Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jasmine-infused Biscotti

My first encounter with biscotti was on my trip to Florence in 2007. Enjoying the beautiful late afternoon wandering around Florence's ancient streets, I stopped at a little cafe and ordered a pot of Earl Grey tea and two biscotti. Also known as cantuccini, these twice-baked cookies certainly satisfied my sweet tooth. Traditionally made with almonds, I have experimented over the years adding different nuts and dried fruit.

The following recipe is one of my favorites - steeping the dried fruit in strong Jasmine tea before chopping them into small pieces adds that extra special flavor. I like to try different dried fruit and have used dried cherries, apricots, cranberries and pistachios for this batch.




Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup of dried fruit (tart cherries, apricots and cranberries)
2 tbsp loose Jasmine tea


  • Preheat oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  • Place whole dried fruit in a bowl. In a separate bowl prepare Jasmine tea infusion by pouring 1 cup of boiling water of tea leaves. Let steep for a few minutes and strain the hot tea through a fine sieve into the bowl with fruit. Discard tea leaves. Allow mixture to infuse for 10 minutes. Drain fruit and preserve liquid. Chop fruit into small pieces and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together 2 eggs and one egg yolk reserving the remaining egg white in a small bowl. Add vanilla and almond extracts and 2-3 tbsp reserved Jasmine tea to the egg mixture.
  • Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir to combine. Keep adding small amounts of Jasmine tea if the dough is too stiff to handle. Add chopped up fruit and knead to combine (I use my hands for this last step).
  • Lightly flour a baking sheet, divide dough into four parts and shape each part into a log. Place on lined baking sheet and brush with the reserved beaten egg white.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
  • On a cutting board cut each log with a serrated knife diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.
  • Return slices to the lined cookie sheet, bake for 7 minutes on one side, flip cookies over and bake for another 7 minutes. Place on wire rack and let cool completely.

These are hard cookies - they are delicious dipped into tea or vin santo. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.





Sunday, March 30, 2014

Focaccia

Focaccia is a wonderful flat Italian bread which goes well with salads, served as an appetizer with marinated vegetables and olives, or as an accompaniment to grilled meats. The following recipe is a basic recipe with diced onion added to the dough. I have also made it with chopped Kalamata olives and slivered sun dried tomatoes in oil (drain the oil before slicing the tomatoes) instead of the onion. Sprinkle the bread with coarse salt and/or rosemary.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried yeast
12 oz warm water
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 small yellow onion chopped
olive oil
coarse salt and rosemary





  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Warm up 12 oz of water and add 3 tbsp olive oil. Mix 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp dried yeast and add to water. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Mix flour, salt and chopped onion. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture and knead until smooth.
  • Oil a large bowl, add dough and brush some olive oil over the dough. Cover and let rise until double in size.
  • Line baking sheet with baking paper and brush lightly with olive oil. Gently punch down dough and place on a baking sheet. Flatten dough, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary. Let rise again for 30 - 40 minutes. 
  • Bake at 375° F for 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tuscan Markets

Several years ago I attended an Italian cooking class at the Villa Pandolfini in Lastra a Signa, a small town right outside of Florence. Nestled among olive groves and vineyards sits Villa Pandolfini, a graceful Renaissance villa, which houses the Good Tastes of Tuscany cooking school with expert chefs. The cooking classes are hands-on with a focus on seasonal ingredients. Excursions into Florence, the surrounding amazing Tuscan countryside and wine tastings at fantastic vineyards can all be arranged. The following photos were taken during on excursions to Florence and Pienza - I don't believe they need much explanation!









Sunday, March 16, 2014

Indian Chicken and Spinach Curry

Preparing an Indian dish does not need to be time consuming. Get a head start by chopping your onion, ginger and garlic and by measuring your spices. I was in the mood for Indian food, but didn't want to spend hours in the kitchen preparing it - so I adapted a chicken curry recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's "From Curries to Kebabs".

Ingredients:

3 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
3/4 tsp ground cardamon
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garam masala
1 lb chicken breast cut into small cubes
1/2 cup plain yogurt
16 oz bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup water
salt to taste

  • Heat oil in a large pan. Add chopped onion and fry until it becomes translucent. Add garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds. Add cardamon, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir for a minute.
  • Add chicken pieces and continue to stir for two minutes thoroughly blending chicken with spices. 
  • Gradually add yogurt, one tablespoon at a time, and keep stirring until chicken is browned. 
  • Add tomatoes and stir for two minutes. Add spinach and stir to combine. 
  • Add one cup water and salt to taste. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Before serving remove cinnamon stick and sprinkle curry with garam masala.

Serves 3-4

Monday, March 3, 2014

Delicious Apple Cake

Who doesn't like apple cake? Apple cake is definitely one of the most popular cakes in Germany. Having grown up in that country I have certainly eaten my share of them - and there are plenty of different recipes to choose from. I am partial to one recipe in particular which comes from an old cookbook my grandmother used. I have made very few changes to the original recipe from "Dr. Oetker: Backen macht Freude".



Dough:

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 small eggs
a pinch of salt
zest of one organic lemon
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Topping:
5 medium-size apples, peeled, quartered and cored. Crisscross top of apple quarters with sharp knife.

Glaze:
1 tsp clear gelatin powder
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp apricot jam
powdered sugar if desired



  • Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan thoroughly.
  • Cream butter with a handheld mixer and gradually add sugar, one egg at a time, salt and lemon zest. Mix until your dough is light and well mixed, 2-3 minutes.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon together and add to butter mixture. Stir until mixed and pour batter into greased cake pan.
  • Arrange apple quarters in concentric circles on dough.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Remove from oven.


Prepare glaze:
Dissolve gelatin powder in hot water and add apricot jam. Stir until well mixed. Brush still hot cake with glaze. If desired, serve with powdered sugar on top.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Samosas

Samosas are the quintessential Indian snack food. I have eaten them at hawker stalls in Singapore, the Oberoi Hotel in New Delhi, and the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market in Washington, D.C.

Traditionally, samosas are triangular-shaped pastries with a vegetable filling served with mint or coriander chutney. Preparing samosas is quite time consuming - rolling out and shaping the dough and filling it with the vegetable mixture takes a while. Since I was pressed for time I decided to forgo the triangular in favor of the half-moon shape.

Samosa recipes from Julie Sahni's Classical Indian Cooking and Nina Simonds Spices of Life have inspired my version below. To balance the spiciness of the filling I serve samosas with mint chutney and cucumber raita.

Filling:
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 finely chopped yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 green chili, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
salt
1 pound small potatoes, cooked, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 large carrots, grated
3/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves

  • Heat canola oil in saucepan and fry onion for a couple of minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chopped green chili and fry until onion is lightly browned. 
  • Add spices and salt and incorporate well into mixture.
  • Add vegetables and fry for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.
  • Add lemon juice and coriander leaves. Fill mixture into bowl and let come to room temperature.




Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp vegetable shortening
7 tbsp cold water

  • Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Gradually add vegetable shortening until incorporated. Add cold water one tablespoon at a time. Form dough into a ball, coat lightly with canola oil and let rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap. 
  • Divide dough in half and roll each half into a rope. Cut each rope into 6 - 7 pieces and form into balls.



Filling and frying the pastries:
Canola oil for deep frying
small bowl with cold water

  • Prepare one pastry at a time.
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out a ball into a 5-inch circle.
  • Place 2-3 tbsp of filling into the bottom half of the circle leaving about 1/2 inch at the edges. Press filling down.
  • Moisten edge of bottom half of circle with water.
  • Fold over top half of circle and press down firmly to securely seal the samosa.
  • Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Heat oil in a large pan. When hot, carefully place 3-4 samosas into oil and fry until pasty crust is golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels. Fry remaining samosas.

Serve samosas warm or at room temperature with mint chutney and cucumber raita.





Serves 3 as a light meal.

Monday, February 17, 2014

French Meringue with White Chocolate and Raspberry Puree Filling

I am always on the lookout for unusual and sophisticated recipes, especially when it comes to baking. Having grown up in Europe I prefer the European style of pastries and desserts. While browsing through The Shaggy Ram, an interior design store in Middleburg, VA, I came across a nice selection of unusual travel and entertaining books. One of them in particular caught my attention - Sweet Paris by Michael Paul is a tribute to Parisian pastries and desserts. Michael Paul's collection of recipes and his stunning photography make this a truly amazing book. Looking at his beautiful photos you can just imagine yourself ordering a Chausson aux Pommes and a steaming pot of tea in one of the many excellent cafes and tea houses in Paris.

I couldn't resist and bought a copy for myself. Last week I tried his Meringues Modernes which are two meringues sandwiched together with a white chocolate and raspberry puree filling - delicious and pretty to look at just in time for Valentine's Day.






Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fried Tofu Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Until 12 years ago our family was not particularly fond of tofu. Nobody liked the texture, there was no taste to it and dishes I made just seemed boring. All of this changed when we were invited to a friend's home in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and sampled her Asian fried tofu appetizer. We were hooked. Since then I have experimented with various spices and condiments to make tofu dishes more appealing. Below is my version of a spicy tofu salad adapted from a recipe in "The Cooking of Singapore" by Chris Yeo and Joyce Jue.

Ingredients:

Dressing:
1/2 tsp mashed garlic
2 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup ground roasted peanuts
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth peanut butter, but you could also use the crunchy kind)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 tsp lemon or lime juice

Salad:
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 pound tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1-2 tbsp sesame oil
3 finely grated carrots
1/2 English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced. Take about 6 cucumber slices and sliver them. Keep separate.





  • Bring dressing ingredients to room temperature.
  • Measure 1/2 cup of peanut butter into a small bowl.
  • Combine minced garlic, soy sauce, tamarind water, ground roasted peanuts, sugar, sriracha sauce and lemon or lime juice and mix well. Add to peanut butter and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Heat sesame oil in non-stick frying pan and fry tofu slices until lightly browned, about 2 - 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and cut into 1/2 inch cubes when cool enough to handle.
  • To assemble salad, put several cucumber slices on a plate, add desired amount of tofu cubes, spoon some spicy peanut dressing over tofu and top with shredded cabbage, grated carrots and slivered cucumbers.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.




Saturday, February 1, 2014

Laap Gai Chiang Mai and a visit to Little Serow


Green Market in Bangkok 2000




I have no idea why we decided to do this on a cold and windy Saturday evening, but several weeks ago my daughter and I braved the elements and stood in line for an hour to get a table at Little Serow, a popular restaurant serving northern and northeastern Thai cuisine in Washington D.C. Since the restaurant doesn't take reservations and does not own a phone, people will stand in line up to an hour before doors open at 5:30 p.m. I am glad that I wrote down the complete address as there was no sign outside the building indicating where the restaurant was located. Only a line of 10 adults waiting patiently on the sidewalk and on stairs leading down to the basement entrance of a building alerted us that this was probably the entrance to the restaurant. We patiently stood in line, taking turns warming up in the close-by CVS pharmacy. An hour later, at 5:30 p.m. sharp, the doors opened and a hostess invited guests in, one party at a time. When it was finally our turn to walk through those doors I was completely frozen.

The hostess greeted us and ensured that we knew that the dishes served here were spicy (which we did know) and that there couldn't be any substitutions. We were then let to our table for two - a bar-height small table with two stools. Once I had warmed up a bit I looked around to take in first impressions of the restaurant. I was surprised to see how small it was (the restaurant can only accommodate about 30 dinner guests) and how minimalist the design was. It's a very functional place with unadorned mint-green walls and just a few glasses and pitchers on a shelf behind the bar.


Menu for January 18, 2014

nam prik narohk
mackerel/tamarind/khi nu chilies

tom kha pla chorn
snakehead fish/galangal/krachai

som tum o
pomelo/salted prawn/lime leaf

laap gai chiang mai
chicken/offal/lanna spices

tow hu thouk
tofu/cilantro root/peanut

phat pakaukeo
greens/salted fish/egg

si krong muu
pork ribs/mekhong whiskey/dill


The food was very good, some dishes better than others, but make no mistake, this is very spicy food. I have eaten many spicy dishes while living in Southeast and South Asia, but some of the dishes served here are extremely hot. My personal favorites were the snakehead fish soup, the pomelo and salted prawn salad and the laap gai chiang mai, a ground chicken salad.

Wouldn't it be fun to try to recreate a few of these dishes? Going through some of my Thai cookbooks and searching online, I decided to try a slightly less spicy variation of the ground chicken salad. So here is my version of Laap Gai Chiang Mai.




Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups ground chicken
1/2 cup chopped chicken liver
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 slices of Thai ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp finely minced lemongrass
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
chili powder or flakes to taste - I used 1/2 tsp very hot Tian Shan pepper flakes
1 tbsp chopped coriander stems
1 chopped spring onion, green and white parts
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp Jasmine rice - roasted and ground (roast the rice, stirring, in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 8 minutes, let it cool down and then grind it in a blender)
mint and coriander leaves for garnish
cabbage, Chinese radish and cucumber slices for garnish

  • Prepare roasted ground rice
  • Mix the ground chicken, chopped chicken liver, shallots, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and chili powder or flakes thoroughly. Heat a wok over high heat and cook the chicken mixture for a couple of minutes until cooked through. Stir constantly to prevent burning.
  • Transfer mixture into a bowl and add the coriander stems, spring onion, mint leaves and the ground rice.
  • Mix everything together.
  • Arrange sliced radish and cucumber on a platter. Quarter cabbage and use quartered leaves to scoop up chicken salad. The radish and cucumber slices are very refreshing!
  • Garnish with mint and coriander leaves. 

Serves 3-4


Friday, January 24, 2014

A Visit to the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul - Part 2

While talking to a colleague who is moving to Istanbul this summer, I fondly remembered our trip over Easter 2010 to this fabulous city. We stayed in a small hotel near the Blue Mosque and explored the city mainly on foot and by tram. Returning from a boat trip on the Bosphorus we decided to visit the Spice Bazaar on the way back to the hotel. I have blogged about this incredible bazaar before, but wanted to share some additional photos with you.


A wide variety of Turkish delight


Dried fruit - the dried mango was delicious


Turkish delight and other candy


Nuts, more dried fruit, and dried tomatoes


Who can resist?

Marmorkuchen - German Marble Cake

I can't deny it - I do have a sweet tooth and I blame my childhood in Germany for it. Growing up with two grandmothers who were excellent cooks certainly had a great influence on me. My paternal grandmother was famous for her baked goods. I still remember birthday celebrations at her house with all of my grandfather's siblings and their spouses attending. Depending on the number of guests, it was expected that she'd prepare at least four to six different cakes. She was particularly known for her moist and light yeast sheet cakes with seasonal fruit. Once the baking was done, the cakes were covered with clean dishtowels and stored in the unheated guest bedroom. Shortly before the guests arrived my grandmother would bring the cakes back into the kitchen, cut them into slices and arrange them on beautiful china serving platters. I must have eaten at least three slices of my favorites each time!

One of my favorite cakes is a very simple German marble cake - it reminds me of Saturday afternoon "Kaffee und Kuchen" (coffee and cake) which was a ritual in our family (and not only on the weekend). Fresh eggs and butter, high quality cocoa powder and some rum extract make this a satisfying cake to serve with coffee or tea.

This cake freezes well - I like it so much that I freeze individual pieces to take to work as my afternoon snack.



Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 fresh eggs at room temperature
1 tsp rum extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
16 tbsp milk (or more, if needed)
4-5 tbsp natural cocoa powder (24% butterfat)
powdered sugar for dusting


  • Preheat oven to 375° F and butter a bundt pan.
  • Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl with a handheld mixer. Add one egg at a time beating well after each addition. Add rum extract.
  • Combine flour and baking powder and add to butter mixture alternating with the milk. You want the batter to be light and easily manageable.
  • Pour about 1/3 of batter into buttered bundt pan.
  • Add cocoa powder to rest of batter in bowl, mix well and pour into bundt pan. Run fork through batter creating swirls.
  • Place onto the middle rack in oven and bake for about 40 - 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool for 20 minutes and unmold. Let cool completely and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Grilled Tofu Curry

Everyone in our family loves curries - living and traveling in Asia for several years gave us many opportunities to try various versions in different countries. I am particularly fond of Thai curries - I love the combination of spices, herbs and coconut milk, and the crunchiness of the vegetables added shortly before serving. I am always looking for interesting recipes to add to my collection. While planning a multi-course Thai meal, I came across quite a few interesting recipes in Easy Thai Cooking by Robert Danhi and Corinne Trang. The following recipe was adapted from this cookbook.

Ingredients:
1 lb firm tofu, drained, dried and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 14 oz can light coconut milk
3 tbsp red curry paste
1/4 - 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 cup snow peas, ends snipped off and cut diagonally in half
1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cleaned and sliced into strips
2 baby bok choy, washed and sliced into strips
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, veins removed and cut into very thin slivers (if you can't find kaffir lime leaves use 1 tsp of finely grated lime zest)
2 tbsp minced coriander stems
fresh coriander leaves as garnish
jasmine rice as an accompaniment


  • Mix turmeric powder with canola oil. Sprinkle tofu slices with salt and brush both sides with turmeric and oil mixture. Heat frying pan and fry tofu slices on medium until lightly browned on both sides (1-2 minutes per side). Be careful not to break slices when turning. Arrange tofu slices in a bowl deep enough to hold sauce. Keep warm.
  • Heat 1/4 cup coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has reduced to about half. Mix in the red curry paste and stir to combine. Cook for another minute before adding the remaining coconut milk, vegetable stock, sugar, fish and soy sauces. Bring mixture and to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add salt or sugar as needed.
  • Add snow peas, pepper and bok choy to curry and simmer for 30 seconds. Add the lime juice, Thai basil leaves and coriander stems. Stir to combine and spoon curry over tofu slices. 
  • Before serving, sprinkle kaffir lime leaf slivers and coriander leaves over curry.


Serves 4-6

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Buckwheat Pancakes with Apple-Cranberry Compote and Ricotta Creme

It was a cold Sunday morning and I was looking forward to a leisurely breakfast with a steaming pot of Earl Grey tea and my newspaper. Should I have my regular bowl of hot oatmeal or was there enough time to prepare something special? I decided to try out a recipe for buckwheat pancakes served with an apple-cranberry compote and a ricotta creme sweetened with Sicilian honey.

Ingredients:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp wheat germ
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp organic sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • Preheat oven to 175° F.
  • Mix together flours, baking powder and soda, salt, wheat germ, chia seeds, cinnamon and sugar.
  • Whisk in buttermilk, canola oil, the two lightly beaten eggs, and let stand for a few minutes.
  • Heat pancake griddle and spoon about 2 tbsp batter for each pancake. Flip when first bubbles appear. 
  • Keep warm in preheated oven.



Apple-cranberry compote
Wash, core and chop into 1-inch pieces one Gala and one Granny Smith apple. Place into saucepan and add 1/2 cup frozen cranberries, 1 tbsp organic sugar, and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon if desired. Cook on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes or until fruit is soft. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Ricotta Creme
Mix 1/2 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese with 1 tbsp softened Sicilian honey.

To serve, place several pancakes on plate and serve with apple-cranberry compote. Top with a dollop of ricotta creme.

Serves 2-3

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter Vegetables and Tofu Curry

Nothing is better than a spicy curry on a cold winter evening. Adjust the spices to your tolerance level and be mindful - curry powders can be quite hot (if you're not quite sure, add a little at first and then add to taste). I like to serve this curry over basmati rice.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
14 oz butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes
3/4 lb broccoli florets
1 red pepper, seeded, and cut into strips
1/2 lb white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tsp grated ginger root
3/4 tsp minced garlic
1 14-oz can light unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp curry powder (or to taste)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
4 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or dried)
1 stalk of lemongrass, outer layer removed, cut into 2-inch pieces, and bruised with the handle of a knife
3/4 lb firm tofu, diced into cubes
1 cup chard, cut into shreds
cayenne pepper to taste
juice of two limes
1/2 cup cilantro leaves





  • Heat oil in wok over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add butternut squash, cover, and cook for 8 minutes. Add broccoli and cook for 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and grated ginger root and cook for one more minute. (Check to ensure that butternut squash is soft, if not, cook for another minute or two.)
  • Add the coconut milk, water, soy sauce, salt, turmeric, curry, cumin, coriander, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass pieces and stir carefully to mix spices with vegetables. Keep at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the tofu and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Add the sliced chard for the last two minutes. Adjust seasoning and add cayenne pepper and lime juice to taste. Sprinkle cilantro leaves on top.


Serves 4-6.

This recipe was adapted from Susan Belsinger's recipe in "Living Wisely & Living Well - Natural Home".

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baci di Dama - Lady's Kisses

Intrigued by a post on David Lebovitz's food blog I tried out Baci di Dama - Lady's kisses and have since added them to my list of favorite holiday cookies. The recipe mentioned in the post is by Terresa Murphy of La Cucina di Terresa.




Baci di Dama originate from the Piemonte region of northwestern Italy, an area surrounded on three sides by the Alps. Its capital, Torino, is known for its chocolate and hazelnuts which are considered to be among the best in the world.

Baci di Dama are two small hazelnut cookies held together by a layer of dark chocolate.
I used all-purpose flour and bittersweet chocolate when I made them a couple of weeks ago. They are truly delicious. I keep them in a cookie tin in the refrigerator so that the chocolate doesn't get soft.


Baci di Dama as part of my Holiday Tea offering