Biscotti With Dried Cherries

by Anne Maxfield on December 18, 2014

Accidental Locavore Finished BiscottiIt’s a holiday tradition for the Accidental Locavore and her friend Laura to get together and make edible gifts. We always try something new and alternate between savory and sweet. Just as traditionally, every year Laura’s father asks us why we’re not making biscotti again. This year, with some of our leftover ingredients, I made him a batch based on a Martha Stewart recipe. They’re pretty simple and just need some time to bake and cool. This made about 30 cookies:

 

  • 1 3/4 cups dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup Amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur), plus more if needed
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Accidental Locavore Forming BiscottiHeat cherries and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cherries have softened, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid. If you need more add enough liqueur to make 2 tablespoons.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the 3 eggs, one at a time. Add reserved cherry liquid and the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir in cherries and pine nuts.

On a lightly- floured surface, divide the dough in two. Shape each half into a 12 1/2 by 2 ½” log. Flatten logs to 1/2“ thick. Transfer to the baking sheet.

Bake 35 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks to cool, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Cut each log on the diagonal into 1/2″ slices. Transfer pieces to racks, laying them on their sides. Set racks on baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes; flip them and bake 8 minutes more. Let cool until crisp.

Accidental Locavore BiscottiOptional chocolate: melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (30 second intervals). Paint a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of the biscotti, or just dunk them in and coat one side. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I’m not a dunker of things into coffee or tea–something about crumbs at the bottom of the cup never appealed to me, so there are a lot of cookies I prefer to biscotti. These came out fine and Frank, the biscotti lover in the family, thought they tasted great (and would I please make another batch). We’ll have to wait till after the holidays to see what Laura’s father thought of them. I substituted pine nuts for the almonds Martha called for, but did soak the cherries in Amaretto. Dried cranberries would also work instead of the cherries.

 

 

 

 

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The New Maille Store: Mustard on Tap

by Anne Maxfield on December 15, 2014

Accidental Locavore Maille CrocksThe Accidental Locavore thinks there’s a big difference between how French and Americans use and approach mustard. Americans put it on hot dogs, sometimes on burgers and maybe on an occasional sandwich (mostly when the doctor has warned you off of mayo). The French use it for all kinds of dishes, sauces, salad dressings, and it’s always on bistro tables as a condiment for meat dishes (pot au feu, steaks, etc.). And their mustard is strong! For whatever reason, even the French mustard that’s brought over here is never quite as pungent as the day-to-day stuff you find there.

Accidental Locavore Amora MustardSince we were on our fourth jar of Amora (two of which we schlepped back from France), when I heard about the opening of Maille, a classic French mustard company, with a mustard sommelier (apparently not working on a Saturday night), it needed to be checked out.

Accidental Locavore Maille StoreIt’s a very tasteful shop on the Upper West Side, with big urns of mustard waiting to fill the classic white and black mustard jars.  I’ve been feeling just a little guilty paying more than $10 for a good-sized jar of our favorite French mustard, Amora from Amazon, but all that guilt disappeared the minute I set foot in Maille!

When I told the vendeuse what I was looking for, she pointed me in the direction of a mustard with white wine. It was good, not great and certainly not anywhere near as strong as our “fine et forte.” The price of filling a small jar? $27 and a large size of the truffle mustard will set you back $99! Accidental Locavore Maille Blue CheeseThe even smaller jars with flavored mustards (fig, mushroom, blue cheese, etc.) were $9 and would be good for about five sandwiches. Oddly enough, as one of my friends pointed out, there were no coarse-grain mustards, the closest being a country mustard, smooth, with a few mustard seeds and a pleasant flavor.

Accidental Locavore Maille on TapThere were a couple of select oils and vinegars, and their cornichons, but at $14 for a large jar, I’ll use up the ones we have before investing in more. In France, all these things are basic supermarket items and while the Maille store is much nicer looking than any local Monoprix, I’d be happier with the real deal and less ambiance, and while shopping at the Maille store, might save on air fare; as my pillow says, “I’d rather be in Paris!”

 

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Meringue Cookies With Chocolate and Cornflakes

by Anne Maxfield on December 11, 2014

Accidental Locavore Chocolate Cornflake CookiesAs part of all my Thanksgiving prep, the Accidental Locavore had bits and pieces of a lot of leftover food. With all good intentions, I saved most of them, hoping to re-purpose later. Perusing through Saveur, this simple cookie recipe, with only five ingredients, would put the egg whites I saved to good use. It makes about 2 dozen cookies, and as long as you have some sort of electric mixer, is quick and easy.

 

  • 4 egg whites (from large eggs)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups cornflakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 300°. Line two baking sheets with parchment (or a Silpat). Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites while slowly adding the sugar. Continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (you should be able to remove the beaters and the peaks stay up-no Viagra needed). Fold in the chocolate, cornflakes and vanilla.

Drop tablespoon-sized amounts of batter about 1″ apart on the baking sheets.

Accidental Locaovre Meringue CookiesBake until crisp and just slightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: My first attempt at meringue and they were delicious! I forgot how much I like it, and learned that Frank isn’t a big fan (oh well, more for me). The cornflakes were an interesting touch, but the next time I make them, I might try using Rice Krispies for a more subtle crunch, or possibly break up the cornflakes just a little. I baked these using the convection setting on my oven to make sure they would dry out properly. I also used parchment instead of the Silpat, because it’s less to wash (and I forgot about the Silpats until I started writing this). If you’re storing them, put them in a paper bag or leave them out. Plastic bags will make them soggy and sticky. Now that I’ve done my first meringues, could a bûche de Noël be the next big baking project? Stay tuned.

 

 

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Fred

by Anne Maxfield on December 8, 2014

Accidental Locavore Fred FlatThe Accidental Locavore first met Fred at Murray’s Cheese in Grand Central Station. In a movie or sitcom it would be considered “meeting cute” as a woman in a hurry breezes into Murray’s for a couple of cheeses for an upcoming dinner party (yes, I’m still buying cheese), but being desperately thirsty, I stopped to get a bottle of water and there was Fred. Good-looking in a transparent way, Fred was nestled between feta from several countries and yogurt from several others. You see, Fred is a bottled water.

What makes Fred different from all your other grab-and-go bottled water is the shape of the bottle. It’s essentially flat, like a flask, but still manages to pack a surprising 20 ounces of water into what they call a “pocket-friendly bottle.” On top of that, Fred is refillable, so when you’re empty you won’t feel guilty (for tossing another bottle or refilling a non-refillable one), and the water, from the Catskills (kudos for local water), tastes just fine.

Accidental Locavore Fred F BottleSomeone saw the bottle sitting on our counter, and asked what it was (probably thinking it was another one of our weird bottles of booze like Root or Snap—don’t ask!), and said I should write about it. Because things happen for a reason, when I started this piece and went to their website, I discovered that they’re running a Kickstarter campaign to launch their new stainless flasks. Normally, I’d just stick to the plastic bottle, which works just fine, but since my husband’s name starts with an F, I thought it would be a fun gift for him (and now we’ll see how closely he reads this) and became a backer. Since they’ve already well-exceed their goal if you want in, you can choose from a bunch of different colors (sorry, only F as an initial) and we’ll all get our bottles a little sooner.

Accidental Locavore Fred in a PocketMy only quibble with the bottles–that they’re “pocket-friendly”–probably should be more directed to the makers of womens’ clothing, but I sincerely doubt that there is a single pocket in anything I own that would fit this bottle. I guess that’s why I carry an enormous handbag…

 

The photo of the stainless Fred bottle is taken from their Kickstarter page–thanks!

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