Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Biscotti

Fig.1. Christmas biscotti with pistachio and dries cranberry.

I wrote this recipe for the November/Christmas issue of More of our Canada Magazine. It's a basic biscotti recipe but the addition of ground almonds gives them a nuttier taste as well as a better texture.
Space in the magazine is somewhat limited so here are some additional pictures for those of you who have sent me questions regarding shape and size. And for those who like their biscotti soft all I can say is cook them for a shorter period of time, or eat a piece of cake! Biscotti should be hard, it's up to the coffee to soften them up.

-3 eggs
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
-3 tsp vanilla extract
-2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup ground almonds
-3 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-zest of 2 limes
-1 cup dried cranberries
-1 cup shelled pistachios

Fig.2. The correct size, 3" wide by 12" long. Don't forget to round out the edges.

-In a large bowl or mixer, beat eggs; gradually beat in sugar, butter and vanilla.
-In a separate bowl, mix flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt and lime zest.
-Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and combine to form soft, sticky dough.
-Fold in the cranberries and pistachios and turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.
-With floured hands form into a ball.
-Divide dough in half and shape into logs 3 inches wide by 12 inches long with rounded edges.(see fig.2.)
-Place logs on large greased baking sheet at least 4 inches apart.
-Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 20 minutes or until slightly firm.
-Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
-On a cutting board, cut the biscotti on a diagonal into ¾ inch slices using a very sharp knife.
-Place biscotti upright on baking sheet and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes at 300F.
These biscotti will keep in an airtight container for up to a week. They can also be frozen for several months.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flank for Frank


Fig.1. Flank steak with mushrooms and baby arugula

  • Last year my friend Frank and his brothers bought a cow from a farmer in the Eastern Townships. It was a five hundred pound, 18 month old grain fed calf that was never given any hormones or antibiotics. The beast cost $2.00 a pound bringing the total to a cool one thousand dollars. The animal went into a butcher shop on all 4’s and came out in about 400 pieces, all vacuum packed. Last week Frank called me wanting to know what to do with one of these vacuum packed pieces of meat.
    Flank steak, or bavette as it’s known in French, is a wonderful piece of beef with real taste, unlike the favourite but flavourless filet mignon which everyone seems to like because of its “melt in your mouth quality”. But I say, if you want it to melt in your mouth eat chocolate; meat needs to be masticated, savagely chewed and ripped off the bone with the fierceness of a hungry lion.
    So if you’ve never had flank before give it a try before putting your barbecue away for the winter.

    Grilled Flank Steak
    Because of its shape—thick in the middle and thin on the sides—flank steak cannot be evenly cooked, but this play on texture is part of its appeal. The flavour is also very unique as it has a slight kidney taste to it. The key to a proper flank steak is a suitable, tasty outer crust and a red center.

  • Flank steak
  • Olive oil
  • Montreal steak spice
  • Directions:

    Turn your grill on high, meanwhile score the steak in a criss-cross fashion—without going too deep, about ¼”deep—and rub some olive oil and Montreal steak spice on both sides. (It’s important to bring your steaks to room temperature, take them out of the fridge and season them 1 ½ hours before cooking.)
    Grill the steaks to your desired doneness, (as long as it’s not well done). Let the steak rest on a plate with some foil over it for about 10 minutes. Serve with a green salad.
    If your grill is locked up for the winter, use a pan. Cast iron works well, but if you don’t have one a regular non-stick skillet will do.

    If you serve the salad over the steak, omit or go very lightly with the vinegar.