One of the many things I love about cooking is that inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. My inspiration for this recipe came from my health club. Yes, you heard that right, my trainer had just returned from a trip to Rome and brought back with her bags of the most amazing chocolate chip biscotti. These crispy little biscuits were so delicious, I was charged with creating a version as close to the original as possible. I’m sharing my version of chocolate chip biscotti, here are a few tips : italians typically use their “00” flour for baking. This flour is low gluten and very fine, used in Italy for making pasta and sweets. If you can’t find type “00” flour use pastry flour or all purpose flour. It will have a slightly different texture. It’s very important to use a high quality chocolate. I like chopping my own chocolate . These biscotti are crispy and not too sweet. You will be transported to Italy with each bite. This is a cookie you will always want on hand.
From by the bay, wishing you crispy biscotti memories!
Chocolate Chip Biscotti
2 1/4 cups flour ( use type “00” flour if available)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar, plus extract to sprinkle on top
2 tablespoons sambuca
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup good quality dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
3/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Heat oven to 350° F. Place almonds on a baking sheet and toasted in the oven for approximately 8 minutes as they start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Coarsely cut and set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Place aside. In a stand mixer, oil and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the eggs and continue to mix. Add sambuca, and vanilla. Add flour until combined. Add toasted almonds and chocolate. Mix to combine. Cut the dough in half and roll into two logs, each approximately 2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Place logs side by side 3 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of the logs with extra sugar. Bake on center rack for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Take the logs out of the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife and cut into 3/4 inch slices. Place cookies on baking sheet cut side up in oven and bake for 10 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Store in an air tight container for 1 week.
It’s easier to make the transition from summer to fall if I hold onto some summer in my cooking, while transitioning into fall. This recipe is still light and usually, I still use my grill to prepare the sausages. I have provided an indoor option for preparing the sausages just in case it’s too cold, windy or rainy. This dish is definitely a feast for the eyes . The lovely crimson pomegranate seeds, accented with the warm pink hues of the pickled red onions really celebrate fall flavors. But don’t misunderstand, this dish may look like it’s all about visual pleasure but it’s really about the rich and luscious combination of flavors: slightly salty in contrast to the sweet and sour. Easy to prepare this can become a quick weekday meal.
From by the wishing you pomegranate food memories!
Sausage with Pomegranate Salad with Pickled Red Onions
Serves 4 to 6
8 sweet Italian sausage
4 cups baby arugula
1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted almond slivers
2 tablespoons pickled red onions ( see recipe below)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses dressing ( see recipe below)
Light a grill and oil the grate, Grill the sausage over moderate heat, turning until lightly charred and cooked through 10 to 12 minutes. ( Alternately, you can cook the sausage in the a 425 degree F oven arrange sausage on a baking rack set into a baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until sausage are cooked through). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice on the bias. On a large platter arrange arugula, add sliced sausage . Drizzle with pomegranate molasses dressing. Sprinkle with red onion, pomegranate seeds and almond slivers. Serve at once.
Pickled Red Onion
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
In a quart mason jar add all ingredients, shake well. Let stand for at least one hour. Place in refrigerator until ready to use. Will keep for one week.
Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in a covered jar. Shake well before using .
For as long as I can remember, my Mom made this apple cake. At this stage of my life, this means it’s a very long time, let’s just say Mom is over 90 and we can leave it at that! When Mom referred to this cake she called it Mom’s cake -meaning my dad’s mom or my mom called it the Jewish Apple Cake. Now for starters we are not Jewish. We also called several cake’s mom’s cake since my grandmother was an amazing baker – thus the need to further identify the cake such as Jewish Apple. I did a little on line search about Jewish Apple Cake. It seems it’s called Jewish Apple because it does not use dairy such as milk or butter. There are many versions of this recipe with slight variations but basically the same recipe. I also read that this recipe was published long ago in some women’s magazine. No matter the source, the real testament to this recipe is that it’s so good, it had stood the test of time . A recipe passed by word of mouth from generation to generation and from friend to friend. The bottom line about this cake how good it tastes, that it is super easy to make and it’s a true celebration of fall! It’s a cake that satisfies the apple lover in each of us. You will get such joy from the wafting aroma of baking apples, sugar and cinnamon and then the joy of eating this yummy cake.
From by the bay, wishing you tasty apple cake food memories!
Mom’s Apple Cake a.k.a. “Jewish” Apple Cake
For Apple Filling
5 medium apples , preferably those good for baking such as macintosh
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For Cake Batter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use nonstick cooking spray to grease tall tube pan, then lightly dust with flour. Peel and core the apples, then cut into 1 inch cubes. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the 5 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat the apples evenly. Set aside. In another bowl sift together the flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl add the oil, juice, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. the batter will be thick. Pour half the batter into the tube pan, make sure the batter is spread evenly. Top with half the apples. Pour the remaining batter into the tube, again ensuring the batter is spread. Arrange remaining apples over the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool completely ( at least 25 minutes). Run a clean knife between the cake and pan to loosen the cake before turning onto a plate.
It’s Fall and time to get back into the kitchen to bake. I can’t think of a better cookie than this bumped up version of a chocolate chip cookie. This is by far my favorite recipe. It’s crispy, sweet and salty. Chocolate is in every bite thanks to using different sizes of chocolate bits in the cookie. You will want to make this recipe over and over again.
From by the bay wishing you sweet chocolate food memories!
¾cup(1½ sticks) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
¾cupdark brown sugar
1½teaspoonsvanilla extract or vanilla paste
1vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1teaspoonflaky sea salt
Find chocolate wafers (do not use chocolate wafer cookies) at specialty food stores, some grocery stores, and online.
Pulse ¾ cup chocolate wafers in a food processor until pea-sized pieces form. Whisk all-purpose flour, rye flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. Add egg, vanilla, and bourbon and beat until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend. Fold in chopped chocolate and remaining chocolate wafers.
Portion dough into 16 balls (about ¼ cup each) and transfer to a rimmed sheet sheet as you go. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Scrape vanilla seeds into sea salt in a small bowl and mix to combine (save pod for another use).
Divide dough balls between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 3″ apart. Flatten each ball to about ¾” thick and sprinkle with vanilla salt. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around the edges, 14–18 minutes (cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
Do Ahead: Cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Loving this time of year and one of the best things available in early September is figs! I just picked up some Black Mission Figs at the market and was deciding how to prepare them, when my mother recalled some of her fond food memories about eating figs as a young child in Brooklyn. Her parents had a few figs trees in their small backyard. My grandmother prepared the figs with honey. I found this recipe from Emeril Lagasse , loving that the figs are roasted stuffed with blue cheese for a salty note and finished honey for additional sweetness. We loved this recipe, especially my mother remembering her childhood with this food memory!
From by the bay, wishing you sweet fig food memories!
Fresh Roasted Figs with Gorgonzola
Adapted from Food Network Recipe by Emeril Lagasse, 2004
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a paring knife, carefully trim any tough portion of the stems from each fig. Rub each fig all over with extra-virgin olive oil, then slice down through the stem about 3/4-inch. Make a second cut perpendicular to the first cut, so that you have an X-shaped cut in the top of each fig. Gently pry the edges apart and stuff each fig with about 1 teaspoon of the Gorgonzola. Place the figs upright on a baking sheet and bake until the figs are plump and shiny but have not burst, about 10 minutes.
Drizzle equal amounts of the honey on each of 4 serving plates and place the figs on top of the honey. Sprinkle each plate with a pinch of the chopped rosemary and some of the remaining Gorgonzola. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, 2004
This is the perfect potato salad to accompany your fall grilling. Delicious, crispy small cubed roasted potatoes flavored with smoked paprika for a sweet, warm and slightly smokey taste. These flavors are enhanced by adding chopped roasted peppers to double down on the sweet taste of peppers.
From by the bay, wishing you delicious fall food memories!
Roasted Smoked Paprika Potato Salad
Serves 4 to 6
3 pounds baby potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more to drizzle on top
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 ounces chopped pimentos or roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F degree oven. Peel and cube potatoes into 1/2 inch squares. Place in medium mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well and place in one layer on baking sheet. Roast until potatoes are tender and start to brown, approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place potatoes into a bowl . Add vinegar, scallions, parsley and pimentos. Mix well and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve at once or at room temperature.
Some of my favorite food memories are from my grandparents farm and enjoying all the seasonal joys of the produce. Peach and plum season is on exception. Celebrate the winding down of the summer and the height of the stone fruit and peach season with this delicious crostata recipe. The crust is light, buttery and crisp. The coarse sugar adds a sweet crunch to the crust. The fruit sweet and bursting with flavor. It’s definitely one of the favorite desserts by the bay. You’ll love it!
From by the bay wishing you sweet and crispy crust food memories!
Stone Fruit Crostata
Ingredients for Dough
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter ( one stick)
1cup , plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
Ingredients for filling
1 1/2 cups stone fruit such as peaches or plums , pitted and sliced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream
To make dough cube the butter. In a small bowl combine sea salt and water. Place both the butter and salt water in the freezer for 10 minutes. In a food processor add the flour and lemon zest. Pulse twice. Add the cold butter and pulse 3 to 4 times to incorporate pieces of butter into the flour. Slowly add some water until the dough is a crumb like texture. You may not need all of the water. Place dough onto plastic wrap and fold wrap over to close and push dough together to combine. Flatten into a disk covered with the plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Meanwhile, make the filling by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Preheat over to 375 degrees F. Take a piece of parchment paper and place the dough in the center cover with the plastic sheet and use a rolling pin to roll out and fold turn parchment sheet 90 degrees and repeat another 3 times. Roll out the dough on the parchment on the bottom again with plastic wrap over the top of the dough into a round approximately 1/8 inch thick. Spoon the filling in the center of the round leaving a 1 inch border all around. Fold the edges over the filling partially covering around the border. Place parchment with pie carefully onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and cream to make the wash. Remove from the refrigerator and brush the egg wash on the edges of the pie. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and place into oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the crust is brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Slide carefully onto a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Wait don’t throw out those berries! Sometimes, I have left over berries in my fridge, yes hard to imagine but true. If you find that you have berries that are maybe not at peak left over , consider making this quick berry jam recipe. I used blackberries because they were what I had left over but easily you could be using raspberries, blueberries or strawberries. I have been know to just use whatever I might have left over. It’s so simple to make the green apple supplies the pectin to make the jam and voila you have your very own homemade fridge jam. Serve along with your favorite biscuit, toast or pancakes!
From by the bay wishing you a very jammy food memory!
P.S. I love the blackberry version of this jam!
Quick and Easy Blackberry Jam
12 ounces fresh blackberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cored, peeled and chopped granny smith apple
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Wash blackberries and pick over for any impurities. Place ingredients in a medium pan on low heat and mix well. Heat slowly for approximately 40 minutes stirring occasionally, until jam comes to a rolling boil. Test to see if jam has thickened by using a spoon to see that it doesn’t run. You can mash the berries or leave the larger pieces. If it’s a little runny no worries it will jell in the fridge. Place in a jam jar and cover. Store in the refrigerator until ready for use for up to one week.
Here is a recipe to make use of the abundance of delicious eggplant available this time of year. i like to use petite heirloom eggplant such as fairy tale or Japanese for this recipe, although you can use the larger purple eggplant if that is what is available just slice lengthwise in 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices. This is a great side dish, I love serving with grilled baby lamb chops, especially if you use the same tahini sauce drizzled on top of your grilled chops. Sublime!
From by the bay, wishing you yummy eggplant food memories!
Grilled Eggplant with Creamy Tahini Dressing
2 pounds assorted Japanese or fairy tale eggplant
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon mint leaves to garnish
To make dressing
Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, cumin, cayenne, and ¼ cup water until smooth. Add salt and pepper and whisk again.
To prepare eggplant
Cut eggplant into lengthwise slices, depending on your width you can cut in half or into widths of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. Coat with the additional olive oil. Grill on a medium heat until eggplant starts to brown 1 to 2 minutes and then flip to brown the other side. Pull off the heat and place on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then drizzle with the tahini dressing. Garnish with chopped mint. Serve immediately or at room temperature within the hour.
Heirloom tomatoes are not only delicious to eat, they are a true feast for the eyes. I love the wide variety of colors and shapes. I decided to deviate from my favorite salad of tomato, mozzarella and basil to this combination or tomato, peach, ricotta and tarragon. You will love this variation, especially if you find a good quality store bought ricotta cheese. If you are ambitious try making your own ricotta cheese it’s really simple. My recipe is included below. I made my own ricotta for this salad because I had a large container of whole milk about to hit the expiration date. I didn’t want the milk to go to waste and I can’t think of a better use than making fresh ricotta cheese. The peaches add some sweetness to the salad and frying a few almonds in olive oil adds some needed crunch. This is a new favorite for my summer dining!
From by the bay, wishing you sunny tomato and peach food memories!
Tomatoes and Peaches with Ricotta and Fried Almonds
2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, some sliced and some halved
2 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup whole unsalted roasted almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh ricotta ( homemade or store bought) recipe below
2 teaspoons tarragon leaves
fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
On large platter arrange the tomatoes and peaches. Dot the ricotta on top of the tomatoes and peaches. In a small skillet heat the olive oil and add the almonds. Stirred until almonds are heated and start to sizzle. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before adding the sherry vinegar. Mix together. Drizzle dressing over the tomatoes and peaches. Dot the ricotta cheese on top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with tarragon leaves. Serve immediately.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Line a sieve with a dampened cheesecloth and place over a bowl to strain the cheese. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. The mixture will start to separate in curds ( the thick part that is the cheese) and whey ( the thin liquid you drain off). Once that happens, pour into the sieve, catching the ricotta into the cheesecloth lined sieve. Let stand for 20 to 25 minutes letting the liquid drain off. Let drain depending how thick and moist you want. the longer it drains the thicker and drier the ricotta. Once drained, take the cheese out of the cheesecloth and store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use. This will stay 3 to 4 days.
Variations – all good and I’ve made and enjoyed each one depending on the ingredients on hand.
Use only whole milk for a slightly less creamy version, this is great if you don’t have any heavy cream.
Replace the heavy cream with buttermilk, don’t use any vinegar for a drier textured ricotta, good for cooking