ah, those pistachios from Aegina island, Greece!
Just found out that I’m not going to Bulgaria in April. Well, this just leaves more days for a certain country starting with…
It’s really hot here in St Petersburg and you realize it only when you leave office and face the unexpectedly stifling thick hot air outside. The thing is we have rather high level of humidity here and every extreme of the weather is a true challenge for us. Actually I thought these extremes of bitter biting cold followed by stuffy sticky hot weather are an example of our quite extreme lifestyle here in St Pete (and Russia), there’s hardly ever any ‘golden middle’. For the latter Russians escape / move / travel abroad. To experience the former foreigners come to Russia. Interesting, eh?
Ah yes, here is the first poll on this blog, scroll down to submit your answer to my question (not connected to food: ).
Meanwhile, here are some sugary treats I’ve tried recently. As my copywriting job already comes to its end, there’s a chance my ‘queue’ of perspective posts are going to be finally published. Let’s begin with something sweet then, not much interconnected if not by the chocolate as one of the ingredients. For more chocolate recipes, see this or this post, or better both and the chocolate category of the Sweet Recipes page.
Cannot let Greek recipes pass by unnoticed, so here is one. Moreover, I like those Greek cakes that are moist without any syrup and they usually contain orange juice and zest for extra flavour. AND this cake – not like other super-Greek cake like this one for example – doesn’t contain even a single egg, surprise-surprise! Maybe because it’s originally from Asia Minor, the part of the continent where the Greeks traditionally settled and lived… until they got expulsed and moved (fled) massively to Thessaloniki and other Greek cities (have you seen Rembetika movie?). I’ve talked about Thessaloniki and its characteristic mix of nations here.
Lenten Cinnamon Cake from Asia Minor (Νηστίσιμη Μικρασιάτικη Κανελόπιτα, Nistisimi Mikroasiatiki Kanelopita) translated and adapted from eri-captaincook.blogspot.com with the permision of Eri – will make a moist (most) flavourful cake. My remarks are in italics.
1 cup oil, either light olive oil or seed oil – I used sunflower oil + that very apple puree which we still cannot finish
1 cup of sugar – I used less
1 1/2 cups orange juice – mine was store-bought, left from my sis’s wedding : )
zest from 1 orange – I roughly zested 1 small orange
2 cups all purpose flour or half plain flour half whole wheat flour – I chose the latter option + added wheat bran
2 tsp baking powder, leveled
1 tsp baking soda, leveled
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg, leveled
1/2 cup raisins – I left them out (I should probably make a poll – who likes raisins andbaba au rum?!)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped – I used hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips – I used a bar of milk chocolate with marzipan filling
powdered sugar and ground cinnamon to decorate the cake
In a bowl place flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well.
Preheat the oven to 180 ‘C.
In another bowl place raisins, nuts, chocolate bits and 1 Tbs of flour. Mix.
In the mixer bowl pour oil and sugar, and beat well at medium speed. Add zest and juice. Bit-by-bit add the flour mixture and finally the choco-nut-etc mixture.
Grease and flour a 24 cm cake pan and pour the mixture inside, leveling the top with a spoon. Bake for 45-50 minutes (I had to bake it longer) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I think I know this phrase about toothpick by heart!). Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then invert it to cool down 100%. Decorate the cake with powdered sugar and ground cinnamon.
The sweet cherries have nothing to do with the cake, they just looked kinda cute : )
The author of the recipe, Eri, made a beautiful heart right in the middle of the top of the cake by first sifting sugar over the cake then placing a paper heart in the middle and sifting cinnamon over the rest of the surface. She also suggests placing a pan filled with water into the oven next to the cake or on the rack underneath it, in order to make the cake’s crust thinner and … crustier 🙂 I didn’t do that but tell me if you tried!
Funny, those cherries look like aliens ; )
Result: A really moist cake with a distinct orange flavour and crunchy hazelnuts. If you fancy a honey (rustic) cake-like treat, that’s it. The procedure although requiring several stages is actually easy.
Brownie Latte Cheesecake adapted from marzipanmom.blogspot.com – will make a mixed cheesecake with a fudgy sugary base and a soft cheese layer. Go to the original blog for the recipe, here are just my remarks:
For the Brownie Base I used some plain chocolate + a bar of chocolate with nuts, about 110 g in total, and less salt. Instead of instant espresso powder I added some ground coffee.
For the Latte Cheesecake Filling I used 5% tvorog (cottage cheese) and less in amount; less sugar; ground coffee instead of instant espresso powder, which I passed through a sieve to eliminate large granules. As our cottage cheese usually blends into almost a liquid state (especially with FOUR eggs), I omitted Kahlua which anyway I have not + for the same reason I added some semolina along with potato starch (instead of cornstarch) – and that’s why the top of the cake got quite … cake-like rather than cheesecake-like. I did not decorate the cheesecake with any of the suggested add-ups, I just left it as is. That’s it!
I don’t have much photos of the cheesecake and those which I managed to do aren’t that nice but at least you can see the distinct coffee and cheese layers:
The procedure is not that easy-peasy I should warn you as first you should make the brownie base and there’s a water bath involved two times! in the recipe… But it’s worth it. Sometimes when I have additional free time I just cannot keep myself from doing something time-consuming and more complicated than a simple cake or muffins. And here’s a good… exercise! ; )
On this photo the top layer really looks more like a cake rather than a cheesecake.
Result: I did not get a giant cheesecake as was pictured on the original blog, but I’m sure it was quite a hit here in my family. The base is really sweet and coffee-flavoured, rather a fudge than a brownie I would say. Also, as our local cottage cheese (tvorog) has rather distinct curd granules, all the cheesecakes I make with it get this particular texture (and flavour) of a ‘tvorozhnaya zapekanka‘ (a cottage cheese bake). If you choose a finer cottage cheese, you’ll definitely get a true cheesecake layer.
And as promised, my first poll, with a quite existential(ist) question… It came to me εξ ουρανού this morning on the way to work.
The question is (to be or not to be…):
Wooo, I’ll vote first. Khm, I think I’m going through a 100th minor (micro) personal crisis and still cannot figure out… the way out of it. Well, I can advice myself not to think too much and too seriously, χα-λα-ρά!