Monday, May 18, 2015

Biscotti Newtons

First and foremost: I'M BACK! *clings* Let's not ever separate for this long again, okay campers? Yes, I know it's my fault ... a broken camera tends to grind things to a halt. However, I have a new precious picture taker and all is glorious with the world.

Secondly: biscotti newtons ... no, really: BISCOTTI NEWTONS. 

This adventurer down the rabbit hole started with a simple conversation about me eating too many Fig Newtons on Twitter (seriously, I was in full Cookie Monster mode) and I need someone to come and stop me. From there the conversation spiraled, as Twitter conversations are wont to do, and then the ever lovely, editor extraordinaire, Blake Leyers said something about storing her fig newtons on top of the biscotti I sent her and my brain kind of stuttered to a stop. Biscotti. Fig Newtons. A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN, NO?

Thus began the tinkering. And the plotting. And the testing. I'm willing to admit I kind of spiraled there for a bit; I was in a figgy vortex of goodness. Which, admittedly, I didn't mind in the least. 

Now normally I say that making biscotti isn't an overly messy adventure ... but ... the figgy filling. If you don't like getting your hands a bit gloopy (read: a lot) when baking, this recipe isn't for you (but if you love figs then I really urge you to put aside your gloopy hand fears and jump into the recipe).

*I made my fig filling the day before and let it set in the fridge over night. In one testing attempt I used still warm filling ... the biscotti didn't set or bake correctly. So - make your filling at least on day in advance.

**Also - I found refrigerating the biscotti for at least an hour (but up to 12) before baking helped.

Biscotti Newtons


Fig Filling:
8 ounces dried black figs, stems removed and quartered
2 cups 100% apple juice

1 stick butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
baking powder

handful of old fashioned oats, blitzed in food processor


Fig Filling:

Add the dried black figs (stems removed and quartered) into a small sauce pan with 2 cups 100% apple juice. Over medium heat bring to a boil. Cover and reduce and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot).

Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve to let any remaining juice drain from fig mixture (I let my mixture cool completely while resting in the sieve). Once cool put mixture in covered dish and refrigerate.

For Biscotti:

Using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add vanilla, mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix until a dough has formed.

Fold in prepared (and refrigerated - I really cannot stress this enough) fig filling with a spatula. You don't want to stir this in, you won't get the nice swirls throughout. Make sure do pull the dough up from the bottom when folding.

Scoop dough out onto a Silpat covered baking sheet and form into a roughly 15x4 inch block (this is where things get MESSY).  Take your topping (a handful of old fashioned oats, cinnamon, and sugar that have been blitzed through a food processor) and sprinkle over the top of the biscotti - this helps with the "sticky" part of the biscotti once baked.

Refrigerate biscotti for at least one hour, but up to twelve (overnight).

Preheat oven to 350.

Bake until a light golden color (approx. 30 minutes). Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove log from baking sheet to cutting board. Using a long knife (serrated if you prefer) slice log into 1/2 inch wide pieces. Return pieces to baking sheets, and return to oven. Bake for additional 15 to 20 minutes (I think I might have baked them for  22 minutes the second time, the fig filling creates a lot of extra moisture that is tricky to bake out - you want the biscotti to feel crisp to the touch, not soft ... do not bake any longer than 25 minutes).

Remove biscotti from oven, and place on a cooling rack to completely cool. Store in a dry place in a sealed container.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Beef and Guinness Stew Over Mashed Potatoes

Stew. I like it. A lot. Like a lot, a lot. Because: STEW. The best part about making stew is each time you enter the kitchen there's a bit of magic that occurs. The ingredients don't have to change much, if at all, and you have a completely different dish on your hands; a different culinary adventure for your taste buds. Stew is also one of those dishes that transcend cultures in ways that a lot of other dishes simply don't; the name might change, but the concept of the dish stays the same: put stuff in a pot and cook it low and slow for x-hours. 

Side note: if you look closely at the photo you can see me in my BRIGHT PINK pants. *waves* I need less shiny spoons. Or less pink pants. I guess I could also embrace it and you all could start playing Where's Waldo with my pictures. 

Given that today is St. Patrick's Day, I need you all to say it with me: Erin Go Bragh! Also, I'm going to squeeze in a quick grammar lesson: it's Saint Patrick's Day, St. Pat's, or St. Paddy's Day - but it's not St. Patty's Day. #paddynotpatty

Thanks to the Guinness, this stew has a delightfully stout-y flavor. If you've never had a Guinness before it is, in and of itself, a meal. It's dark; vaguely coffee tasting with a slight bitter taste. Those flavors carry over into the stew - which is why there's a bit of sugar and tomato paste; a hint of sweetness to chase around the darkness of the stout. By the time you take this out of the oven you'll have mushroom and carrots that have bubbled to perfection, stew meat so tender it falls apart in your mouth - and best of all - it's served over everyone favorite (okay, it's mine) side dish: mashed potatoes. 

Beef and Guinness Stew Over Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from PBS Food


1 1/2 pounds stew beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 carrots, chopped in medium chunks
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thick sliced
2 TBSP flour
1 12-oz bottle of dark stout (such as Guinness)
2 TBSP double concentrated tomato paste
2 beef stock
2 whole sprigs of fresh thyme 
1 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp salt

Prepared mashed potatoes


Heat EVOO in a Dutch Oven over medium-low heat. Brown the meat in small batches. (Don't forget what Julia Child told us - pat the meat dry with paper towel first, otherwise it will not brown well). Once the meat is deeply browned (about 5 minutes on each side), remove it from the pot and put it aside.

Using the same pot, add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and carrots, cooking for about 6 minutes or until they begin to brown. Season with salt, stir well to combine.

In a little bowl, stir some of the stock into the tomato paste, to dissolve it a bit. Pour the liquefied tomato paste along with the rest of the stock into the pot. Add the remaining ingredients: beer, thyme sprigs, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper. Add the meat and juices back into the pot as well. Bring the whole thing to a simmer, and then place the lid on the pot and put it in a 325F oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the meat is tender and the sauce thickened. Don't forget to check the seasoning before you serve it, and add a bit more salt if you find the flavor a bit flat.

Let the stew cool and settle for a few minutes, then ladle generously on top of a plate mashed potatoes.