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Archive for the ‘amaretto’ Tag


Making the neighbor’s cookies

It’s time I made a dark confession. 

You see, when I started this blog, I promised you the whole Mediterranean – and I played favorites. I withheld from you the Aegean nations, the lands of Greece and Turkey. Two ancient countries with glorious cuisine, and I simply rubbed them right off the map! As you well know, I was reared in a kitchen that straddles Lebanon and Syria; I’ve discussed the details of turning humble chickpeas into delightful hummus. I’ve strolled the streets of Florence in search of traditional Tuscan biscotti; I’ve even blogged about the time-honored Moroccan art of preserving lemons. Yet I have not seen the Parthenon, nor have I savored the moussaka of an Athenian gourmet chef.

Today, dear readers, we will travel together to Greece in spirit and in palate. For food, I decided to raid my Greek friend Peter’s blog, who most of you might already know as Kalofagas, the Greek gourmet. I promise to focus on my Turkish deficit later this week. One country at a time.

stepping outside my comfort zone

I put on a light jacket and looked for my favorite black scarf buried deep within the box of winter clothes tucked away in the corner of my room. For now, here I was; figuratively stepping out of my comfort zone (i.e. my humble front porch), ready to document unchartered territory on this blog. I went for a walk to clear my thoughts and enjoy the crisp fall air snuggled within the sunny day. It was the perfect weather far basking in the remaining fall foliage.

After my walk, it was difficult not to get excited for the upcoming holiday season. Call me a cliché, but there’s something mystical about this time of year that seamlessly brings everyone together. Now that I was officially craving something festive for my Greek adventure, I opened Peter’s site for some culinary inspiration. As I clicked through his blog, I realized I was bookmarking every other post. There were simply too many recipes I wanted to try. A simple ‘Christmas’ search narrowed my overwhelming operation to ten posts, three of which featured sweets. Of these three, it was the powdery white appearance of his Kourabiedes cookies that had me wishing Christmas was right around the corner.

mise en place

Peter calls for a shot of brandy in his recipe, but I had to make do without any. I did, however, fill up my favorite shot glass with amaretto and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Cornell pride

The ingredients for the cookies are basic, but they’re classic and well-loved. One of my favorite characteristics of any holiday cookie is the unadulterated buttery undertone that comes through in every bite. This flavor can only be achieved by using clarified butter, essentially butter with all its milk solids removed. This process couldn’t be easier and is one that shouldn’t be skipped. By removing the milk solids from your butter fat, you raise the temperature at which the butter begins to burn and end up with the desired clean, buttery flavor.

every good cookie starts with butter and sugar

Once you’ve creamed together the butter and sugar, the dough comes together almost effortlessly. Mix in the egg, amaretto, vanilla, baking powder, vegetable oil, salt and slowly start incorporating the flour so as to not overwork the gluten. Once your dough comes together, gently fold in the chopped, roasted almonds to make it a done deal.

At this point, if you haven’t already done so, break off a morsel of your beautiful dough and tell me you wouldn’t be happy eating the entire batch straight from the mixing bowl? I would, but then I wouldn’t have any Greek cookies to share with you and I’d be back to square one. So I resist the urge to eat the dough and proceed to preheat my oven. 

line up the cookie sheet

Peter shows off his Greek skills by forming the dough into traditional crescent shapes – I can’t be trusted with the dough any longer than I absolutely need to, so I opt for simple spherical shapes instead. The cookies eventually make it safely into the oven, with minor collateral damage, and bake while I prepare them their sugar bath.

Henry Ford would’ve been proud

After a 20 minute tanning session, these cookies are ready to rest for a bit and roll around in a bowl of powdered sugar. Greek cookies definitely know how to live the good life. Peter even says that these cookies will last for up to three months in an airtight container. Then again, I doubt these cookies will last nearly for that long, but that’s good to know.

Kourabiedes (κουραμπιέδες)

These cookies literally crumble and melt in your mouth; the perfect treat for the upcoming holiday season and any spontaneous, mythical trip to Greece. This cookie is for you, Peter!

Kourabiedes

approx 40 cookies

Components

  • 1/2 lb of clarified butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 shot of amaretto
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • extra powdered sugar for coating
  • pinch of salt

Putting them all together

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Clarify butter by melting it over low heat, carefully skimming off the milk solids that form at the surface and pouring out the butter fat that remains (also discard any white watery liquid that settles at the bottom). Allow butter to cool.
  3. Cream the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Mix in vegetable oil, egg yolk, amaretto and vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly incorporate the flour and gently knead until a dough is formed.
  6. Fold in the chopped almonds and form cookies into walnut-sized balls.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow cookies to cool, roll them in powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.

note: Cookies will last up to three months in an airtight container stored in a cool dark place. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Peter Minakis.

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opa!

just peachy

Right now I should be in Seattle spending quality time (i.e. karaoke-ing)  with my friend Jess.  Just like this past weekend I should’ve been in sunny southern California at Diane & Todd’s blogger bash… but, no. Instead, I was informed (on my way to the airport on Friday) that my airplane would be delayed to the point that I would miss my connection. Mind you, this was the last connecting flight to southern California that evening. So, does the airline offer to put me up at a hotel for the night?  Does the airline even care to compensate me in any way? No and no. I just barely got my money back from the extremely rude supervisor and had to turn around and go home.

I make it a habit not to let things to get under my skin and so I tried to have a good weekend despite all the mishaps. As is the case with most foodies, our best weekends always tend to start with a visit to the local farmer’s market. I did just that.

Eastern Market in DC:

spring colors
spring colors

The flowers speak for themselves. Everywhere I turned there were different patterns and colors… it always baffles me how these things just grow on the ground (is this just me?).

we had our food, the bees had theirs
fruits and bee

Even though I’m usually freaked out by bees (and most other flying creatures for that matter), this one looked so calm eating and minding its own bee-sniz. I opted for the other food at the market and snacked on a the wide array of fruits and heirloom tomatoes on display that day (definitely one of my favorite things about farmer’s markets). 

my inspiration
my inspiration

How could anyone resist? Seriously, these peaches tasted as ripe and juicy as they look. I took some home and on the metro ride thought of the possibilities. I narrowed it down to peach cobbler or peach galette and since a galette is more Mediterranean, I went with that. 

mise en place
mise en place

Galettes (or crostatas as they’re known in Italy) are rustic looking tarts. This means no fuss with tart pans or delicately crimping edges. That’s exactly what I did not need this past weekend.  No; galettes are super easy and you can pretty much fill them with whatever fruit you would normally bake with.

every good dessert has butter
every good dessert has butter

OK, so even though the crust already has a ton of butter to begin with, I just couldn’t resist adding a tiny sliver on top… Since we’re topping these with a sprinkling of sugar, we need something for the sugar to stick to, right?  Sound logic, especially when you’ve been having such a crummy weekend.  

peach galette
every good dessert has butter

If I wasn’t going to be able to see my good friends on the West coast, I was going to need a few of these tarts (3 to be exact) to cheer me up. In my defense (ahem, Adam), I did go to the gym shortly afterwards. If you haven’t already tuned into Adam’s blog, umm… you should. He’s a foodie/health guru who allows the occasional indulgence (if executed properly, of course).

Peach Galettes

yields approx. 4-5 individual galettes

Components

  • 225 g flour
  • 115 g butter, unsalted (1 stick)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp amaretto, chilled
  • 2 tbsp water, chilled
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • half a peach per galette
  • slivers of butter & sugar for topping

Putting them all together

  1. Pulse cold butter and flour in the food processor until you reach a mealy texture.
  2. add the lemon zest, salt and sugar.  Slowly add one tablespoon of liquid at a time until the dough just barely begins to come together.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. Once dough has chilled, divide it and roll out each piece to 1/4 inch thickness.
  5. Slice peach halves and fan on top of dough. Fold edges inward to contain the peaches.
  6. Top with a sliver of butter and a healthy sprinkling of sugar.
  7. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 

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can I plant these?
peach pits

I just started gardening last month and so I’m relatively new to all this… does anyone know if I can grow a peach tree from these pits?

Zabaglione with a heaping tbsp of THANKS!

Ever since I could reach the stove, I’ve been cooking in the kitchen (refining my taste along the years). I remember mixing melted cheese with ketchup one time, but I’ll spare you the details of my culinary mishaps. My family, however, has always been extremely supportive and perfected the art of masking their displeasures with the widest grins on their face.  I, after all, was their favorite little chef.

once a foodie, always a foodie
drinking tea

Next month will be Olive Juice’s 1st birthday and I suck at keeping things under wraps.  Last week, one of my dreams came true when I finally made it on TV to showcase two of my signature dishes: pasta alla zarina and baba ganoush. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a support network that has grown beyond my family to include my friends and fellow food bloggers around the world.  I wish I could one day meet the faces behind all the delicious-looking blogs I visit on a regular basis; but for now, I would like to dedicate this post to everyone who has tuned in and especially to those who’ve taken the moment to comment and send e-mails.  You have inspired me to keep doing what I love and this Italian zabaglione is for you – buon appetito!

mise en place
mise en place

Zabaglione (or Sabayon as it is known in France), is a basic dessert sauce made from whipped egg yolks, sugar and marsala wine.  I took the liberty to add a splash of amaretto, I hope you don’t mind.

zabaglione never met a berry it didn’t love
zabaglione with berries

The sauce is super easy to put together all while having the benefits of sounding extremely elegant.  All it takes is whisking all the ingredients over a double boiler until the sauce is light and fluffy and you could form ribbons like the one shown above.

zabaglione con frutta
zabaglione con frutta

Fresh summer fruits is my preferred canvas for this rich sauce just because it brings a refreshing note to each bite.  Of course, it goes well with just about anything.

Zabaglione

yields approx. 325 ml

Components

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 110 g sugar
  • 125 ml marsala
  • a splash of amaretto

Putting them all together

  1. With an electric mixer, whisk the ingredients in a heat-proof bowl until well blended.
  2. Transfer to a double boiler and continue whisking for about 5 minutes or until the sauce is light and fluffy.
  3. Remove from the double boiler and continue whisking until the sauce has cooled down slightly.
  4. Serve slightly warm over fresh fruit.

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Clips from the morning show!

 

Pasta alla Zarina

Creamy Spinach Pesto

 

Baba Ganough

Middle Eastern Roasted Eggplant Dip

Rebecca & Me
Rebecca & Me
Pretend News Anchors
Pretend News Anchors
post-production/exhausted
post-production/exhausted